The MAC Makes Music programme at George Dixon Primary School has been exploring alternative ways to offer creative, inclusive music making opportunities for the children that aim to improve musical, social, and personal development. Music Leader and professional artist, Ann Jones, has been visiting the school since the Autumn Term 2019. After a break due to COVID-19, she resumed her weekly visits to the school for small group and one-to-one sessions throughout the second half of the Summer Term 2021. During Autumn 2019 and Spring 2020 Ann was supported by Emerging Music Leader, Paloma Trigas. While the MAC Makes Music Leaders all have different areas of expertise, they all work following Youth Music’s Quality Framework, and use a young-person centred pedagogical approach. They are reflective practitioners who keep diaries after each session to monitor the development of the children and their own professional practice. The music leaders work alongside young musicians to help them find their own unique musical voices.
Examples of Previous Objectives
To have the opportunity to create their own musical compositions.
To express themselves through improvisation.
To explore new instruments that they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to play before.
To develop their self-esteem and sense of wellbeing.
To develop their trust in others.
To express themselves and how the pandemic has made them feel.
To feel more calm and settled during their time at school.
To develop friendships.
To improve the quality of communication by using music when verbal communication is difficult.
To tackle isolation.
What did the music making sessions involve?
Musical / Rhythm / Co-ordination games
Performing & Sharing
Composing & Improvising
Child led conducting
Beatboxing & Rapping
Call & Response
Examples of Genres Explored Music from other cultures
St Patrick’s Day
Numeracy – number songs
Geography and exploring different cultures
Model Music Curriculum
The Model Music Curriculum categorises in-school music tuition into four components:
4. Musicianship (KS1) or Performing (KS2 & KS3)
The sessions delivered at George Dixon cover all four components listed for example;
Usually sessions begin with a variety of vocal and instrumental warm up activities, this may include improvisatory/call and response games. Singing is integral to the offer, with young people encouraged to sing at every session, usually to their own compositions but sometimes looking at existing popular repertoire (and discussing the context and lyrical meaning of text). Good technique was demonstrated and encouraged throughout including breathing, posture, vocal health, and dynamics.
During the summer term 2021 sessions included listening to a wide variety of music. The children were encouraged to share their musical tastes and the influences of their family and friends. This created a rich wealth of music influences to explore and listen to within the sessions.
The MAC Makes Music approach to working musically with children is based around creativity. Building on warm up activities and improvisation, composition is embedded throughout sessions. Composition during sessions often results in the production of songs, which the children also write their own lyrics for. Graphic scores and imagery is used by and created by the children to notate their compositions.
Musicianship / Performing
The majority of every session is practical with the children playing a range of instruments and singing. The sessions involve group collaborative music making and the opportunities for solo playing. Development of pulse, beat, pitching, rhythm, dynamics is worked on with specific warm-ups and creative tasks. Pupils regularly share musical ideas and perform to each other, with peer feedback encouraged throughout. Stage craft is practiced when the young people perform and record their tracks in front of others.
Parent Feedback (Autumn 2019)
“Magic, helps open minds”
“Helps children come out.”
“Excellent singing D, excellent conducting and dancing J, Great performance from the kids!”
“It is joyful, it’s good and inspiring to children”
“You are singing so beautifully; I didn’t know you could do that.” (parent to child)
“I have enjoyed this chance to get up and dance with my children, it is joyful.”
“Wow what a fantastic performance. Incredible teamwork.”
“M has loved every moment of it. He could not wait until the music session at school, and then he could not wait to tell us about it. He has been asking for a violin, as the one you play for them, and a guitar and a piano. And he already got the drums! Thank you for a wonderful opportunity. …I would really like M to carry on next term.”
Music Leader Reflective Diary Comments
“K came and joined in very joyfully in a full group session. He has anxiety over leaving school and so this was very special for him to relax and join in.”
“Lots of general excitement and happiness today, especially in K's “Thank you Ann and Holly” song which spoke of her enjoyment of music and how much it means to her.”
“There are lots of children who have come from difficult situations around the world, so I wanted to celebrate their cultures and music. I learned the songs they had shown me from their cultures. I love seeing young people light up because they recognise something and they feel that their identity is valued and their voice is being heard.”
“Safe connections are fundamental to meaningful lives, and I could see that several young people really attached significance to coming to see me. Therapeutic things were happening as well as music. I created a safe space where they could express themselves with others, which you don’t always find at school. We need to keep that going because the benefits are so significant.”
Participant Case Study
“K really shone by the end of term. I’d heard about him having frequent meltdowns, but music really helped him remain calm and be kind to others. When I first met him he was very shy and had lots of anxiety about moving to secondary school, which was being exacerbated by the pandemic situation. I could see he often isolated himself at school and was sometimes very angry. I offered him 1-to-1 sessions and saw that music brought him so much joy. Through song writing he expressed his musical identity and he showed that he was willing to try new things. He ended up staying with me all morning, so I gave him a role as my helper. He was brilliant at this! He was so kind to other people, often people he didn’t know, and he gave them space in the group without needing my undivided attention. I think socialising for him is very difficult, but he found his voice and music was clearly a great way for him to break down those social barriers and communicate. Sitting down with a group of people he didn’t know and participating calmly and joyfully was a huge achievement for him.”
0121 446 3222 | email@example.com | @macmakesmusic