Music, Performing Arts and Rosenshine: Provide scaffolds for difficult tasks

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Music, Performing Arts and Rosenshine: Provide scaffolds for difficult tasks
  • As your students’ musical development progresses, do you gradually withdraw scaffolds to develop independence with increasing confidence?
  • How do you differentiate the content or tasks used within lessons, to ensure all are able to access the learning on their level?
  • To what extent do you make use of your assessment data to direct appropriate scaffolding to each student?
  • When do you make use of partially complete musical ideas or imperfect performances to act as a starting point to teach how to problem solve or overcome barriers in a creative process?

We all think about how to cater for the least able or confident musicians, actors and dancers in our classrooms, but do we ensure that for all students, scaffolds are gradually withdrawn, to ensure they become more independent over time? It is worth thinking about how this can be built this into long term plans.

In music, ability isn’t binary: students can be highly skilled in one area and much weaker in others. It is important that we use their assessment data to consider for each task who needs scaffolding to move them forward. This applies to higher ability students too, when trying to extend them further.

If every example we use in class is perfect, it could leave students feeling inadequate, furthermore, we are not then teaching students how to problem solve or to overcome barriers. It is important that we model this too.

Also to note: scaffolds do not just need to be in the form of worksheets with extra information on them. The way you set a task itself can be a form of scaffolding: very specific briefs for tasks can support the creation of authentic artistic ideas.

For example, in African Drumming: each part is modelled as a whole class first, and each week every group performs the section they have been working on (this can be filmed).

Week 1) Compose a call and response section with at least 4 call and response patterns and notate using djembe font notation/rhythm grid (extension task: nominate students to be the djembe fola and play the call)
Week 2) Revise call and response and then compose a polyrhythm with 3 or more 8 beat rhythms – each student notates their own rhythm (extension: one must be syncopated/off beat)
Week 3) Create a break section using either canon or tutti ostinato and rehearse breaking and returning to polyrhythm (djembe fola to give musical signal)
Week 4) Add a section where ensemble plays unison ostinato and students take it in turn to do a solo improvisation over the top
Week 5) Revise full composition, decide on final structure (notate) and add dynamic shading
Week 6) Full performances and review.

Catherine Barker is the Head of Music and  Performing Arts at United Learning. You can find her on Twitter @United_Music1.This post first appeared on her blog, Music and Performing Arts at United Learning.

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