Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Music Transition Project Completes its Fifth Year!

Music Education Officer, Isabelle Carré, tells us about the Music Transition Project run by Hands-on-Music in Museums:

We have just completed our fifth Music Transition Project for Headington Partnership schools. 

What is it?
A hands-on music project involving pupils moving from primary to secondary school.

Creating our own piece on instruments from the Pitt Rivers © Pitt Rivers Museum 

Part 1: Primary  (Summer 2014)
Seven classes of 11 year olds across four primary schools (Bayards Hill, Windmill, Wood Farm and St Andrew’s) participated in the first phase at the end of the summer. Creative sessions in which they composed their own pieces in small groups were followed by a half day African music workshop at the Pitt Rivers Museum.

African Music at the Pitt Rivers Museum © Pitt Rivers Museum 
Playing the giant Ugandan xylophone © Pitt Rivers Museum

Pupils from St Andrew's C of E Primary School wrote blogs about their visit to the Pitt Rivers Museum exploring the African collections and playing traditional music from Busoga on a giant Ugandan xylophone:

Giant Xylophone Keys © Pitt Rivers Museum
“Yo Peeps wad up again! Today I played one of the biggest xylophones in THE WORLD. It was well xylophoney. (New Word!) It was amazing. Also I did a trail around the museum where we had to find different African objects. I also learnt a song which was about trying to impress a woman.” 

Exploring the Pitt Rivers © Pitt Rivers Museum

“Hello! Today’s museum trip was EPIC! We did a trail hunt where we had to find objects around the Pitt Rivers. The giant xylophone was awesome - as big as a rhino. The piece that we played on it sounded really cool. I did the mixer part, which was epic!”

“Today was totally cool. Our class went to the Pitt Rivers Museum for an amazing morning. My group learnt to play a massive Ugandan xylophone (the size of a car!) There was a song that went with the tune ‘Bojo abwoli webale, Bojo webale abwoli’. The words meant ‘Thank you my friend’ and was a traditional Ugandan love song. Yuk!”

“Yo! Gr8 time at the museum on Tues. We did a trail and found objects related to status. Giant xylophone big as an elephant. We played a song originally meant to impress a woman. OOhhhhhhhh!”

Part 2 – Secondary  (Autumn 2014)
As those pupils moved to secondary school in the autumn all 270 pupils in Year 7 at Cheney School learnt to play a traditional piece on Javanese gamelan (a bronze percussion orchestra from Indonesia).
Year 7 pupils from Cheney School wrote about their experience:

“In music we learned how to play the Javanese Gamelan which I enjoyed very much. I learned how a single instrument can direct an orchestra of many instruments. As I never heard of the Gamelan before, I was very nervous and anxious if I could do it but thanks to Isabelle my instructor, I learnt everything very quickly. The first time I met her, I was in primary school so it was nice to have a familiar face around. If anyone asked me to try again I would definitely do it.”

Gamelan with Year 7 at Cheney School © Pitt Rivers Museum
“I found learning to play the Gamelan instruments really fun and educational. Not only did we learn to play some music we also learned about Indonesian culture. I like how our instructor made everything more fun and interesting. I really liked learning and playing Gamelan Music.”

“The Gamelan contains lots of amazing instruments and is really fun to play. It’s quite different from normal instruments. Different in a good way – it’s high and low music all at once. It has a good beat and it’s interesting. You are always involved and active.”

Why do a Transition Project?
·      The transition from primary to secondary school is a sensitive time for many children when they can experience a lack of continuity and a loss of self-confidence. A Transition Project aims to help bridge that gap, increase their confidence and give them a positive start at secondary school.

Why a Hands-on Music Project?
·      As this is also a time when some children give up their regular musical activities, one aim was to engage them in a fun, practical project to boost their enthusiasm and enjoyment in making music.
·      All learning in this project was by ear or by contact with instruments (not by written notation), so encouraging and valuing skills other than those they typically use in most classroom situations.
·      Sessions encouraged teamwork. They aimed to build the pupils’ confidence in their creative and musical abilities as well as their ability to work as a group.

A view from Cheney Head of Music Emma Jordan:
“Students joining us in year 7 can often have very different experiences of music education, depending on the primary school they previously attended. This project goes a long way to helping them all feel equal at the start of their secondary music experience, and makes their transition from primary music so much smoother. It also helps them feel engaged with the subject here at Cheney from their very first lesson.
Students are excited to be working with Isabelle again, and with the gamelan orchestra. They get an insight into the music and culture of Indonesia, whilst at the same time developing their ensemble, listening and general musicianship skills.”

A last word from a Year 6 pupil at Windmill School:

"We learnt to work as a team, and I have learnt how to use inspiration during music.  You can play everything when you  use your mind."
Find out more about Hands-On Music in Museums 

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