Goodbye orange cogs of doom, hello WordPress!

I have finally given up on blogger. There was lots I liked about it in my early days of blogging but the debacle of people being unable to leave comments when I was collecting 100 sigs for the letter to the Telegraph was the straw that broke the camels back.

I assumed it would be far to difficult for a luddite like me to transfer the content from blogger to wordpress but it was ridiculously easy!

Help!!! Had call from Telegraph

Have had a telephone call from Telegraph. They would very much like to publish our letter IF we can add a couple of more sentences making it clearer to their readers what our concerns are.

No problem I thought as I would simply be able to email all the people who left their sigs as a comment. But turns out Blogger (unlike wordpress) doesn’t work like that and so having slightly re written letter I now need to track down the 100 plus sigs to agree.
I need your help in tracking these people down! Can you please tweet the hell out of this so that if anyone doesn’t agree with amended letter they can remove their name.  Have limited time today as it is my partners birthday so would appreciate as much help as you can give contacting people you know from this list.
Extra sentences are in bold
To the Editor,
We are deeply concerned that a Conservative government will damage our educational system. 
As teachers we have seen first hand the impact coalition education policy has had on our schools. Another 5 years of the same ill thought out policies will damage them beyond repair. Increasing and unsustainable workload is already causing teachers to leave in droves. Intensive bureaucratic tracking systems which have little impact on learning and reduce the time teachers can actually teach is further lowering  staff and pupil morale. We simply don’t have confidence that Conservative  education policy is developed from pedagogical principles but is instead guided by an ideology that sees public services as a problem.
Like the business leaders who wrote to you yesterday we would like to use your pages to urge your readers to vote accordingly and we look forward to front page coverage of our issues tomorrow.

If you didn’t originally sign but would like to could you 
A) Try to leave name as sig here
B) Tweet me @jackieschneider

Update on teacher letter to Telegraph

Thank you to everyone who responded to my requests on twitter and facebook for signatures yesterday. You can see the letter and sigs at the bottom of this post

I hope that it is just one of many letters that The Telegraph receive. I know that firefighters and health workers are busy collecting sigs for theirs.

So what have I learned from this experience?

1. Blogger is RUBBISH for allowing people to leave comments. I ended up spending lots of time responding to people who were unable to leave comment. I need to find a better blog platform. Apologies if you wasted time trying

2. The Daily Telegraph starts off every single letter “SIR – …” Really?! In this day and age?!!

3. There is a real appetite from the Great British Public to have their say. People who resent media dominated by voices of ‘rich & powerful’, ‘great and the good’ and the professional commentariat. Political parties and some trade unions could make much more use of this. Instead, most of them just see us as a stage army to come out and act when they want! I don’t think we should be so passive – we can speak out without needing permission!

4. Even without getting this letter promoted by a political party or by trade union official accounts it was easy to make a big noise on twitter. RTs by Zoe Williams, Owen Jones, Jack Monroe and Sunny Hundal meant this letter travelled widely quickly. My facebook friends by and large ignored my requests for sigs. My new haircut got more likes that this initiative!

5. It is always better to do something rather than nothing. The business leaders may have vast media platforms but we have numbers on our side, “We are the many, they are the few”. So many people in this world live under regimes where speaking out leads to doors being kicked in and midnight visits from secret police that it makes us look a little feeble if we don’t use our democratic rights. Moaning on twitter is NOT taking political action!


Huge apologies if I left you off the letter. I got a bit stressed about missing deadlines and lost lots of tweeted replies once I starting to get 100’s of mentions. Sorry 😦 There was no one my end to help me proof read so have done my best to ensure that names are not repeated. There will be no prizes for highlighting my errors!

Thanks to everyone who helped spread this. Let’s see if we can help and support other groups of workers spread their letters.

To the Editor,

We are deeply concerned that a Conservative government will damage our educational system.  Like the business leaders who wrote to you yesterday we would like to use your pages to urge your readers to vote accordingly and we look forward to front page coverage of our issues tomorrow.

Jackie Schneider
Primary school music teacher
Hannah Phillips
Primary teacher
Paul O’Farrell
Secondary Teacher
Ian Leak
Primary Teacher
Kat Kearey 
Secondary Teacher
Rachel Allen
Secondary Teacher
Jeff Billington
Secondary Teacher
Liz Plane
Primary Teacher
Gerald Clark
Secondary Teacher
Charlie Brennan 
Secondary Teacher
Kiri Tunks
Secondary teacher
Abby King
Primary Teacher
Amanda Bentham
Teacher of the Deaf
Simon Murch
Primary Teacher
Keith Martin
University Lecturer
Jennie Harper
Primary Teacher
Sian Bloor
Primary Teacher
Dave Mingay 
Special Needs Teacher
Tony Dowling
Behaviour Support Teacher
Naomi Fearon
Primary SEN and ESBD Teacher
Liz Nolan.
Retired Science, Humanities and ED teacher.
Clare Fenwick 
ITE Lecturer
Hilary Porter
Primary Teacher
Jill Hayward
Former Local Authority Education Administrator & School Governor
Dianne Khan
Primary Teacher
John Merriman
Secondary Teacher, former School governor and business owner
Christine Hallett
University Professor
Carl Sumner
Primary teacher
Lizz Tinder
Teacher and Associate Lecturer
Paul Rigby
Recently retired FE (37 yrs service)
Carol Machell
Retired Head Teacher
Rachel Coles
DT teacher
Tait Coles
Liz Gleed
Secondary teacher
Jo Baker
Secondary teacher
Dennis Charman
Teacher, Governor, parent, grandparent
Michele Hanson
Taught for 25 years
Neil Townsend
Physics teacher
Charles Thomas 
Maths teacher
Richard Raftery
Teacher and NUT member
Marie Goodwyn
Primary Teacher (22 years)
Russell Smith 
1-1 tutor (11 years)
Gart Barker
Former full time teacher, I now do occasional supply
Sarah Walters
Early Years Professional.
Jennifer Hill
Primary Teacher
Peter Walker
University Lecturer (retired)
Simon Nash
Secondary teacher
Jolyon Agar 
University Lecturer and writer
Dave Birkenhead 
Secondary teacher
Caroline Merser 
Secondary teacher
Leigh Seedhouse
PRU teacher and musician
Sarah Rodgers
Secondary Teacher
Rick Jones, 
Primary school governor
Paul Atkin
Primary Teacher
Ben Hetchin 
Conor Tannam
English Teacher
Ukachi Akalawu
Primary Teacher
Neil Rodaway
Secondary Teacher
Mike Jones 
History teacher
Helen Jenkins
Early Years Professional
Sue Jamal
SEN Teacher
Tania Ziegler
Sixth Form College Teacher
Philip Davis
Secondary Teacher
Linda Davis
Retired Secondary Deputy Head
Jennifer Marples
Secondary teacher
Sarah Walker
Secondary teacher
Laura Emma
Primary Teacher
Chloe Sheppard
Primary teacher
Tom Linden, 
Primary school teacher
Ian Sharp
Former Sixth Form College Vice Principal
Tamsin Egan
Science teacher of 16 years, last 5 most shambolic
Rachael Milling, 
retired infant teacher
Sylvia Wheatley
Secondary teacher (retd.)
Byron Sheffield
Head of Maths 
Secondary teacher
Robbie Mitchell
30 Yrs a Teacher of Music & Performing Arts.
Karen Alnoah
Primary teacher
S Thom
Primary Teacher
Michael Guy
Primary School Teacher
David Webster
University Lecturer.
Adrian Whitwell
Secondary teacher
Jo Heathcote
Secondary Teacher
John Slough
Primary Teacher
Mohammed Wasiq
Secondary teacher
Ian Goodyer
Primary Teacher
Carmel O’Hagan
PGCE Course Tutor
Kirsty Millar-Kent
Teacher of the Visually Impaired and ex primary school teacher
Toni Clarke
Sara Tomlinson
Primary Teacher
Amy Trowell 
primary school teacher
Helen Doyle, 
Secondary teacher
Bridget Chapman, 
Supply teacher
Jenny Brooks, 
Secondary Teacher
Bryan McConnell 
Science teacher
Ed Finch, 
Primary Teacher
Tom Hodgins 
Secondary English teacher
Lynda Webb 
Director of Performing Arts Oxfordshire
Samantha Nuttall. 
Primary Teacher
Robbie Mitchell
Music and performing arts teacher
Elvett Phipps 
Upper School teacher and NUT member
Sue Baynes, 
Primary Teacher
Amy Murch
Primary Teacher 
 Lianne Onslow, FE Teacher
Helen Doyle, 
Secondary teacher
Sally Kenny
Deputy Head and PGCE tutor
Louise Best 
Education Consultant
Keith Brindle

Education Consultant

I need 100 teacher sigs!

I awoke this morning to news reports that 100 business leaders oppose a labour government and support the Conservatives. This has been reported as news.  Why should this group of powerful rich people have more say than you or I?

What if we asked 100 surgeons, 100 firefighters, 100 hairdressers, 100 carers for their views on next government?

That’s when it occurred to me that I could probably find 100 teachers to sign a letter.

On its own it will have no impact but what if it inspired other groups to write their own letters? Wouldn’t it  at least challenge the notion that only our business leaders voices matter?

Please read letter below and leave your name as a comment if you want to sign it.

I’m not a member of any political party. I’d like to be a Labour Party member but am unable to agree with their more reactionary policies. I disagree with many of their educational policies but I know that nothing can be as bad as another Tory government with possibly UKIP support.

This may well be a waste of time but I’m sick of this general election already. I think it is about time we hear from ordinary people.

In the unlikely event I get 100 sig I will do my best to get letter sent out today.

Dear Telegraph,

We are deeply concerned that a Conservative government will damage our educational system.  Like the business leaders who wrote to you yesterday we would like to use your pages to urge your readers to vote accordingly and we look forward to front page coverage of our issues tomorrow.


Using LSO ideas in the classroom

Not being one to let the grass grow under my feet I have spent the last 2 days trying out some of the ideas from the LSO education day (which this Monday – you can see my earlier post here)

1. The warm up with a year 3 class.

I spent quite a long time with year 3 passing around multiple claps around a circle. We got a socratic circle thing going with a couple of kids stood in the circle following the claps round, noting strategies that seemed to work and identifying behaviours associated with dropping the claps. Hearing the kids report back was much more powerful than me giving feedback. The children then discussed the different emotions they felt doing this activity. Many of them mentioned anxiety, nervousness, joy,when it had gone well, tension and the feeling you couldn’t relax for a minute. The children discussed the feedback given by children and everyone agreed an individual strategy for improving their own performance. Main ideas were letting go of the clap once you had passed it on and looking back in the direction clap came from. We then stood back up and repeated the exercise. There was a marked improvement. We were able to get 4 claps going around provided I spaced them carefully and we stuck to a one beat clap.

This exercise was brilliant for creating a sense of ensemble and showing our dependence on each other. I wont spend as long but will repeat this exercise over the next few weeks. Might even create a performance piece out of it. Will give other kids a chance to observe and feedback.

2. The oom – pa and oom pa-pa activities from Rites of Spring.

With a different year 3 class we sat in a circle and clapped an oom pa for a girl and an oom -pa -pa. It took quite a while to get right. To help us I chose a child to conduct who walked around the circle pointing to each child in turn to show the rest of the class where we up to. The random order that the kids had sat down in made an interesting pattern. The kids were keen to be a composer and move kids into different patterns. I wasn’t able to introduce a third oop-pa-pa-pa as the children were struggling  but will use this again next week and see if we can move it up a gear.

3. Rite of Spring rhythm

I had hoped to be able to use this rhythm with our class recorders. However the children round it really difficult.We started doing it by shouting the bigger numbers but the children found it hard to go from shouting to quiet without lots of practise. In the end we concentrated on just getting line 1 & 2 perfect. We did this using lots of body percussion. The children experimented with using stamps, claps, clicks & sounds. After a bit of practise we were able to split into 2 groups with one group marking every pulse and the rhythm group making a loud sound on the big numbers. Groups then had to be prepared to swap at a moments notice. We hastily transferred on to classroom percussion for the chug chug steady pulse whilst a smaller group just played loud sounds on the djembes on the big number. This activity was hugely popular with the kids and I had almost push them out of the room at the end of the lesson as they pleaded one more go, one more go! One the kids have got the rhythm securely I will look at adding recorders with kids choosing notes. I’d like to develop this into a recorder piece that we can play in our concert alongside the more traditional recorder songs we usually play. Wonder if anyone will bring vegetables to throw? 

4. Binary form with year 2

I took a box of untuned percussion into my year 2 classrooms today and told the children that they were going to help me create a new piece of music in 2 sections with each section having a different feel. I tipped the instruments onto the floor and asked the class for different criteria on how we could sort the sound. The children had a go at sorting and came up with lots of really valid ways to sort but created endless disagreements! In the end one class chose metal and wooden sounds and the other picked shaky and “banging” sounds.

I divided class into 2 sections and each section played a different rhythm that I gave them. The biggest challenge was moving from section A to section B smoothly! 
I recorded both pieces for the classes to hear back. The great thing about this was the kids heard for themselves how noisy the shakers were and were spoiling the rests. This is why I am such a fan of recording audio clips. The kids were able to listen, evaluate and modify. I deleted most of the clips as this is a piece in development but I found I had one left on my phone so you can take a listen. Please bear in mind that this clip is intended for the kids to listen to and not a polished performance! 

All these activities based on Stravinsky’s Rite of Passage have roused my curiosity. I am looking forward to hearing it played by LSO and I will use it as a starting point for making music in my classrooms. Thanks again LSO I hope that this feedback is helpful.

Time – scape by Portsmouth Music hub

I have a huge soft spot for Portsmouth Music Hub for the following reasons:

1. Director Sue Beckett seems enormous fun, runs great boomwhacker workshops and has a down to earth approach to music education that puts the kids squarely at the heart of the job

2. Their song book for the Olympics gave me enough music to teach the entire summer term. The kids I taught adored them and we used the songs to create an unforgettable school opening Olympic ceremony. I use it every year during the summer term to help kids prepare for sports days. It wins me friends amongst PE teachers and there really is a song for everyone including the winners and the losers!

3. They never mind when I refer to them as Southampton as I used to do on twitter all the time.

They very kindly sent me a copy of their newest song collection “Time Scape” which is a collection of songs about the past, present and future. I’ve just had a quick whizz through the CD and have earmarked a couple of songs I know I will be using next term.

The songs are well pitched for kids voices and make use of a range of styles. So here are some of my random observations about the collection

1. It is a joy to find a song that celebrates the awe and wonder of the beginning of the universe. No mystery beings, no deities just “protons, neutrons and electrons”. I don’t object to religious references but It makes a refreshing change to find a song that celebrates science.

2. I know the dinosaur song will win me a few friends amongst a few of my reluctant singers. Ditto “What a wonderful sort of Mummy you are” Am sure the gruesome lyrics will be sung with great relish.

3. Am itching to work on The Roman Army song. I expect the drums, the trumpets and the harmonies in Latin will make for a thrilling performance.

4. Fire, fire is a brilliant idea – new song as the filling between the bread and butter of London’s Burning. Tempted to use this as a song writing exercise with upper 2 where they use a well known folk song or nursery rhyme to bookend a short song they write.

5. I predict that “The War Horse” will be a firm favourite with year 6. Great lyrics.

6. Poppies and Faded Ribbons is a great song to get children to look at Remembrance day from a slightly different perspective. This song stresses the remembrance and raises a tiny question about ethics of “celebration” but not in a heavy handed way that will scare your Head.

So thank you Portsmouth for sharing with me. I will post up some audio clips of my classes singing these songs next term

Update to Dalcroze day blog

After I had written my blog in response to the Dalcroze training

(See here for my first post Taster Day)

 I discovered that someone else on the course called Julia had also written a blog. Her take on the day really brought me up short and made me realise I needed to be clearer. So I am going to ask you to read her blog here

I think Julia is absolutely correct to so clearly identify the gap between the levels of expertise and mastery that professional Dalcroze teachers need and the gaping chasm between that and state classrooms.

Unless Dalcroze can cross that divide it will remain an exclusive approach just for those with the time money and inclination. This is not a criticism of the tutors who run the courses – they are clearly trying their best to be accessible by keeping costs down and trying to run courses when people are free at the weekend.

I think it is a problem for the Dalcroze movent as a whole though that the key philosophical ideas that underpin the teaching are entirely absent from the National Curriculum. They needed to be campaigning hard to ensure that at least a paragraph was devoted to the concept of music as movement was at the heart of the curriculum. At the very least it would have meant teacher trainers, music schemes would have been obliged to address. Where was the Dalcroze voice when wider opportunities was being discussed? When the Mayor’s music fund was being planned? Surely they have plenty to say about the necessity of understanding music physically through the body before big instruments are placed in small hands?

Maybe I am being unfair – Dalcroze exists beyond being a philosophy for children’s music education and maybe it falls to us teachers to speak out for our curriculum but as Julia says in her blog, Dalcroze is certainly a well kept secret for many.

I think we need to ensure that state school teachers are introduced to the central concepts behind Kodaly. We need an explanation of the pedagogy with key principles and a few youtube clips. if I was a Dalcroze ninja I would give a small group of committed state school teachers a free weeks training and then challenge them to create simple lesson ideas/plans to be shared with any teacher that wanted them. Teachers don’t need a detailed manual. Give them the basic philosophy and trust them! Now I know that poses a challenge for organisations who need to keep a clarity and a purity to their work but I think it is a risk worth taking. Dalcroze has SO MUCH to offer music teachers and is so relevant to the arguments currently raging about using instruments, assessments, teaching music musically etc.

What about an evening/weekend meeting for those interested in getting Dalcroze values into primary school music? I’m willing to bet ISM, Sing up, Sound Connections, Musical Futures, all the lovely academics, some of the hubs – in fact anyone with an interest in musical music lessons would be interested in exploring?

The other lesson I’ve learned is the absolute folly for organisations to organise training and then make no time for participants to share and talk. If I had had the opportunity to talk to Julia on the day then maybe it would have refined my thinking. As it is I am grateful that Julia blogged her thoughts and the happy coincidence of The Archers meant we found each other. I know that my thinking and understanding of Dalcroze has been deepened by interacting with Julia.

John Finney has promised to blog about Dalcroze soon. I  look forward to reading it.

Training day with the LSO – teaching music history

St Teresas’s very kindly booked me on to a CPD day run by the very talented Rachel Leach, an Animateur for The London Symphony Orchestra. It was a workshop designed to explore the history of western classical period through class composition, using appropriate musical forms for structure.

We started the day as you would expect with a warm up. We passed a clap around the circle in different directions – something I often do to start. Then Rachel started passing different numbers of claps around – not something I usually do! Rather than changing the direction which often produces anxiety Rachel just kept saving waves of claps around which got everyone focused.

We then changed to a stamp stamp clap rhythm with the stamp stamp going one way and the clap going the other.

Activity 1 – Baroque period

The group was given 2 rhythms which we internalised and clapped which I have now forgotten. I did ask if I could record an audio clip and take some photos to which the answer to my surprise was no! I found this really irritating as it means I can’t stick up here on the blog and then share with my class at a later date. Apparently the rhythm was from a Bouree baroque dance suite. I’ve googled but don’t recognise anything as even remotely similar to what we did!

Anyway, we split into 2 groups. We  were each given a rhythm which we transferred to untuned percussion instruments. I think my group were given te te ta, te te ta, te te ta, ta-ah. Not sure what the other group were given. We then played them in a binary form ie our group as A, followed by other group as B. This apparently was the distinguishing feature of music composed in a Baroque period.

Activity 2 : Classical music 

With this activity we remained in our 2 groups and group 1 were asked to create a melody by leading and swooping through the notes and group 2 were asked to make a step by step melody where the notes had to be adjoining. Despite my being told I couldn’t take photos many other teachers simply took them without asking so I  did take this snap to show the two group compositions. However I’ve forgotten the rhythms

Each of the groups had an LSO orchestra member who played their instrument as the rest of us used assorted xylophones and glocks. We spent time considering the texture and dynamics as well as playing with the melody. We then put them together in an A B form. The next step was to use elements of A & B to create a combined segment. Again, I would love to play you a clip of what we came up with but am unable. Rachel gave us a very clear explanation of the ternary form


However this is more complicated than it looks as we tried to create an


If I’m honest, I’ m a little confused because our A section seemed to be composed of A followed by B, our B section was a mash up of elements of both A & B and our final A section was a repeat of first A section.

The part I enjoyed the most was when we did the mash up and swapped rhythms. It felt satisfying to listen to.

Romantic period

We discussed features of this period but don’t remember doing anything practical with this.


We created 12 sounds and then gave them a number. We then randomly called out the numbers to create a structure. When 2 numbers were called out simultaneously they were played together. The piece was then played backwards and forwards.

Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring

This was our last activity. We composed

1 An early morning, waking up piece
2 “This way, that way” melody”
3 Moaning sounds

We then played with some pretty fiendish rhythms

Rachel did a really great activity with sitting, standing, standing on a chair and male, female clap pattern which we did going round in a circle. When we could do this confidently she showed us this pattern to clap. At this point my brain went into overload andI’m afraid I struggled to keep up with everyone else.

I am going to have a go at this with my key stage 2 classes but obviously I shall take it MUCH slower!

As part of the inset we shall be having a follow up session at the Barbican and then we are invited to watch the LSO perform The Rite of Spring.

Rachel was a great teacher, the activities had been carefully though out and helped me understand more about the features of traditional western music.

I did learn lots about structure and form and I will use this to give a tighter structure to pieces we improvise in class.

I’m disappointed we didn’t have a chance to use the experience in the room. There were lots of music teachers present that I would have loved to talk to about their practice. I would have also appreciated some time to reflect on my learning or maybe even just to observe the music making. I find it hard to listen properly when being expected to perform and follow instructions. These are minor quibbles however and may well be addressed when we do the follow up session at the Barbican.

Overall it was a good day and well worth the cost to the school. I came away with lots to think about and try out.

My final plea though is to ask the LSO to rethink their policy of not allowing audio clips to be recorded! It really is how I learn. When I  scroll back through my past posts about CPD just listening to short audio clips prompt my memory of the day.

Dalcroze taster day

If you are interested in music education I can highly recommend a Dalcroze taster day. I must admit I was nearly put off because the publications look a little dated and I was worried it was a bit twee. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I found the ideas incredibly modern, learner centred and liberating! If it were within my power I would give all early years staff, child minders, parents and primary school teachers a series of workshops introducing the key concepts.

So what is it all about? This is what I picked up from today. (Apologies in advance if there are any inaccuracies – I will need some Dalcroze experts to read through and put me straight)

Apparently Dalcroze was a musician and a prolific composer. He developed his method of teaching in response to his experiences to teaching musicians at a conservatoire. He noticed that students concentrated on virtuosity at the expense of interpretation. He was concerned that they were unable to internalise sound and that they had lots of “rhythmic issues” with their playing. He wanted the musicians to get the music into their bodies, to learn through movement. He started from concept that all music starts with movement. He wanted the musicians to be moved and not just emotionally but physically. Tables and chairs were moved out of the way and shoes, socks and even corsets were removed.

The Dalcroze method has 3 elements which are referred to in totality as “Eurythmics”

1. Rhythmics – this involves exploring every single element/aspect of music through movement. This includes pulse, notation, texture, dynamics, metre, phrasing and everything else you can think of

2. Aural training – similar to Kodaly principals but with students physically representing intervals, stepping out melodies, feeling difference between chords before naming them

3. Improvisation – starting with the body before you get to sound.

There is overlap between each of these branches. As a result of using this method the learners body becomes more coordinated, listening skills are refined, inhibitions are removed, different areas of the body are identified and controlled, muscle memory is used to explore rhythms. students get used to working as individuals, in partnership and in large ensembles.

Having worked with musicians Dalcroze realised that rather than just using his method to correct problems in established musicians it would be better to establish his principles as the base for good musical education for all children.

I’m not going to outline the whole day but the following are some activities that I want to remember in order to use appropriately with some of my classes.

1. Numbering distinct areas of the body. Calling out the number and asking students to move that part of the body in a conversation with a partner.

2. Driving your partner as a car

Using gentle signals to drive partner and responding as the car to those signals involved precision and concentration!

2. Clapping a semi breve whilst keeping our arms in motion so we could feel and develop muscle memory of how long a semi breve lasts in an musical rather than mathematical way.

3. Simple stop start signals using 2 different sounds. This showed the need to actually LISTEN rather than predict simple stop go pattern. This apparently simple exercise showed me I was responding in a rather Pavlovian way of predicting instead of really listening.

4. Using balls to bounce a beat, roll a beat and respond to change in metre.

5. Using a scarf to mark a phrase

After lunch we did a great improvisation session which started with movements, which were then vocalised. The session could have gone in any number of directions but we decided to turn our vocalisations into musical sound on the assortment of musical instruments that participants had brought along. What I especially liked about the improv session was how tightly constrained we were. By locking down several elements it meant we could really push the boundaries & be creative.

Our tutor described different ways of using bean bags for helping kids feel 3/4 time whilst crossing the midline using the rhythms
1. Rainbow
2. Pineapple
3. Pizza

The final session was aural training. I was particularly excited because our tutor demonstrated lots of different stress free ways to help our students find their singing voice. Physically throwing imaginary snowballs, to swinging while singing ee and using our bodies to be fireworks were all brilliant tactics I plan to use. We were reminded that children need to hear their own voices and blocking one ear while singing is a simple way to do this.

I loved this way into notation. By using 2 skipping notes children would be able to step out lots of different melodies and then later fix with bean bags. this looks a great way into teaching sight singing.
I’m afraid this blog hasn’t really done justice to the day. However I was keen to note down some of the activities so that it will act as a prompt for me, even if it isn’t particularly satisfying for the reader! All of the tutors were fantastic. They were really exceptionally good teachers. They pitched the activities at the right level and modified to ensure we kept moving forward. We were constantly challenged and asked to reflect on our learning to ensure we could isolate barriers and successful strategies. Genuinely outstanding teaching.
So what did I learn about my self?
1. I was guilty of over thinking and trying to predict the ‘right’ answer. When I relaxed and responded instinctively I was much more likely to be successful. Trying too hard is not always the best strategy.
2.  I was slow in responding to change in pitch direction. I needed much more time and practise than the people around me. However I worked out that I was better in tracking higher sounds than low ones.
3. It was physically pleasurable using the balls and scarves to respond to the music. I was surprised how enjoyable it was working as a group on this.
I would like to learn more but I know I’m not in a position to commit to proper training. I would like to scatch below the suface some more so maybe a week long course or a summer school school might work out best. I will however do some research about Dalcroze and I hope to use some of his principles to guide my own planning and teaching.
You can find out more about Dalcrose by clicking here

Music Ed Expo 2015

I was in two minds about going to Music Ed Expo but the gathering of so many great music education people under one roof settled it for me so off I toddled. Here are my top takeaways from the day.

1. There were more state school teachers here than I had expected. Good on the organisers for keeping it free for attendees.

2.  I signed up for a Dalcroze taster day next Sunday. Must learn how to pronounce Dalcroze before then.

3. Poor acoustics & lack of free wi fi were disappointing.

4. Although I was too late to attend Nick Gibbs session I was pleased my tweet got read out to him. I had asked him if a school should be able to receive an outstanding judgement if there music provision was poor. I heard through the grapevine that he gave a typical politician answer and refused to answer with a yes or no. Anyone surprised?

5. John Finney is exactly the same in real life as he is on twitter! First time I’ve met him in real life. He felt like an old friend!

6. Musical Futures team were on fine form. Really looking forward to their conference next October. Great workshop.

7. I met Katherine Zeserson and we are so going to buddy up!

8. The presence of Musicians Union and the NUT greatly cheered me. So pleased that they are working together. Had a quick skim read of their new report looking on the impact of National Plan on the workforce. Very worrying. Zero hours contracts are not the way forward.

9. Discovered Voce8 method. Impressive workshop and their youtube videos are clear, instructive and inspire confidence. Planning to give it a whirl

10. The networking was the best thing about the day. Just some of the people I enjoyed talking to : Phillip Flood, Sue Beckett, Henry Vann, Michelle James and David Price.