Transcript of Episode 12

[Music]

Julia Brennan – Hi everyone and welcome to Chatting Creative Arts. I'm here today with the amazing Dr James Humberstone and I'll talk to you a little bit more about him, but today we're going to be having a little bit of a session on composition in the K- 6 classroom within music in the creative arts K L. A. (key learning area). So welcome James, it's lovely to have you here today. James is the senior lecturer in Music education at the Sydney Conservatory of Music, so, thank you so much for being here today, James.

Dr James Humberstone – Thank you, pleased to be here.

Julia – Great, well today we're going to be talking a lot about the use of organising sound or composition in the primary classroom and really debunking the myth that surrounds this whole idea in primary classrooms and really unpacking how teachers can use composition in the classroom. So, thanks for sharing your expertise with us today, James. So, to start with James, let's hear a little bit about your music education journey, where it started and where it's taken you through the years, all of those kinds of things.

James – Yep, lovely. I went to a little public primary school in the northwest of England with a whole 17 children in it in the countryside, and a very musical headmistress who used to sit at the piano and get us to sing along to Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals. I started playing piano when I was seven, I took up trombone when I was about 12, but I was always really interested in the idea of writing music composing and so before I even really had the skills to write down what I was making up, I'd be making up stuff as a kid. And I was really lucky. I played in the county youth orchestra, which would be like the equivalent of Arts Unit stuff, or Sydney Youth Orchestra here in Sydney, and the conductors would say, if you want to write something we’ll play it.

And so even as a teenager, I was really lucky to have supportive music teachers around me who would say, you know, yeah, bring your music we’ll play it, we'll put it on. And I followed that. I went off to university to study composition, done a bunch of composition degrees since, and I also always had technology as a hobby and actually that hobby got me my first jobs in music, doing music software stuff. I used to work for a little British company called Sibelius, making some music notation software and literally just doing the tech support and stuff. And I worked there for about 10 years, building education features in the end for that. So, I've always been interested in music technology and composition or something together.

And finally, I would say that I always promised that I would never become a teacher because both of my parents were teachers, they're both public school teachers in the northwest of England and I used to watch them when the national curriculum was coming in, filling in forms all weekend and preparing and marking and working incredibly hard, and I always thought that that will never be me. But shortly after I moved to Sydney in the early 2000s, a friend said would I come and cover his teaching at a school teaching composition specifically for a term. And I went in and did that one little term of just you know, one or two days a week teaching music improvisation, composition, two kids. And I just loved it and I found why my parents have been teachers and I felt the calling.

So, so even though I had already been studying composition for years, then I went trained as a teacher and I also did my PhD, I actually did a Masters of teaching and a PhD at the same time because I'm an idiot. And I taught for 12 years. I've taught at a private school in Sydney where they had things like you know, composers on staff, but I also did a lot of guests teaching all over the world. I’ve taught composition of music technology in China, for instance, New Zealand, all over the place. And then in 2013 I moved to the Sydney Conservatory which for me at the time, I think when I made that move was really to allow more space and time for writing music, but since getting there I think I've really discovered that actually my teaching practice and my music education practice radicalizing music educators if you like, is actually just as important part of what's important to me in my life.

Julia – Wow, that's amazing. I love that you call Sibelius, ‘a little’ music publishing company or whatever you call them. Quite extraordinary. Well, you hear that pattern of the person with parents, teachers, resistance all the time and then it always happens, we all cave in, don't we? It’s that joy that we can share with Children.

James – Exactly.

Julia – So why does music mean so much to you? Tell us a little bit about how it's influenced you professionally and personally?

James – Yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, I think I would start off by saying music means so much to everyone and I can say that both, you know, just as somebody who loves music and does music every day because I sort of lived this privileged life. But also, the research shows us that music is incredibly important to us when we're children, when we're growing up, it's part of the culture or the cultures around us that we grow up in. So therefore, its home music is part of our sense of home and family. And then we reach adolescence and start forming our own identities and music is central to that formation of our young adult identity. So yeah, I'm a professional musician, I know lots about music, but in many ways, I feel like it's important in my everyday life. It's just the same as everyone else.

You know, it's a huge part of my identity, it's a huge part of my life now, I get to actually, I've got the skills to play it and to make it. I've just finished working on a show for the Brisbane Festival, which unfortunately because of the covid stuff happening hasn’t been fun, but I get to actually write music for a living as part of part of what I do, and that's great. But when it comes to, you know, why does music mean so much to me? I think it means so much to me for the same reason that it does everyone. It’s just a huge part of who I am.

Julia – That's great, That's really interesting. You just talked about two things that I thought were very interesting to pull out; the sensory awareness that you have had as part of this musical journey and also the building of identities. I mean, you and I we both discussed this before, we've got teenage daughters and I'm just starting to see how all of the social connections are based around the musical identities of all of these girls, that that's what they're forming their friendships around, and it's fascinating to watch. Tell us a little bit more about that.

James – Well, I mean, it is really interesting. There's a fantastic study, anyone can download it and it's very, very easy to read from youth music that came out in 2019, they’re a charity in the UK and they do a lot of projects working with young people and a lot of them are disadvantaged people or young people who have been disconnected from society a little bit. But what they did was that they went and interviewed over 1000 young people in the UK and from all different socioeconomic status backgrounds. So, they got a real wide gamut and also, you know, looking at people who have music formally in their life who have piano lessons or whatever that thing is, people who, who don't, and in fact that, you know, maybe don't have any music classes at school at all, It's just entirely part of their informal life.

And what they found was that music is the most important, the equal most important thing in young people's lives. This is from the age of nine through to 17, it's equal to gaming. And many of us who are nerdy music teachers were very, very pleased to find out that were as cool as gaming. But of course, it's because of that identity formation.

So, when you think about what young people form their identity around and typically we tend to think of adolescence. But it begins much earlier than that, it begins in primary school, for sure. Um you know, you have little fashions to do with television shows or nowadays it would probably be streaming shows, that kind of thing. You know, then you've actually got, you know, pop music self and stuff like that, and all of this stuff gets intermingled and as you say, it becomes part of friendship groups and part of group identities and individual identities and you know, I have, yes, my teenage daughter has had a sort of, you know, a double upbringing and that she's done the classical music thing, she's sung in Sydney Children's Choir, she's performed in the opera, all that kind of stuff, but she has normal teenage friendship groups, they revolve around particular music.

I've noticed recently, you get these online influencers and even when those people are making videos about maybe there's a Minecraft streamer that that Minecraft streamer will have a dedicated music style or music interests. And so, the kids who are into that Minecraft streamer or whatever it is, are also into the music that that person shares or uses as, so it's just so important for kids and it's really easy for us as adults to poo poo it, but I don't know why we do that because it's just as important to us as kids. And how we feel. I heard the other day when I was shopping in

Woolworth's, a song that I can remember was on the compilation ‘Now That's What I Call Music 4’ and I can't remember who it was by, but I'm wandering down the shopping aisle in Woollies singing along to this terrible pop song from the 1980’s and it's bringing back all these visceral feelings of what it was like to be a 10 year old kid growing up in that funny small little village in the northwest of England. So, you know, is this stuff goes really deep and we shouldn't dismiss that with young people. We we can tap into that. It's incredibly powerful. And you know, you'll hear a lot of people saying our kids don't like music, kids don't like music in schools, it's boring, blah blah blah, but kids love music full stop. Kids love music and we can yeah, we can really tap into that.

Julia – Absolutely. I’m going to pick you up on one little word that you used in there that I know you use frequently but just so anyone who is listening to this can understand what you’re talking about. You used the word ‘musics’. Can you tell us what you mean by that?

James – Well let’s not go and read all the books on music philosophy. I mean, really, what the sort of people who are doing the most exciting and interesting stuff in music education have been interested in since the 1960s. This isn't even new anymore. But what they've really been interested in is kids developing, learning about music and all of the other lovely learning that goes on with that, that we might talk about a bit later. But learning through doing the music. So, if it's listening, not putting the poor kids and you know, lines and giving them worksheets to fill in and all that kind of stuff. But actually, moving and talking and discussing and playing along with or singing along with. And also, that when we talk about music in the classroom context as well in children's lives context, that we're not just talking about one music as we define it.

In fact, we've got this, we're really lucky, New South Wales. We've got this wonderful inclusive syllabus that asks us to teach from lots and lots of broad variety of musical cultures, ones that our children already know about and then also to broaden their appetite for different music and musical cultures. And that's why we say ‘musics’ because we really want kids to be involved in all of the different kinds of music or all of the ‘musics’ and also all of the ‘music-ing’. So that's all of the different ways of making and being involved with music. And of course, anyone out there who's, who's terribly fussy about their grammar might say ‘no James, music isn't a verb. There's no such thing as ‘music-ing’. But in music education, philosophy there is.

Julia – Absolutely. Thank you, James for clearing that one up for us. So, you've sort of touched on this. But let's go a little bit deeper. Why is music so important for our students?

James – Yeah. So, the first thing I think it's really important to acknowledge and it's… this is a big part of some kinds of advocacy in education, that there are extrinsic benefits to studying music. So, when I say extrinsic, I mean things other than making music. So, you know, you can go and look at the studies on things like improved behavior, spatial temporal reasoning, confidence, self efficacy, improved mood and socialization, all that stuff. And I want all of the school principals who listen to this podcast to really care about that because those are cherries on top for why we do music. But that's not why music is important for our students and not why we should be teaching music. We should be teaching music because music is just fantastic. It's an important part of being human.

There isn't a modern musical culture or an ancient musical culture that doesn't have music. Music is such a huge part of self expression. And we want, we're trying to, let's think about what is education for, is education for getting high NAPLAN results and all that kind of stuff? Or is education preparing our kids for life? Now, I would like to argue that we can prepare our kids for life and they might get some nice NAPLAN results on the way, not the other way around. And music, music allows kids to develop self-expression through music, musical self-expression to have regular moments of joy in their lives, which by the way, they'll have at home. So, we might as well bring them into the class anyway through music. It allows them to musically explore who they are and how they are in the world. And again, I think that really links to what education is for, you know, taking young people and preparing them to preparing them as Dewey said, to turn out outwards and face the world and be part of the world. And on that front, all of the team, doing bits of music.

When we're in a musical group we’re automatically part of a team, but we're not just part of a team in terms of buzzwords of collaboration, the teamwork is for making something beautiful that can't be made by its individual components. So, you're teaching kids that together, they can do something which is actually totally out of their grasp on their own. It's not just, okay, we're all going to build a build out of paper straws between these two desks, where the two smart kids do it and they push the other four kids out of the way, all the too bossy kids or you know, whatever. And obviously we need to learn geometry too. But when you do with that musical thing, then you're actually having that aesthetic moment, those purely musical experiences and they are, as I said before, they're just as important for adults and we shouldn't sort of pooh pooh them when we see kids having those.

And so, we have those experiences, we learn music and we do music for the joy of music and for those musical experiences and we understand those musical experiences as knowledge themselves. And then if we get any extrinsic benefits, you know, we can point to the studies where they say, oh yeah, look, those are standardised tests in literacy and numeracy happened to go up in those schools who did a lot of music. Yeah, That's great. That to me, that's icing on the cake. Um, but yeah, music is important for our students because music is an important part of being human.

Julia – Wow. Um, yes. And that, that, look, that's huge. You've covered a lot of stuff in that last little answer. Can I just go back to one thing that you said that may mystify some people, you mentioned an aesthetic moment. What do you mean by that?

James – Yeah. So, I think, I think one of the things that's happened with music education is that back in the 1960s when we were formalising what's become to be, our kind of modern curriculum, the arts felt a real necessity to justify its place. And so, what we would tend to do is that we would say, well, music is very good because it can improve. You know, it can improve the standing of people. It can teach them how to be, you know, good well behaved, that we can make them sing songs about how to be good citizens and that kind of stuff. We can teach them what beautiful is. So that that left us then with a very kind of classical music-based music education and a very strict Western idea of what is beautiful.

Whereas to me, when you are actually ‘music-ing’ to use that word again, when you're actually in music playing with music, having fun with music, making music, listening, talking, discussing playing around with improvising, composing, then you are having aesthetic experiences. You're actually, you're actually getting understandings of those musics and those musical cultures which really contribute to your understanding of the world around you. And there's a lot of research about culturally responsive pedagogy which is something that came out of America to try and encourage teachers to engage with their students when they were teaching students who had a different cultural heritage to themselves.

But actually, every musical, I think every music class has some culturally responsive pedagogy in it. Because music gives us these opportunities to really connect with our students and connect with them through what I called aesthetic experience. But what I mean is that that buzzing moment when you're actually doing music.

Julia – ‘The buzzing moment when you're actually doing music’. Beautiful. Thank you. I'm writing that down as we speak. I love it. So, a lot of people might be listening to you talking James and feeling inspired and thinking, wow, this is fantastic. But I might have limited experience in what I can consider to be able to teach music effectively. How do I get over that? Is it possible for me to teach it if I don't have much experience in music? How do we go about it?

James – Okay, so I'm going to turn this question on its head. Uh I really want to speak, I want to speak directly to the music, sorry, to the, to the teachers out there, not just the music teachers out there, to everyday classroom teachers, you know, what does that limited experience actually mean? Because there's nobody in the world who actually has limited experience with music. So, let's understand what we mean when we say that we're actually talking about what I'd call old fashioned music education. That old fashioned music education, which involves lots of writing notation on the board and lots of doing music theory and getting out instruments and being a conductor of the instruments and being able to sight sing off the score so that you can correctly teach the thing right to the kids in front of you. And of course, all of that stuff is incredibly useful if you want to do something like run a traditional concert band and those kind of things and schools have those and that's fantastic. So, I'm not for one second saying that those aren't fantastic things to be able to do.

But what I want to say, is that they are not music education for every child. And when we're in the classroom, we need music education for every child, not just the one whose parents want them to go and get a trumpet or a violin, not just for the ones who want them to be able to read and write music as good as wonderful as those things are. So, we have to turn the question around, we have to say, what should music education for every child look like? And as soon as you do that, you understand, you don't have limited experience because, you know, children, in fact, you know, your children and that is we know that the best thing that any teacher of any subject can have right, knowing the children, the human beings, the people in your class.

So, if you know your children, and you know your music, and you know their music, you don't actually have limited experience anymore because you've got that connection with them now. At this point you're saying yes, but I still don't know how to actually teach the music class. Yes, I know the kids. So, then I say, don't be afraid, you know, get rid of those notions of the high musical literacy being useful. Yes, musical literacy is a thing, we can all learn it, we can all go and do some extra professional development if we want to and add that to our teaching, but it's not what we need for the experience of doing music for every child in our music classrooms. So, sing the songs, you know, sing the songs that they know or that they would like to sing, ask them what they want to sing. Obviously you might be a little wary of some of the music that they'd like to sing. That's okay. These things can happen in negotiation with our kids. They do all day anyway around other things like, you know, the latest tv show or video game or whatever. Don't be afraid.

There's this terrible cultural thing in music education where if we're not playing it ourselves on the piano or reading it off a score, we're not doing it properly. That's rubbish, play the track off Spotify, use a backing track off YouTube. Don't worry about having to have things written down. If you can listen along to a song and tap the beat of the song, you've already got enough stuff to start making music, especially in the earlier stages. Immediately remember that most musical cultures around the world. And I'm talking about more than 90% whether traditional or modern commercial, do music by ear.

So, if you love music and you know the right music to put on in your classroom, start there, start with the kids start tapping a beat around, start trying to work out what notes are on the baseline. If you've got a random instrument in the class, something, get the kids to help you muck in and do it alongside them. And don't necessarily think that proper repertoire means classical music or folk songs out of those old school books. And again, I'm not being anti classical me, I'm a classically trained composer, so obviously I'm not being anti classical music, but the syllabus doesn't ask us to just teach classical music and folk songs. The syllabus asked us to teach a wide variety of musics that I'm saying ‘musics’ again.

Okay, so, so start with the culturally relevant repertoire, the repertoire that you like, and, you know, your kids will like because you know them well, that's incredibly valuable teaching resources, what's in your brain and your knowledge of issues and start with the music that they like and then work out from there. And if at that point then you sort of get into that dead end where you feel like you're doing a lot of the same kind of stuff, then that's a great time to start talking to creative arts advisors or get online and find other people and find what they're using.

You know, if you teach, if you teach Year 3 or you teach year 6, you might find that there's a specific number of songs that are just in the zeitgeist of the moment. You know, it's there's always two or three songs that every teacher is doing and they have worked out some fun way of, you know, turning it into a body percussion thing or stuff that doesn't require any theoretical music literacy is just a fun active way of doing it, but involves actively making music.

Julia – Fantastic. I'm actually working on teaching strategies guide as we speak, strategies that can be used across any sort of repertoire. So, fantastic. I love your idea of starting with something culturally appropriate for not only yourself, but also the students in your class and then basically getting out of the way.

James – That's right.

Julia – Yeah, that's right. So, James talked to us more specifically about composition as an overarching process. We know that in the case of the K-6 syllabus it's referred to as organizing sound and we know that that changes when the students get to stage 4. You and I recently had a conversation about research by Elliott and Silverman describing this process as ‘finger painting sound’. Give us your thoughts here.

James – Yeah, so, I mean, organizing sound is a wonderful term. We're very lucky to actually have that and not composition early on because it gets rid of a little bit of that idea, but similar to this idea of, you know, of having prior experience. I think the problem with, with composition as an idea for lots and lots of teachers and by the way this is exactly the same in high school with specialist music teachers, generally they hate teaching composition and the reason is because when we think of a composer and composition, we think of two things. Firstly, we think of a genius, usually a dead white male, but some kind of genius who thinks up these ready-made pieces of music. That's the first thing.

And then the second thing is that they write them down on a score for other people to play. And that's a very fixed idea of what composition and being a composer is. So, we have to kind of blow that up first. I'm a composer. I never, ever sit down with a fully formed piece in my head and write it straight down on a score. So as a composer, I'm sitting in my studio as we speak and I've got a bunch of different musical instruments around me. I've got my old trombone behind me and I've got a guitar, I've got several keyboards, I've got piano upstairs, and I will sit and tinker and play around with those. I love the I love the idea of tinkering because it sort of gets us across all of the different arts, doesn't it?

Julia – Yeah.

James – That's why the idea of ‘finger painting sound’ is a nice idea because when we finger paint, we dip our finger into the paint and then we pull it along the paper, we don't sit there saying what is the fully formed picture that I'm going to create going to look like. Now I can't possibly put my finger in the paint until I know exactly how this is going. And also, when we start making it, we don't think this isn't a Renoir so I must stop do we? We just finger paint. There's quite often this thing with teachers where they will say, you know, I can't teach composition because I can't write music like Beethoven. Well neither can I, you know, I make a living writing music and I can't write music like Beethoven and like, you know those geniuses only come along once in a while. But I can write a lot of music and a lot of people think a lot of my music's great. So that's enough.

So, with kids you've got to give them the same permission that you'd give them with that finger painting. So, give them a limited number of colours. What's the musical equivalent of a limited number of colours? A different number of sounds that don't have to be traditional instruments. If you've got traditional instruments for sure, give them some chime bars or some xylophones or whatever you've got in your classroom, some percussion instruments. But if you've just got, you know, voices and tables and chairs around you, you can those can be your materials and allow kids to make a cacophony. It's actually okay, you look at your average Year 3 finger painting. It's not great, it’s really not great, but it is expressive. It does usually show evidence of thinking and evidence of following some kind of artistic model because kids copy that's what kids do. Right?

So, we can do this with music, give them a limited number of paints, three or four paints, in this case sounds are enough. Give them a model. So, give them a song to play along with or give them a rhythm to imitate and then say get to painting, play around with those sounds start tinkering and that's actually what composers do. Anyway, we've just got this kind of highfalutin idea of what it really is, but it is just playing around.

Julia – I think that is just such an incredibly powerful thing that you've said. And I hope that message gets across to anybody listening here that we can all do this. And it's really a very simple process and it's about allowing our students the freedom to just explore or an experiment? Thank you. All right now, you've talked to us a little, a fair bit about composition there. And just in the interest of time, I'm going to push on a little bit further and drill down into notation because you touched on notation.

We know that the syllabus expects us from as early as stage one to begin recognising that relationship between sound and symbol. We know that symbol systems are then interwoven into our outcomes the whole way through. Can you unpack your thoughts a little bit for us on notation and how a teacher, who perhaps going back to our reference earlier to the limited experience, might be reading that outcome and thinking, ‘I don't actually know how to use commonly understood symbols to represent my works or the students work, how can I possibly teach that?’

Can you give us some strategies or unpack your thinking on that?

James – Yeah. So again, it's another place where in New south Wales we’re really, really lucky because our syllabus is really open on this. So, you mustn't be precious about this. You mustn't think I'm not doing notation. Again, if it isn't the written score, as I said, more than 90% of the music out there in the world is made without ever making a return score. So, don't make that your benchmark even if you want to actually get there at some point. So, what could a notation be if you're doing a song? A notation could be the lyrics, even know what the notes are called on the score. I've seen kids writing, drawing, pictures of keyboards and writing numbers on the different keys and things like that and equivalent things on guitars. Of course, we know the classic graphic score. And there's lots of good examples of graphic scores around the internet that you can have a look at. So, we can then kind of use the idea of, you know, linear time. So, pitch being high and low on a on a sheet of paper and time going from left to right.

I would say, don't discount technology. If you've got some kind of devices that students can use at school, you will have access to some kind of ability to record music into them, whether that's music through a microphone that your kids make and then they can see the wave shape of it or whether it's midi instruments, which means that you may be using an on screen keyboard or something like that and it can actually save the data. Now, I know I've heard teachers say, well, that's cheating. If you just get the computer to do it and create the notation, then that's cheating. But it's not cheating at all, get the students to interact with that. What happens if they cut it up and move it around?

What happens if they copy it out onto onto a piece of paper hat? When one student looks at another student's work, how do they see the relationship between the musical blobs on the computer screen and what's going on? So, all of these different entryways that don't actually require any prior experience are genuine legitimate music notations. And actually, they relate really well to what's happening professionally in the music industry around us at large.

Now, if we want to move towards music notation, that training is available out there. If you want to go and learn a bit of music theory yourself and you want to draw a treble clef and five lines on the board, then you can and you can go and learn those things and you can teach kids how to know notate simple melodies and simple chords and things, but you need to remember the syllabus does not say teach all of the kids to read and write scores. Notation is a fairly loose concept and just like musical repertoire. We want kids to have broad experiences. So as my aisle mate, Richard Gill used to say, ‘sound before sight’. Don't let the notation get in the way of making music.

And so, if you ever find yourself, you know, you think I've prepared this great activity and you get into doing it. But actually, your poor kids are sitting there with pencil and paper and all sitting having arguments about how to write something down. Well now the sight has got in the way of the sound. We're too worried about, about notated and we're not making enough music. So that's the trick. That's the chicken. If you get to that point, you know, you've tipped too far over and then bring it straight back to making music. And how many times has that stopped a musical education journey for people? I know that for myself personally, that mind started very much like that with the tradition, teacher showing notation and I thought I can't do this, this is too hard. I don't have formal education in this.

Julia – Yeah, that's right.

James – And it's really important to remember that music is an embodied art. We don't just make music with our brains, we make music with our whole bodies. And actually, there aren't very many musical cultures in the world where people sit still, even when they're listening to music in most musical cultures, people move as part of experiencing music. Listening is a very active thing, with the concert hall being a relatively recent invention. It's only really for one kind of music and maybe the congregation role as well in a church. So not that there's anything particularly wrong with that, but that's just one kind of musical experience in most kinds of musical experience. We move our whole body and we use our whole body.

So, if you take kids early on in their musical adventures in their musical explorations and you make them sit still and write things down, you're actually taking away an important part of the musical experience. So, again, we've just got to be really careful. And it is something that's happened in the history of music education, that we've put a lot of importance on the literacy of music because we're kind of trying to justify our place in the curriculum against maths and things like that. But actually, again, that brings me right back to my early point, really, music for itself is just a really important part of being human. That's enough.

Julia – Absolutely. And that whole argument about the literacy component with music is just so counter intuitive. Um, when it comes to advocacy, we're doing ourselves a disservice.

James – Yeah, I agree.

Julia – All right, look, James, I'm going to start winding you up now. I know we could talk for hours and I know that. So what advice would you give to teachers just inspire teachers who perhaps are struggling to start the music education journey? Some tried and true tips or messages that you could give? Those you might give to well, I guess you might give to your students?

James – Yeah. I mean, I think I already really got to the most important thing, which is to know your class, you know, and and the nice thing is that we know that that's what teachers do. I often say the one thing that's gone missing from from our classrooms over the last 20 or 30 years is teacher autonomy, but we actually still have a lot of autonomy. We have. We do have time and space to get to know those wonderful, many humans in front of us.

And so, you know, that would be my same point for beginning those musical journeys is begin with the kids in front of you. You know, that doesn't always have to mean, oh, now I've just got to do lessons full of Taylor Swift, it doesn't mean that, but it just, you know, because you've probably got some, great, great things that you want to bring to them as well, but engage them, you know. We already have a lot of arm wrestling to do with kids in the, in the classroom.

A lot of education experts talk about the crowded curriculum and, and you know, lack of student agency, but music and I would say the performing arts in general actually is just the best time in the week for you to really connect with kids on about the stuff that's important to them, to give them space to express themselves and just give them little glimpses into what I talked about before about, you know, allowing these young humans to turn out and face the world. I think that's really the key thing.

Julia – Look, thank you so much for your time today, James. It’s been wonderful talking to you as always. And we look forward to hearing about your adventures in the future. I'm sure I've written down a whole page of the next chapters in our podcast series. So, I think there'll be lots to look forward to another time. Thanks again, James. And for anyone out there listening, make sure you subscribe to Chatting Creative Arts. I look forward to talking to you again. See you later, everybody.

[Music]

[End of transcript]

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