Transcript of Bonus episode – Music

This transcript has been edited slightly for clarity. Listen to the podcast (17:30)

Jackie – The following podcast is brought to you by the creative arts curriculum team from secondary learners educational standards directorate of the New south Wales Department of Education. As we commence this podcast today, let us acknowledge the traditional custodians of all the lands on which this podcast will be played around New South Wales. Their art, storytelling, music and dance, along with all First Nations People hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and hopes of Aboriginal Australia. Let us acknowledge with honour and respect our elders, past, present and future, especially those Aboriginal people in our presence today who have and still do guide us with their wisdom. Welcome to the creative cast podcast series. My name is Jackie King and I'm a Creative Art project advisor with the New South Wales Department of Education. Today we've got a little bonus episode for you and I'm chatting with our creative arts curriculum officer Alex Manton, about a fantastic stage six resource that was released last term. Please welcome Alex.

Hi Alex, how are you today?

Alex – I’m will. Thanks Jackie.

Jackie – Thank you so much for taking some time out of your day to have a chat with us about this fantastic resource that was released last term. I'm just going to explain the resource was for Music for Small Ensembles. It's a 10-week resource package including a program resource booklet, assessment task and scores, which just sounds huge and amazing. Can you please tell us a little bit about this resource?

Alex – Yeah, sure can. So, I'm very excited about this resource because I think that our music one teachers have really appreciated having some resources for music one. And I think that this topic, which is obviously off the syllabus list, is a fantastic one to do in year 11 because of how flexible it is. That's because you can take it in any direction and choose any sort of type of small ensemble that you want to look at. And the way that this program has been structured is through a variety of different styles of music. And what I really like about it is that there are some popular music examples in there, but there's also some more diverse examples that incorporate Klezmer music, music of the 20th century with some Stravinsky, some medieval music, obviously some jazz and funk and musical theatre, and classical of course. So, it covers a bit of everything. So, there's something in there for everybody. And I think it's important to teach across a variety of genres because sometimes we can get stuck in a vacuum or as teachers, you know, we feel confident teaching the genres that we know the most about that we feel most comfortable in teaching. And this provides teachers with an opportunity to have a go at genres that they perhaps never explored because the activities and the resource booklet are very scaffolded and I encourage teachers to give it a go and find out a bit about Klezmer music or medieval music, that perhaps have never done before.

Jackie – You know what I had never heard of Klezmer music until I read this resource. Please tell us and enlighten us, what is Klezmer music?

Alex – Klezmer music is Jewish music that is typically played at celebrations. So, it's party music. It's designed to have fun basically and to be danced to. And it's an informal type of music. You know when they play, they use a small ensemble that often consists clarinet, which is very interesting, and violin and then you have like drums and bass a dulcimer or um also an accordion. And it's just such a happy music that has such a strong beat that encourages dancing and singing along. And it's very ruckus. So, it's very different to the sort of Western art music or chamber music that is perhaps more about being precise and controlled and yeah, this is party music and the kids love performing it because it's kind of, I don't know, you can't help it stomp your feet and clap your hands. So yeah definitely worth having a look at it.

Jackie – That sounds fantastic. So can you tell us how are the syllabus outcomes and requirements of the syllabus? How are they met through this resource?

Alex – Sure. But obviously we have the learning areas of composition, performance, musicology and aural and this particular program takes a very integrated approach. So, each week focuses on a different style of music and within each of those weeks all of those areas of learning are integrated. So, most lessons start with something practical, like a performance or a competition activity and then that musicology and aural learning gets drawn out of those experiences. There's also a lot of kind of games or fun activities that are physical or visual that can engage our learners. There’s kahoot quizzes and there’s clapping games. So, even though it's year 11, I think, you know, we've got to remember, they still like to have fun and they're still going to really learn a lot through those experiences. So yeah, each lesson is designed to be very interactive but still working on developing those listening skills that are so important as we work towards the HSC. So, with this content it ticks all the boxes, obviously it's looking at the concepts of music, but I always like to remember that in year 11, we need to unpack them further. We need to do that so students gain deeper knowledge of music, deeper knowledge of these musical styles, music specific metalanguage that's not just about high and low pitch or strong beat. And we want it to become more complex so that we're giving the kids that glossary or word bank to choose from when they're discussing music in the HSC. So, things like for example, in pitch, this unit goes beyond the major minor scales or even blue scales and it looks at modes. It looks at the Phrygian dominant scale and the Klezmer music. It looks at the Dorian scale in the Stravinsky work in a Soldier's Tale. So yeah, it aims to provide more complex musical understanding of different genres, which is important. Also with that, of course we've got to make sure that we're targeting our literacy. So, there's scaffolded activities and listening activities to help and support our students in unpacking how to listen to a piece of music. There's a great literacy activity in that unit, which is concept stations, where as a class you're listening to a piece of music that you've just performed and the teacher has a piece of paper for each concept around the room and each student finds one concept station and they’ve listened back to the recording that they've just done and they have to comment on that one concept and then they all switch places. So, they all get to go at adding to everybody else's ideas about that particular concept of music. And by the end of the lesson they've formed a whole analysis as a class. Of course, improvisation is also in there. There's an explicit jazz week which teaches improvisation in a very explicit way. And then obviously improvisation forms part of all composition activities as well. So that ticks that box.

Jackie – That sounds fantastic. And I love that there are so many different pedagogical strategies that you've thrown in there as well that can sort of give teachers some different ideas on how to teach a listening activity without the students just sitting and listening and writing. They're up and they're moving and sharing ideas and collaborating, which is really important as well. Fantastic. What would you say the direct outcomes for students are from this unit of work?

Alex – Yeah, I think the outcomes for students are that they are developing that deeper level of learning in all of those areas that go beyond stage five, particularly in the musicology and aural through the assessment task that's there. So, the task is based on producing a viva voce and, I think as teachers, we need to remember that in year 12 they're going to be many students that might like to do the viva component but they actually haven't really had the experience to do one yet. And so, I think that year 11s, if you haven't done one before that, it's now or never to get stuck into doing a viva and the assessment task really scaffolds that very well and gives them an opportunity to choose a question that's provided out of four questions and obviously choose a small ensemble that they're passionate about. So, I think that, yeah, the outcomes are just to develop deeper knowledge or an understanding of music in general. And I think that as a whole, that whole program really focuses on the roles of the instruments within those certain contexts, because in different styles of music the instruments do take on different roles in those sort of chamber ensembles. And it's based on how those instruments interact and the different compositional techniques. So, things like doubling and unison and call and response and imitation and interplay. That's sort of the core thing that strings the whole program together. So yeah, the outcomes of it that they're achieving that deeper understanding of music and it covers all of the syllabus outcomes.

Jackie – Beautiful. And I guess that's that really starting to prepare for all the different elements of the HSC course, given the viva voce if they choose to do that as an elective or the deepening their knowledge for the aural exam as well. Because obviously they can be thrown any kind of music at the aural exams so being able to listen to lots of different music and study lots of different music and genres through this unit is really fantastic. The last question I have is how do you imagine teachers using this resource? They will obviously go to our website and they would download the various different documents? Do they need to use the whole unit? Or what are some of the different ways you think teachers could tap into this resource and enhance what they're already doing?

Alex – Yeah. Look, the resource is designed that you could obviously do the whole unit as a whole unit. But I really think it's important that what the department has written, what we provide for you is flexible for teachers and that obviously as teachers, we are going to differentiate in our classrooms and that this resource can do that as well. So, there's lots of differentiation within the unit itself, but you don't need to do every style or genre. Pacing is going to be very different in different schools. There are some schools that are going to be able to cover twice the content compared to others just because of the particular school culture or the students themselves. So, this is very much designed to pick and choose what teachers would like to do that's going to best fit with their students and what's going to engage them, or doing all of the styles but not necessarily doing every single activity. There are some weeks where there are options for the teacher to choose from. So, there's like an option one and an option two for exactly the same lesson or week. So, it's incredibly differentiated. You know, I'd expect that teachers would download it and then change it to suit their students because that's what we should be doing really. I think that's the great thing about the department resources is that they are word documents, that you are able to edit, you are able to cut and paste rather than being PDF. And I hope that teachers can do that and just pick out the bits that that's going to suit.

And I was just going to add one more thing that I think is interesting is that in the very last lesson in that program focuses on looking at ensemble communication techniques and that is intended to be a direct link to the HSC performance marking criteria where they have to demonstrate solo or ensemble understanding. And I've always thought that students don't always quite understand what that means. And so that last lesson unpacks that through a funk fusion band. You know, what are these performers doing to communicate? And so, including things like watching and intent listening and having a unified understanding of the musical intent or what they're doing through temporal queuing, which is like feeling the beat and then queuing someone physically with your head. So, that's a bit off topic, but I just thought that was a really important thing to cover as it links into year 12 quite explicitly.

Jackie – Definitely. There’s lots of scores there too and classroom arrangements within the score booklet, is that right?

Alex – That's right. There are there are classroom arrangements as most activities start with that performance component. I think that's one thing that teachers find difficult to have the time to produce. So yes, that's all there for them.

Jackie – Fantastic Alex. Thanks so much for sharing about this resource today. The link to find the resource is going to be in the show notes. So super easy for our listeners to find. Our department website, even though it is New South Wales Department of Education, is open to all sectors. So, teachers from any area, even any state, even though obviously it's linked to our New South Wales syllabus, are able to go to the link in the show notes and have a look at this fantastic resource package. And again, I'm just going to remind everyone, it's a 10 week resource package which includes a program, a resource booklet, an assessment task and a scores booklet. So, there's lots in there that you can pick and choose from, use and adapt to suit your students. So, thank you so much for sharing with us today, Alex and we look forward to speaking to you in the coming weeks. Actually, can you, before we finish though, you've got a fantastic podcast lined up for next week. Can you please tell us about next week's podcast?

Alex – Yeah. Next week we'll be talking to Jess Van Ree, music one teacher, and Patrick Wong, music two and extension teacher at James Ruse Agricultural High School, and we're going to be unpacking the musicology and aural paper for music one and music two and hearing about the different ways that they teach those aspects of the paper to their students. So hopefully there'll be some great ideas for our teachers that comes out of that conversation.

Jackie – Fantastic. I hope our listeners really are able to get some great ideas for supporting their stage six students through to the HSC in music through these podcasts. Thank you so much Alex, have a great day.

This podcast was brought to you by the creative arts curriculum team of secondary learners, educational standards directorate of the New South Wales Department of Education. Get involved in the conversation by joining our statewide staff room through the link in the show notes or email our creative arts curriculum advisor, Cathryn Horvat at creativearts7-12@det.nsw.edu.au . The music for this podcast was composed by Alex Manton and audio production by Jason King.

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