CPD

23 June 2017

Developing structured writing in the music classroom

In the music curriculum, there is a surprising amount of technical vocabulary that must be mastered in order for the pupils to express themselves fully. Once pupils reach secondary level, they are expected to move beyond simple short-phrase responses, into developed descriptive responses. Over the three years that I have been at SIS, I have been building knowledge with the pupils of straight forward ways that they can advance their verbal and written responses.

One approach with year 7 has been to simply replace everyday words with music specific vocabulary.

 

Every day language

Subject specific technical vocabulary

The music is high

The pitch is high

The speed is slow

The tempo is slow

The sound is long

The note is long

The volume is loud

The dynamic is loud

 

As you can see from the highlighted words, once given expectations, pupils can quickly make an adjustment to their responses that allow them to demonstrate an understanding of new vocabulary. The next step would be to add details to the same responses.

 

Subject specific technical vocabulary

More detailed response

The pitch is high

The pitch of the melody is high

The tempo is slow

The tempo is largo

The note is long

The first note played by the cello is long

The dynamic is loud

The dynamic is forte

 

By the time pupils move into year 8, there is an expectation that they now must link their responses together and identify specific devices that they can hear.

 

Year 7 response

Year 8 response identifying devices.

The pitch of the melody is high. The tempo is largo. The first note played by the cello is long. The dynamic is forte.

The pitch of the melody is high. There is a trill at the end. The pitch of the ostinato is low. The tempo is largo with an accelerando to allegro. The first note played by the cello is a pedal. There is a crescendo to a forte dynamic.

 

Moving beyond: A focus for me now in the classroom, is how to push the children beyond identifying devices but writing eloquently structured responses. The whole school literacy focus, has allowed me to use a cross-curricular writing frame specifically aimed at developing structured writing.

 

Our current aim is to use this frame when writing composition logs. Given some practice, the children are aiming towards writing a structure response that not only demonstrates an understanding of musical vocabulary and devices, but that also fosters answers that demonstrate the learning processes through which the pupils have gone.

 

Year 8 response identifying devices.

Moving beyond: Structured piece

The pitch of the melody is high. There is a trill at the end. The pitch of the ostinato is low. The tempo is largo with an accelerando to allegro. The first note played by the cello is a pedal. There is a crescendo to a forte dynamic.

Firstly, we began with a melody at a high pitch whereas the pitch of the ostinato is low. Secondly we wanted more devices therefore we added a trill to the melody and a cello playing a pedal. Adding to this, we included an accelerando and crescendo, clearly emphasising the building tension in the film.

 

Ms Ellie Saunders
Teacher of Secondary Performing Arts
Head of Creative Arts Faculty

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