Thursday morning was a buzz with excitement with our Year 4 students as they picked up their instruments for the first time as the Year 4 Band Program kicked off. In Year 4, every student is given the use of a school-owned orchestral instrument to study as part of the academic music program. For one of the three timetabled Music lessons a week, students will study their instrument in small groups with a specialist instrumental teacher. This does not come at any further cost to the parents for year 4 students, it is simply part of their music education at the School.
We hope that this year allows students and parents to have a taste of what it is to play an instrument in the hope that they will continue instrumental study in later years and join school ensembles as they are established.
Apart from the sheer joy we see on the faces of ours students as they make music, there are a range of benefits well beyond the music classroom. Learning music can help students’ self-confidence, self-discipline and team work. Music also helps students progress in other important areas such as numeracy and literacy. Music education classes at The Anglican School Googong use a musicianship-based approach to education, predominantly incorporating the methodology of Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodály. Kodály said that true musical literacy involves musical memory and the ability to ‘internally hear what you see and write what you hear’. This means that the musician needs to be able to do more than merely interpret the notation on their instrument. They must also be able to look at a piece of musical notation and hear it in their head without firstly needing to play it on an instrument and also be able to listen to a piece of music and notate it.
When a student can do all of this, they are truly musically literate. This idea of true musical literacy may be a new concept. Those who have had the privilege of learning an instrument may have been taught by interpreting the dots on the staff and associating each dot with a fingering to play. Slowly and with practise, proficiency on the instrument developed. However, many who learnt to interpret musical notation in this way struggle with being able to hear the notes on the page without having their instrument to play it for them and find it difficult to aurally dictate music.
Identifying symbols does not necessarily translate to having a true understanding of the language of music. Therefore, our goal is to encourage and educate our students to be truly musically literate, enhancing their musicianship skills, including their ability to create new music and perform with musical sensitivity.
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