Musical Futures is a new way of thinking about music making in schools. It brings non-formal teaching and informal learning approaches into the more formal context of school. We believe music learning works best when young people are making music, and when their existing passion for music is reflected and built-upon in the classroom.
What does it look like?
Musical Futures learning is almost always hands-on, practical music-making, so sessions are usually very lively! You won’t always see a teacher standing at the front of the class leading the group – instead, students mainly work in small groups, with the teacher offering support as and when needed.
Musical Futures can and should be adapted and adopted to suit the individual needs of your students – it isn’t a one size fits all approach. In reality, every teacher interprets the Musical Futures approaches slightly differently, according to their students’ needs and progression. But there are some core principles which underpin Musical Futures:
*Musical Futures places a high premium on informal learning – copying, playing by ear and self-expression;
*Students are strongly encouraged to play music that they’re interested in (rather than a set of pre-determined works);
*Music learning is invariably through oral/aural means – students use forms of notation when they choose to, rather than as a ‘text’ to follow;
*Technique is introduced within the context of the piece being played, not as discipline in itself;
*Peer-learning, and student-led learning, are at the heart of Musical Futures;
*Music leaders learn alongside their students – they don’t always have to be experts in the music being played by their students;
*Having started with music which students are motivated to learn, skilled teachers introduce less familiar musics, but within the teaching and learning strategies listed here.
Who is it aimed at?
Musical Futures was initially designed for secondary schools, with a particular focus on 12–14 yr old students, as this has long been an age at which students seem to lose interest in music learning in school. However, teachers in primary and tertiary education have successfully adopted Musical Futures approaches. We have also seen these approaches tailored to work with students in challenging circumstances (for example students with special educational needs, or in Young Offenders Institutes and Pupil Referral Units).
How do you do it?
You don’t have to officially be approved by Musical Futures to adapt the approaches and philosophy in your school. All of the principles and ideas can be developed by teachers and other music educators often with little or no extra support or funding. These 7 basic steps provide some suggestions for how to get started with Musical Futures in your school:
1) Download the teacher resource pack from www.musicalfutures.org.uk. Some of the materials are posted here, all audio and video material is on the Musical Futures site. These materials were designed by the original pathfinder teams of teachers, researchers, project managers and musicians.
2) Register online if you would like to find out about other Musical Futures work in your region, and receive regular updates about training, resources and events;
3) If appropriate, visit your nearest Musical Futures Champion School (listed on www.musicalfutures.org.uk);
4) Discuss the ideas with your senior management, and ensure they are familiar with the Musical Futures concepts (download copy of ‘Personalising Music Learning in Your School’) which summarises Musical Futures for senior leaders - attached here);
5) If possible, attend a free Musical Futures training session, run by a Champion School in your region. All training is free, and will be running across the country from January 2009;
6) Decide how much or how little of the Musical Futures models you are going to try with your students. It is recommended that you try Musical Futures with one or two classes initially to see how your students respond and whether you as a teacher feel you need any extra support, either from within your school or from the national Musical Futures team;
7) Continue to visit www.musicalfutures.org.uk to share best practice with other teachers, find new resources and ideas, and seek advice, guidance and support from others.
What do I need to do it?
Musical Futures can be implemented in most teaching situations, often with little or no extra funding. However there are some minimum requirements needed to effectively carry out Musical Futures:
*Enough spaces for students to be able to work in small groups;
*A sufficient variety of instruments (electronic and acoustic) to enable all students to have a hands-on music making experience;
*Access to the expertise of other musicians and music leaders – for example older students within the school, peripatetic teachers, community musicians etc;
*Some access to music technology for students to record and where appropriate remix and publish their work.
What impact can it have in the classroom?
Recent research carried out on Musical Futures nationally indicates that schools typically witness some or all of the following when implementing Musical Futures:
*Increased student motivation for and enjoyment of school music;
*Engages all students in music participation;
*Helps students to become more confident with music making and raises self-esteem;
*Has a positive impact on students’ attitudes towards music in school;
*Engages previously disinterested pupils;
*Enables students to develop a wide range of musical skills, as well as leadership;
*Develops students as independent learners;
*More students elect to continue with their music making beyond Musical Futures lessons;
*Has long-term and sustainable impact on teachers own practice, and changes the way teachers deliver music learning in the classroom.