Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Music lesson at Moision Koulu: steel band shows

Music class (Annika Viitanen, Grade 8)

Students were making posters about their own computer music products. They had worksheets for computer music which were guidelines for them for an entire year. Basically they all sat down to do their own work, and asked the teacher when necessary. (A bit quiet for a music class I thought, but this confirms the emphasis on independent learning.)

In grade 7, music is compulsory, and students learn about rock and roll history, guitar, bass, drum, singing, and a bit of music theory. From Grade 8 onwards, music is optional.

This school has a special music oriented scheme which continues the music training for students who mostly have begun their special music scheme since grade 3, and this scheme itself will be followed up on by high schools. Students learn about music history, singing, classical music, jazz, etc.

This is only possible because the municipal government and local community give a lot of resources. The equipment for computer music production (the keyboard and computer equipment) is very costly.

The school has quite a lot of music-related activities: choir training, 10 gigs and concerts every year. Music projects are common for other subjects too eg theatre.

They have also started a steel band, and I had a chance to see their steel band show. (they had only had 4 hours of group practice together, and started learning it two weeks ago – very impressive). It is not a difficult kind of instrument apparently, and Annikka has marked the notes on the drums so students can get the hang of it more quickly.

(unfortunately the video is not working at the moment because of technical problems...)

I asked the teacher whether she valued the inspiration of interest more than the honing of skills in musical instruments. She said this was a personal choice for the teachers, and she personally tries to strike a balance between the two. There is not much individual music instruction in the school because teachers don’t have much time, but when teaching in group, the teacher cares a lot about the holistic cooperation between the group and learning together on the same level.

Their philosophy is to give students enough time to develop their interests and skills in their instruments – rather than churning out young prodigies in music.

(Reflection: This is good for the kids who can’t stand a competitive training, and reveals their policy of equality rather than elitism. For the more able and interested students, they can generally thrive if there are opportunities to go a bit further. Finland has a significant number of music institutes for additional training for such students.)

Annikka herself is a substitute teacher for a year because the school music teacher is on maternal leave for a whole year. Annikka is a cellist and she has an interest beyond music in law and politics. I asked her how she ended up with music. She said the decision was straightforward for her when she first started playing the cello – she told her mother after the first lesson that she wanted to be a cellist. Things got slightly more complicated after she has started Turku Academy training, and she is considering some other options as well. Maybe further studies in law and politics. Money is one consideration.

No comments: