As a full time primary music teacher, I feel incredibly lucky to be able to teach children music for an hour every week from the minute they enter school at aged four until they leave seven years later. It is a role that would appear to be fairly unique within primary education but one that reaps an incredible amount of rewards.
So what are those rewards? There are the obvious ones which give children the opportunities to sing and play instruments together and giving them musical experiences that they may not have had before – all vitally important and these are the things that make the job so incredibly rewarding.
But for me, it goes beyond the music altogether. Music is that one subject that brings a school community together regardless of background; ability or age. With a lot of focus in the media on mental health education within schools, I have witnessed first-hand just how invaluable music is for the wellbeing of a child. The musical experiences previously mentioned can provide an emotional outlet for children who, may not always be able to voice how they are feeling. They give children the power of being able to let their emotions out and boost their mood as they sing and play along to their favourite songs. The same can be said for music performances, seeing children’s faces light up and transform when they perform or record a piece of music is a truly magical experience and one which for me, will never get old. You see and hear all that positive emotion through their music making which is so powerful.
This has never been more evident for me than when we entered the SPML’s ‘Shake It Up’ competition. A competition which promotes all the different ways in which schools can use their printed music license. The idea was to create a new arrangement of a pre-existing piece of music for your education setting. As a primary music teacher, I thought this was a fantastic opportunity to enter our school into a music competition that would give the children a different type of experience. The competition would enable the children to draw upon all the different skills they had learnt from singing to playing as an ensemble and reading notated music instead of focusing on one particular element. So we got to work, creating a new arrangement of a song that the children had learnt previously and absolutely loved – ‘Eye of the Tiger’. I say we because it was a team effort, the children were just as important to the process as I was. They were after all the people who would be playing the arrangement.
It was exciting as we tried different ideas. Those that worked, made it into the final arrangement. Those that did not work, we laughed about – it proved a fantastic lesson to learn for all involved, that of ‘it is actually ok to make mistakes’. We live in a world of increasing perfection, and actually what a fantastic life lesson to learn whilst having fun making music! Because of this process the children felt a collective responsibility and achievement for the finished score when it was finally emailed off to ‘Shake It Up’.
Our arrangement was shortlisted in the top 6 of the 2018 competition and the community spirit within our school could not have been greater. The children felt a great sense of pride at the fact that their hard work had been selected by judges in a national competition. It highlighted the importance of music amongst staff, parents and governors alike and was a really positive experience all round. We entered again this year with an arrangement of ‘Rockin’ All Over The World’ and could not believe it when we won the competition! The element of judges’ feedback that has really stuck with me from the whole process, was being told that they could hear the sense of enjoyment in the way the children performed. As a music teacher, that is all I could ever ask for and is my main aim whenever I teach – that children enjoy music.
The SPML supports music education in many ways and promotes this brilliantly through the ‘Shake It Up’ competition. There are so many ways that as music educators we are able to use printed music. The SPML could have simply sent information out to schools highlighting all of the uses for printed music that the license covers. They didn’t. Instead they created a competition which by entering, gave the children I teach an experience that they will never forget. To be able to tell people that they won a national music competition, and that their performance was heard by people who work in the music industry, has instilled a sense of absolute pride and confidence in every single child who took part. If you are reading this and have not entered ‘Shake It Up’ before, give it a go – your children will love the process and you never know… you might just win!
About the Author
Frazer Hinchley is a Primary music teacher who teaches children from ages 4-11 curriculum music lessons. In his role, Frazer has a passion for providing children with performance opportunities outside the classroom, giving them the chance to experience live music and teaching children music technology skills.
We're now accepting entries for the 2020 Shake It Up competition! Find out more here.