Primary school children take part in ‘class orchestras’

Musicroom May 19, 2011 0

The long-term academic benefits of learning to play a musical instrument are no secret. Many studies already exist highlighting the fact that children that learn to play music consistently out-perform their non-musical peers at school.

One primary in Scotland has taken it one step further, however. Greenmill Primary in Cumnock, East Ayrshire has committed all of its P1-4 pupils to taking part in regular class orchestras.

“The project began last March and has proved to be a resounding success”, headteacher Christine Wilson told the TES. “Not only does it teach pupils basic music skills, such as following a beat and learning various instruments, but it also promotes teamwork”.

“You become a team player,” Ms Wilson explains. “You’re part of something bigger, so you have to listen closely and do your best. Because we started them early and all together, we captured the enthusiasm and engagement young children have.

“They come as a class and their teacher sits in and becomes a learner too. It’s collaborative. They each have their instrument, which they learn to take out and hold. They all have the music in front of them. They all play.”

The basics of rhythm and musical notation are laid down for weeks before these are produced, the teacher added.

Greenmill Strings began as a joint action research project between East Ayrshire, educational charity Drake Music and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

The initial aim was to investigate the mainstream effectiveness of an additional support needs teaching method known as Figurenotes, which uses different colours for the pitch of each note, and shapes that show intuitively how long it lasts.

Meanwhile, the recently-published Henley Review highlighted the importance of introducing more music lessons to schools.