What it's all about
"Aw, what?" is a cry I have often heard from pupils, accompanied by exasperated eye-rolling and moody stomping across the music room floor. I have simply changed the layout of the classroom. Again, writes Anthony Anderson.
The tone of a lesson is set from the moment the pupils enter and the furniture arrangement can send an important message.
The traditional horseshoe shape works really well for music-making. It allows pupils to be seated behind desks, while creating a clear central space for performing.
Table groups can be great for differentiation, mixing up pupils who play different instruments and encouraging those from different musical backgrounds to share ideas from their own perspective. Resources can be centralised for easy access, but thought needs to be given to how these tables are arranged, so pupils don't have their backs to you.
For a cafe style, try arranging tables in groups of two, forming L-shapes. This can be great for introducing pupils to blues music, creating an informal atmosphere reminiscent of a jazz venue. It helps to melt away any preconceived ideas about the music classroom and opens pupils' ears.
Or how about pushing tables right back to the edges of the room and asking pupils to sit on the floor? That works really well for Indian classical music or percussion work. Not enough drums to go round? Using drumsticks on the floor is a great alternative: everyone has access and no one can play too loudly.
For more classroom layouts, check out Gerard Dixie's suggestions, bit.lyClassroomTables. Get pupils improvising using Graham Hickey 's booklet on the history and style of jazz, bit.lyJazzHistory.