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Music - Engage the disengaged

What it's about

Engaging the disengaged in music lessons is probably the hardest part of the job, but now I relish the challenge, writes Andrew Livingstone.

Too often, classroom disruption and disengagement is linked to learners being too passive. Co-operative learning is a wonderful tool in the music classroom, where learners have to take responsibility for their learning and that of others - and the results are striking. (See http:bit.lyrwz746.)

The music classroom is ideal for giving students scope to stimulate their own creative process. I discovered Musical Futures (www.musicalfutures.org) last year and have been experimenting with it ever since. The band model is fantastic. I tied it in with pupils making their own record label and playing all the industry roles. They love it - so much so that they have to be encouraged to go home after school.

What else?

Then there's NUMU (http:numu.org.uk), an excellent online resource pupils can use to upload and share their music.

Supported by Musical Futures, each school has its own record label and each child has a login. It is like a safer version of MySpace. I have never seen pupils so keen to improve their work.

If you are still struggling with disruptive or bored pupils, try a "behaviour for learning" placemat. Divide a piece of A4 into four sections with headings What I am learning; How I know I am on task; How I know I am off task; and Rewards and consequences. Then get them to fill it in while you go over your expectations.

We are now teaching the computer-game generation: keep lessons active, visual and practical with high levels of challenge, but remember to differentiate. It may be the task is either too easy or too hard.

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