Music - Engage the disengaged

9th December 2011 at 00:00

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 ( 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 (, 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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