This year I hope to be teaching classroom music to year 4 (4 classes), year 6 (3 classes) and year 7 (2-3 classes). I'll also have some littlies. Year 4 is recorder (delight!) and year 6 and 7 are ukulele. I see each class for half an hour a week. The year 4s I may nab some extra time with.
Here are my plans.
Year 4 Recorder
I'm writing a graded recorder program called Recorder Ninja. Kids will move from Green Star level (easy) to Black Star level (really tricky). The trouble with differentiating kids on recorder is that it is easiest (least painful on the ears) if everyone is at least trying to play the same song. But that would be boring... So here's what I'm going to do.
The bulk of the class will be at the same level. I'll work with them for 2/3 of the lesson then send them away to do the written work for their level. During that time I'll work with the kids who are more advanced - perhaps seeing them briefly individually or in pairs to teach them the new notes etc. They practice at home, record their songs on mum's iPhone and email them to me. I email back with comments and tell them when they are ready for the next level. Similarly with their theory stuff.
The kids who get quite advanced will get a brief lunchtime lesson in composing using Sibelius (a computer program). They'll be given a composition task to work on during class time or whenever they want. Or if they prefer, they can move from descant to treble (alto) recorder and I'll group them and give them duets to play.
Year 6 and 7 Uke
Ukulele is not a difficult instrument to play. Bright kids who practice learn quite quickly and find it satisfying to choose their own songs and work out how to play them. This is all fine and many take what I've taught them in class and advance themselves at home. But what to do in class to push them further? While most of us are learning to play melodies (like Ode to Joy or something similar) I could put them onto the computers and get them to make up an upper or lower harmony part, learn to play it and put it with the class' melody. Sometimes I'll put them on the drum kit or piano to play along with the class while we're practicing our chord progressions.
But I want to do more than this.
Here's my grand plan.
I want to get a group of 6 or so kids in years 6-7 and get them to write a musical. From scratch.
What do you think?