The Music curriculum at St Andrew’s forms an integral part of College life. It includes every student from Prep to Year 8, with many students continuing through into our Year 9 to Year 12 Music and Music Extension elective programs. Our students will experience between 9 and 13 years of music education at the College.
There is a great deal of research supporting the benefits of a quality music education. The nature of learning in this subject area provokes ways of thinking and knowing that extends across each school subject and outwards into everyday life. These ways of learning and thinking are developmentally sequenced and are housed within three main dimensions of study – listening, composing, and performing. Each area contributes to musical knowing, and within these areas we view music as a verb – we learn of music through action in it. Indeed, this notion of music as a verb is one area in which will guide us as staff and through this we will encourage students to be ‘musicers’ – active participants in a process of making and therefore knowing of, rather than about, music.
Music in the Primary School is based on children making music with the voice and mallet percussion instruments. Students work towards reading and writing music through singing, using percussion instruments and eventually using tuned instruments for pitch recognition. A modified version of traditional notation is used for beginning students with the gradual transition to formal music notation in the upper primary grades. Musical games, individual and group tasks, listening to a range of music styles and instrumental activities are all undertaken during class. All students from Prep to Year 6 have at least one 40 minute Music lesson per week.
The Primary Music curriculum features our Music Immersion Program for all students in Year 4 and 5. Students receive group tuition and ensemble instruction on a string or band instrument for the entire academic year. These lessons and rehearsals are supplemented by an academic classroom music lesson each week. Further information about the Music Immersion Program may be found on the Music Immersion tab to the left.
The Secondary School is a busy place! The Year 7 program is heavily practice-based, and adopts a range of new and emerging music technologies and also focuses on building instrumental skills. This program was based upon our participation in a pilot study by the Musical Futures organisation (based at the Institute of Education, University of London), and shares our intentions of learning music through active participation in it. Similarly, our Year 8 program was developed as a result of an action research project conducted as a part of doctoral studies at Griffith University. The context-specific data this project returned has strongly informed they way we approach music for meaning and deep learning.
Between Years 9 and 12, Music becomes an elective course. Years 9 and 10 students undertake some theoretical studies in association with the Australian Music Examinations Board, gaining an internationally recognised accreditation in the theory of music. This will assist in increasing the students’ analytical knowledge of music, and also provide an informed platform for constructing meaning from practical experiences – working with the materials of music themselves will always be to the fore.
Students in Years 11 and 12 work across all dimensions of musical study - musicology, composition, and performance - to investigate music elements within a very wide variety of styles and genres. These students receive five lessons each week and have access to private studios and specialist instrumental staff. Students in both Years 11 and Year 12 have the opportunity to study the Music Extension course in which students select a specialisation - composition, musicology or performance - as a context for expressing music ideas and developing personal music style. Music Extension serves to further extend and challenge beyond the Music course.
Our Year 11 Music Extension course provides students the opportunity to specialise in one of the dimensions of musical study and work towards a higher level of musicianship. Our Year 11 students have the opportunity to work with the Year 12 Music Extension students, thereby easing a progression into this course. The Year 12 students study a rigourous course in which students select a specialisation - composition, musicology or performance - as a context for expressing music ideas and developing personal music style. Music Extension has been on offer at St Andrew's since 2009 and in this short time the College has established an excellent program and seen some of the highest possible results achieved in the subject. Students in Music Extension also support their study with a research visit to the Queensland University of Technology and Queensland Conservatorium libraries each year.
Within this program, students will learn to care for an instrument, learn the correct way to hold and play their instrument, understand the importance of time management and organisation with regards to practice, learn to read music, and participate in performances of their work. Students will be taught in both small groups as well as within class ensembles.
Thirteen specialist staff will teach within the Instrumental Immersion Program, assisting students with technique, posture and note reading. Students also receive an additional academic lesson each week to further reinforce their learning and developing musicianship.
This is just a very small insight into the working and intentions of the Music Faculty. Though much of our work is contained within classroom walls, the basis we set here is providing the opportunity for students to move informed into life outside of school – be it musical life, or life in general. The staff within the Faculty – like the students – are learners. We are continually investigating ways to improve our practice.