My experience as a teacher who asked to be employed in the teaching of Musical Practice and Culture, as defined in Italian Ministerial Decree 8/2011, to 22 primary school classes of seven-year-olds,
shows that music can be both appealing and surprising, can entertain and also prove interesting and engaging: the thermometer which measures the motivation and enthusiasm of students to observe, know, play and experience music can rise significantly given a learning context which makes students the protagonists and allows them a central role with respect to their own knowledge and actions.
In this particular project with a second-year class who have one-hour lessons every week for 4 months, I decided to focus on sound properties as the guiding thread in the study and practice of music.
The activities were based on real, active, productive and direct learning: ensuring that what was learned was not forgotten.
The contents were presented to students in a creative setting, i.e., in the form of collective games related to motor activities taking into account the age range and any idiosyncrasies of those with disabilities, while interweaving relationships with other areas of learning.
My position was as an MC who stimulated both individuals and groups to take action individually.
Of fundamental importance is imitative learning, the starting point to realize executive/creative moments which facilitate everyone’s learning, but in particular, that of the disabled.
In this way, each group creates its own unique and personal final result: a union of collaboration, cooperation, and compromise between all those taking part.
To create a wealth of “sound images” in the student’s mind, I began with Ear Training exercises, something which I will never abandon until they have finished primary school.
I had them listen to various sound events which we analysed also in light of the various sound parameters we were dealing with.
In general, I continued with musical motion games so that they could become aware of their own body in space, and could dramatize through the sounds to arrive at a musical representation.
This activity was much appreciated by the students and I would never explain to them the “rules” of the piece of music. I simply told them to listen to the music for the first time and, if they listened well, the music itself would suggest what it wanted them to do; it was interesting for me to pick up on some of their movements since these described their musical experience, their way of listening.
Then followed an analysis together of the piece of music which, of course, was always linked to the parameter of the sound we were dealing with, and followed the musical dramatization, at times spontaneous, which I directed.
The work continued with games involving sounds/signs: this was the first step towards sound production linked to graphic signs.
Unconventional notation tends to change according to the parameter of the sound being dealt with; personally, I usually use a “magic line” and a “magic wand” running along the line.
I never neglect the moment of their musical creation; students are encouraged to write their music down using agreed signs and to give their compositions a title.
Then follows a structured song which I accompany on the piano, or chanted nursery rhymes where we enjoy combining the sound parameters.
The skills, goals and training objectives selected by the teacher for this experience are shown below.
- Development of curiosity towards multiple expressive languages.
- Development of listening capacity: listening to and following a pulse through the body.
- Exploration of the musicality of one’s own body using sound-gestures and body percussion.
- Association of movements with music (free/expressive/creative movement).
- Coordination of one’s body while moving and dancing together.
- Management of one’s space while respecting that of others.
- Feeling the structure of a musical piece through the body.
- Using the voice by linking it to gestures, rhythm, and body movements.
- Singing of simple melodies in a group or chanting together.
- Recognizing and using symbols to encode sounds.
- Composition of short musical pieces using non-conventional notation.
For me it is fundamental to keep the enthusiasm high so that the enjoyment, the plurality of expressive and communicative channels, and the strong relational value can constitute first steps to seeing music as being as natural as breathing.