Electronic Music In School

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By Lindsay Thomas
on 25 September, 2016

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Inspiring the next generation of electronic music producers

Does your school use music technology to enhance the teaching of music?

Electronic Music PosterThe National Plan for Music Education provides a useful and detailed annex about the important role of using technology to support and extend music teaching.

However it clearly recognises that many schools, particularly in the primary sector, do not have enough staff who are confident with using this technology. One Education Music have been supporting this aspect of music education by working with an electronic music specialist and international artist Caro C (aka Caro Churchill) and the local music education hub MyHub to offer innovative five-week Music Technology projects to primary schools.

The main aim of the projects is to develop the fundamentals of electronic music production, music making and audio engineering alongside developing the understanding and heritage of electronic music via the works and archive of Delia Derbyshire. The experience involves numeracy and literacy skills and is also an opportunity for creativity, confidence building and learning to collaborate.

At the end of each project, pupils share and evaluate their musical outcomes with the class or in school assemblies to celebrate their achievement and skills. This cohort of pupils then become electronic music champions and help capacity build with other classes and staff in school.

“Electronic music production is often perceived as a male dominated industry and quite a few pupils were surprised that the original Dr Who theme was created by a "girl". Some girls were particularly inspired by this and realising that this was also my career, empowered them to participate even more enthusiastically.“ - Caro Churchill

Project OutlineGirls Making Electronic Music

Key stage 2 pupils begin by learning how Delia Derbyshire, starting with her realisation of Ron Grainer’s original Dr Who theme (1963), was responsible for the iconic and revolutionary sound of the theme which still endures today. The project looks at a couple more of Delia’s TV themes and deconstructs how she made them. Pupils then produced their own TV themes using found objects and their voices, using the accessible Garageband app on iPads.

Featured in a recent article in International Arts Manager magazine, Caro explains how electronic music is all around us now, so of course young people are interested in it and curious about how it is made. She further comments “It’s always rewarding to hear pupils using correct music technology terminology such as quantisation, looping, sampling, tempo, variation, rhythm and melody.”

Participant feedback

The projects provide an accessible and engaging electronic music education experience for pupils. Many reported being inspired to develop as electronic music composers and to use the technology to support their musical instrument playing eg. make a beat to accompany or record a live instrument. At the end of the projects most pupils wanted to continue to develop their music technology skills including asking to set up lunchtime and after school clubs or continue with the software independently at home.

Quotes from students

“Delia is inspiring because she was making music we would listen to now, but like fifty years ago. It must have taken her ages as we have computers now.” -Oswald Road School, Chorlton

"I wish I could do this everyday" -St John Bosco RC, Moston

"Music Tech forever!" -Button Lane, Northern Moor

"I am going to learn to be an electronic music composer" -St Peter's RC, Wythenshawe

"This is the most writing and listening we have seen him do ever" -St Augustine's CE, Monsall

“Just to let you know our year 6 children are really enjoying the music technology workshops and have produced some excellent music. We are now looking to set up a recording facility. Thanks “ -Medlock Primary School, Ardwick

Caro has compiled the weird and wonderful outcomes on the Delia Derbyshire Day Soundcloud page. Here is one example:

For more information about One Education Music Curriculum support, contact Lindsay Thomas on 0844 967 1116.

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