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Teachers/TAs: What do you really think about in-school musical instrument lessons?

(19 Posts)
thesecretmusicteacher Thu 28-Feb-13 20:39:28

I coordinate the instrumental music in our primary. Our head is very pro-music (great for me), the other teachers are very "accepting" (their word) and we do lots of creative things.... but what I'd really like to do is help music complement, not compete, with maths, English, etc. I believe that good maths/English leads to more choices in life and thus to lifelong music-making being a real option.

I would be grateful for any "what I really think" comments from teachers about music in primaries and generally to know if there is a tendency not to comment on inconveniences/extra workload caused by music lessons for fear of sounding "anti-music" or "anti-arts".

I'd also like to know how reports about a child's musical progress/activities could be useful to classroom teachers for their general overview and perhaps even tick some of the reporting boxes that they have about the range of a child's skills.

Ideas I have are:
1. Move a number of peripatetic lessons to our large after-school club to reduce use of our few and over-timetabled small -group rooms in day time, reduce number of core subject lessons missed and reduce toiing and fro-ing in and out of class. I've become aware of a child missing maths booster for her viola lesson and the teachers are all too polite to say "not happy" to me or the instrument teacher.
2. Ask parents to organise music lessons once a year, for the September uptake, so that the groups don't keep changing around all year as people add in (an exception to apply where the instrument teacher judges that a child should move up a group).
3. Ask deputy head, who does timetabling, what the least bad times are, from the teachers' point of view, for children to be coming out of lessons then push for our music service provider to give us those times.
4. Keep (!) trying to communicate better to teachers about the value of music to certain children who struggle in other areas. One teacher commented that she was pleased a lad had the "discipline" for one-to-one music lessons with me, but the way you concentrate on a repetitive rock riff is really different to the way you concentrate on a science lesson I think.
5. Keep (!) demonstrating to the teachers that the skills you need for ensemble work are listening and communication skills that they have expertise on.

LynetteScavo Thu 28-Feb-13 20:45:07

What do I really think?

I think that my DC actually lean very little from group lessons. A waste of £75 per term, but spending that money makes me feel like a good mother (a bit like sewing in proper names tapes).

My DC are able/unfocussed enough to miss 20 mins a week with out missing out too much.

After school lessons sound genius.

Sorry, I'm talking as a parent. Only just realised the topic.

Oodsigma Thu 28-Feb-13 20:47:56

Dds school rotates which lesson she misses for her music lesson so they don't regularly miss the same one.

thesecretmusicteacher Thu 28-Feb-13 20:50:10

Yes - placed in the staffroom topic please!

Head has offered me a "twilight" session and I'd like it to be genuinely useful for my colleagues. I'm trying to gather views from teachers/TAs for that reason.

Knowsabitabouteducation Thu 28-Feb-13 20:50:50

My DD (Y6) has piano and singing lessons in school.

I am happy with these lessons. I think she is learning a lot and being part of school means that she automatically is given performance opportunities. The school, as a whole, values musicians as putting on concerts is very good for the morale school and involves the whole school community.

She is bright enough to miss 30 minutes of lessons twice a week, and the rota is set up so that she doesn't miss the same lesson each week.

TheFallenMadonna Thu 28-Feb-13 20:59:56

I'm a secondary teacher and I'm not wild about my students missing my lessons for an instrument lesson. Very hypocritically, as my DC have lessons during school hours themselves (just one instrument - the other is after school).

If the lessons were after school, it woul work beautifully for my DD who is in primary and goes to after school club. I agree with Knowabit (twice this week!) about the value of the performance opportunities that come through learning at school.

thesecretmusicteacher Thu 28-Feb-13 21:14:11

Thank you Fallen Madonna.

Ouch- maybe active conversations do not show up as being in "The Staffroom"?

Or perhaps it's so very unusual for anyone to ask about music lessons from the classroom teacher's point of view that everyone is misinterpreting the thread title?

I will self-report and see if I can include a flat in the title..

thesecretmusicteacher Thu 28-Feb-13 21:17:14

or even a flag....

YoullNeedATray Thu 28-Feb-13 21:26:43

I do confess that it's a pain when several of my lessons are interrupted by "Can I have Jemima and Lawrence for guitar/piano/oboe please"... especially as Jemima does all bl**dy three! One of the instrument teachers seemed most put out when I said that interrupting a timed mental maths test was not convenient. She was the one running late.

The point about freeing up the group work rooms is very valid - after school would be a better use of that space and enable the rooms to be used for maths/reading interventions, social skills groups, guided reading, etc.

Having said that, I do wholly support the teaching of instruments in schools. Having a peripatetic teacher come into a school does make the price more viable, therefore more accessible. It gives opportunities for different children to shine, especially the slightly geeky tall lad in my class who has discovered a talent for saxophone and is now seen as very cool :-)

stealthsquiggle Thu 28-Feb-13 21:30:54

I don't know what the staff really think, but DC's school rotate which lesson they miss so that it's not the same one every week. I know DD's teacher was very anti her starting in Y1 - her reasoning was that although DD could cope, she would get a rush of requests from parents of other DC who couldn't cope yet. We compromised on DD doing it after school (which is a great idea, BTW) and her teacher very kindly takes her over to her lesson after the other DC have gone.

thesecretmusicteacher Thu 28-Feb-13 21:37:04

Thanks you ll need a tray.

Would you also prefer children to come out of classroom music, art ,etc lessons where possible? Though of course that doesn't solve the room problem as lots boosting happens then too.

Would you also appreciate it if I rescheduled a violin group to void missing booster maths?

RustyBear Thu 28-Feb-13 21:43:33

I would have thought that the biggest problem would be in trying to get the peripatetic music teacher to give you the times you want - do you know that they can do after school? The service used by the school I work at has so many schools, all of which would prefer to avoid the mornings, which is when most of them do Maths and Literacy, so you may get afternoon sessions one year, but not the next.

And though the woodwind tutor, for example, rotates the groups so they miss a different time period each week, she is only here for an hour and has three groups - so they miss in turn, the middle 20 minutes of Literacy, the last 20 minutes of Literacy and the first 20 minutes of PE, or MFL etc depending on their year group.

YoullNeedATray Thu 28-Feb-13 21:48:47

The ones having violin lessons are not the ones who need maths boosters: very accurate sweeping generalisation.

I have to say that I would prefer it if maths & literacy were left uninterrupted, but the other subjects are important too. In fact... as other subjects are usually covered just once a week, instrument lessons that hit those times would have a proportionally greater impact on that subject. If Jemima misses the input to one maths lesson, it's only one of five that week. If she misses the start of history every time, then she will really struggle to pick up what on earth we're doing about Henry VIII, even if she is one of the more able.

So, do we value playing an instrument higher than art or RE or PSHCE or geography? An interesting debate.

<post-marking wine kicking in>

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 28-Feb-13 22:25:47


At the OP's request, we've edited the title to indicate that she's particularly looking for input from teachers and TAs - but thanks to everyone for their views.

thehat Thu 28-Feb-13 23:01:02

I look on these lessons very positively and appreciate what the students gain from this extra tuition.

donnasummer Thu 28-Feb-13 23:04:52

I teach lower primary and I am genuinely happy to accomodate music lessons whenever they occur.

thesecretmusicteacher Fri 01-Mar-13 19:03:09

cheers everyone.

I'm going to push to explore what after-school options there are as that sounded like a popular option.

I guess taking children out of whole-class music lessons is a no-brainer. The carousel system makes that harder but I'll keep exploring it.

Last week for my own one-to-one instrument pupil, I elicited from the class teacher that she'd be much happier if I started and finished ten minutes earlier - not a problem and got big smiles from her today. Basically I want the classroom teachers happy - happy teachers = happy pupils and teachers who might actually look forward to my concerts.

Now we just need six more rooms...

Panzee Fri 01-Mar-13 19:26:22

We have very poor take up of after school sessions no matter the subject, so in my particular school I would prefer 20 minutes out of a lesson. I have flexibility to change the lessons around so they don't always miss out on the same things, I appreciate that some teachers are not that fortunate.

thesecretmusicteacher Mon 04-Mar-13 10:30:43

Thanks Panzee,

We have a much-used after school club from 3.30 to 5.30 so the kids are already "stuck there" - quite a few of them are there.

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