Thursday, 12 September 2013

Music as a way to change the world!

I recently came across this article about songs that had changed the world.

While I don't know all of the songs, the idea of music as a form of social currency is one that fascinates me.

Of particular interest is the way in which music, both composition and instrumental mastery has become amazingly accessible to our students. When I went to school, unless you could play an instrument, the opportunity to create and perform music was pretty much out of reach, actually, for me, totally out of reach and it was something completely out of my range of possibility. It took me many years before I realised that I could list 'music' as an interest while not being able to play anything or read music fluently.

Here at Bradbury, and in many other schools all around the globe, this is no longer true, thanks to advances in technology. Programmes such as Garage Band allow our students access to a whole world of musical opportunity without the restriction of being musically illiterate. Students can compose, layer, produce and perform music with varying levels of musical competence, producing some impressive material in the process! I will just make the point though, that an understanding of music- phrasing, timbre, rhythm and so on, is still important and is taught still, it is just now that this knowledge can be applied by so many more. I sat through endless compulsory music lessons in high school with absolutely no outlet to apply what I was learning.

Music has always been a form of social currency, used to reinforce political and social messages, dancing its way into our heads with catchy tunes and quietly altering our attitudes as we have sung along. This means that this form of political and social voice is available to a much wider audience at a much younger age. Add to the technologies that make this possible, the social media opportunities and you have a pretty powerful tool!

Our Year 6 students have used their own compositions to reinforce the social responsibility message contained in The Exhibition. They produced their own songs with a passion and dedication worthy of all songwriters. I'm not sure that they realise the power that they have, quite literally in their fingertips, but it is certainly not something that was available to me and, for that matter, for many of us, until quite recently.

Is this a good thing? In my opinion, like many things, it is neither innately good or bad, it is how it is used. What is good though, is that these opportunities are given to our students. They are a reflection of the times we live in and the skills our children need to possess. While I do think it is highly unlikely one of our Bradbury students will produce a song in Mr Clothier's class that will change the world, I do think that the world has changed and in the future...why not?

These photos were taken last year in a music workshop run by Marcel Pusey, who wrote the 'O Generator', which is a computer based composition programme.

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