Music Teachers

Music Teachers Learn about Sound Infusion

Music teachers have had a difficult time during lockdown, with restrictions on singing and the use of wind instruments, not to mention the challenge of teaching this very practical subject remotely. It has thus been surprising that a number of them have made some time to learn about how to use Sound Infusion in a blended learning approach that combines traditional and technological methods.

Since August this year, our education strategist Nisha Feik has been busy sharing her knowledge about blended learning using Sound Infusion with teachers. Her webinars have included:

  • August, Association of Music Educators:  A blended learning approach to teaching African song and dance 
  • September, Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research Europa: Sound Infusion and Blended Learning
  • September, Australian Society for Music Education: Ethnomusicology Through Technology
  • October, University of Jyväskylä: Ethnomusicology Through Technology
  • November, Association of Music Educators: Intercultural Understanding in the Music Classroom

During several webinars, teachers and university students were able to tour and sample this arranging studio, seeing lesson plans, sounds and instrument images on a world map, and experiencing the studio in action.

One of the lesson plans from the Sound Infusion website formed the basis of some webinar activities. “Middle Primary School Years Treasure Hunt” is linked to Victorian, Australian and International Baccalaureate curriculum and involves students solving clues to form a collection of sounds that they then make an arrangement with in the studio. They are asked by their music teachers to find instruments from two neighbouring countries, two string instruments, two instruments that look interesting and one instrument they have never heard of. Nisha had trialled this lesson with students from the primary school where she works, and was able to share an interesting anecdote.

During the last week of Term Three, when students and teachers alike were heartily sick of learning in online meetings, a student was prompted to share some information about playing a Shofar (ram’s horn instrument) during Yom Kippur. This occurred because a classmate was up to the “find an instrument you’ve never heard of” and it was interesting for these classmates to share this personal information that was also relevant to their class work. One student was also interested to learn that, although played the same way, violins in Italy and Iran were played with their strings tuned to completely different notes.

It is these kinds of learnings in the classroom that resonate meaningfully with students due to being based on their own and their classmates’ experiences. Piaget’s view of the child as active constructer of their own knowledge has been central to teacher training for decades now, and activities such as the musical treasure hunt allow students to pursue a line of inquiry and investigation that is most interesting to them. From this point onwards they gain confidence and interest and are most likely to scaffold their learning to gradually include more knowledge that they previously were not aware of.

The traditional activities shared by Nisha in the webinars were a Liberian stick-passing game-song called Banuwa and a Guinean dance played, danced and choreographed by Melbourne Djembe.

Incorporating these elements into the unit of work along with a lesson plan from Sound Infusion is a wonderful way to examine a culture from different points of view. Of course, music teachers booking a live (virtual or onsite) performance from Cultural Infusion presenters Rhythms and Instruments of West Africa would be another fantastic way to stimulate responses and discussions from students.

We are lucky to have so many resources to help music teachers to construct and deliver the Intercultural Understanding component of their curriculum. This content is a valuable way to help communities come back together as vaccines enable society to open up. Nisha is happy to discuss or help music teachers to construct curriculum, with a blend of traditional activities, a world of instruments to be combined using Sound Infusion and the excitement and authenticity of the Cultural Infusion incursions.

Please reach out to Nisha at nisha.f@culturalinfusion.org.au for anything from a discussion about how you resource your diversity curriculum to ideas to help you build one.