Musical Futures: Just Play-the story so far

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Posted by Anna-MF UK

Back in October 2014, Abi and Anna from MF UK and Ken from MF Australia visited New York to have a look at the work of Little Kids Rock, a non-profit organisation committed to opening up musical opportunities for primary aged children in schools through their Modern Band Programme.

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Abi, Anna and Ken with pupils engaged in a little Kids Rock after school inititive, NYC Oct 2014

Following the visit, we looked at the overlaps between our approaches and in particular how running an intensive musical training workshop for teachers could help primary generalists to feel confident and competent to start to use Just Play with their classes.

“The teacher felt the critical thing was that she had gone through the process alongside the pupils, could see it through their eyes, understand what is difficult, embarrassing, made her nervous etc so she felt she could relate to them”-interview with class teacher, UK pre pilot Jan 2015

We considered how best to present the resource in a way that could be scaffolded for teachers who may not have had much experience with playing or delivering music, yet keeping these in line with our clear Musical Futures pedagogies that underpin all the work we do.

“Children made good progress from being muddled in the initial group jam to a much more skilled and co-ordinated performance by the end of the day”-independent evaluation, UK pre pilot Jan 2015

In January, Ken and Anna ran a small pre-pilot in 2 primary schools in Hackney, London UK. Working first with a year 4 class (aged 8-9) and then with a year 6 class (aged 8-11) they tested the materials and worked with an external evaluator to assess the impact and take on board suggestions for improvement.

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Year 4 performing to parents, staff and the rest of the school in Hackney, January 2015

In April, Anna travelled to Australia to take part in the first JP professional development workshop working with Ken, Steve, Ian and Maddie from MF Australia. Teachers played a range of instruments and all took away the resources to use with their classes.

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Steve from Musical Futures Australia leading Just Play workshops in Melbourne with teachers, April 2015

The process of refining and adapting the resources is ongoing. Working with UK Teacher Associate John and taking on board feedback from teachers, the UK pilots and rollout of the JP professional development are now under way and we intend this blog to be a place to share information and progress as we go along!

“I had this pre conception that you would have to be more musical and more knowledgeable. I can keep a beat and I can follow music, I just can’t play an instrument. But after today I think yes-I could do that” Primary teacher, Scotland, UK

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Musical Futures: Just Play Scotland pilot launch, UK, August 2015

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