4.1.3 Learning Music through Activities
Teachers organise integrated music activities based on the Learning Objectives for students to gain authentic music and aesthetic experiences, thus consolidating their understanding in music. The three music activities, i.e. creating, performing and listening, should be conducted in a balanced and interconnected manner so as to develop students’ aesthetic sensitivity and music abilities. Although making instruments or drawing pictures of instruments are some of the possible learning activities, these activities do not offer opportunities for students to experience music so as to develop their aural awareness and understandings of music. Moreover, imparting knowledge about music history and theory through lecturing cannot develop students’ ability to
appraise music. Teachers have to arrange well balanced and progressively designed integrated activities, so that students can perceive and understand music through direct participation in these activities with pleasurable learning.
4.1.4 From Sound to Score
Music is an aural art, and score is merely a tool for documenting music. Therefore, teachers should not transmit theory and traditional notation methods merely through verbal explanations in any of the Key Stages. Music learning should start with exposing to and listening to music continuously, and later students’ music reading and notation skills will be developed through various ways progressively. This is similar to the process of how children learn the mother tongue that they listen to and imitate the spoken sound before learning the written word and grammar.
Making use of integrated activities of creating, performing and listening is the best way to start learning music and notation. Through participation in these activities, students will learn to think in sounds and associate the sounds heard with the scores they see or imagine.
Thus, their music reading and notation skills will be developed, enabling them to possess the skills of a composer, a performer or an attentive listener. For instance, through singing
and instrumental playing with music reading, students will understand the relationship between music and scores. Under teachers’ appropriate guidance, students extend their understanding of the meaning of scores, being encouraged to listen actively so as to establish an internal sense of music and the ability to interpret the score. Also, guiding students to consider how to notate their creative works can motivate them to learn notation skills.
Teachers may encourage students to invent their own notations to record familiar pieces, so they will learn to listen actively and make associations between sound and score.
4.1.5 Understanding Students’ Music Background
Individual students possess different potential, pace of development, level of skills, knowledge and experiences in music. Hence, teachers should understand their backgrounds before planning the Music curriculum and learning activities. Talking with students, conducting surveys, observing students’ performance, listening to their playing and communicating with parents are ways to collect students’ information that would form the basis for curriculum planning. The more teachers understand students’ music backgrounds and interests, the better positioned they will be to design a suitable curriculum that effectively meets the needs of students and which provides richer and more meaningful music learning experiences.
4.1.6 Integrating Students’ Daily Experiences
Motivation of learning will be enhanced, and students will learn to construct knowledge better when learning and teaching is related to their daily lives. For instance, environmental sounds are very useful learning resources. Teachers guide students to appreciate sounds in nature such as bird calls, pine waves and wind breezes, and to understand the characteristics of these sounds for creating a sound project. They may also encourage students to be aware of current music activities and events, to collect relevant news and report to classmates through class presentations or posting relevant information on notice boards. As students are readily exposed to popular music, jingles and cartoon music, teachers can adapt the
music and culture, for instance, by comparing the ways of voice production of pop singers with Western and Cantonese operatic singers, and exploring different types of voice production in relation to their cultural contexts.
4.1.7 Adopting Rich Learning and Teaching Materials
Students acquire knowledge from different sources and materials other than lessons and textbooks. Teachers should adopt a good variety of materials such as books, newspapers, magazines, instruments, audio-visual materials, music software and information on the Internet so as to arouse students’ learning interest and widen their learning experiences.
Through designing resource materials together with appropriate integrated activities, teachers can cater for students’ individual needs, styles and abilities of learning. The textbook is merely one of the many sources of learning and teaching materials, and there is no one set of music textbooks which can perfectly meet the needs of students’ musical development.
Therefore, teachers should tailor the textbook contents in accordance with the different needs in learning and teaching, for instance, reordering the sequence of learning, designing appropriate music activities, selecting more attractive repertoire and avoiding those materials and activities that are considered unsuitable and out-dated. In addition, teachers should select music of different genres, styles, periods and cultures as resource materials in order to widen the music horizon of students.
4.2 Integrated Music Activities
The activities of creating, performing (singing and instrumental playing) and listening are inextricably intertwined and interrelated. In most of the learning and teaching processes in
music, activities are conducted in an integrated way with two or even three of these activities taking place simultaneously. For instance, in the process of creating, students explore sounds, try out music ideas through performing, and listen critically to the music for making improvements to their creative works; when singing in the chorus, students need to listen to each other and exercise their judgement and imagination concurrently to interpret the music; in listening, students use creativity and imagination to understand and feel the music.
In these contexts, students are required to use both creativity and imagination. Therefore, learning music is a process to exercise creativity, in which students’ abilities in creating, performing and listening are shown. Teachers have to design and organise integrated music activities for students to provide them with rich and comprehensive learning experiences.
The following sections elaborate on some main points of these three activities.
In creating activities, students do not only apply their music knowledge and skills, but also exercise their creativity, imagination and aesthetic sensitivity so as to gain satisfaction and a sense of achievement. Moreover, their generic skills can be enhanced. Hence, both the process and product of creating are equally important.