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CSO releases free online lesson plans for primary school teachers

Ian Bushnell5 February 2021
Canberra Symphony Orchestra musicians Julia Janiszewski and Alina Zamfir.

Music in My School CSO musicians Julia Janiszewski and Alina Zamfir. Photo: Martin Ollman.

A new online resource for local primary schools will be music to the ears of teachers and their students.

The Canberra Symphony Orchestra (CSO) has created free lesson packs for primary school teachers, aligned to the Australian Curriculum and now available for download.

Based on the CSO’s popular Music in My School: Time Traveller program, the lessons take students on a journey through music history, from medieval chant to 20th century ‘rule breaking’.

Developed by the woman behind Music in My School, award-winning music educator Dr Anita Collins, and Elizabeth Phingst, the lesson packs idea arose out of 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic restrictions that prevented CSO musicians visiting schools, and have been built with the generalist teacher in mind.

The lesson plans can stand alone, or support a live performance day with CSO musicians.

They should win the applause of every teacher who has to orchestrate a music class despite limited musical knowledge.

“It’s part of the curriculum that everybody needs to teach, but it’s one that sometimes can be frightening,” says Dr Collins.

“It’s about building the capacity of the teacher, and therefore the school, to deliver all of the curriculum.”

Dr Anita Collins.

Music educator Dr Anita Collins: “You can learn about music for sure, but doing music and making music is the most important thing, and the most vital part of learning.” Photo: Muse Consulting.

Dr Collins describes music as an active sport, and the lesson plans are not simply a plug-and-play experience.

“You can learn about music for sure, but doing music and making music is the most important thing, and the most vital part of learning,” she says.

And the teacher is central; the conductor with the baton, even if the class has no instruments.

“It’s all based around experiential learning, but doing it without the need for expensive or large groups of instruments,” says Dr Collins.

“It’s about what you can do in your classroom.”

That means using whatever is at hand to keep beats and create new sounds, as well as there being lots of songs and singing activities.

Dr Collins says there is now a huge suite of activities that generalist teachers can download and use every week with students, as well as upskilling themselves.

If students are forced to learn from home again, the lesson plans will be even more important.

“All schools at the moment are preparing for at least one more point, maybe this semester, where we will need to go into at-home learning,” says Dr Collins. “We have to be prepared for that.

“Teachers can still interact and be part of their students’ learning even if they’re not necessarily in the classroom.”

Dr Collins says there is a power to the resource being developed by local professionals for the local community and local schools.

“We’re looking forward to feedback from teachers to see what works and what not works, what are the favourites and what we can do more of next time,” she says.

CSO musicians are also looking forward to a return to the classroom, and students returning to Llewellyn Hall to enjoy the unique experience of live performances.

Music in My School has been supported by the Ginninderry development and Icon Water. Ginninderry has also backed the new resource, which can be downloaded here.

Original Article published by Ian Bushnell on The RiotACT.

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