Debbie O'Shea believes that in every lesson, as often as possible, we should give our students the opportunity to improvise and create. This somehow must be slotted in with everything else that has to be done in each lesson. The writer shares some methods that work for her.
Young children are naturally creative - just look at the many ways a toddler can use containers in the plastic cupboard - or listen while they talk, chant and sing their way through a game with a simple toy or object and a pile of dirt! As music educators we must try to nurture this natural creativity and build the confidence of our students. This daunting task would be easiest with small numbers of students for a long period of time. Most of us have neither numbers nor time on our side.
Here area few ideas I've found that work for me. They are very deliberate quick and easy. They aim to build students' confidence and to encourage 'risk-taking'. They are designed to develop students' ability to form ideas and opinions about the music they create while striving to improve. They are firmly placed within the lesson structure and not just 'stop everything, now we are going to create'. Creating is a natural part of music making, and therefore of the music lesson. These situations also provide opportunities for students to demonstrate what they know, as they apply that knowledge to create something uniquely theirs. This provides a perfect opportunity for assessment. (I should point out that my program is aurally based, developmental and sequential.)
The listed activities can be adapted to any level. They are just ideas that I hope will spark other ideas and maybe add something to your classroom.
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