Monthly Archives: February 2013

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Product spotlight: Focus on Sound

Created specifically for schools by a former teacher and examiner, Focus on Sound offers two comprehensive reference resources which help teach and assess listening skills and musical knowledge. Fully hosted online, they can be accessed anywhere, including on tablets and smartphones, and provide a great resource for the classroom as well as homework and revision opportunities.

Instruments features an extensive range of classical, jazz, folk, rock, pop and world music instruments, all demonstrated with images, video and audio examples. Furthermore, it provides advice for students and parents on what might be an appropriate instrument for them to take up. Sound Words is aimed at developing the listening skills required to identify the main terms at GCSE and A level, and provides clear definitions which are illustrated with video, audio and musical examples.

Built-in testing and assessment of the instrument and terminology knowledge allows you to monitor the progress of your students’ understanding and indentify weaknesses.

Focus on Sound has recently joined the Music Sales family of companies, and works nicely alongside Rhinegold Education’s printed resources. We caught up with the product’s creator, Simon Foxall, to find out more…

What led you to devise Focus on Sound?

As a class teacher myself there never seemed to be enough time to assemble materials like recordings, videos, listening tests and music scores. I felt the need to have somewhere I could find all these things really quickly, then be able to demonstrate them on a whiteboard or large screen. Something that was really easy to use, that provided lots of teacher/student interaction, and that the students could follow up with later in the lesson or at home.

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TeachTalk: Music’s Debates in Education – John Finney

As we announced in our recent Expo news article, we are proud to be supporting TeachTalk: Music, who are curating an unmissable session at the forthcoming Music Education Expo.

Debates in Music Education, chaired by David Ashworth, will be on Thursday 21st March, 1.30-3.30pm in the TeachMeet Lounge, and will feature four key speakers: John Finney, Robert Bunting, Chris Philpott and Gary Spruce. In the style of the ‘flipped conference’, TeachTalk: Music are releasing papers by each speaker in advance so that the session can be devoted to as much discussion as possible.

The final paper, by John Finney, has been released – download it here. John examines the ideology of musical composition, and asks you to reflect on these questions:

• Who is entitled to be the main agent of power, teacher or student?
• Is the idea of musical composition hopelessly tethered to a Western European aesthetic?
• Who provides the material as the starting point for exploratory practice?
• Is the teacher-led composing workshop doomed to deny students ownership of learning?

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TeachTalk: Music’s Debates in Education – Gary Spruce

As we announced in our recent Expo news article, we are proud to be supporting TeachTalk: Music, who are curating an unmissable session at the forthcoming Music Education Expo.

Debates in Music Education, chaired by David Ashworth, will be on Thursday 21st March, 1.30-3.30pm in the TeachMeet Lounge, and will feature four key speakers: John Finney, Robert Bunting, Chris Philpott and Gary Spruce. In the style of the ‘flipped conference’, TeachTalk: Music are releasing papers by each speaker in advance so that the session can be devoted to as much discussion as possible.

The third paper, by Gary Spruce, has been released – download it here. Gary says:

“In this presentation I will explore critical thinking as part of the framework of critical (social) theory and examine how, ‘properly embedded, critical thinking and understanding enables pupils to make connections between their musical learning in school and their lived reality, and thus empower them as learners’ (Spruce 2009: 36). Critical thinking is conceptualized here as a key element in the development of a more socially just society in which all are enabled to fully participate. I will argue however that in order to create the conditions within which critical thinking can flourish, we need to examine the ways in which knowledge is conceptualized and understood and how knowledge, particularly in school, is positioned in relation to the ‘knower’ or ‘learner’. I will suggest that such a reconceptualization will inevitably present challenges to some pedagogical approaches.”