‘peak state’ music education

December 7, 2011

This article describes a new trend in being ‘peak state’ to increase enjoyment and retention!


10 ways to motivate upper primary music

May 25, 2013

This PDF has 10 suggested approaches to pedagogy re. engaging 10-12 year olds in the music classroom – from FunMusicCo.


Are apps saving Classical music?

August 30, 2013

Read the article here:

It makes reference to Touch Press iPad apps such as: Beethoven’s 9th, The Orchestra, and a Liszt Sonata (piano) app.


Big Question blog

April 7, 2013

After watching the Mitra TED talk together (, and discussing the future of learning for today’s teenagers, 12-13 year olds in a Music class were asked to get into groups, devise their own “Big Question” to do with music, and come up with a researched presentation. Grouping was flexible, and open to change. Each group had to appoint a ‘granny’ for encouragement. Presentation format was up to each group.

Questions included:

“Who first invented music?”

“How do people respond to different genres of music?”

“How do disabled people experience music?”

“How has music changed over the last 100 years?”

“How is music education different across the globe?”

After half an hour, any student who was without a group (and therefore without a big question) was teacher-guided to collect photos of unusual instruments to present to the class.

Only a few students took the ‘unusual instrument’ approach. Two students found a superficial answer to their question in 5 minutes and settled on it. The rest worked collaboratively and enthusiastically – even those students who avoid practical music making, which was pleasing!

4 lessons were given for the task – 3 of which were in a computer lab. The level of working noise was greater than normal, but very productive. Most students were on task for the vast majority of the time. Excitement was evident in most students. Collaborative work was predominant, with all students voicing their opinions at various times. Weaker students often found themselves working with stronger peers. Groups changed a little throughout the 4 sessions, finding a better balance. Questions of the teacher were few and far between, having encouraged students to seek answers from their group.

Presentations were predominantly in PowerPoint, with students taking turns to read from the screen. This Project-Based Learning (PBL) or SOLE (Student-Oriented Learning Environment) task formed one of six assessment tasks for the year, under the title of “Self Nominated Project”.

The teacher found the sessions lively and entertaining, having the rare chance to sit back and observe active learning as an interested spectator. From a teaching point of view, the SOLE experiment was fun, energising, painless, and surprisingly easy – students did as much thinking as the teacher, which is my new goal for classroom teaching!


Build a school in the cloud

March 9, 2013

Watch this TED talk on YouTube with Middle School students. Then ask them to self-organise into groups (with internet access) and pursue their own choice of ‘big question’ to do with music.


Challenge-Based Learning

July 20, 2011

One recent trend in education is “Challenge-Based Learning” (CBL) … real-life, relevant, project-based learning (often using Apple software). Read more …


Charanga – digital learning community

January 25, 2012

Charanga is a digital learning community for music education – once paid up and subscribed, you have access to digital lesson materials and support.


Composing Together (publication)

April 1, 2013

“Minds on Music” – This textbook enhances preservice and practicing music educators’ understanding of ways to successfully engage children in music composition. It offers both a rationale for the presence of composition in the music education program and a thorough review of what we know of children’s compositional practices to date. Minds On Music offers a solid foundation for planning and implementing composition lessons with students in grades PreK-12.


Critical thinking ideas for the Music classroom

October 13, 2012

THIS article has practical suggestions for promoting Critical Thinking skills in the music (and instrumental teaching) classroom – both primary and secondary.


Dr Scott Watson – free podcasts

July 23, 2011

Dr Scott Watson (US) shares his experiences as a music educator and conductor via a series of free podcasts.


free Jellybeans teaching demo (Melb and Syd)

October 15, 2012
A message from Jozzbeat:


Here’s your opportunity for Melbourne and Sydney metropolitan Primary schools to test drive the classroom music program “Jellybeans Music” in your OWN school! For a limited time during Term 4, we will send out one of our Jellybeans Music teachers to your school for a Jellybeans lesson with a class of your choice.

If you’ve not seen Jellybeans Music in action before, take this opportunity to see the program that many schools, Principals and parents are talking about.

For more information on the program go to:

Call the office – 1300 307 506 or

email us HERE to book in.


guitar tutor PowerPoint

May 5, 2013

Educators around the world are looking toward popular music as a way of ‘engaging kids’ who otherwise would never be likely to pursue a musical instrument in school, let alone in adult life.

This website offers a new method of learning useful-level guitar. The backing tracks are based on special chords that allow simple one to three fingered ’shapes’ to fit in well – no muffled notes, no special re-tunings!.

This is a Creative Commons free resource that can be downloaded and used in whatever way you want. Although simple enough for an individual learner it probably works best if a trained teacher gets you started following the tutorial. Teachers can use the system for other instruments as well as guitar..

Just download the 5mb zip file listed at left and open it as a PowerPoint (.pptx). Open full-screen so that you can click on the embedded midi files and view the animations showing finger positions for chords.


Keyboard Evolution – FREE PD – 29 May 2012 Melb

May 28, 2012

Keyboard Evolution workshop in Melbourne on Tuesday 29 May … an opportunity to see this effective program first hand within a classroom setting.

The Keyboard Evolution program is designed for the first year of high school (although also suits upper primary) and caters for both elementary and advanced music students being in the same class simultaneously. Additionally the program offers extension work for the advanced students to ensure they are engaged in the classroom activity without the teacher having to write a separate program for them.

This workshop will include an overview of the program and all it’s resources as well as hands on application of the 10 Keyboard Evolution Sessions.

  • Keyboard/technology orientation for the classroom
  • Course structure and resources
  • Individual/Group ensemble performance
  • Extension work and extra activities
  • Easy integration of ICT to the classroom

You don’t have to be a keyboard player to attend however the session will be interactive!

There is no cost, but registration is essential. PD attendance certificates will be available.

The event details are:

Date: Tuesday May 29

Time: 2.30pm – 4.30pm OR 5.00pm – 7.00pm

Where: Statewide Resource Centre

150 Palmerston St, Carlton

(Melway reference — Map 2B:H6)

To attend register online <>


Music Skill learning sequence

July 26, 2013

Edwin Gordon has compiled a list of musical skills, and a desirable order in which to teach them.


PBL Music – Project Based Learning

April 7, 2013

Try giving groups of students ‘big questions’ or composition tasks or performance challenges (eg. Battle of the Bands) and lots of space to self-direct with access to the internet … and see what they come up with. Some ideas HERE and HERE.


Toccata Blocks for teaching rhythm theory

May 30, 2013

Toccata blocks are concrete resources to assist students (from aged 4 – 104) when learning to read rhythms.


USQ music students collaborate for online success

May 28, 2012

Music teaching at USQ is being revolutionised by the social media and a new team-teaching approach which helps students to collaborate with their colleagues and to work with professional musicians.

The new teaching technique is the brainchild of Toowoomba-born singer and music lecturer Melissa Forbes, who abandoned a legal career to do what she loves – perform and teach music.

“The new teaching approach emerged from the second year song-writing class,” she said.

“The students needed to learn how to collaborate, be more flexible, and to better communicate musical ideas.”

“Most of our music graduates become school classroom music or instrumental teachers, so as they learn in a collegiate atmosphere, they are also learning how to teach and how to encourage creative group learning,” she said.

Mrs Forbes said the course was evolving organically and has incorporated the use of social media such as YouTube where students see and hear their favourite performers.

“The students seem far more interested in acoustic covers of songs rather than the song as sung by the original artist with the million dollar music video. They want to see someone who’s like themselves, who is really good at playing the song on an instrument,” she said.

“Some of these cover artists are so successful they’re doing tours of the USA on the basis of what they’ve uploaded to YouTube.”

“Copyright is a problem for uploading existing songs to the internet but the students are learning to write their own songs, perform them and use social media to upload their work to the internet,” Mrs Forbes said.

One of Mrs Forbes’ covers of Michael Jackson’s song “Don’t stop ‘til you get enough” from her album “No more Mondays” is on YouTube.

“We also use our own in-house social media platform ePortfolio so students can share their work in a multi-media environment,” Mrs Forbes said.

School of Creative Arts music co-ordinator Dr Phillip Gearing said the results of the new teaching method in the Bachelor of Creative Arts will emerge over the next few years however he will collate preliminary results from the first semester using the new teaching techniques and present them at an international conference in Liverpool, England in July.

In the new teaching format, students gather each week for two-hour workshops which address different musical topics where, for example, the lecturers demonstrate how they work together from the moment they pick up a new score, through the process of learning a new work to putting the finishing touches to a professional arrangement and performance.

Instrumental technique is also developed through weekly instrument-specific classes.

The music practice classes are taught in a team by Mrs Forbes, Dr Gearing, clarinettist Martin Crook and pianist Alison Riethmuller who demonstrate different aspects of performance, teaching students about the musical elements of rhythm, melody, harmony and intonation in the context of rehearsal and performance.

The effect of the team teaching classes is to hot-house the learning experience by combining the enthusiasm and musical skills of the lecturers and inspiring the creativity of their students.

Professional musicians are also invited to classes to perform and to talk about how they work together.

The workshop-style classes have proven very popular with the students notching up almost 100 percent attendance for the 22 first year music students.

Creative Arts head of school Dr Janet McDonald said the huge increase in the number of first year music students this year from throughout the state was a positive response to the updating of the University’s popular theatre, music, visual arts and creative media degrees.

“Students can study combined degrees across the creative arts, making our graduates versatile creative artists who will be ready for workplaces that have seen rapid change in the past few years,” Dr McDonald said.

For more information contact:

Melissa Forbes 07 4611 1153



WA Piano pedagogy convention 2012

November 6, 2011

13-15 April, 2012