What I learned from… changing one word

At this time of year, teachers all over the country (and beyond) are supporting their young people as they complete GCSE Music Composition coursework. I always use this January/February half term to encourage as many young people in Year 9, 10 and 11 to be focusing on composition at the same time, creating more discussion between the year groups, but I’ve noticed since the lockdowns that students are much less confident and independent in the creation of new ideas.

A few weeks ago a close friend (also a teacher) shared that younger students are also struggling to make simple choices. So this week I’ve changed one word… I’ve replaced the word ‘compose’ with ‘choose’. This single tiny adjustment in the language I use in the classroom has moved mountains. The greatest change was in Year 9, with many students sharing how they cannot believe how simple it is to create musical ideas just by choosing.

Of course, I’ve taught composition using that word before, but so profound has been the outcome of this, I’m going to reflect in more detail to see if there are other areas the students now perceive as complex, when they’re not! These young people have found great confidence in realising what they can do this week. Exciting times.

Photo by Vladislav Babienko on Unsplash

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