The Active Music Story
Here I am, sitting in my classroom with my children around me, with 30 voices all singing the same song and watching lots of little learning lightbulbs going off in my children’s heads. They each have a clave and are passing them around the circle in perfect synchronicity while they chant. At any moment things could go wrong. Someone could drop their clave, break the chain… but they don’t – they pass until they finish the song and then fall about laughing in euphoric satisfaction. They did it!
How did I come to be teaching this African clave-passing song?
I was sitting on the floor at University being taught how to teach a song to a child when something sparked in me. I finished my music and teaching degree, went on countless Kodály, Orff and Dalcroze courses, worked in many primary schools, ran numerous workshops, trained teachers and then found that something was frustrating me.
Despite having hundreds of brilliant songs and activities I was still thinking up what to do in each lesson. I wanted to spend my time enjoying the lightbulb moments with the children but most of my time was now taken up with planning.
Planning for me was a bit like washing up. I had to do it again and again and it never seemed to end. Nothing could be achieved without hours of preparation.
But what if the preparation was all done? Forever? What if I could access my happy place with the children and my love of connection with them every day without the grey cloud of planning hanging over me?
I became excited. I was going to reach this amazing achievement and climb that mountain. I was going to do it for the feeling of never having to plan again.
When I started, friends began asking me if they could borrow my lesson plans and that’s when a new thought dawned on me. If I’m going to work this hard for my own freedom, maybe I could work hard for the freedom of others too? (or work hard for the freedom of others too?)
I began mega-planning, dynamic planning, long-term planning, short-term planning, zooming in on the details, thinking of how much children could take in and where they would need to consolidate their skills, what songs they would need to learn in order to be ready to learn new musical elements when they would need breaks…I spent hours alone with my thoughts, checking each sequence of lessons for their overview, thinking about what each class would know by now and where to take them next.
My husband and son had to leave me in the house alone a lot as I needed to work without distractions. I then took all the lessons I was planning and tried and tested them over many weeks, months and years with my lovely children in the schools where I worked.
At the end of the lessons, I would tweak them. If games and activities didn’t work I left them out and only included the ones the children loved and learnt the most from. I took games and activities and musical learning sequences from all my courses and education. I thought it would take me a year. A difficulty within our family meant that I had to keep stopping my work. By this time it had taken me seven years to write about three-quarters of it.
Then I realised that explaining the games and activities within the plans I was writing was hard for others to easily follow. I remembered how I learnt the most from actually playing these games but that videos were my next best way to learn.
For the next three years, I taught groups of children all the activities within the plans I was writing and worked with them at weekends in a professional filming studio. Throughout this time, I revised and finalised plans, made sure every song was notated and explained, became quality manager for the editing of the videos, synced up all the videos with the lesson plans and emerged with 168 lesson plans with over 600 video clips.
I gave it a name, Active Music, created a brand and had CDs and videos made and printed. I had spent ten years doing mega-planning and creating and achieving my goal. We then turned it into an online resource to be accessed by teachers all over the world.
Active Music is now sold in England, America, Africa, Holland, Switzerland, to name a few countries, helping teachers to enjoy their teaching without having to plan. I receive regular messages from teachers all around the world who love the simplicity of the lessons, the choice of games and particularly the videos, which make the learning so easy.
From my first University lecture to now, it has been a long road, but people can now access all the songs, games and activities that I researched, follow the lesson plans that I spent years figuring out and have their happy learning moments with their children in full faith and trust that they are teaching what their children need to learn.
The work is done. The product is available!
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We know that Active Music is your teaching best friend, you just haven’t met yet. That’s why we are gifting you a Free Trial.
You can see a little more about Active Music here: