Music Takes Action

Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School

Music has the power to change the world, something Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School music teacher Jonathan Grant firmly believes, so he asked his students to use music to benefit others.

As his students developed, produced, and performed an original benefit concert they learned about collaboration, learning ownership, and how to think big when helping others. This is their story.

The Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School has 1060 students, an Early Learning Centre for Pre-school and Kindergarten, a Primary School for Years 1 to 6, and Secondary School from Years 7 to 12. They have an  academic program that places a strong focus on each student’s particular strengths and individual abilities.

I have had the support and encouragement needed to try programs that do not neatly fit in with traditional assessment-based education prescribed by the Australian education system. This support has allowed me to create and then trial various units that I would not have had the opportunity to run.

Jonathan Grant

Lindisfarne AGS

I first learned about the Fluencies a year ago when Lee Crockett came to my school to run a workshop. I was immediately inspired to create unit plans and was thrilled at the possibilities that could eventuate through application of this learning framework.

Jonathan Grant

Lindisfarne AGS

There is a sense of possibility that has been nurtured through this process and I am eager to see these projects grow and coalesce into relevant initiatives that actually make a positive difference in the lives of students, and in the local and global communities.

Jonathan Grant

Lindisfarne AGS

What does it take to inspire

meaningful change?

Art is an intimately personal undertaking, but many believe its true purpose is to inspire and inflame feeling and opinion. The strongest forms of art have the potential to change situations and people in profound ways, and our own history is the greatest source of this truth. Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School music teacher Jonathan Grant believes this also.

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“Music has the power to change the world,” he states. “Art may be self-expression yet the highest art can profoundly affect the world around us.” After having been inspired by a visit to Lindisfarne from GDCF president Lee Watanabe-Crockett, Jonathan decided to ignite the passion of creation in his students’ hearts and minds in a project that would also inspire them to serve others. He called it ‘Music Takes Action.’

Where do we

begin to transform?

Jonathan began by posing the question, “How can we use our collective skills to stage a benefit concert that will raise awareness for a worthy cause?” He tasked his students with exploring various causes and what they could engineer in terms of a musical concert to support them.

As a teacher, Jonathan was excited about the potential outcomes of using the Fluencies for such a powerful student-centered project. However, he admits it was tough at first. “As a teacher I had to step back and let them have the realization that the ball is in their court,” he recalls. “They are the authors of their learning experience, and once they realize this their engagement levels are profoundly affected.”

Their benefit concert project would include collaborating with others who were able to offer their unique skills and insights and actively rehearsing, promoting, and finally performing their finished product. All of the Essential Fluencies would end up coming into play in some form or another.

How do we plot a

path to success?

Students began by discussing what issues were important to them and why. After that, their next task was to gain inspiration and motivation by observing other great and successful concerts that were staged in the name of some worthy causes. Once they had an idea in mind, they chose what songs they would be playing and arranged them accordingly. This stage also involved designing unique and eye-catching promotional materials to get others interested.

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“You will have to thoughtfully delegate tasks, playing to the strengths of the class and putting together groups that showcase your various talents,” Jonathan instructed.

When the time came to finally perform their concert songs after a diligent rehearsal period, the students wowed the crowd—not to mention Jonathan himself. “Students not only achieved the goals set out in the unit but also learned to collaborate, think big and take ownership of their own learning,” he says proudly.

How do we measure

growth and progress?

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  • Students are thinking more for themselves and assuming responsibility.
  • They have realized that they are in control of their own learning.
  • Students are developing a sense of agency and ownership for learning using the Essential Fluencies.
  • They are working on projects to solve challenging problems that are relevant to their interests.
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  • Letting students take the lead has shown that it is possible to learn when they are doing entirely different things.
  • Teachers are allowed to be inspired as educators and dream big in planning and implementing units.
  • The Fluencies processes allow teachers to connect content topics to their students’ personal interests and increase student engagement.
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  • Embracing the Fluencies is gradually fostering a more creative and dynamic school culture.
  • There is a deeper sense of collaboration between students and teachers as well as between the teachers themselves.
  • Integrity and curiosity are developing for everyone in unexpected ways.
  • Educators are being inspired to both learn and instruct in many different ways to connect to learners.

How do we continue to

improve and excel?

After the lights went down and the curtain was closed, Jonathan’s students had plenty to reflect on and to be thankful for. As a debrief, his class recorded a podcast discussing the challenges they faced on this particular learning adventure and then played it for a cohort that was preparing to embark on a similar project themselves.

“Once they take hold of the reins the learning environment flourishes and the teacher becomes a facilitator,” says Jonathan. “The results have been extremely encouraging.”

What’s on the horizon for Jonathan’s upcoming musical learning adventures with his students? “I have big plans for units that involve multiple year levels and faculties which will be challenging to implement, but will hopefully build synergy between classes and solidify the learning outcomes across the year levels,” he claims. “I look forward to further refining my units and trying out new ideas that hopefully will resonate with my students.”