What does it take to inspire
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.
“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.
“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?
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.”