Why Teaching Listening Skills is Important
Today I am officially on my winter school holidays! I wish I was in a slightly better frame of mind though – I have been “lucky” enough to have had the flu since last week. I have lost my voice, I can’t stop coughing, and I didn’t know that a nose could produce that much snot!!! Sorry, I know that is gross, but, it really got me this time – here’s hoping that I won’t get it again this flu season.
The last few days with the flu, and my date with my couch, had me thinking, and thinking, while binge watching television. I personally find it really hard to sit still for any length of time, my brain goes into overdrive and just doesn’t stop ticking. My poor brain has had it tough while trying to get over the flu – I had no energy to do much, so watching tv was an easy way to give myself some much needed rest. But, my little busy mind kept going and thinking about what I wanted to do once I felt well enough to get off the lounge.
This is where this new product comes in. Next term, I start a new unit with my Year 7 students – Pioneers of Rock. This is simply a means to an end though, throughout the unit we do a lot of listening tasks that we turn into written paragraphs. There is method to my madness, in term 4 the students must choose a song to analyse independently and write paragraphs based on their analysis, and this strategy of teaching the writing process alongside the listening tasks is my way of helping my students succeed in their assignment.
Last year, we completed this same task with our Year 7 students, but as usual, I wanted to “tweak” this and improve on what was done last year. The one thing that worked really well was using the modelled, guided, independent model for this assignment. For each concept of music, students are given two goes at completing the questions and a paragraph – the first is done together as a class where I model and encourage the students to get the desired written paragraph. The second time through we answer the questions together, and they have a go writing the paragraph on their own. This means that by the time they get their assignment, they are ready to answer the listening prompts on their own and then write their paragraphs. I like to have my students complete this task in class. They love being given permission to actually listen to the music in class time, but what it means is simply that I am available to help whenever they get stuck and need some support.
My only issue from teaching this assignment last year was that the examples we did were not in any particular order in their music books. This was mainly because, depending on the music we were listening to, I changed the concept to focus on, as some music highlighted certain concepts better than others. So, in order to fix this this year, I am going to put together a listening and writing journal for my students to record their work into. This way, even though there will be different music in it, and we will still jump around the concepts, when they do their assignments they will be easily able to find the samples we did in class as they will be all collated together!
This is where my new product comes in. I have collated 30 different music listening and writing prompts into one place – to make my life easier, and hopefully yours too. Included in the new resource are 11 different general writing prompts with a music theme. I used these last term with one of my classes, and I wish I had started using them in the beginning of the year. Oh well, there’s always next year! The other prompts are all focused on each of the Elements of Music – Dynamics, Harmony, Melody, Rhythm, Structure, Texture, Timbre and Tonality. For each element, there are two different listening prompts, the second is slightly harder than the first. Personally, I will be using the harder set for one of my classes (my gifted and talented class) and the other set will be used for my other two Year 7 classes.
Included in the product are 10 different writing response sheets with different musical instruments in the background for the students to write their paragraph onto. These are just a matter of choice – you might choose to use the plain ones, or use the instrument ones for a particular piece of music that you are studying.
The best part about these listening and writing response prompts is that they can be used over, and over, and over again – you just need to change the music selected to study!
Some other ways that you could use this product are below, but there is no limit other than your own needs and imagination.
- As a stand alone listening and writing lesson
- As a part of a bigger unit of work
- As a way to listen to and analyse a piece of music that will later be performed
- As a substitute teacher’s lesson
- As an assignment
- As a test
- As a listening journal
- As homework
This product has been designed to be used in conjunction with my Elements of Music Listening Bundle. In the Bundle are stacks of resources to help you teach the different aspects of each of the Elements of Music – music terms, vocabulary worksheets, listening response worksheets and more. I personally use this resource for all my classes from Year 7-10, and have done for a number of years now. They have saved my sanity and time be being able to flick through, find the worksheet I am looking for and then being able to use it in the class straight away.
Listening and appreciating music is a skill that needs to be encouraged and developed in our young musicians. If they want to improve their own performances it is vital that they listen to both good and bad examples of music in order to learn. I am sure that you have the same issues as myself with your students – they find a song they want to perform, and you ask them to listen to another version of the same song for them to draw inspiration from. Only to find, when you check on their progress the next lesson they haven’t listened to that music you suggested – it is sooooo frustrating.
Listening to a wide variety of music not only helps performance skills, it helps composition skills too. I am sure you know those students who do well at composition, and they find it easy, this is often because they don’t limit their listening time to just one type of music/genre/artist/style. Students who enjoy a wide variety of music, and who can appreciate the skills and uniqueness of a piece of music become better musicians – simple.
Until next time
Happy Teaching – or holidays
Julia from Jooya