The weekly half hour sessions include basic theory in music and recorder playing technique, followed by the pupils playing along to written music as a group.
“A music teacher advised me that the first lesson when teaching recorder is how to pick it up and put it down – for example don’t play it till you’re told,” Hosking says.
“In fact, having demonstrated fingering for B, A, G, how to ‘tongue’ and blow gently, when I first gave out the recorders I just let them go outside and blow to their heart’s content.
“Better to play the snake charmer, the Kung Fu guy on a mystical journey and the squeaks out of the system in their own time, than risk their noisy interruption during music lesson.
“As we increase our range of notes and sound quality we’re including a little accompaniment such as voice, guitar, ukarere, glockenspiel and other percussion.”
Hosking says reading music and playing it has been a real challenge for her and so has the fact that she has to conduct at the same time.
“Fortunately, it hasn’t taken long before the students are competent enough to not need me playing along with them.”
So why the decision to teach music notation and playing?
Hosking says it goes back to her own third form experiences.
She went to school in Fiji and was then sent to boarding school in New Zealand, where she says the requirement to perform in school choirs had her wishing she could disappear – especially when she was handed a sheet of music with the expectation that she would then sing it.
“I eventually got the basics and am enriched as a result. Should any of our students end up in a similar situation, I trust they can now hold their own with confidence and if music remains just ‘a fun thing to do’, they have still been enriched as a result of this venture into a new language.”
She says researchers have found there is little doubt that the entire brain is engaged when a person listens to music.
“Reading or composing music, particularly, engages both sides of the brain. Music in the curriculum, both as a subject of study and as accompaniment to the learning process, may be a valuable tool for the integration of thinking across both hemispheres of the brain.”
In Eric Jensen’s second edition of Brain Based Learning - the New Paradigm of Teaching (2014), Hosking says, the following learning benefits are attributed to music:
• Relaxation and stress reduction (stress inhibits learning)
• Fostering of creativity through brain wave activation
• Stimulation of imagination and thinking.
• Stimulation of motor skills, speaking and vocabulary.
• A reduction in discipline problems, focusing and alignment of group energy.
• Conscious and subconscious information transmission.
Hosking says the music programme couldn’t have been successful without the contribution of generous donors.
“We are so grateful to Brian and Glenys Knopp for organising the donation of recorders from St Thomas of Canterbury College, Christchurch.”
- June Hosking, Mauke