Music teaching spans Hunter and Manning

Melissa Wattus of St Francis Xavier’s College reports on an exciting initiative making advanced music studies accessible to secondary students across the diocese.

An innovative approach is being pioneered for the teaching of music for 2015 and 2016. Students from all eleven diocesan secondary schools will now be able to select Music 2 as one of their HSC subjects. In the diocese and indeed across the state, the number of students choosing this challenging course has been considerably lower than the number choosing Music 1. Consequently, the Music 2 course has not been previously offered in all diocesan schools.

So it is exciting that the teaching of Music 2 is now structured in a way that enables students from throughout the region to belong to one class. Six Music 2 students will begin Year 11 in 2015. Three will attend St Francis Xavier’s College Hamilton, one will attend St Joseph’s Aberdeen and two will be at St Clare’s Taree.

A variety of teaching and content delivery modes will be employed to ensure that students from the three schools will receive the same input. As I teach at St Francis Xavier’s College, video conferencing equipment is being installed as one of the main tools for teaching. This will enable students from Taree and Aberdeen to communicate ‘live’ with me as the teacher and with the other students in lessons. Students will see and hear each other, enabling engagement and live interaction. For traditional ‘teacher-talk’ lessons, this video conferencing technology will be invaluable. Use of technology to send and receive students’ work will be essential. Students will submit completed work electronically and each will have computer software as a tool for notating compositions.

Some aspects of the course will be available to the students in video format, with the videos being accessible to the students via a private link. These videos will be able to be accessed on demand throughout the course and will be a resource for examinations and assessment tasks.

Friendships formed in Music 2 classes can be quite special as the students are often like-minded and academically-driven high achievers. To ensure that these students support each other and enjoy each other’s ‘musical company’, travel to workshops and seminars will be an opportunity for the students to be together. Students will prepare performances for Year 11 and HSC Examinations and I will travel to the schools to work with each student. Students will perform in concerts and performance workshops in the three schools as well as transfer their performance videos electronically.

Assistant Director of Schools, Craig Wattam, is enthusiastic about the plan, “This diocesan initiative is not only supporting talented students in the performing arts, but also exploiting the technology we already have in our high schools. We can offer distance learning through video conferencing as well as embracing opportunities for technology to be utilised in clever ways to facilitate student engagement.”

Offering Music 2 as an HSC subject choice for our students ensures that capable and eligible music students feel that they can achieve at the highest level in a subject they love. It is this passion and commitment to music excellence that I have always seen driving Music 2 students as they complete their senior schooling in music. Extension Music will be offered to students completing Year 11 with excellent results and a desire to further their study of music in Year 12.

I am looking forward to working with our Music 2 students and I’m confident they will embrace this initiative of the Catholic Schools Office with enthusiasm, hard work and an ongoing love of music.

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