Whether it's academic or extra-curricular, music teachers produce some of the most creative pages we see in Firefly, including peer-assessed performances, Sibelius score uploads, video tutorials and parent-assisted learning. It's time we made a song and dance about music pages in Firefly.
Preparing for lessons
A subject like music might seem to lend itself less readily to a Firefly page than subjects heavily focussed on text or images. But, scouting through different schools, there's lots to be gained by putting music resources on Firefly. Before the lesson, videos and text to explain theories or historical context can be set to your music class so students arrive at the lesson prepared for discussion and practicals. Links to useful websites can be set as homework and researched independently. YouTube has a wealth of free videos to enliven any music subject - everything from tutorials, to famous performances of set works, to music tech advice. Parents can help their children learn by watching the videos with them. Also, have a look at how Bristol Cathedral Choir School have used simple quizzes and basic Firefly pages for ideas about engaging students in listening tests and lengthier projects.
Stephen Wiles, Assistant Director of music teacher at Forest School, has used Firefly blogs with his students to create ePortfolios. Younger students keep recordings of their compositions in a blog and the comment features open out for peer to peer assessment. For older students, the blog becomes a place to collect their instrumental performances. Students reflect on their own work in comments and Stephen can encourage targeted improvements and accurate self-assessment. He also finds that students are far more willing to share these pages with parents than to play in front of them. It's a way to involve the whole school community in music and a handy back-up if illness or absence strikes before an exam.
If students are composing, their Sibelius scores can be exported as PDFs and dragged and dropped onto your Firefly page. The score can then be viewed in its entirely and scrolled through from the page. The audio for their music can also be dragged and dropped once exported to mp3. That way, you can view the music and listen at the same time. It's great for members of staff - Form Tutors, Senior Management - and parents, who might not have access to Sibelius on their computers.
What about licensing for scores?
If it's OK to photocopy or you have a site license, there's no problem with adding a score to a Firefly page.
Chamber-orchestras, junior choirs, jazz-bands, funk-groups, a cappella trios... music groups can seem a little hard to manage! By adding your music calendar to a Firefly page you can help your students know what's on, when. Each group can be given its own page or blog to keep notes about rehearsals or to advertise concerts. Big performances could even be advertised on the Firefly dashboard to make sure it's seen by the whole school. You could add that term's music or lyrics to the page and stop students losing photocopies in their instrument cases. Why not hand over responsibility for a club page to the student leader?
Top tips for music teachers from music teachers
- Focus on one area at a time and build great pages gradually
- Develop Firefly as a safe area where students can be recorded, watch each other perform and comment openly
- Keep your music pages regularly updated. How about trying 'composer of the week', a news feed of recently updated Firefly pages, or information about music events in your area