Monthly Archives: February 2006


Ofsted have published an interesting report into the various strengths and weaknesses of the Graduate Teacher Programme. They found ‘ample room for improvement in a number of areas, including the provision of subject-specific training for secondary trainees, and in the identification and provision of individual student training needs and relevant experience’. As someone who is often asked whether a full time PGCE route or a GTP route better, I think that OFSTED have got it right in their criticisms this time. The challenge facing those of us working on large PGCE courses (and MMU’s secondary music PGCE course is the largest in the country!) is to make sure that we ensure that it is fully tailoured to the needs of each individual student.

Community Music East

Great to see some posts by Nick from Community Music East. I haven’t had time to read the reports that he’s posted but will get round to it soon. I’ve no doubt they will contain some excellent materials.

Community Music East is headed up by their Director Ben Higham. I remember Ben coming to give an inspiring talk to our PGCE group whilst I was doing my PGCE course at the School of Education, UEA. It was the best afternoon of the course in my opinion. I wonder if he or anyone else remembers what we did. Part of it involved us considering an inspiration quote by John Cage which went like:

Art, instead of being an object made by one person, is a process set in motion by a group of people. Art’s socialised. It isn’t someone saying something but a group of people doing things, giving everyone (including those involved) the opportunity to have experiences they would not otherwise have had. In other words, it is not just about ability or aptitude but rather the challenge of being involved in a social process of art-making. Individuals should be challenged to reach the height of their potential, but should be gently reminded that the process of art-making is essentially a corporate one; one in which their skills and abilities are put to the service of others to provide enriching experiences from which all can benefit.

This completely revolutionised my thinking about the role and function of music education. Thanks Ben! The rest of afternoon was spent playing some really cool improvisation games, some of which may have come from Search and Reflect, I can’t remember.

Screen capture software

Screen capture software has great potential for those of us interested in creating good quality educational software. Our Audacity Interactive software made use of the free and excellent CamStudio which is for PC only. There are free cross-platform solutions too. The vnc2swf looks like an interesting alternative. Anyone know of any other good freeware or shareware solutions?

Creativity in education

Do you have any stories about creative approaches to teaching or learning in secondary education? With my colleague from UCE, Martin Fautley, I am writing a book for Learning Matters that will be structured around three main themes: teaching creatively, teaching for creativity and creative learning. Having discussed the three main themes, a number of supplementary themes will be explored in the book. These will include how teaching creatively, teaching for creativity and creative learning relate to:

• Inclusion
• Assessment
• New technologies
• Behaviour, engagement and motivation
• Approaches to curriculum development
We’d like to include loads of practical examples focused from any curriculum subject and which address any of these themes. Do visit this site to feedback your examples.

Digital transcription tools

I notice that Transana have released new Windows and Mac version of the digital transcription tool. I’ve found this to be a very useful tool but with quite a steep learning curve (certainly for me!) What are the experiences of others with the tool? Or have you found other software that does the same but better?

Is there a need for music education?

Yes, if the following standards are anything to go by. This ‘harpist’ was in the local paper last week:

When I showed one of my daughters she said, “That’s funny” and laughed! When asked why, she said, “Because she’s holding a guitar!”