An unexpected language barrier we encountered during this project was the way in which some of the young musicians needed to learn our music.
For example, some kids don’t read music, but will learn what they hear. Others struggle to filter out the noise of the other instruments in the orchestra and prefer to stick with the strict guidance of the sheet music. Since our music isn’t yet published and some of our pieces have a jazz influence, it presented us with a learning challenge. How do we teach our unique music style to different styles of learners?
Since each person’s learning style varies, we decided to create individual mp3 parts for each student and sent them the audio files. We also included the full instrumentation mp3 so they could eventually play along. This was particularly helpful for the audible learners. Additionally, we sat alongside the students during practices and played (or sang) the parts to help them get the feel of the music.
Testing the Limits
Another aspect about this project has been learning and testing the limits of each instrument and student musician based on their current experience level – such as the trumpet. When we originally started this project, we composed trumpet parts that were in a higher range to give it some jazzy flare. According to our music composition teacher, the high notes that we wrote originally for the trumpet were even pushing the limits for a professional musician.
While the trumpet simulation sounded awesome in the music program, we learned that it was just too far beyond the limit of the student trumpet player. Once we re-arranged the trumpet part to be at a lower pitch, while still providing a nice challenge for the musician, we were surprised to find that we liked the sound even better at the lower tone.
Enhancing Learning Through Music
Throughout this education journey, we have learned that every kid has their own way of understanding music. Some kids need loose boundaries because they excel at improv. Some kids need the outlet of a rhythm, and some kids need a combination of methods for learning. Music allows the kind of flexibility kids need to enjoy learning. When music is used as a learning tool, it allows kids to grow and learn at another level.
We have certainly enhanced our understanding of music throughout this project, and have seen growth of students in the orchestra as well. We are looking forward to hearing our music performed at the concert in just a few weeks.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more updates as our homeschool music project comes to life.