During the Australian School Band and Orchestra Festival (ASBOF), on 12-14 July, I had the incredible opportunity to expand my knowledge on various aspects of music education.
Through workshops and presentations, I learned about the importance of advocating for music, seeing as it has such a profound impact on individuals and society.
I was fascinated by Dr Anita Collins’ explanation of how music activates multiple areas of the brain, fostering enhanced cognitive skills, emotional intelligence, and even boosting memory retention.
This reinforced the notion that music is not merely an extracurricular activity but an essential component in the holistic development of students.
One of the key takeaways for me during the conference was Jacki Cooper’s presentation on ‘If you can sing it, you can play it’ which was a delightful addition to the event’s line-up.
Jacki demonstrated how singing and playing are inherently interconnected.
Through interactive exercises, she encouraged participants to vocalise various instrumental parts, instilling a sense of rhythm and musicality that laid a strong foundation for effective ensemble playing.
By encouraging students to vocalise the melodies they are about to play, they gain a deeper understanding of the music’s structure, phrasing, and nuances.
Participating in the ‘how to’ series of workshops during the conference was enriching. These workshops provided a wonderful opportunity for attendees, including myself, to delve deeper into specific ensemble instruments and gain valuable insights from experienced musicians and educators.
The variety of workshops offered, focussed on percussion instruments, the clarinet, flute, trombone and trumpet.
Before attending the presentation, I had a general sense of what I wanted to achieve as a music teacher, but I lacked a concrete vision that could guide my actions and decisions.
After attending Paul Vickers’ presentation and mentoring workshop, I now understand the importance of building a vision statement and objectives.
Ultimately, I learned about jazz ensemble development and explored the concept of flexible ensembles, discovering innovative ways to adapt and modify musical arrangements to accommodate different skill levels and instrumentation.
Another engaging topic was physical gestures and expressions for ensembles, where I discovered the power of non-verbal communication in conveying musical intent and fostering a deeper connection between performers.
Lastly, I gained valuable strategies on how to help primary school children achieve their best in music education. Understanding their developmental needs and tailoring instructional approaches to engage and inspire them will undoubtedly enhance their musical growth and passion for the art.
Throughout the ASBOF conference, the shared experiences of educators and professionals illuminated the irrefutable evidence that music education goes beyond the classroom walls.
Overall, the conference provided a comprehensive experience that has equipped me with valuable tools to elevate my teaching practice and enrich the musical journey of my students.