Friday, November 6, 2015

Music Education in Schools - Juilliard/Nord Anglia Partnership

This school year, a new partnership between Nord Anglia Education (schools in Budapest, Switzerland, Prague, Bangkok, etc.) and The Juilliard School in New York has formed introducing a first-of-its kind performing arts curriculum for all students. The first school in the U.S. to benefit from this collaboration is the British International School of Chicago (Lincoln Park and South Loop) with other U.S. locations next year.

The evidence for an education in the arts is clear – learning music can increase academic development, helping students to improve literacy, mathematics and cognitive development. It also helps young people develop cultural literacy and personal skills – from collaboration through to perseverance - which are critical to the modern workplace.

Under Nord Anglia Education – the world’s leading premium schools organization – The Juilliard-Nord Anglia Performing Arts Programme is based on a repertoire of 12 core works across a range of genres, cultures, and historical periods. The curriculum was developed by Juilliard performing artists and music experts at Nord Anglia Education.  The collaboration will also include professional development resources/trainings for Nord Anglia teachers and after-school and summer arts programs for students, giving them an opportunity to meet one-on-one with Juilliard teaching artists and performers at select Nord Anglia schools.

Interview with Rachel White-Hunt, Director of Music, British International School of Chicago, South Loop and Curriculum Fellow, The Juilliard-Nord Anglia Performing Arts Programme.

1.    Why is it important to include music education in schools?
A musical education is just as vital as educating a child in the “academic” subjects that we tend to value so highly. It’s important to remember that an education in music does not mean training a child to become a performing artist, but instead teach them to feel confident in being creative and expressive. To give them the skill set to listen to what they hear, discuss, and to be culturally literate. Students who are given the opportunity to be creative go on to become confident adults who can appreciate the importance of the arts and its significance within humanity- it is something that unites us all.
There are numerous studies that show music making (regardless of how it sounds) “exercises” the brain in ways that no other subject can. The act of creating, evaluating , performing and being disciplined in a way that you can achieve a final, musical result creates learning experiences that build transferable skills, valuable through all subjects and later on in life. There is a wonderful TED talk “How Playing an instrument benefits your Brain” by Anita Collins that really delves into this.
2.    How can parents encourage their local schools to maintain music education?
I think it really helps when parents work together to support the schools efforts in music and show the school how important music class is   to their students’ week. Supporting concerts and music events, showing that these play an important part to their schools community,celebrating student’s performances and compositions, no matter what the level. Twitter is a great way to do this.Showing senior members in schools how important your child’s music lessons are to their week, the changes you see, and the positive influences it has on their learning is very helpful. Making connections with other subjects, though music, so it becomes a part of other subjects within the school, is also very beneficial for students.
Parent participation is wonderful as well. Getting parents and teachers together for a weekly music group is an amazing experience, helping others see the power of music, which is really important as many people deciding to have music classes are making these decisions based on their own education when music lessons may have been very different or nonexistent.
3.    How was the new performing arts curriculum developed?
I am so passionate about this new curriculum and truly believe that it will inspire our students with skills, curiosity and cultural literary in a way that will enable them to engage with the performing arts throughout their lives. The new curriculum has been developed with a team of curriculum writers from Juilliard, two curriculum fellows from Nord Anglia Education and the NAE education team. Being one of those two curriculum fellows, I have had the amazing opportunity of working with this team over the past year to help create the Juilliard creative classroom and plan its implementation across all NAE schools. The curriculum is designed to promote and encourage cultural literacy for students, in addition to supporting the development of key skills, and draws students into a repertoire of iconic works. Classroom activities and connections with Juilliard are key elements of the curriculum. The keyboard is used as a tool to teach basic skills such as reading music, understanding harmony, and linking to the repertoire. One thing I really love about the curriculum is that is supports the schools current curriculum, therefore enabling each school to continue building on the strengths they already have. This was also an important factor for the curriculum due to the fact it is being implemented in schools around the world, all with different identities and cultural experiences. The curriculum is also deigned to be a vertical one, meaning students will experience the repertoire in different ways through their time at school. Coming from a school that teaches nursery through to year 13, I see massive strengths and advantages to this method of delivery. It is working really well for us at BISC.
Through our music curriculum, every student can enjoy being be an engaged listener, composer, interpreter and communicator. Students will develop skills like critical thinking, resilience, risk-taking and discipline, which he or she can use in their learning in every subject. The activities have been designed to allow students to explore the works in ways that nurture and express their imagination and creativity. In turn this will also help our students develop cultural literacy, broadening their understanding of cultural and social history around the world to give them a global perspective and these valuable skills will pay dividends in all aspects of our students learning and prepare them for future success.
Through Juilliard’s online resource, Juilliard Creative Classroom, Nord Anglia teachers have access to a breadth of teaching materials, recordings, and videos that they can incorporate into their lessons. These materials are  all assessed via yearly learning outcomes that provide an assessment framework that guide student learning, progressively building a deep understanding and engagement with music.
One of the most powerful elements to this curriculum is the interaction with Juilliard alumni musicians.  Juilliard curriculum specialists, teaching artists and touring performers visit Nord Anglia schools on a regular basis , our school in Chicago ( British International School of Chicago- South loop) has just had their visit for this term and the effect it had within our school community was deep. Students were  inspired not only to witness such incredible talent at work, but to also work with our visitors in creating music. The visit captured our student’s imaginations and showed them how ambitious they can truly be. We are already planning and eagerly waiting our next visit next term.
4.    How can you learn more about the curriculum?
Visit our school website for more details, blogs about the curriculum in action within our classrooms and a range of movies explaining different elements of the project:

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