Music connects people and activates brains and creativity, but it can be overlooked, teachers have to be found and lessons created, or do they?
Amplify makes delivering music lessons a cinch, Teachers log in to the custom-built software, download the lesson notes and can be up and teaching in very short order.
All lessons include high impact teaching strategies, differentiated learning paths, assessment rubrics and all required materials.
Founder Ricky Kradolfer describes the lesson notes as, “kind of like a recipe of how to facilitate the lesson, they complete their lesson preparation, which is less than 15 minutes, and involves simple things like taking equipment to their classroom and printing any resources.”
“Both my wife and I used to work in the music industry, so we have been able to secure some awesome Australian artists and songs to feature as part of the lesson content. Students are learning about dynamics for example, from artists like Amy Shark and how she uses dynamics when she writes and performs to communicate emotion or learning about storytelling in music from artists like Mitch Tambo who sings in his native Gamilaraay language. Creating that connection with real-life practises and contemporary examples that students can relate to makes the learning experience so much more engaging.”
Lessons average approximately 45 minutes in length, so for less than an hour per week or fortnight, teachers can deliver creative experiences for students in their classroom and meet curriculum outcomes.
Kradolfer is a long-term music educator and the Amplify system was built on his and wife Natalie’s experience in the field and research.
“I run an extra-curricular instrument tuition programme in a number of primary schools, and it was through that I had a number of principals say to me ‘your programme is so great, and so valuable to our school, wouldn’t it be great if every student could be a part of it’”.
“After it happened a few times, I started to ask more questions around the ‘why’, with the assumption that all students learnt music in the classroom to meet the curriculum. What I discovered was in most cases, schools didn’t have access to specialist teachers and generalist teachers didn’t have the confidence, ability, or time to create lessons in the subject area."
The Kradolfers conducted research and focus groups with teachers from around New South Wales, realising that teachers needed help to get music happening in classrooms.
“We knew that it had to be super easy for teachers to use regardless of their musical knowledge and it couldn’t add to their already astronomical workload,” Kradolfer says.
“We landed on creating ten lessons, for every primary school year level, so 70 lessons in total. This allowed for schools who did a 'CAPA rotation' (which was most) to complete the programme in a term. If you complete all ten lessons, then students meet all curriculum outcomes. On top of that, all lessons had to have less than 15 minutes preparation time. After mapping out all the lessons, I personally piloted every single lesson, exercise, and activity at several schools. I wanted to be confident before we created all the content that they would work in a classroom."
Amplify’s guide lets teachers concentrate their efforts helping students acquire, retain, and apply knowledge regardless of their musical ability.
“We are seeing lots of different positive outcomes happening at different schools. Teachers and principals have seen everything from students showing improved recall and application of literacy concepts after completing the programme, right through to decline on truancy on the days students are doing Amplify. We’ve also had such great feedback from so many teachers who are feeling so much more confident and this confidence is radiating throughout other parts of their job.
“One particular school where we’ve seen amazing results shining through is Mascot Public School. They were one of the very first schools to participate in a pilot of Amplify. Last year, we ran a small experiment where we asked students how they felt at the start and at the end of the lesson.
“Not only did their happiness increase during the lesson, but their happiness also increased as they did more lessons, demonstrating an excitement to come to school and learn. Mental health and wellbeing go hand in hand with music. There were a number of students at the school who went from not wanting to be there, to leading their classes in performances at the end of the programme,” he says.