PG Cert Project Journal Summary

PG Cert Journal Summary

Layout of WordPress ePortfolio

I have shaped my WordPress ePortfolio Journal, for the Postgraduate Certificate Research Project, by creating pages for key themes within this module. These pages, which can be found down the left hand side of my WordPress ePortfolio, are as follows:

Literature Review

In my Literature Review, I review two books and two chapters that have been particularly meaningful, resonating with my thoughts and experiences in learning and teaching.

Project Reading

The Project Reading heading links to a drop down menu that lists my recent reading:

PG Cert Project

The PG Cert Project heading links to a drop down menu that lists several key pages:

Project Proposal Draft 1

Project Proposal Final

Both proposals outline the project’s title, offering an overview to my research project before addressing project aims and objectives, project research questions, methodology, research ethics and outcome. There is a natural progression in clarity and in refinement between the draft and final version.

Project Ethics

This page includes important PDFs all relating to the research ethics of my project.

Project Planning

This page includes the six lesson plans of my PG Cert Research Project in PDF format. Each lesson plan documents teacher activity and learner activity while outlining main lesson themes and required instruments, resources.

Reflecting on Reflections

This page is protected by password. This page contains two PDFs which analyse the results given from the written feedback forms collected from the Community Music student participants at the end of each workshop. Analysis includes looking for common themes in written responses, anonymous participant quotes and graphs to show patterns in responses. This page also includes my personal thoughts and reflections in relation to information gathered.

PG Cert Project Interview

This page contains an interview summary of an interview that I conducted with Community Music course coordinator Mary Troup.

Evaluative Report

PG Cert Project PDP

This page includes an updated Professional Development Plan which outlines, not only, my professional development objectives, but also, how I hope to achieve them. There is also a correlation with how my learning, teaching and creative practice complements UKPSF areas.

Project Scrap Book

This page was created to capture any loose ideas for my PG Cert Project.


This page includes all of my UKPSF materials, including two PDFs that were created for Approaches to Critical Artistry and The Teaching Artist modules. UKPSF areas for my PG Cert Project are found within the main body of the page.


Summary of Learning Journey throughout PG Certificate Research Project

In July 2015, I attended the annual Orff Schulwerk Forum in Salzburg. The theme of the forum was ‘Intercultural Music and Dance Education’, a theme of great interest to me. After three days of rich discussion, I was invited to write a book review for the winter edition of the ‘Orff Heute’ – a journal published by the Orff Institute. After some discussion with fellow Orff teachers, I decided to review ‘Facing the music: Shaping music education from a global perspective’ by Huib Schippers (2010 New York: Oxford University Press) and so the beginning of my PG Certificate Research Project learning journey began. Schippers writes very sensitively about the nature of culture diversity within music education and his writing reconfirmed for me the importance of, not only, taking care to preserve the authenticity of music from different cultures, but also, to recognise and value the variety of approaches to learning and teaching music across cultures, an integral aspect of music transmission. I began to think about how I work with traditional repertoire in my own teaching and also the approaches to learning and teaching that I encompass when teaching traditional, contemporary, classical, folk, popular and my own original music,

Schippers offers a framework which I view as a collection of spectrums all present within teaching music. I was particularly captivated by the spectrum of what Schippers describes as ‘atomistic/analytic’ approaches to music teaching contrasted with that of ‘holistic’ approaches. The idea of music being taught in an atomistic way, broken up into small musical components, or, alternatively being taught holistically in its full entirety and complexity stayed with me. In the Approaches to Critical artistry module, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to progressively teach musical ideas, ideas building on from one another until a full musical picture is created. However, inspired by the Orff Schulwerk approach, sometimes I also offer a piece of music in its entirety, singing or playing the full melody or sharing the full musical activity before allowing the group to explore the material independently. Schippers also makes comparisons between ‘notation-based’ teaching methods with that of ‘aural’ traditions, and, he observes how teachers can adopt ‘tangible’ to ‘intangible’ teaching concepts when teaching.

Although Schippers is relating to learning and teaching music from different cultures, I believe that his ideas transfer to teaching music and facilitating music making within the widest contexts of meaning. He writes about approach and this encouraged me to reflect on how I approach my own learning and teaching.

At the Orff Schulwerk Forum in Salzburg, I was also introduced to the concept of Visible Thinking during a presentation. The very idea of making thinking visible is something that has chimed throughout my PG Certificate studies. I turned my attention, once again, to mind mapping and found a good online programme that enables me to create online mind maps.

In August 2015, I attended an Orff Schulwerk summer course in York. Engaging as a participant, I was reminded of the wonderful opportunity to be able to engage with others in a shared creative group music making experience. It felt particularly poignant to have the opportunity to work with other people in music, movement, speech, visual arts and puppetry. I reconnected with the inclusivity and joy of the group music making dynamic and it reconfirmed for me the importance of the following elements: group, creativity, musical play, inclusivity, improvisation, musical structure, verbal and non-verbal forms of communication, speech, dance, movement, visual arts and multidisciplinary arts practice

Improvisation in music education continued to circulate in my mind; I read an interesting article by Orff pedagogue and researcher Polo Vallejo which led to a reflective response about my own creative practice.

This journal entry felt like a strong and insightful piece of reflection. After teaching in Garnethill on my Creative Music Making for Adults project, I felt really inspired and I began to think in greater detail about some of the musical elements noted above:

“This morning, I am thinking about improvisation and its relationship with musical play and musical structure. I am also thinking about creativity, interpretation and perception. I realise that when facilitating workshops, I am working very much in the moment trying to connect with my intuition in order to shape the direction of activities. I am always thinking about the people I am working with and how to best support the group. It is perhaps all a question of balance, mindfulness and acceptance that feelings of uncertainty can sometimes be part of nature when working creatively and openly. I often feel uncertain when I am wondering if an activity needs more time. Should I observe the activity takes its own course or should I introduce a new idea? Also, with regards to the balance between improvisation and structure in musical play, I wonder if I am I moving too quickly or too slowly towards structuring ideas. Of course, this is also a matter of interpretation and perception grounded in previous experience. What one person may interpret as a structured musical form another person may interpret as less so as they perceive the activity in a different way.

What I have discovered is that when preparing my work, I need to; quite literally, play around with all of my musical ideas, resources and instruments. A few people have said to me recently that they felt that my work was well prepared with one person saying that they felt that I really knew my material. I think that I am connecting with my material through musical play and through approaching the same material in different ways with different groups of people. As my journey as a facilitator grows, I wonder what I will discover. I know that I want my practice to be grounded in creating a safe, relaxed, respectful and kind space for everyone. I want to continue to develop my capacity to be mindful and open, aware to group dynamics as they weave along. Last night, it was interesting to hear someone comment on how good the music was sounding when everyone was playing together with the Orff Ensemble instruments. I am thinking about the accessibility of playing together. After exploring the rhythms of our piece through movement, speech and body percussion, it was a natural progression to transfer this onto the instruments. This, I believe is one of the essences of the Orff Schulwerk approach.” (McCluskey 2015)

In September 2015, my work focused toward my Project Proposal. As I completed a first draft, it was really helpful meeting with Jamie Mackay to be reminded “to remember the why”. This felt like a tricky part of my learning journey, I knew about the workshops and musical materials that I would like to devise and deliver for Community Music students but I needed to spend quite a bit of time constantly reviewing my project title, aims and objectives, and research questions.

I continued to reflect about improvisation in my journal. One article describing my experiences of improvisation throughout my learning journeys across my higher arts education. I also began to reflect on my experiences of improvisation now, as a teacher and how it reaches out to the students I work with. The personal entries in my journal, looking back, are the most rich I believe as they connect with my own experiences in learning and teaching and my creative practice

My work continued into October by refining project questions and ideas:

I also discovered a very interesting TED talk on the theme of improvisation and creativity.

In December and over the Christmas holidays into January, I was able to dedicate more focused time to my journal. I was able to complete and upload my Final Project Proposal and workshops 1-3 lesson plans and learning materials.

During this time, I was able to reflect on my PG Certificate Project so far and I found myself connecting with themes around the idea of exploration. Exploring percussion instruments and sound seems to be a current strand throughout my practice and it was an important strand in my project: something that I also work with in my Nurture Group Music Making project and in my community arts teaching for Beatroute Arts.

In January, I was also able to finish reviewing some books that I had begun to read during my studies at the Orff Institute in Salzburg (2012-2013). Blom and Chaplin’s The Moment of Movement: Dance Improvisation (1988 University of Pittsburgh Press, USA) offers interesting insight into improvisation from a dance perspective. Preston-Dunlop’s A Handbook for Dance in Education (1987 Longman, England) Theme IV: The Flow of the Weight of the Body in Space and Time was also an interesting rediscovery. I particularly enjoy the language that is used to describe qualities in movement because I feel that this language also relates directly to music; it offers a richer vocabulary to musical expression.

I also read Shirley Salmon’s article Inclusion and Orff Schulwerk, (2012 Spring, The Orff Echo pp.12-18)

In workshop 3 of my PG Certificate Research Project, I introduced working with a graphic score. As I typed up my lesson plan, I began to think of the different context in which I work with graphic notation forms. I have adapted graphic scores from ideas offered by Sofia Lopez-Ibor in her brilliant book Blue is the Sea (Pentatonic Press Integrated Learning Series, 2011) for a range of projects, including a music making project on the Isle of Mull. I have also worked closely with Figurenotes over the last few years

My working knowledge of these approaches is always complementing my work with HAE students, whether it is something that we work with actively, as in workshops 3-6 of my PG Certificate Project, or whether it is something that I invite the students to look into during their own independent learning. I began to interpret graphic scores many years ago and this recent work encouraged me to trace back my interpretations of a Hermann Regner graphic score, included within my project reading.

In January, I discovered that my literature review of Facing the Music: Shaping Music Education from a Global Perspective by Huib Schippers had been printed in the winter edition of the Orff Schulwerk Heute 2015. I was really delighted by this.

Over the next few weeks, my reflective practice developed certain clarity as I began to interpret the hand written feedback workshops from Community Music students from workshops 1-3. I found myself creating reflections on themes such as Exploring Instruments and something that I have described as Interconnected Musicality.

Workshops 4-6 are part of my last few journal entries and of course my PDP where I try to identify my objectives for the future, associated activities and how my work complements UKPSF components. In my Interview with Mary Troup post, I have tried to sum up a few central ideas that unpick my main project question:

What is the intrinsic value of an Orff Schulwerk approach to group music making for Higher Arts Education students studying Community Music?