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Open ears, open minds: the importance of listening to music

13 Mar 2019
Music is the universal language of mankind.”——Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
At a bilingual school like Huili, language is always a point of interest in every lesson. In the music room, English is the primary language of instruction, but it is the language of music that we are exploring together. The lives of our pupils here at Huili are packed full of exciting activities, lessons and events, but it is important to take the time to reflect and simply enjoy the stillness. A good way of doing this is through music. One important aspect of the Grade 4 to 6 experience of music here at Huili is listening. With each music lesson, we begin with a little music appreciation. It is important for our pupils to understand not only what music they like, but to understand why they like it. This process begins by listening to widely differing genres of music. While listening to this music, we explore various musical elements. Pupils learned how to identify these elements in their music lessons and then put this into practice during their listening activity. By learning about musical elements, pupils can become active listeners. By developing these skills, they can understand how the music is made, but also become able to deconstruct the music and understand how it is created.

Many of the pupils are hearing different genres of music for the first time and yet have their own understanding of it. This is most evident when we listen to instrumental music or music in other languages. Music has the power to connect with emotions and this semester we are encouraging pupils to not just create music in the classroom but to deeply experience it. For example, this term we looked at graphic scores. This technique helps pupils to notate music using colour, texture and images. This links directly to emotion and creativity, a connection we always encourage here in the music department. Music is as much about feeling as it is technique. By developing their aural skills, pupils can appreciate music on a whole new level.

This semester we are continuing to develop pupils’ aural skills. This is the essence of music as a universal language. By having these practical skills related to active listening, pupils have all the tools necessary to reflect, listen and enjoy music. Why not try it together? Listen to something completely new and take ten minutes to just be still and reflect. Something to listen to
  1. Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36 (popularly known as the Enigma Variations) by Edward Elgar
  2. Barber's Adagio For Strings, remix by William Orbit
  3. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough - Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell