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Primary Music - Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Music' started by rockfiddler, Mar 5, 2007.

  1. First of all, my apologies for dragging this issue up again, but I'd really appreciate your advice (as I listen to the wind batter my house and half fear for my life).

    In my current location, there are very few teachers working within schools to deliver primary music. It isn't really something which has been addressed here yet and I personally think it is a shame. I do enjoy primary teaching, but I am a music specialist and I miss teaching music. At the risk of sounding cliched and cheesy, music is all I've ever done. I really think that there is a gap in skills of pupils heading up to high school and I'd like to try and address this. Somehow. I had the idea of writing around to the primary heads, secondary heads of music and primary music co-ordinators, to ascertain their opinions on said issue, but I wondered whether people thought this was a good idea or not.

    The problem is job stability (I bought a house last year). I have just been offered another year at my current school, if I want it (which would be my 4th year of teaching). I know I could bear it out for another year if I made the decision to stay put, but recently, I have been thinking more towards my ideas for primary music and teaching shouldn't be about 'making do'. I also don't think it would be entirely fair to the class I would inherit, knowing that it wouldn't be my first choice of job description (couldn't think of another word). On the other hand, I'm not primary trained but seem to have managed to pick things up relatively well, considering it's me (steep learning curve). The other thing is there are currently no other jobs of a music nature (no peri or secondary jobs) available at the moment.

    Do I go all out to convince the primary heads etc that having a music specialist would be a good idea (I'm already in the 2nd draft of a fairly lengthy letter) or do I let the 10% sensible part of my brain tell me to go for relative stability? Advice very much appreciated. Thank you very much.
     
  2. First of all, my apologies for dragging this issue up again, but I'd really appreciate your advice (as I listen to the wind batter my house and half fear for my life).

    In my current location, there are very few teachers working within schools to deliver primary music. It isn't really something which has been addressed here yet and I personally think it is a shame. I do enjoy primary teaching, but I am a music specialist and I miss teaching music. At the risk of sounding cliched and cheesy, music is all I've ever done. I really think that there is a gap in skills of pupils heading up to high school and I'd like to try and address this. Somehow. I had the idea of writing around to the primary heads, secondary heads of music and primary music co-ordinators, to ascertain their opinions on said issue, but I wondered whether people thought this was a good idea or not.

    The problem is job stability (I bought a house last year). I have just been offered another year at my current school, if I want it (which would be my 4th year of teaching). I know I could bear it out for another year if I made the decision to stay put, but recently, I have been thinking more towards my ideas for primary music and teaching shouldn't be about 'making do'. I also don't think it would be entirely fair to the class I would inherit, knowing that it wouldn't be my first choice of job description (couldn't think of another word). On the other hand, I'm not primary trained but seem to have managed to pick things up relatively well, considering it's me (steep learning curve). The other thing is there are currently no other jobs of a music nature (no peri or secondary jobs) available at the moment.

    Do I go all out to convince the primary heads etc that having a music specialist would be a good idea (I'm already in the 2nd draft of a fairly lengthy letter) or do I let the 10% sensible part of my brain tell me to go for relative stability? Advice very much appreciated. Thank you very much.
     
  3. have you considered contacting the music services in your area and sending them c.v and covering letter or asking to chat informally to the director. Many vacancies do not get advertised until after Easter as schools have to request music service services and this may vary from year to year.

    Some schools use a music specialist as a means of covering PPA time. Some LEA peri staff are used for this or schools will contract a music specialist directly.

    Hope that helps a little.
    ( The wind is also battering my house !!!!)
     
  4. bod99

    bod99 New commenter

    I would definitely take the advice above. I work in 3 primaries covering PPA time and it's seen as a big bonus for the school to have a specialist teacher. If you can shout about wider oppportunites you might get some work that way too. It would be worth contacting schools directly re PPA - schools often prefer to employ directly than go through a 3rd party which may ultimately cost them more money! Good luck with it... I've been doing it for around 7 yrs now and feel that the benefits for the children are immense.
     
  5. nick drake

    nick drake New commenter

    Hey there rockfiddler...

    As I (think) I told you on Saturday night (providing I'm not totally mistaken as to your identity).

    Given the area... LEAs and Music services aren't going to give you much help... I'll e-mail you a few suggestions of people who might be really interested in what you're thinking about doing... the problem is financing yourself.... Your house and lifestyle must rank higher than what you 'owe' to any students... afterall you have to pay mortgage, bills and feed yourself - therefore, you need to make sure you can afford to do this no matter whether that is stopping in primary for another year.
     
  6. Hmm. I'd say you're about right there Nick Drake (I sort of have an idea who you are), which is a complete shame. I know that if I'm not going to get a stable offer from anyone, then I must stay in primary for another year. It's just frustrating that I can't get a job in what I want to do. Ho hum, that appears to be life. Thank you very much for the other replies people.
     
  7. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    Leaving aside the important question of income, I don't think you will have job satisfaction unless you find a head who is passionate about music, and supported by his or her governors.

    Some are so fixated on the core subjects (and their results) that they will regard music as an annoying intrusion.

    Quite a lot seem to be happy to employ a music teacher as an easy way out of covering PPA.

    But there are a few primary schools (my three sons went to one) where the head is passionate about the role of music in the curriculum and will do everything in his or her power to support it and get the right staff. Its not just "shop window" (although that can be important) but more a mature understanding of how music can change the attitude (even the entire life) of many kids.

    My advice is to interview the head - don't worry about whether or not you will get the job. If desparate, remember that you can get more money in many occupations outwith teaching.
     
  8. Hello,

    It sounds like I am in a similar situation to yours. I am secondary trained and I was a secondary music teacher for 4 years until this September. I am now a primary teacher in charge of music and I teach a year 6 class. Yes year 6 is a very tough year and I can't believe that I was given that responsibility given that I am not primary trained. I have picked some things up as I have moved through this last term, however I am feeling increasingly frustrated. I am not teaching that much music! I have been running 2 choirs who have performed at minor performances which have gone well but it is no where near the amount of performances I am used to doing.

    I left secondary as I was not suited to teaching older children, the behaviour was awful and staff were not nice and generally secondary schools are too big. Now I am in primary the children are much nicer and easier to teach the staff are nicer but I have found the older members of staff have not been that supportive but I am questioning the workload. I am working far harder than I anticipated and I am not teaching as much music as I wanted to, I have been doing clarinet lesson with yr 4 as part of wider opportunities, which has been great however next term they have changed my timetable yet again and I will no longer be in the clarinet lessons, which I am quite unhappy about. It does seem that targets are more important than anything else, so I have still a journey to travel in terms of finding a job I am entirely happy with. However I am conscious that without a job I can not pay the bills! So I would advise sticking out the year as I believe if you are determined enough then the right job will eventually come along.

    It's hard as all I was expecting was to be able to spread the joy of playing music which is happening in small amounts!

    Good luck in the future,

    O Smith
     
  9. stupot101

    stupot101 Established commenter

    As above.... I'm not going to repeat too much about what is stated above.

    I trained as a Secondary Music Teacher. It is brilliant if.....
    1) You are in a supportive School, where the Head supports Muisc (ie. not just pulls it out of the calender when it suits them... Christmas, Easter, End of year certificate awards etc. (I'm sure you get the picture)
    2) You are able to work co-operatively with other members of satff, and they support you.
    3) If you work with a HOD who has years of experience
    4) If you do have a 'one person department' then the SMT can take the 'difficult' kids off your hands
    5) You have a contract !!!
    6) The kids see music as an important part of the curriculum, and not a 'doss' lesson
    (in which case you end up having to 'modify' the curriculum to suit the needs of the pupils...again, I'm sure you get the picture...)

    In Primary, as was mentioned..... Heads use it as an excuse to cover PPA time.
    As a part time music tecaher... you will not find it easy to have good classroom organisation and trying to teach Music. I can guarantee you that within the first term, your timetable will change about 3 times... and you'll have 'Oh, you can't use that room today... or the PPA time has changed for this week' etc etc. You may have planned to have an all singing classroom orchestra with a group of year 5's, only to be told half an hour before the lesson that you have to teach them in the classroom..... beleive me this has happened!!!! Oh, and then you have the heads who want a dog and bark themselves !!!....
    The other thing you need in Primary is a 'contract' which you probably won't have.... unless you go through the silly process of interviewing... lesson observations.. jumping through hoops.. need I go on.

    I do miss it though... I enjoy teaching the kids... some days, I do supply Music cover, and I have ready made lessons, and go in and have fun.... I enjoy my subject, and woring with children. Even in primary you have the odd 'one' or 'two' who do not want to be there, but they are a bit more pliable.... One child a few weeks ago turned around and told me he didn't like music.. to which I replied that I didn't like football either, but when I was in school, I had to do it....it was part of the curriculum... so tough!! (this does happen only occassionaly though I'm glad to say!)

    On the whole, would stay where you are... till you are ready to move, and do your own thing.... in other words, until you have the advantage, and not the schools!!

    I have been at this for 15 years.....and I pretty much agree with the above comments from other posters.



     
  10. Hi,

    How did you get on with finding the perfect job teaching primary music?
    I am beyond frustrated and have decided to focus all my energy on getting a new job teaching music in a primary school.
    I am going to send letters out to school and contact the local music service and I just hope that I find the right job eventually.

    I would be interested to hear what you ended up doing.

    Osmith
     
  11. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter

    Hi Guys,
    Just wanted to say that in Scotland there are very few primaries being taught music properly (i.e.by trianed music teachers). I have a mixed timetable of primary and secondary and am very frustrated with the primary as I'm only there to cover the classroom primary teacher, who is entitled, by law, to 2.5 hours non-contact time per week. My Art and PE colleagues at my base school are exactly the same as me, although I think nationally music is suffering most of all.
    The Scottish govt. are so short sighted thinking that music is not a vital part of education (and life) and the councils are paying out for expensive babysitters. I go to one school where there are only 3 pupils - and I have to go even if there is only one pupil. I can be told to go to any school within my region, and they don't take how many miles I have to travel into consideration. One day I travel 100 miles and another it's 140. I do get paid mileage from base school but it's the wasted time which exasperates me.
    I think your idea to contact local schools is excellent, as some schools do consider music to be important. I do have one primary who value me, and it's a pleasure to go there!
    Good luck.
    Joni
    [​IMG]
     
  12. hi Joni, long time no 'speak'! I wanted to chip in as this is a topic close to my heart too. I'm also a secondary trained music teacher, have worked as music teacher in second ary schools and primaries as music teacher/specialist on and off over last 15 years. I am lucky i suppose in that I am only working one day a week at the moment (I have young children and a working husband). I am in Scotland covering the class the class teacher's non contact time - McCrone cover as it also known. I don't know where to start=I've had some really interesting online chats about this very subject with Jonowen and a few other music primary specialistists/teachers and we all seem to agree that it is such a shame. I'm going to be doing a couple of seminars at a university soon with the primary teaching students (ie non-specialists) about primary music. They will get 2 hours with me on early years and 2 hours on upper years. I've never done this type of thing before. That will be pretty much all they will get on music before qualifying, then they will be told they can deliver music just the same as a trained specialist, ...... I don't know how to go about being heard about this. I've tried at my own daughter's school-I'm on the parent council and was invited to give a talk about music in primary school but to no avail. There is no music specialist there and my daugher is now primary 5. She is doing very well in school but she has done hardly any music at school beyond assembly singing. Now I find out that the school will try to appoint a teacher with 'experience in the expressive arts' which could mean anything. That teacher will have their own class to be responsible for. I've met so many class teachers who have been given responsibility for music with no experience or particular skill for music. Then I couldn't believe reading the earlier posters- I didn't realise that a trained music teacher who had been working in secondary school could then be expected to teach a primary class as their class teacher without being trained/experience in this. Not that I think you are not up to the job! I just can't believe they play around with people's skills and experience and are so flippant with jobs, expecting any teacher to teach any subject at any level-is this what is coming for us all? I love teaching music and it is a skilled subject, just as no-one would expect your average class teacher to teach chemistry with all the equipment, or coach a football team with no background in the game. I don't understand why the government are trying to make out the cfe is all about expressiveness but the tools to unlock the pupil's potential-ie the people with the skills in music,art..-are booted out. I'd better stop now. I hope this made sense, I know what I'm trying to say anyway. Good luck!
     
  13. just re-read my post, is full of spelling mistakes-sorry! having keyboard problems (computer, not piano!)
     
  14. Hi,

    I am that secondary teacher who moved to primary that you are speaking about.

    Yes it was a bit mad, but I decided a while ago that I wanted to work in a primary school and I was lucky to get my current job as a class teacher leading music across the school.

    Unfortunately, my lack of primary experience has made the transition very hard in terms of lack of subject knowledge on most things apart form Music. No surprises really as I am a trained music teacher not a primary teacher and not at all helped by the fact that my head put me in year 6! Let's just say it's been a rollarcoaster ride so far and I think the school now regret putting me in yr 6 and I feel the pressure I have been under, is partly due to their mistake of putting me in a sats yr without any previous experience.

    I think that in the future I would like to focus on what I am good at and that is teaching music to primary children. I am awaiting a response from schools whom I have contacted during the last week, advertising my skills. It seems the only way to become a music primary specialist is to work part time. Therefore I know if I follow this route in Sept that I will have a huge pay cut. But it seems in England (I live near Brighton) that music is a subject that heads generally don't consider to be that important but I have seem 2 amazing primary music teachers so I am hopeful I may turn out like one of them.

    I might even consider doing supply if I decide to leave my current job. I have also contacted the local music service who send music teacher's into school to teach different aspects of music from wider opportunities, to curriculum music to individual instrumental lessons. So they may have a job for me, I won't know until I get a reply to my letter.

    Would you stay working as a class teacher or would you leave and try to focus on music teaching elsewhere?

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    osmith
     
  15. Hi, I can't imagine being in the position you're in. Like you I've only ever taught music, albeit in different guises, and the thought of trying to teach EVERYTHING else without any training or experience scares me silly, so well done-you've obviously stuck it out and sound like a really dedicated teacher. My position is really different to you in that, at the moment, I'm happy working one day a week supply and some other freelance stuff like private instrumental pupils. I have 3 small children and work around them, I am also supported financially by my husband who works full time -not as a teacher. So I am not on the lookout for more work, and am not currently under pressure to make a living from it. Sorry! Don't get me wrong, we could really do with extra money but decided I wanted to be with my own children as much as possible. So, after that long explanation, I'm in a totally different position to you. My gut reaction is that I would get out and back to music in any way possible but then you have obviously got to make a living too. I've worked as a freelance music specialist off and on for years and it's not usually reliable but I've always loved it. I think it's worth pursuing all your options while you are currently employed and earning, although I can't imagine you have much free time on your hands. I wish I could wave a magic wand for you! I'm sickened by the cuts being made to music services across the country and it's so depressing that it's being kicked to the kerb. I look forward to hearing how you get on. good luck!
     
  16. There is a few things any parent must look for when finding a suitable teacher for their child...

    Is the teacher qualified? Anyone can claim to be a teacher, but may only know the basics, it's sad but true, you usually get what you pay for!

    Does the teacher have a track record? Has he/she worked in a school perhaps, youth clubs, taught for the council or another authority? This will give you piece of mind that they are usually good if they have a track record of working for these places.

    Has the teacher been criminal record checked (enhanced disclosure in the UK)? This isn't the easiest thing for a teacher to get, any real teacher should have one and be able to show you. Don't be embarrassed to ask!

    Does the teacher have playing experience? Well, you wouldn't take tennis lessons of someone who has never played a match, would you?

    These are just a few of the things. And remember, a great musician doesn't mean a great teacher!

    Http://www.polarflamemusic.com
    Http://www.edinburghguitarrepair.co.uk
     
  17. jubilada

    jubilada New commenter

    Talibecca and Jonowen - Hi! Wonder if you have any thoughts on how the action planned by Renfrewshire to take trained teachers out of covering McCrone time (which will undoubtedly spread to other authorities) might impact on what little primary music specialist teaching there is, or how it might affect your job?
     
  18. Hi Smitho,
    I am primary trained and was a normal primary school teacher for four years before specialising in primary music teaching. I now have a job 3 days a week in school (not far from Brighton!) covering PPA by teaching music. I also work the other 2 days (plus Saturday mornings) for the local music service. I worked for a different music service for the last couple of years and the difference between them is huge. I am very lucky that what I have to offer the music service is that I'm primary trained. This is very attractive to music services looking for wider opps teachers etc. However, who knows what's going to happen there in the future...
    It's ridiculous that you've been put in Year 6 with no primary training. The curriculum is so broad. Primary teachers are expected to specialise in every subject, particularly in Year 6. Ask for support!!
    My jobs were both advertised on the county council's job website - keep checking cos there are a few schools in the area with specialist music teachers covering PPA in primary schools. You never know when something will come up. In the meantime, make some links with the music service - the one I work for has a primary schools music teachers forum 3 times a year where we can all meet up and keep up to date on the latest things happening, plus it's a good way to meet the people who work for the music service.
     
  19. Hi Rockfiddler
    I'm a primary music specialist - PGCE in General Subjects Middle Years (7-12) with a music degree and 10 years KS2 classteacher experience. When kids came along I resigned from my Primary Classteacher job but then a Music Service 12 hour contract came up ( 2 days) and I went for it. As I wasn't the main income for the family it was sort of OK financially - but even now, 10 years on and working some CMS contract, some contract to individual schools (PPA music) and some supply(music), I am earning maybe 2/3 of full time wage at the top of the scale with UPS2. If you can afford to do this then that's fine - but it has taken time and word-of-mouth recommendation between heads of the local primaries to build up to it.As I had kids at home I didn't go hell-for-leather mailshotting and visiting schools to get work, but just let it develop. People who have seen you work are your best advocates. Have you considered activities aimed at whole or part pyramids of primaries - eg, vocal workshop for all the Y5's as a transition activity, or a Gifted and Talented instrumental session - all the schools involved could contribute to your costs and you get your talents showcased, to be talked about on the local educational grapevine.With the demise of Sing Up funding for this sort of thing, there may be an "in" there.
    This isn't an easy time for primaries, as budgets are tight. Schools in deprived areas tend to have more money in general but may target it on literacy or numeracy.
    I wish you luck - from someone who loves her job to bits but knows its limitations financially!
     
  20. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter


    Just rediscovered this thread - how are you Jubilada and Talibecca?
    Sounds like it's a money game
    so very true.
    I gave up my primary work as the travelling was stressing me out far too much but I was lucky to swap it for some SfL work and I'm now doing music therapy as well. My base school paid for some initial training for me and while I am nowhere near calling myself a Music Therapist, I have developed a programme which suits my pupils. My year 7 (or S1) pupils did not have primary music for the last 2 years of their primary education and I can tell as there is more un-enthusiasm (can't think of a more appropriate word on this cold Monday morning - need some Literacy lessons perhaps?lol!!) and I am constantly thinking of ways to inspire them, which results in the keen pupils switching off - it's a vicious circle which could so easily be avoided if the right people had been left to make informed choices about musical education.
    Anyway, must get off my soapbox now - good luck to all primary music teachers and make sure you value your supportive head teachers - they are like gold dust!
    Joni x
     

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