Skip to main content
Home  › ... Home

Music, Performing Arts and Rosenshine: Reviewing Prior Learning

Catherine Barker

11 April 2019

Some questions to consider:

  • To what extent do you build confidence at the beginning of your lesson by starting with a familiar skill or concept?
  • Which skills do you intend for your students to ‘overlearn’ by revisiting regularly, thus freeing up working memory?
  • Do you watch back videos of practical assessments to examine together strengths and areas for development?
  • How do your practical starter activities revisit skills and concepts you have learnt before?

When going on a guided tour, you always meet in a familiar location. Likewise, when exploring new concepts and skills in music and performing arts, it is worthwhile starting with something familiar. This serves to build confidence and illustrates connections between different aspects of the subject.

In Drama, a great example of this is the use of the ‘still image’ or ‘freeze frame’. Once this technique has been introduced effectively (point of focus, levels, facial expression, silence, space/proxemics) within the start of KS3, it can become the starting point for every ensuing piece of theatre they make. The more they get used to building strong initial tableaux, the better their storytelling becomes: the skill becomes innate.

In an introduction to song writing, likely to take place in Year 9 Music, would include:-

  1. A recap of song structure from the Year 8 curriculum, brought to life through a class performance activity. Start with very swift warm up, then a song that you have sung previously in KS3, from an assembly, from the school production/house singing competition etc, so that students can revisit prior knowledge. Equally, you may choose to start with a song that is well-known (choose with care!)
  2. You go on to teach and model primary chords practically: what is a chord, how we construct chords (reviewing tones and semitones, this would already have been covered in your Year 8 curriculum, where students learn about scales – major, minor, chromatic), from which point students could build and play the primary chords used in the song that started the lesson. Students can build on prior keyboard/guitar experiences
  3. From here you move on to introduce harmonic relationships (the importance of I, IV and V), signalling chord I as the ‘home’ chord and either chord IV or V preceding it. Students can play and experience this, or complete a listening task that presents this knowledge in context.

Rosenshine explains that if a skill or concept is regularly revisited, it is more likely to become automatic and therefore students will be able to use their working memory for new concepts or skills. It is worth spending some time deciding upon which skills and knowledge content you wish to revisit regularly to ensure they are overlearned. A great example of this is with musical notation, where we know that regular exposure to all forms of notation increases it’s ‘stickiness’ therefore, when singing a song; doing a rhythmic starter; learning a keyboard melody – show the notation!

Recording in lessons (audio or video), is a great habit to get into. Use this to help the students revisit their practical outcomes. And, not all work that is recorded has to be the finished product; a work in progress can still demonstrate learning (even a short video will have impact) – make sure you are data compliant in your storage and sharing of any of these types of materials.

Reviews don’t have to be in the form of verbal question and answer, this can be an immersive practical activity employing skills that have previously been learnt. Samba as a genre is a brilliant ‘fit’ in years 7, 8 and 9, providing a great vehicle for increased complexity of musical concepts and skills: addressing musical patterns in Year 7, building more complex rhythmic material in Year 8 and developing aspects of musical leadership in Year 9. Reviewing this material through a call and response musical exchange, teacher-led or pupil-led, would be an authentic way to approach this and keeps music as the language of the lesson.

Similarly, a good voice starter that reviews technique explicitly – diction, breathing, vocal tone – brings the recall to life. See our ‘Do Now’ activity bank on the Hub for more ideas for your classroom.

Share how you review learning – tweet @United_Music1 with your ideas