When somebody thinks about singing or improvising instrumental music within the context of a classroom, the image that comes to mind is a professional musician facilitating the session, showing great mastery when guiding the group of participants.
Few opportunities for those trainers with no musical background, though…
Nonetheless, one of the objectives of the project Ham Avaaz is to spread and enhance the use of music in adult education by non-musicians. Thus, the big question was how to implement music in the lessons without musical knowledge.
That’s the aim of the Music-Box, a series of activities specifically designed to use live music with adults in educational situations. It has been widely proven the benefits of music (Lehmberg, Fung, 2010) for senior participants, and the challenge is how to bring music performance to other subjects besides music.
Music-box consists of ten units, each of them focused on a particular topic (social issues, working with emotions, body percussion…), and with a similar structure: warming up activity, connecting with others, self-connection, lyrics writing, memorising, ideas-sharing, and making music together. The musical material of each unit is a song previously collected in a workshop with participants from different countries; those pieces come directly from the cultural heritage of the students, and they have been adapted to be taught and sung in various languages, matching the idiomatic requirements of the group.
The way of approaching the musical performance arises from a self experience mindset, where free improvisation, body and musical expression create a warm atmosphere for learning non-musical contents. Each activity will be detailed step by step in order to be developed by the trainers confidently. Plus, each activity will have several levels of complexity, according to the musical background or proficiency level of the trainer.
Besides, the intention is to empower the participants by using musical resources related to their pasts, being the vehicle to promote the cohesion of the group, and serving as a guide for a lesson addressed to language learning. By rewriting the lyrics of the proposed song, the participants will improve their linguistic skills through a creative methodology.
The Ham Avaaz team is now working enthusiastically in those music units that will be ready to be used after summer, and that will form the core of the training course to be held in Teruel in September.
(Lehmberg, L. J., & Fung, C. V. (2010). Benefits of music participation for senior citizens: A review of the literature. Music Education Research International, 4(1), 19-30)