CNMN > Projects > Online group music lesson framework for collaborative creativity

Lauren Best

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  • Objets trouvés ou matériel artistique
  • Voix
  • Instruments acoustiques
  • Instruments rock
  • Appareils numériques
  • 5 à 12 ans
  • 13 à 18 ans
  • Adultes
  • Intergénérationnel

weekly 50 minute groups, 32 sessions across 10 months

  • Éducation

Tech Considerations

Online group music lesson framework for collaborative creativity


This fra­me­work for online group music les­sons pro­vides a col­la­bo­ra­tive expe­rience of deve­lo­ping musi­ca­li­ty through crea­ti­vi­ty, while still encou­ra­ging each student to work inde­pen­dent­ly towards their own per­so­nal music goals.

The Fra­me­work

Each ses­sion cycles through the Kalei­do­scope Music framework :

Connec­ting & Preparing

Explo­ring & Skill Building

Crea­ting & Collaborating

Quests & Questions

Sha­ring & Reflection

See scores below for example acti­vi­ties for each part of the framework.

Length of time spent in each part of the les­son depends on focus of the group in the scope of the year plan (such as pre­pa­ring for sha­ring), and the stu­dents’ indi­vi­dual needs and inter­ests. The fra­me­work is desi­gned to adapt and use ongoing feed­back from par­ti­ci­pants to co-create with the tea­cher, while using the exper­tise of the tea­cher to faci­li­tate effec­tive acti­vi­ties and exploration.

Quests & Ques­tions is the time when stu­dents work indi­vi­dual­ly on their own pro­jects, goals, and explo­ra­tions. Examples of this include :

  • lear­ning a song they have cho­sen using sheet music or chord charts
  • wor­king through the acti­vi­ties in a method book (ie. Pia­no Adventures)
  • wor­king on a song­wri­ting pro­ject, recor­ding impro­vi­sing acti­vi­ties, etc.
  • pre­pa­ring a song for a performance

We use the pri­vate audio chan­nel fea­ture in Muzie to allow for indi­vi­dual feed­back and dis­cus­sion bet­ween each student and the tea­cher. The tea­cher cycles bet­ween stu­dents during this part of the class, kee­ping an eye on the video feed and chat for which stu­dents need assis­tance. Stu­dents should use this time to proac­ti­ve­ly work on their Quests, rather than wai­ting for the tea­cher to tell them exact­ly how to pro­ceed. This time is inten­ded to deve­lop student ini­tia­tive and inde­pen­dence, which can take time and coa­ching to culti­vate. It’s impor­tant to regard student explo­ra­tion as valuable rather than seeing it as off-track or unfo­cu­sed. For example, a student that is impro­vi­sing rather than prac­ti­cing a par­ti­cu­lar goal (like a song they had cho­sen) isn’t neces­sa­ri­ly dis­trac­ted. If they are self-selec­ting to explore ideas and tech­niques, inte­grate skills, and create new music, it may be that they are quite focu­sed indeed !

Stu­dents are encou­ra­ged to work on their Quest in bet­ween group ses­sions, and to send ques­tions via Muzie chat, Muzie clip recor­dings (short videos), or email if they feel “stuck” in bet­ween les­sons. The tea­cher can record or upload duet and backing track parts within Muzie’s audio recor­der, and the student can also make laye­red recor­dings with tea­cher accom­pa­niment (this can be done during groups or out­side of group time).

When the group comes back toge­ther to share, stu­dents have alrea­dy dis­cus­sed with the tea­cher during their 1:1 time what they would like to share, if any­thing. Some­times stu­dents per­form just for applause and some­times feed­back and reflec­tion acti­vi­ties hap­pen during this time. Stu­dents can also share about their pro­cess and dis­cuss stra­te­gies, goals, etc.

Selec­ting acti­vi­ties for each section

How do we decide how to spend our time in each class ? The faci­li­ta­tor can plan and sug­gest acti­vi­ties for the group and also stay flexible. See atta­ched scores for acti­vi­ty examples.

  • encou­rage the par­ti­ci­pants to co-create and contri­bute ideas for activities
  • lis­ten and encou­rage par­ti­ci­pants to share thoughts about what would serve their lear­ning and crea­tive journey
  • plan times to to ask the par­ti­ci­pants dis­cus­sion prompts or just to to check in (a good oppor­tu­ni­ty to see what they had on their minds and learn from their pers­pec­tive, which can also help other students)
  • ask par­ti­ci­pants to help iden­ti­fy the next steps (so that they can prac­tice self advo­ca­ting and plan­ning crea­ti­vi­ty and learning)
  • invite par­ti­ci­pants to share musi­cal or ins­pi­ra­tion brought from their lives
  • dis­cuss musi­cal ques­tions as a group and ask what the stu­dents are won­de­ring about in an open-ended way
  • invite par­ti­ci­pants to share music they have been playing or just enjoying, and try using those songs for other activities
  • repeat acti­vi­ties for seve­ral weeks, return to them inter­mit­tent­ly, or evolve and ite­rate the acti­vi­ty to explore ideas or conti­nue to deve­lop skills or techniques

The cate­go­ries of acti­vi­ty can change over time- for example, what starts out as a crea­ting and col­la­bo­ra­ting acti­vi­ty that appears mid-class after a warm-up, may become more of a warm-up acti­vi­ty if the par­ti­ci­pants are alrea­dy fami­liar with the acti­vi­ty. They may want to pick up where they left off from an acti­vi­ty in a future class, or create their own “quick start” sim­pli­fied ver­sions of an activity.

As the reper­toire of songs and acti­vi­ties deve­lops, and as the par­ti­ci­pants gain musi­cal skills and learn to col­la­bo­rate, new pos­si­bi­li­ties to extend songs and acti­vi­ties emerge. What star­ted off as just a simple song can become a long series of acti­vi­ties as the kids explore, adapt, remix, and howe­ver else they dis­co­ver to crea­ti­ve­ly make music. Some of this can be sug­ges­ted by the tea­cher but often the par­ti­ci­pants have a lot to share from their alrea­dy rich crea­tive expe­riences, innate musi­cal abi­li­ties, and intui­tive wis­dom about their musi­cal journey.

Back­ground and Context

Lau­ren Best taught pri­vate music les­sons for more than a decade in Toron­to, Owen Sound, and online. She expe­rien­ced the power of group par­ti­ci­pa­to­ry music and an empha­sis on par­ti­ci­pant crea­ti­vi­ty while faci­li­ta­ting music pro­grams as well as across mul­tiple art forms inclu­ding inter­ac­tive theatre and digi­tal media arts. She wan­ted to keep the best of what wor­ked well tea­ching pri­vate les­sons, but add the bene­fits of group music making, col­la­bo­ra­tion, and sha­ring in a peer group. By offe­ring les­sons in groups, it also allows for more oppor­tu­ni­ties for scho­lar­ships through sli­ding scale or wai­ved tuition.

In 2021 Lau­ren laun­ched online group music les­sons for ages 6+ with an empha­sis on col­la­bo­ra­tive crea­ti­vi­ty, and in 2022 the groups were rebran­ded as Kalei­do­scope Music. Groups were com­pri­sed of stu­dents who were most­ly loca­ted rural­ly or in small towns.

In year 1 (2021–2022) the pro­gram began with pia­no and uku­lele group classes in same-ins­tru­ment groups mee­ting week­ly for 1 hour. In year 2, (2022–2023) classes were chan­ged to be mixed-ins­tru­ment (pia­no, voice, and uku­lele in the same class, with student wel­come to com­bine or switch ins­tru­ments over time) and 50 minutes in length. In year 2, the groups were also offe­red for adults but there was insuf­fi­cient enrolment to create a test group with adult participants.

See atta­ched PDF tit­led « Tech Consi­de­ra­tions » for fur­ther tech­ni­cal consi­de­ra­tions and options for the teacher/facilitator.

What Kalei­do­scope Music parents say :

« ​I love that my chil­dren have some­thing that they can work at, puzzle out, play with, and pro­gress on. I can see how their pride and self-confi­dence have grown this year. »

« The best part about my child lear­ning music is seeing their inter­est and pas­sion grow deep and wide. »

« It is beau­ti­ful to watch your child learn and mas­ter a new skill, and to wit­ness them per­se­vere and grow. »

« ​What I value most about [my child’s] music les­sons is lear­ning a new musi­cal lan­guage with which to express yourself. »

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