Seminar panel via video link with Ottawa University


Posted by upbeat | Posted in Curriculum for Excellence, Featured, International Education, Learning & Teaching, video conferencing | Posted on May 25, 2010

I’m looking forward to taking part on Friday 28th May as a seminar panel member over video-link at the 2010 International Conference on Multidisciplinary Research in Music Pedagogy at Ottawa University. I’ll be participating in the symposium entitledTechnology: Electronic Technology and its Transformative Role in Music Teaching and Learning’.

The attached you tube link features a chat I had with Stephen Heppell following a lesson we observed with young people receiving instrumental brass lessons via video link.


The links below may be of interest to delegates at the Ottawa Conference. The first link below provides an executive summary of Warwick University’s evaluation of our video teaching programme.   (page 12)

Doctor Who


Posted by upbeat | Posted in Curriculum for Excellence | Posted on May 11, 2010

 In the early 1980s I played in ‘The Victors’,  a reggae / rock / gospel / blues band based in the south side of Glasgow. In 1982 we recorded a 10 track cassette album (no CDs in those days!) with the Falklands War  being played out on TV each evening. ‘Days in Arcadia’ was recorded in Park Lane Studios, Shawlands on the Sticky Music label and we duly performed to small gatherings around central Scotland for a year or so. I was a young teacher at King’s Park Secondary School at this time. Having survived as a probationer in Possilpark Secondary School and a stint in the rock band ‘Front Page News’, I was then enjoying both a pleasant work environment in King’s Park and a creative output with The Victors. My CPD (continuous professional development) at the time was the learning curve of liveIMG_6851 performance with the band, which I then translated into improvisatory work in the classroom for kids. The fact that I could play (on piano / synthesiser etc.) ‘pop music’ in the classroom and get kids involved in creating and inventing their own music meant they were engaged in a way I could never have achieved had I not had the experience of performing live on a regular basis. Relevance, challenge, enjoyment, participation, creativity, active learning……our music classes then reflected approaches now promoted in Curriculum for Excellence and the principles of curriculum design. This week I felt as though I’d stepped into an episode of Dr Who and been transported back to the 1980s. The Victors got together on Saturday for a reunion gig, having not performed together since 1982.

With guests Tom Morton (Radio Scotland) and Graeme Duffin (WetWetWet), both musical band buddies in 1983/84, we put on a gig at the ABC O2 venue in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. It went rather well, with a large audience spanning the years populated by band members’ grown-up children and 50-somethings passing themselves off as late-30s. What a night it was! IMG_6880The whole event reminded me how important my playing in a band developed so many transferable skills I took back into the classroom. In the late 1990s, I involved my S3 pupils at Castlemilk High School in a pop song writing project which led to recording a track with Sir George Martin in his Air Studios, London. IMG_6889And then, unbelievably, the Castlemilk kids performed their song live with a 60-piece orchestra in opening the Millenium Song Competition event in front of 3000 people at the Millenium Dome site in London. Successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens. All of them.IMG_6894IMG_6857





Private education


Posted by upbeat | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on May 10, 2010


This past week has brought home to me how my ‘education’ has shaped me in various ways. My school life in Carolside Primary, East Renfrewshire was happy, safe and comfortable. My clearest memory of being inspired by a teacher was my P1-3 teacher, Enid Crawford. Strangely, it was another Enid (Blyton) whose ‘Castle of Adventure’ was read to us by Miss Crawford at the end of each day (a classroom management strategy) who fired my imagination and enjoyment of reading. However, the single biggest influence for me becoming a Secondary Music Teacher and subsequently a Schools Education Officer was what happened in this Clarkston semi-detached house I visited on a weekly basis from the age of 6 until I was 17. I paid a quick visit last week to take a photo of this house, where my piano teacher taught me from 1964 till 1975. If my parents hadn’t paid for these lessons over the years, I would never have become a music teacher, and probably not any other kind of teacher. It is 35 years ago since I set foot in this house, but worth the brief pilgrimage to see again the place I developed my musical skills and give recognition to the sacrifices made by my parents to increase my life chances. Thanks, Mum & Dad.

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