• Josephine Brereton

Weeks 2 to 5 -- to hell and back

Updated: Oct 28

The past two weeks have been exhausting, trying to manage AMEB exams, work, a gross cold and rehearsals all at once. I’m so excited to be singing A Sacred Veil by Eric Whitacre in the Opera House on the 7th of September (tickets here: https://bit.ly/3pXW84X ) but rehearsals have been difficult — I do not recommend trying to sing with a blocked nose.


My work at Banksmeadow has been amazing, and I’m finding that the more effort I’m able to put into my lesson plans, the more the kids learn. and the more I enjoy the lessons, but it means that when I’m short on time, motivation and energy, I get into this vicious cycle of not preparing, not enjoying the lesson, and then feeling more exhausted and unmotivated to try harder. I’ve been struggling a lot with imposter syndrome and motivation recently, and I find it hard to pull myself out of these bouts of self doubt. Today was a great day with the kids and I feel a bit better, but I still have a long way to go.

At the moment, Stage 1 is focusing on learning to read rhythms. At Banksmeadow I use ‘beat boxes’ to help the students learn to read rhythms — they look like this:



Each box represents a beat, and the students know how many times to clap per beat by looking at how many circles or dots are in each box. I explained this to Stages 2 and 3 just as I have here and they responded quite well, but I wanted to ease Stage 1 in a little slower.

We began by jumping through 4 hoops laid down on the ground (first guided by me, and then to the beat of a song), before introducing a known rhythm for them to jump to — the first four beats of Bee Bee Bumblebee — which has two notes in the 3rd beat. Most of the kids picked this up pretty well and all got it correct with some guidance. I made sure to write in on the board, so they could visualise what their jumps would look like. Next week I’ll build on this to have them begin reading rhythms on their own (without jumping as well!)

The first 3 weeks we focused more on singing, especially Bee Bee Bumblebee as I’m trying to build their confidence in singing alone, and trying to get to know the classes! I felt in these weeks that I wasn’t doing enough with them. but I think repetition and consistency has actually been really good, especially with Year 1 and Kindy. We learned a few new songs, and built on some old ones, but they’re definitely making more progress now.

All my lesson plans for these classes can be viewed here at the following links:

Lesson One - Bumblebee Beats

Lesson Two - Beats and Hoops

Lesson Three - Rhythm Boxes

​https://bit.ly/3cAtELw


I’m enjoying my choir work with Stage 2 and 3 the most at the moment. They’re really wonderful kids and they seem to enjoy singing together a lot. I’ve had them singing Country Roads by John Denver and Beds Are Burning by Midnight Oil a lot which they LOVE, but they struggle more with the more popular songs I’ve picked like Wait a Minute by WILLOW and As It Was by Harry Styles. I think this is because they know the songs and have more of an opinion about them.


In week four, I struggled with a mistake in my lesson plan as a result of forgetfulness – I had planned to teach them In na nay gupuwana for the schools NAIDOC week, but I completely forgot that I’d already taught it to the Stage 1 classes in Term 1! I had to think on my feet, so I taught them Midnight Oil’s Beds are Burning. It actually ended up working hugely in my favour -- I'd been having trouble getting some of the older students to sing in choir, and taking on a rock song instead of some clean and smooth pop songs really helped them get into it -- they could use their 'rugby' voices and it really acted as a little bridge into actual singing. Once they were comfortable with 'rugby' singing, I was able to get them to pull back a little bit, and they ended up singing quite beautifully. I was so proud of them and they did such a wonderful job!


I'll be trying to update more often from now on, hopefully staying truer to the idea of 'weekly' blog posts!


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