Listen Imagine Compose Phase 1

Listen Imagine Compose... 

Is a project designed to investigate pedagogies of composing in secondary schools. The project consisted of a series of symposia and action research projects. Six action research projects took place in schools in Birmingham, Harpenden, London, Cambridge and Macclesfield and investigated six key questions relating to teaching composition at Key Stage 3 and 4. Themes included: evaluation and effective feedback; creative strategies for teaching composition; the role of listening in the creative process; introducing young people to unfamiliar aesthetics; creative use of technology; and, how expert composers and performers can be most effectively used in the classroom. Each project team consisted of an experienced teacher, a composer and a music education researcher.

At the conclusion of this first phase of work, a major report by Lead Academic Professor Martin Fautley was published.  This detailed work made many recommendations and highlighted an enormous amount of data and learning.  The main report can be downloaded here and the executive summary here.

The key findings were:

and composers have different skills and can learn from each other: 
When they collaborate with composers
teachers change the way they present material, whilst composers also develop
their skills as educators.  As a result of Listen Imagine Compose
resources have been developed for both teachers and composers in order to
enhance their approach when working alone.

is a process that is also developmental: 
Pupils progress when
composing on a regular basis.  To be successful teachers should consider
organising more in-depth composing projects that take place over a longer
time-period.  Whilst final performances may have a role they should not
become the sole focus of a project as this can skew learning.

entails higher order thinking skills
: There is now clear evidence showing the ways in which learning
to compose develops higher order thinking skills. These are essential for
pupils’ cognitive development and are transferable across the curriculum, into
the workforce and are a “skill for life” valued highly by the senior management
of schools. 

unfamiliar and challenging music is vital
: The Listen Imagine Compose report concurs
with Ofsted’s statement in its November 2013 report that “performance and
enjoyment are not enough”.  The Listen Imagine Compose report urges
teachers: “Do not shy
away from challenging music: Pupils might know what they like, but they also
like what they know.  If they do not know it, they cannot like it – yet!”


The Listen Imagine Compose research teams were:

Composers: David Horne, Tim Steiner, Fraser Trainer, Kerry Andrew, Duncan Chapman, Jackie Walduck.

Music education researchers: Pam Burnard and John Finney (Cambridge University), Pauline Adams (Institute of Education), Jonathan Savage (Manchester Metropolitan University), Martin Fautley (Birmingham City University).

Teachers: Lizzie Hastings (Sir John Lawes School, Harpenden), Nick Heppel (King Edward VI, Birmingham), Jenetta Hurst (Hamstead Hall, Birmingham), Paul Jones (St Marylebone School, London), Bex Lewis (Parkside Federation, Cambridge), Phil Kennedy (Fallibroome Academy, Macclesfield).

Critical Friends: Robert Bunting (ex-music adviser for Birmingham City Council), Bruce Cole (Chief Examiner, Edexel), Kevin Rogers (Hampshire County Music Service), Alison Cox (Purcell School of Music), David Ashworth (consultant for website).

The project was funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and was a partnership project between Sound and Music and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group with Birmingham City University as the lead academic partner.

Supported by Arts Council England
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