- Found objects or art supplies
- Acoustic instruments
- Rock band instruments
- Digital devices
- Uses Muzie as an online lesson platform- could use other videoconferencing or music teaching platforms
- 5 to 12 years of age
- 13 to 18 years of age
weekly 50 minute groups, 32 sessions across 10 months
- Community music, group music lessons
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.
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.”Read More +