Ash Field’s iPad Orchestra Project focused on the use of musical apps and light systems to enable students with special educational needs to create a piece of music. Working in partnership with creative practitioners, the children learnt about recording their own voices, making sounds with new technologies and creating a visual background for the musical piece. This learning culminated in a performance on 14 March 2014 – an account of the event can be found here:
With the project drawing to a close, Ellen Croft the school’s Creative Curriculum Leader and project lead reflects on the project and its impact on the children involved and school more widely.
Whilst the iPad Orchestra itself involved 12 of our young people, between the age of 11 and 14, the whole school have benefited from the project through experiencing the final performance and many of them would like to be a part of the iPad Orchestra in the future.
I carried out a few feedback exercises with the children, to collect their opinions on the project:
- Key words the young people used to describe the iPad Orchestra Project: Amazing, Entertaining, Unusual (different music to music lessons) Fantastic, Fun, Exciting, Good, A bit nervous, Happy, Fabulous, Magical, Cool!
- All pupils said they feel more confident using an iPad and a large majority of pupils feel more confident using a camera.
- The things they loved about the project were: The actual performance (being able to show mum), It was amazing doing the music – I liked that we made it, Creating and controlling the visuals, Playing on the iPads, The Launch Pad, The drums, The rapping/singing part.
- There were big thumbs up and shouts of “Yes” when asked if they wanted to do this again. I asked pupils to take a ‘selfie’ photograph to show how they felt about it all and every photograph shows pupils smiling.
- I also asked them to draw a picture of the iPad orchestra. These are displayed to the left of this post.
The pupils and I received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback and compliments. This is great and I really feel this project has further built on the amazing talent of both pupils and staff here at Ash Field.
The Optibeam equipment is being well used in the school by pupils with a wide range of abilities and disabilities – it is proving to be a big success. This has been enhanced by the involvement of Guy, the creator of this machine, who has offered advice and additional hard and softwear. It will be further enhanced still when our new BSF building opens and the Optibeam finds a new permanent home.
I absolutely need to highlight the amazing talents of Si, Rebecca and Ronni. Their expertise, knowledge and skill sets have made this project a truly amazing and rich learning experience for our pupils. They are very professional and brought out the best in our pupils. Many pupils said they didn’t find this project difficult but I truly believe this “ease” was facilitated by the creative practitioners. They were both supportive and challenging to the pupils, constantly pushing them to the next level. They managed to create something that the pupils could take ownership of and truly celebrate as their achievements. I also want to highlight their incredible sensitivity as to some of the challenges our pupils have. I felt they were constantly looking for ways so that our pupils were able to complete tasks as independently as possible without it be made into a big fuss. The whole atmosphere around the project was that of celebration, achievement, fun and coolness!
Sharing our success
There are a number of ways in which we have and will be working to share the benefits of this project, including:
- Blog Posts – This post and the post written by DigiLit Leicester team about the performance.
- Leicester Music Teachers Network (LMTN) – An initial presentation of the iPad orchestra has been made to the LMTN, however this was early on in the project. Andrew Cheffings, Head of Music at Ash Field, will share further outcomes of the iPad Orchestra Project and training with the LMTN on a later date in the summer or autumn term.
- Ash Field Master Class – Ash Field Academy will facilitate an iPad Orchestra Master Class in the autumn Term. We will endeavour to invite music colleagues from across the city to attend this Master Class as well.
- Performance at city venue – This performance will be mainly for invites from BSF, other Leicester City Council, City schools (especially special schools) and other stakeholders.
Andrew Cheffings (Ash Field’s Music Subject Leader) has already made the iPad Orchestra a part of the Key Stage 3 curriculum. We will also be setting up training for colleagues both within the school and in our wider community to learn some key iPad skills.
We would be very keen to continue with the iPad orchestra and again collaborate with the same creative practitioners. An idea was mentioned of working together with a large instrumental orchestra which is an idea that really appeals to us.
Finally, we would like to thank Lucy, Josie, Mike and the BSF Team. This wonderful project was made possible with the support of Leicester City Council’s BSF ICT Innovation Fund.