Creativity - Technology - Learning
Sound Reflections

Sound Reflections

Sound Reflections: Your Music Learning Diary, is a student reflective journal and diary with attitude. It encourages considertion of all music activity in the classroom, instrumental studio, and ensemble, by providing a powerful tool for assessment of progress and thinking. Sound Reflections provides space for thoughtful writing and criticism of all musical activity. With questions and check-lists, Sound Reflections provides a method of reflective thinking which will become a habit for the critical music student.

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About Sound Reflections

Sound Reflections focuses and organises the music student by allowing them to note all the tasks and ideas that are often forgotten or lost in practical musical activities. It encourages regular and critical thinking about music activities, leading to a deeper understanding.

Reflective journal and diary combined
Included in the book is space for writing about instrumental activities, practice, homework, progress reports, and critical self-analysis. Sound Reflections is a way of keeping organised, of focusing on learning progress, and having a written dialogue with students in a private and reflective way. For classroom and band music programs there are pages designed for occasional reflection about performing, creating, and music research. Each page provides space for thoughtful writing and criticism of these kinds of musical activity. These questions are meant as a guide only and serve as a checklist and method of reflective thinking that we hope will become a habit for the young critical music student.

Monitoring and assessment tool
For teachers and parents, Sound Reflections can be used to record the instrumental and/or classroom progress of the student and provide for assessment-feedback through progress reports. Students can then read back over their experiences and write a summary to which the teacher/parent may respond. Answers to the Performing, Creating, and Research reflection questions can help illuminate the students understanding of their music study; and when reviewed by a teacher, lead toward more informed feedback and assessment.

Assists thinking and learning
Sound Reflections is a ‘notebook with an attitude’ and does encourage students to collect all their musical thoughts in the one space. Sound Reflections helps students to think about the music they are making and the music they have made and to be critical and reflective of all music; it also provides a bridge between all the musical activities and people in a student’s life that are so often separate and seemingly unrelated.

Aspects of music
The aspects of music (often called elements or dimensions) are outlined in a separate file. These pages will help students to think about how music is constructed, will aid familiarisation with the aspects of music, and will provide words and concepts that aid writing about music in Sound Reflections.

Music Talk
The Music Talk section is a glossary of musical terms. It can be used to clarify the meaning of musical terms as they arise in reading or conversation. It can be browsed through to expand musical vocabulary, which increases the range and accuracy of comments made about music in Sound Reflections.

Connecting music activities
The musical experience of a student can be wide ranging and Sound Reflections can be a place to bring many of them together. Reflective activities can be used in instrumental lessons, in band activities, in the classroom, and even in relation to recreational music. By encouraging reflection on these activities in Sound Reflections the student can begin to see the connections between different musical activities and teachers reading the student’s book can see a richer picture of the student’s musical life and development.

Activity and reflection should ideally complement and support each other. Action by itself is blind, and reflection impotent. – Csikszentmihalyi, M. 1992. Flow: The Psychology of Happiness. London: Rider, p.226

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Finding the Time to Reflect

When we first began to use Sound Reflections in our ensembles and classrooms we found that we simply did not have the time to stop our activity and talk and write about what we had done. The activity was fun and engaging and the students were motivated to be involved, and we felt that to stop and write or talk about our music was a let down and took away from the precious little time we had to make music anyway. Surprisingly, it was students that told us in interviews that the times that they gained the best understanding and meaning from music activity was when we had made the time to reflect and discuss our music making. Students also valued the skill of being able to do this as one which enabled them to respond to music in an enhanced way, and with a richer understanding and meaning. Consequently, we restructured our approach to how we used our time so that reflection was not an additional activity but an integral part of the learning environment.

In the classroom

  • Reflection can be something that is done at the end of a unit of work in performing, composing, or researching-where students evaluate and reflect on each activity.
  • Combine a presentation session with reflection, where students present some music made in class whilst others reflect and criticise it.
  • Reflection can be set as a homework exercise, keeping a journal of activity.
  • Reflection tasks can be used as an evaluation tool to examine how well a student understands musical ideas.
  • Collect Sound Reflection journals at the end of each term to get extra insight into student development and to provide feedback via the Progress Report.

In the ensemble

  • Set reflection as a regular homework/practice task.
  • Set Performance Reports as homework after each concert.
  • Encourage verbal reflection; both as an ensemble and in small groups about the music made and discuss ways in which problems might be solved.

In the instrumental studio

  • Teacher and students use the printed Lesson Notes to communicate and record what needs to be done for practice.
  • Use the Lesson Notes and Summary Reports to communicate with parents or other teachers. The Lesson Notes section only requires brief notes and notation; it is a reminder ‘music jotter’.
  • Collect Sound Reflection journals from the students each term to assist in report writing and to provide feedback via the Progress Report pages.

“Reflection is not an additional activity, it is what transforms musical experience into musical learning.” – Steven C. Dillon

Available for order from Lulu.