An interview with SymbolSmash – Making music teaching fun & accessible

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Editor@Soapbox

Editor@Soapbox

Checking articles and providing authors with assistance since '16 - editor@sp-bx.com

With an increased pressure on teachers these days to hit learning targets, the world of teaching seems to have become a much more difficult place. With different guidelines coming out regularly, how can you make learning different subjects fun while still making it easy to teach. Introducing SymbolSmash, a new, innovative way of teaching children the core subjects while nurturing an appreciation of classical music. We had a chat with SymbolSmash’s Creative & Innovation Directors, Yafit Elboim and Hayley Musry and asked them more about their revolutionary new system.

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What is SymbolSmash?

(Y) SymbolSmash is a provider of Music content for schools in order to help teachers teach classical music appreciation. The system provides everything that the teacher needs in order to feel confident in teaching music education. We created SymbolSmash not just for the children but also for teachers; especially as there has been an increasing pattern of year group teachers being asked to teach music, as there are not enough resources to provide specialist music teachers.

(H) Yes. And as teachers have an ever-increasing workload – assessment, marking, paperwork, planning etc, we want to lessen this burden by providing teachers with everything. This will allow them to concentrate solely on their children, on teaching and on making their classroom an exciting and passionate place.

(Y) With Ofsted placing so much importance on assessment, how do you know how to assess children in a subject you don’t understand or potentially lack confidence to teach to the standards being set? During teacher training, teachers are taught how to become proficient in teaching the core subjects, i.e. English, Maths, Science etc. and although some training centres encourage training in music it is not to the highest standard. This is why there is scope for music lessons to be taught thoroughly. How can you teach music appreciation and teach how to analyse elements of a classical piece when you have never done it before yourself?

(H) We want SymbolSmash to modernise Classical Music and make it accessible for all children and teachers, regardless of their background. These programmes have been created to be taught by their existing teachers and we want to help non-musical teachers feel confident teaching music. We know that this is a subject they may find unfamiliar and daunting. SymbolSmash’s aim is to inspire a love for learning in children that enriches their school experience. The programmes are based on pieces of classical music, but are cross-curricular – this means that children are using their maths, english, history etc. skills during their music lessons.

(Y) That is really important. Ofsted have a heavy focus on combining core subjects within the humanities. What SymbolSmash does is provide teachers with a programme that gives them the tools to teach music at A Level standard for primary school learning. We provide lesson plans, assessment criteria, resources, school concerts etc. to make teachers confident with the teaching materials; to not just make them have musical skills but to help them harness skills to improve them as a teacher in general, whilst adhering to Ofsted standards. We want the teachers to be confident so that children too are confident. Providing children with a platform for creativity, communication and confidence in order to reach their full potential.

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Where did the inspiration behind SymbolSmash come from?

(Y) As a teacher, you are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to teach and engage with the children. SymbolSmash provides a fresh, new approach, which helps inspire teachers to create a collaborative and fun atmosphere within the classroom.

(H) The inspiration for SymbolSmash really derived from KidsClassics, the successful and popular children’s music classes taught and created by Marion Musry. Marion has been teaching her holistic method to musical learning and appreciation for over 20 years. She began teaching Classical Appreciation to her own children, then in schools, and finally through her own business, Kids Classics. Marion has always wanted to find a way of expanding Kids Classics. She decided to build SymbolSmash as her dream is to teach as many children as possible to love and enjoy classical music.

(Y) Every child is unique and each one has his/hers own way of learning. At SymbolSmash we recognise this and throughout the programme provide different levels of activities, which allow for expression. As the inspiration behind SymbolSmash is to really to enhance creativity and expression, we recognised that to really make this project work properly we needed to build a creative hub through SymbolSmash. Bringing together creative people from across a wide spectrum where designers, coders, teachers, writers, musicians and people from other industries can bounce ideas off each other. And to be honest this is so much more than your ordinary office job: because at SymbolSmash we want to make the learning process fun and so, and this is an ethos we carry through production.

If you would like to find out more about Marion and the amazing history of Kids Classics, follow this link: http://kidsclassics.com/biography/

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-14-48-53What is the aim of the programme?

(Y) In this programme, students respond to all their relevant National Curriculum learning goals. Students develop their listening, communication and confidence skills, by responding to ideas presented within a piece of music – ‘Voyage to the Moon’, by Jacques Offenbach. Activities are designed to prompt verbal, non-verbal, and performance-based responses to lead to development and understanding of the structure of a piece of classical music. They will familiarise themselves with musical concepts and build connections between these with non-musical themes from other subjects and from home-life.

Why did you choose ‘Classical Music’?

(H) Certain pieces of classical music have been written to tell a story. These pieces are simple and melodic, allowing beginners to understand and identify various musical components with ease. The tone of the different sections of music is identifiable in correlation with events of the music’s ‘story’. The underlying structure of these pieces encourage intelligent listening, age-appropriate analysis, and a platform for understanding, confidence and expression to grow. These crucial life-skills are key to development in all subject areas for all levels of development.

Where do you envisage Symbol Smash to be in the future?

(Y) In the future I want to see SymbolSmash in all schools, not only in UK but also Worldwide. Maybe we would venturing into other genres besides classical, in order to appeal to wider audience. As I was Programme Coordinator and Music Director at a nursery I can see the full potential that we can achieve at SymbolSmash. I can really see the system becoming a prominent provider of music teaching programmes for schools.

(H) Currently we have programmes for each age group, based on ONE piece of classical music. We would like to create at least 15 more programmes, with the same formula, set to other pieces of music. Gosh – we are really ready to go! We have the music ready – these are pieces that have been taught in Kids Classics. Tried and tested and never bested!  Where else? Potentially TV programmes, merchandise, publishing our books, scripts and songs. I write the songs for the programme so this is a very personal dream. Yafit dreams of travel, getting a firm grip on the international market. We want to translate the pack into different languages, different country curriculums etc. etc. There’s way too much we can do – and if we start thinking about it we can get far too carried away.

(Y) I would also want to be published as an author of children’s books.

(H) I’d want my mum (Marion Musry) to get awards for her work in this field as well.

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Is there anything further you want to say about Symbol Smash?

(H) Never stop thinking about possibilities in expanding and innovating education. We are a new generation. Children and teachers need to see their potential in a way never before explored. Give everyone the opportunity to learn in this way and I promise you won’t regret it.

(Y) Its an amazing programme that should be tried and enjoyed by everyone.

What is the best way for people to get in contact?

(Y) Through our website – www.symbolsmash.com, Facebook page, Twitter and our emails, hayely@symbolsmash.com and yafit@symbolsmash.com.

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Editor@Soapbox

Editor@Soapbox

Checking articles and providing authors with assistance since ’16
– editor@sp-bx.com

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