Sunday, 28 July 2013

Gurgaon: The Saga Continues

Áine here again.

Drawing to the end of the first month in Gurgaon, and this week has brought about a lot of change and discussion at One World College of Music.

In the weeks here so far, it has become apparent that there have been a couple of issues with the organisation of some of the lessons in the school, as well as attendance of the pupils. The former issue mainly centres around the fact that a lot of the group classes are of mixed ability, and therefore cannot be taught efficiently by the teachers. This has led to teachers and pupils sometimes feeling a little bit unfulfilled, when classes have to be catered to a large range of needs. Classes are also sometimes ambiguously named and teachers do not always know exactly what they are meant to be teaching.

In this week’s teacher meetings, however, I and the teachers worked on a plan for the timetable to rectify some of these problems, and presented these to the director of the school earlier today. The director took the suggestions very seriously, and off the back of this meeting there is now a more coherent timetable, split into instrumental, theory/aural training and group practical lessons. The guitar teacher has volunteered, and has now been appointed, as a student-teacher liaison manager whose role is to ensure that pupils are put into different classes on the basis of standard and commitment, following an initial assessment. He will also be in charge of leading the twice-weekly teacher meetings and helping sort any related issues. In addition to this appointment, many of the books that teachers have been asking for have now been bought or ordered, the storage of books has been reorganised, as well as enquiries started into sourcing a box of earplugs for the drum room.

The final point is one of my inputs. I have a hearing impairment myself, and as a result have to wear two hearing aids, and experience a number of related problems in the world of music. I am therefore very sensitive to the fact that many musicians suffer from degradation of hearing from constant exposure to noise, and am very aware of how hard any hearing impairment can make life. Obviously exposure to noise is a danger in music classes, especially for percussionists. I would therefore encourage anyone working at a school with drum and/or percussion pupils to discuss the acquisition of ear plugs (the foam ones are often very cheap when bought in bulk) and possible measures to reduce exposure to noise. Education about this problem, though, is key. I have so far found that this is an issue discussed in India even less than back on home turf, but is perhaps even more serious here, as help for those with hearing loss appears to be much less common and much more expensive than in the UK. 

Anyway, here endeth that lesson.

The long and short of this week then, has basically been progress. I am always very aware that I'm over here in India not merely as a supply teacher, but to make some sort of lasting impression and to work for cultural dialogue. It is therefore very encouraging that everyone at all levels of One World College of Music are keen to collaborate in order to work to improve the school in any way, and use the full extent of any outside knowledge of music education that I may have. A brilliant and productive week - the future definitely is looking even brighter for One World!

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