ONLINE LEARNING IN ACTION: An interview with Head of Music (7-12), Phil Beverley - Cranbrook School

ONLINE LEARNING IN ACTION: An interview with Head of Music (7-12), Phil Beverley

04 May 20 by Phillip Beverley, Head of Music

An interview with Cranbrook Head of Music, Phil Beverley on how Cranbrook School's Music programme has been adapted for Online Learning.


What technology are you using?

  • Canvas
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Soundtrap – used for composition and music production.
  • Noteflight
  • Smart Music – used for online practicing for ensembles.

Most of these tools were being used prior to distance learning as add-ons, now the department relies on them.


Are you doing live-streamed interactive classes, pre-recording lessons, getting students to complete tasks independently, or is there a mix?

There is a blended approach to the technology being used, it is a hybrid of Canvas and Microsoft teams. Canvas is used to upload work and host live and pre-recorded lessons and tasks for students. Microsoft Teams is used to have video discussions and chats during scheduled class time, enabling us to easily give real time feedback, outline lessons and instructions and discuss and solve problems as they arise.

All individual music lessons are assigned through calendar, with our instrumental lessons now a live video conference between student and tutor. As of this week Cranbrook’s Music Department has 550 children enrolled to have instrumental lessons online.

As an example of online classroom learning, our Year 11 boys are having class discussion replicated through Microsoft Teams. The Cranbrook teacher puts theory onto Teams for the class and then students are able to have a live discussion following – just like what would happen on a whiteboard in a classroom.


What are teachers now doing differently?

Like all departments, the Music teachers are trying to make class structure as similar to how it would be in normal circumstances as possible. For instrumental lessons, Cranbrook teachers are able to virtually drop into a session and see how the tutor and student are interacting and progressing, replicating the on-campus experience of looking into the music lesson through the window in the classroom.

An added benefit, although time-consuming, is that staff members are now not only able to collaborate directly with students, but also with parents who are actively participating in lessons as well – this is putting everyone on the same page in real time to a student’s progress.

Although there is a theoretical component, music is so practical. But we are finding really creative ways to make music individually and together whilst we are all separated. We are blessed by technology and utilising tools such as Smart Music allows ensembles to still practice together from whatever their current Cranbrook classrooms look like!


How are you monitoring student work and progress?

The digital space actually makes the monitoring of progress slightly easier, there is visibility for parents to sit in on classes whilst son is at home and understand what is happening in a lesson, chat boards allow students to discuss and collaborate together and Canvas allows all work/performances to be submitted and personal feedback supplied. Overall, it is a lot of extra work for teachers, but we are revelling in the opportunity to be innovative and creative!