Severn Vale School

Omar Khokher is Head of Music at Severn Vale School in Gloucester. He was introduced to Mix Music Education by his local music service after attending a training session led by Dan Jones for Gloucestershire Music Teachers.

Severn Vale’s JamPod™ installation was undertaken in March 2013 and is a joint project between the school and Make Music Gloucester.

How did you come to engage with Mix Music Education and how have they helped you in your classroom?

I initially encountered the work, or vision, of Mix Music Education through a CPD session at Gloucestershire Music and quickly realised the potential that such a set up and ethos would have within my own department as well as reaching out to our wider learning community.
I found Mix Music Education highly supportive in making initial approaches to senior management with regards to purchasing a JamPod™ set up, but it has not stopped there. The support both in terms of aftersales and CPD has been fantastic. Mix Music have made a number of visits to lead and support CPD sessions as well as provide valued technical support.

Why did you decide to embrace JamPod™?

A number of reasons. Mainly I wanted my students to be immersed in ‘real’ music making, and JamPod™ facilitated this through the ‘silent’ classroom set up as well as giving the students to opportunity to work with professional equipment. As we know, students respond to the quality of sound they produce and the quality really helped to engage learners from the outset. This has had a significant knock on in terms of engagement, increased number of students wanting instrumental lessons, increased numbers at KS4 and students gaining better results.

Are these new approaches helping you tackle challenges previously difficult to overcome?

We suffered from a lack of rehearsal space within the department, which made group work, informal learning, or band work very challenging. Being able to have 30 students learning effectively, and at their own pace, in silence and being able to monitor them closely in one space has really made my own teaching much more effective. Also having a permanent set up means that there is less ‘down time’ wasted setting instruments up / packing down.

How has JamPod™ effected your own teaching?

It allows me to teach the way I have always wanted to but not been able to owing to the constraints of the classroom. I can now deliver a curriculum, which has impact, relevance and value to the students through engaging in ‘real’ music making and focused group learning. Students take much more ownership of their learning as they can create a quality of sound in an environment where there are significantly less distractions to learning. It means that the students can learn how they want to learn!

What are your favourite features of JamPod™?

One of my favorite features is being able to record from JamPod™ to hard disk through the main teaching mixer, or onto the built in SD card. This has given the students ‘professional’ sounding recordings of their work, which has motivated them further. We have also used recordings of students work on our SoundCloud page as a means of sharing, whereas previously students may have been reluctant to have had their performance work heard by anyone else within the class, let alone globally!

Has JamPod™ impacted on the school community as a whole?

Totally! We don’t stop! Students are always in the music department at break, lunch and after school. Students are now much more independent and take ownership of their own rehearsals and practice sessions. Students want to spend time rehearsing and practicing which has really contributed to developing a performance culture within the school community.

Would you recommend JamPod™ and Mix Music Education to others?

Without hesitation! It is more than a product. You are investing in an ethos, which is delivered with a passionate drive, a proven confidence in the product, and quality support.

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