The Combo Class is a teaching method for basic musical training, designed for children aged 9 years and up. Its focus is on the practice of making music, in such a way that students will learn how to deal with music intelligibly. Thereby the acquisition of musical knowledge and skill serves the ability to express oneself musically in the most personal way possible.
The Combo Class is based on the following principles:
1. Intelligible and duly profound learning
Students aren’t expected to absorb musical information and instruction just by copying given examples. They should also be able to grasp the function of a particular piece of information or a certain type of musical action by placing it in the right context. Only this way they will learn how to apply knowledge and skill effectively.
2. Collaborative learning
It’s no coincidence that the MusiClass Foundation has an image of a human circle as its logo. Making mutual connections during the lessons and then sustaining these connections is a vital learning element. Learning with each other, from each other and for each other is the motto of each lesson.
3. Learning within a rich learning environment
As a teaching method the Combo Class offers a wide range of both musical means and learning activities. This setting aims to create the right conditions for a positive learning attitude as well as a multi-faceted development of musical skills.
Learning activities within the Combo Class are centred on a fixed line-up of carefully selected instruments, viz. keyboards, mallet instruments, guitars and percussion/drums. In each lesson the students will change places a number of times, which will enable them to acquire equal levels of technical skill in playing all 4 types of instrument.
The method’s most distinctive feature is that all music used for shaping the method’s content (i.e. exercises, games and repertoire pieces) has been especially composed for educational purposes. This facilitates not only a smooth connection with students’ starting level, but also a gradual progression in the construction of the learning programme. Another notable advantage of using original materials, and being of crucial importance to the students’ motivation, is that the ensemble sound can be optimized from the very beginning
Equally important is the avoidance of staff notation during the initial learning phase. Starting from the premise that music notation must serve as an aid to making music, staff notation can never fulfil this role for students starting from scratch, as its features are far too complicated to be of any direct practical use. For this reason students are introduced to a form of music notation they are able to handle without too much fuss.
The Combo Class represents a type of learning which complements an education in which children learn how to relate to their physical environment. This particularly involves human qualities such as sensitivity, community spirit as well as the ability to think independently and act accordingly.
Rotterdam 1957; teacher training course Rotterdam Conservatory (certificate ’81); married, 2 children; living in Nijmegen; worked at schools for both primary and secondary education.
The Combo Class guide contains examples of learning materials which are included in the successive volumes (part 1 to 4), in addition to information on the specific use of musical instruments and the listing of educational purposes the method is based on.