The Music Curriculum
‘Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances.’
- Maya Angelou, American poet and civil rights activist
‘Without music, life would be a mistake’
- Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher and cultural critic
Inspire - The Music Curriculum at Spinney Hill
Music is a universal language which brings people together and connects them. First and foremost, music is simply fun; whether singing, listening or performing individually or together, we know that music can stimulate creativity, improve wellbeing and build confidence and resilience. At its best, music can help us to make sense of our own lives and the world around us, whilst offering an insight into different cultures and the experiences of other people. Our music curriculum has been designed to foster children’s love and appreciation of all forms of music and build both their social and cultural capital through doing so. Through our carefully designed curriculum milestones, based on the National Curriculum and the new Statutory Framework for Early Years, we provide high quality music lessons and experiences. These nurture children’s ability to actively listen to, enjoy and critique a wide variety of music alongside developing the building blocks that enable children to create their own through improvisation, composition, singing and playing instruments. Our broad and balanced music curriculum exposes children to both contemporary, classical and traditional musical genres and opens their eyes to musical styles and musicians from a range of cultures, backgrounds and time periods. This we know stimulates children’s curiosity and imagination, whilst the opportunity to learn and play instruments opens new doorways and sparks aspiration and ambition. Within lessons, a focus on musical terminology, vocabulary and discussion enables children to talk about and appraise music and performance and think critically about what they have heard and give informed and reasoned ideas and opinions. Through composing and performing, children develop both perseverance and resilience as they work collaboratively to create music for a specific purpose or effect before self-evaluating and finally appraising and critiquing the performances of others.
Support and Grow - How we teach music
At Spinney Hill Primary School music is taught discretely following the National Curriculum in KS1 and KS2. Where firm and tangible links are evident with the broader curriculum, these are made. In the EYFS, music opportunities are informed by Statutory Framework for Early Years. We develop children’s musical skills and knowledge through carefully sequenced lessons planned using our curriculum milestones and the Kapow music scheme. To ensure that children are exposed to a broad repertoire of music, our curriculum is sequenced into genres and styles from around the world including popular, rock and rap music, nursery rhymes and rhythms, classical music, film soundtrack music and world music. From EYFS to year 6 there are five ‘big’ musical skills which are developed, deepened and revisited across all units of work:
- The history of music
- The inter-related dimensions of music (pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture, structure and notation)
Our music curriculum adopts a holistic approach to music, in which the individual ‘big’ music skills are woven together to create engaging and enriching learning experiences. Each unit of work is carefully sequenced, builds on prior learning through repetition and revision and ensures progression in the development of key knowledge and skills.
During their time at Spinney Hill, children will listen to music drawn from a range of genres and cultures, children will also learn about the history of music. Children will be taught how to sing fluently and expressively and play tuned and untuned instruments accurately and with control. They will learn to recognise and name the inter-related dimensions of music, and use these expressively in their own improvisations and compositions.
Across the school year, all year groups cover 6 units of work with each unit comprising of 5 lessons. All units are focused on thinking critically about music in relation to the five ‘big’ musical skills.
- Lessons begin with an enquiry question which sets the scene for the ‘big’ music skill or skills to be explored, developed, applied or integrated.
- Subject specific vocabulary and terminology is revised and new terms introduced.
- Prior learning is revisited to ensure new learning develops on secure foundations and connections with other areas of music made.
- Children then actively participate in musical activities drawn from a range of genres and traditions, developing their musical skills and their understanding of how music works. Lessons incorporate a range of teaching strategies including independent tasks, paired and group work as well as improvisation and teacher-led performances. Children are will be taught to play and compose music on tuned and un-tuned instruments including boomwhackers, glockenspiels, electronic keyboards and a variety of percussive instruments.
Differentiation is available for every lesson to ensure that lessons can be accessed by all pupils, and opportunities to stretch and challenge pupils’ learning are available when appropriate. Strong subject knowledge is vital for staff to be able to deliver highly effective music lessons and therefore Kapow offers multiple teacher videos in each unit. The support offered by the Kapow scheme develops teacher subject knowledge, confidence and supports on going CPD.
We know that music is an essential part of a child’s education and every child has the opportunity to participate in a wide range of musical activities during their school career.
- All Year 2 children take part in ‘DioSing’ lessons throughout the year, developing their singing technique and knowledge of rhythms and notation.
- All Year 5 children take part in guitar lessons throughout the year and develop their knowledge and skills to read and play rhythms using crotchets and quavers, play and sing songs using a core knowledge of basic chords and follow basic musical notation.
- Singing features prominently in all school assemblies from the EYFS to Y6. As part of the Leaver’s Production in Y6, children have the opportunity to work with a professional pianist in order to refine and perfect their singing skills.
- Participation in a variety of singing events, including Leicestershire Music’s Singing Festival attended by a cross-phases KS2 choir and whole school ‘singing days’ led by expert tutors from the Leicestershire Music Hub.
Achieve - How we ensure children are ready for the next stage in their learning
Over their time at Spinney Hill, we aim to inspire children to take up a musical instrument, to want to continue their learning at secondary school and to appreciate the role than different forms of music can plays in their lives. This could be this simply having an appreciation for and interest in different genres and musicals styles, to children using music as a ‘go-to’ form of support for their own wellbeing and mental health throughout their lives.
The impact of our music curriculum is carefully measured in a variety of different ways. Learning walks, work sampling and monitoring of learning environments are carried out by the music curriculum lead to identify how ready children are for the next stage in their learning and areas in need of development. Pupil interviews and discussion are key to assessing how well pupils are retaining prior-learning and making connections with what they are currently learning. In addition to this, each child’s progress is monitored by class teachers who assess them against our milestones. Teachers also create ‘impact’ pages on teams to provide a snap-shot of learning to reflect both what has been covered and to illustrate what children are capable of achieving.