Music at The Downs is taught from YrR to Yr6 during weekly PPA lessons.Musical knowledge and the confidence to apply that learning is gradually built up over a pupil’s primary school career at The Downs. The strength in this approach to Music education at this school is through using one specialist teacher that allows for the continuity of subject teaching, curriculum planning and assessment across all classes and also the ability to build up a relationship with pupils that can help build confidence in their musical skills and performance.
Music is taught using a building up method of constantly revisiting key areas from YrR to Yr6 (the interrelated dimensions of music) to enforce knowledge, understanding and implementation (referred to as desired practice from OFSTED’s Research Review in Music). This removes the pitfall of information overload that should be avoided in the Declarative class of knowledge. The one teacher approach allows both the teacher and the pupils to be able to access previous lessons from earlier in their school musical life, using images/phrases/activities to trigger long term memory retrieval. The music curriculum at The Downs is constantly evolving to allow for pupils to get the most from their music lessons through the 3 pillars that interrelate in musicianship. Lessons are designed to be flexible depending on how a class or year group react to a particular musical topic.
The curriculum allows for musical development using the 3 pillars.
- Pillar 1 – technical – getting musical intentions to actual sound eg instrument playing or singing (or Music tech)
- Pillar 2 – constructive – knowledge of how musical components come together in the creative process eg theory, notation, musical elements
- Pillar 3 – expressive – the more indefinable aspects of music eg quality, meaning, creative, emotional response.
Music lessons are usually divided into sections to cover the areas in The New Model Music Curriculum as well as create opportunities for Tacet (emotional responses), Declarative (understanding music facts/theory stored in long term memory) and Procedural (active involvement). It is important to note that in the Tacet class of knowledge, the phrase ‘there is no right or wrong answer’ is used and reinforced to encourage pupils from YrR onwards to freely discuss their emotional responses and ideas about a piece of music they have experienced.
Techniques used to embed knowledge –
- CT uses images (eg a club sandwich to explain texture – layers in music), phrases such as ‘musical detectives’ with the same image used across all year groups so that it is familiar, to ask pupils to seek out, note and discuss, musical elements gained from previous learning. A combination of a phrase and a particular image such as doctor watching a man in a river for syncopation (‘sink a patient’). Rhymes and mnemonics to remember musical notes on the stave.
- CT will model challenging musical techniques on instruments.
- Role play between CT and TA when explaining an activity to be undertaken, particularly in paired or group work.
- CT makes a deliberate mistake when modelling an activity and then asks the pupils to check her work. In KS1 the children are asked to explain something back to Charlie Parrot (puppet) or to try and answer Charlie’s musical question. This activates their memory and helps to reinforce their learning by explaining in their own words or by giving a physical demonstration.
- During independent/paired/group work the CT and TA will move around the class discussing pupil ideas, asking for demonstrations and monitoring their progress as well as giving challenges or highlighting areas in their creative process that they could think about and extend further.
Class assessments are carried out in every lesson in a book for each class and children are given feedback at the end of the lesson on who had done well and why (stickers and praise cards are given in feedback at the end of each lesson). Where appropriate class teachers are emailed to give any feedback required which could result in the class teacher talking about musical knowledge to the class.
YrR curriculum is built around less technical terms and more practical involvement in rhythm, movement and singing which will form the bedrock of KS1 and KS2 music. Yrs 1 to 3 focus on a different element of music per term eg tempo or timbre etc. As the school year progresses, there is constant referring back to the elements already taught. Yrs 4 to 6 have a more mixed curriculum of some terms focusing on a particular element and other bigger projects where a knowledge of all elements previously taught will be used in practical form for eg the No Place Like.. project or the pupil lead learning when Yr6 decided to stage a music workshop afternoon for Year 1 pupils.
The main focus of the music curriculum at all ages is for it to be enjoyable for all and to inspire confidence in music making and appreciation at all levels. With TA support we are able to make Music inclusive for SEND children and also provide opportunities and a pathway for more able pupils to take their learning further.