Music is a universal language that embodies one of the highest forms of creativity. A high-quality music education should engage and inspire pupils to develop a love of music and their talent as musicians, and so increase their self-confidence, creativity, motivation and sense of achievement. It is a vehicle for personal expression and it can play an important part in the personal development of people. Music reflects the culture and society we live in and so the teaching and learning of music enable children to better understand the world that they live in. Besides being a creative and enjoyable activity, music can also be a highly academic and demanding subject. It also plays an important part in helping children to feel part of a community. As pupils progress, we provide opportunities for all children to develop a critical engagement with music as well as an appreciation for a wide variety of musical forms, thus allowing them to compose and to listen with discrimination to the best in the musical canon.
Our objectives in the teaching of music are to ensure that all pupils:
- perform, listen to, review and evaluate music across a range of historical periods, genres, styles and traditions, including the works of the great composers and musicians.
- learn to sing and to use their voices, to create and compose music on their own and with others, have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, use technology appropriately and have the opportunity to progress to the next level of musical excellence.
- understand and explore how music is created, produced and communicated, including through the inter-related dimensions: pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture, structure and appropriate musical notations.
Teaching and learning style
At Upton School, we make music an enjoyable learning experience. We encourage children to participate in a variety of musical experiences through which we aim to build up the confidence of all children. Singing lies at the heart of good music teaching. Our teaching focuses on developing the children's ability to sing in tune and with other people. Through singing songs, children learn about the structure and organisation of music. We teach them to listen to and appreciate different forms of music. As children get older, we expect them to maintain their concentration for longer, and to listen to more extended pieces of music. Children develop descriptive skills in music lessons when learning about how music can represent feelings and emotions. We teach them the disciplined skills of recognising pulse and pitch. We often teach these together. We also teach children to make music together, to understand musical notation, and to compose pieces.
We recognise that in all classes, children have a wide range of musical ability, and so we seek to provide suitable learning opportunities for all children by matching the challenge of the task to the ability of the child. We achieve this in a variety of ways:
- setting tasks which are open-ended and can have a variety of responses.
- setting tasks of increasing difficulty (not all children complete all tasks).
- grouping children by ability in the room and setting different tasks to each ability group.
- providing resources of different complexity, depending on the ability of the child.
- using classroom assistants to support the work of individuals or groups of children.
Additional music teaching
Children are offered the opportunity to study a musical instrument with peripatetic teachers. The peripatetic music teaching programme is organised and delivered by Wakefield Music Services. Parents who wish their children to participate in the scheme can either loan a musical instrument from the school (free of charge) or purchase/hire an instrument. In addition to this, parents are expected to pay Wakefield Music Services the music lesson fees on either a termly or yearly basis. These lessons are normally taught to small groups of children who have chosen to learn one of a variety of instruments, such as strings, woodwind, percussion, guitar or brass. This is in addition to the normal music teaching of the school, and usually takes place during normal lessons, from which children are withdrawn for the duration of the instrumental lesson.
In addition to this, all Year Four pupils are given the opportunity to participate in a Wider Opportunities Programme either playing strings, woodwind or brass instruments. This is scheme is delivered once a week in a 50 minute group lesson for a whole academic year. Half of the year group learn to play violin or cello with Wakefield Music Services and the other half learn to play woodwind or brass with the school Music Coordinator. At the end of year 4, these pupils are given the opportunity to continue receiving tuition on their chosen instrument until the end of KS2. In year 5 and 6, the string pupils receive a 30 minute weekly group lesson delivered by Wakefield Music Services.
Music curriculum planning
Music is a foundation subject in the National Curriculum. Our school uses the Charanga Music scheme of work for the majority of its curriculum planning. In addition to this, we use schemes that are linked with the Learning Challenge Curriculum topics which enables children to build upon prior learning. While there are opportunities for children of all abilities to develop their skills and knowledge in each teaching unit, the progression planned into the Charanga scheme of work means that the children are increasingly challenged as they move through the school. This progression has three aspects:
- increasing breadth and range of musical experiences.
- increasing challenge and difficulty in musical activities.
- increasing confidence, sensitivity and creativity in the children's music-making.
The Foundation Stage
We teach music in reception classes as an integral part of the topic work covered during the year. As the reception class is part of the Foundation Stage of the National Curriculum, we relate the musical aspects of the children's work to the objectives set out in the Early Learning Goals (ELGs) which underpin the curriculum planning for children aged three to five. Music contributes to a child's personal and social development. Counting songs foster a child's mathematical ability, and songs from different cultures increase a child's knowledge and understanding of the world.
Music and inclusion
At our school, we teach music to all children, whatever their ability and individual needs. Music forms part of the school curriculum policy to provide a broad and balanced education to all children. Through our music teaching, we provide learning opportunities that enable all pupils to make good progress.
We enable pupils to have access to the full range of activities involved in learning music. Where children are to participate in activities outside the classroom, e.g. in a musical festival at another school, we carry out a risk assessment prior to the activity, to ensure that the activity is safe and appropriate for all pupils.
The school choir/orchestra and musical events
We believe that music enriches the lives of people, and so we wish to involve as many children as possible in musical activities. We have a school choir, which we encourage all children to join. The choir meets on a weekly basis and, although its primary aim is to enable children to enjoy singing together, it also performs in public on a number of occasions throughout the year, e.g. at the Christmas carol concert / Young Voices.
All pupils who play an orchestral musical instrument are invited to take part in the school orchestra. In the school orchestra children learn to enjoy performing music as an ensemble working towards performances. e.g. End of academic year concert / Primary pyramid performances. The orchestra practises once a week as an after school club.