At St James’ Church of England Primary School, we value the chance to become musicians through our music curriculum. We want our children to love music and believe that there are no restrictions to their ambitions within music. They can be music producers, composers or even popstars!
The music curriculum has been carefully crafted so that our children develop a critical engagement with music, exploring what they like and dislike about a range of music and genres. Therefore, allowing them to compose and to listen with discrimination to a range of high quality music. We want our music lessons to inspire and be memorable to the children and become moments they can cherish while embracing the musical opportunities ahead of them in later life. We aim to provide experiences that children may not experience outside of school, such as visiting the theatre/ listening to an orchestra. Our school performances and Bolton Music Service lessons demonstrate one way in which we encourage the children to reach their own aspiring goals.
Our high quality music education aims to inspire the children to understand music as a universal language and encourages one of the highest forms of creativity. We want to encourage the children to develop a curiosity for music while understanding the value it holds in a range of different contexts and in the wider community. Our ongoing work within charities, such as the Bethany Project, enables us to explore music in a range of faiths and cultures. Furthering this, music is explored throughout school during the celebration from a range of faiths. Our Music curriculum aims to engage and inspire pupils to develop a love of music and their talent as musicians while building their self-confidence, creativity and self-esteem. We promote a love for music by valuing the talents of the staff within our school and different instruments they can play.
St James’ works in partnership with Bolton Music Service to provide a curriculum which is progressive for pupils in KS1 and KS2 in order to develop increasingly high standards of musical knowledge, understanding and skill. The curriculum in KS2 is delivered by a specialist Curriculum Music Teacher from the Bolton Music Service, alongside the class teacher. This enables children to benefit from specialist teaching and as well as learning continued in other areas of the curriculum by the class teacher.
The plan for each year group focuses on a set of skills to develop over the year. The skills are divided into four key areas:
- Singing – Singing should be at the heart of the music curriculum and children should have regular opportunities to sing together in large and small groups and individually e.g. within the class music lesson, in assembly, at transition times etc. Children have the opportunity to further develop these skills through the School Choir.
- Listening – Listening to music is fundamental to musical understanding and helps pupils understand how music in constructed and the impact it can have on the listener. Pupils should have regular opportunities for listening and responding to music (including listening to music they have produced themselves, live music performances and carefully chosen recordings that reflect a wide range of cultures, times and places.) Such listening should then support children’s composing and performing.
- Composing - Pupils should have opportunities to be creative and imaginative and to compose and make choices about their own music. Composition and improvisation activities allow pupils to use and develop the musicianship skills they have been taught and encourage collaborative work.
- Musicianship & Performing - Singing and playing a range of tuned and untuned percussion instruments should be at the heart of the music curriculum and pupils should have regular opportunities to perform musically (both formally e.g. a class performance for parents and informally e.g. for their peers within a lesson.) Pupils should be taught the fundamental musical techniques of controlling pulse/beat, rhythm and pitch. As well as learning by ear, children should learn to use both invented symbols (graphic notation) and standard musical notation when singing, playing and composing. Musical notation exists to support musical learning and so learning musical notation should be done to support music-making.
The music curriculum at St James’ in KS1 is inspired by the schemes of work from Charanga alongside a variety of musical opportunities throughout school. Charanga provides teachers with the resources to support music teaching whilst we use the Bolton Music Service Primary Skills Progression Framework document (revised June 2021) in order to ensure a broad and balanced music curriculum. We value the progression of skills here at St James’ and this is shown within our music curriculum overview as we specify the focus skills for each unit and how this is built upon as the children develop their abilities through the school year and as they move through school. We encourage children to be active learners with a strong intention that pupils should be ‘doing’ music and experiencing live music as much as possible.
Alongside our long term planning, our sticky knowledge overviews for each unit ensure our teachers know the prior learning the children have accessed and how they will build on this with the key knowledge for their new unit. Therefore, deepening understanding and learning. The four areas are taught in a connected way e.g. listening gives ideas for composing or understanding of pitch taught through singing. This is embedded in the classroom through discrete lessons every week so that music subject matter is revisited and our children’s understanding is deepened.
Further activities include weekly singing practices, worship, a range of school/class performances throughout the year and cross curricular links when appropriate. Through the Bolton Music Service First Access Programme, children in Year 3 have the opportunity to learn how to play the ukulele. This is then revisited throughout KS2 to develop their skills further so that by the end of KS2, the children are confident and competent players. The ukulele is also used as an aid to develop musical knowledge, understanding and skills within Music in KS2.
Assessment is used to monitor and measure pupils progress which then supports teachers in planning the next steps and future learning for each pupil. We support this through formative assessment and summative assessment which is collected frequently and is analysed as part of our monitoring cycle. This allows us to assess how we can further learning through clubs or additional outside visitors. We also use recordings of the children while allowing them to view this themselves, be proud of their work and see how they want to develop their skills. Staff use vocabulary quizzes to allow the children to understand some of the language of music so they can critically understand how it’s made and develop their ability to play and analyse music. This also helps with formative assessment. Our assessment provides us with an accurate and comprehensive understanding of what quality of education has been provided for the children. Further monitoring includes pupil and staff conferencing and learning walks.
Assessments are within 4 key areas of:
- Musicianship & Performing
By providing a Music curriculum that ensures progression and repetition, pupils will develop the skills and knowledge needed to meet the end of key stage expectations. By having access to a varied, inspiring musical program, children can identify their own areas of strengths and areas which they might like to develop. Our unique approach to learning an instrument (ukulele) and revisiting this across the KS2 music curriculum ensures pupils consolidate musical understanding and are competent and confident players on an instrument by the time they leave St James.’ We strive to encourage self-confidence within the children but also self-reflection for the children to understand what they want to achieve through music, therefore understanding how they can take their own learning further. Our impact of music aims to enable our children to enjoy music in a variety of ways; as a listener, performer, creator and a critique. We believe our pupils develop the characteristics of an effective musician so that they leave us being resilient and independent learners, being able to create original and imaginative compositions. Children have the confidence to perform their work to others. They have an excellent awareness of a range of music and genres, have knowledge of a range of artists who have contributed to the evolution of music and who have contributed to the diversity of musical styles and have a passion for a diverse range of musical activities.
Live Music Concert 2021
The staff and children thoroughly enjoyed experiencing Live Music being played by a string orchestra from the Bolton Music Service. It was great fun listening to the songs trying to guess which film they were from and trying to imagine where we might be when listening to a piece of music/ feelings it made us have. We learnt lots about the different instruments that make up the ensemble of a string orchestra, the sounds they make and how they are played.