What is this curriculum trying to achieve, and how does this relate to our overall aims and ethos?
Our music curriculum at Lyminster provides children with the opportunity to express themselves creatively through a range of topics and musical genres, linking to article 14 of the UNCRC. We believe that children learn best in music when they have the opportunity to experiment with new styles first-hand and create their own compositions, developing their own love of learning.
We want children to understand how music has changed from classical to hip-hop, to see how historical events and culture influenced a development in style and instruments. When Year 3 study Jazz, they first look broadly at how black culture caused a revolution in American music, beginning to focus in on how developments such as scat singing laid the foundations for rap. Year 5 and Year 4 work closely to understand how African drumming is linked to community and respect, thinking about how they can show the same spirit in their own music. Thinks links into Year 3’s PE African dance module, as the two classes produce a piece of music for Year 3 to perform to.
It is important that the children get the opportunity to be creative and build their confidence through music lessons. With many opportunities to perform not only within music lessons, but also as whole school performances, children at Lyminster are given a unique way to share their talents. In our Christmas concert, Key Stage 2 learn how to sing in unison and perform as a choir, with children in Year 6 learning the technical side of performing as they get the opportunity to support backstage as well. In Key Stage 1, the nativity performance gives children a chance to see how music can tell a story. We also combine our creative community spirit with a bit of healthy competition in our yearly talent show which has produced excellent acapella performances from children in Year 4 as well as a winning piano composition from one of our gifted Year 5s.
How is the curriculum actually implemented – how do we ensure progression, retention, and what does teaching and learning in this subject actually ‘look’ like?
We use the Kapow music scheme to teach the National Curriculum, breaking down the objectives into smaller steps that are built on each year as seen in our music curriculum ladder. These lessons are currently taught through specialist teaching in Key Stage 2, and through skilled, supported teachers in Key Stage 1. We aim for music to be evident across the curriculum in cross-curricular links, such as helping secure learning through song, understand culture with traditional music from different countries, and see how technology has developed with the evolution of musical instruments. Children at Lyminster are taught to be musicians and composers, rather than perfect mimics, as they explore the features of a piece of music and learn how to create their own using similar patterns and scales. By doing this music becomes more of an artform than ‘listening to songs’.
There are strong links with PE through the dance units as children listen and discuss a piece before learning to move with the music and create a story. Geography is also an excellent way for children to see how music has strong roots in culture around the world. During our class country topics, the children explore the traditional music of their countries, comparing these to traditional songs from the British Isles and understanding how music brings a sense of identity and belonging.
Our music lessons provide a mainly practical approach to learning. Lessons begin with a warm up either using instruments or singing, a chance to make a noise and get performing. This is also an opportunity to recap basic skills such as scales, call and response and singing in the round. This is followed by key questions, recalling information from the topic they are learning and a chance to introduce any new information. 90% of our lessons are practical, with children using the instruments available to explore the topic they have been learning.
Our progression begins in the early years with a basic understanding of the 4 key strands of music through familiar nursery rhymes. The children learn pulse by clapping along to songs, and rhythm through call and response. They also begin to develop their instrument skills by playing kazoos alongside a backing track. As they move through Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 these skills are recapped and developed . For example, the children begin to learn more complex rhythms with different time signatures in Year 4 and how these rhythms can form an ostinato. In our instruments progression involves moving onto ocarinas, then recorders, and finally into string instruments in upper Key Stage 2. By this point the children are confidently able to read scale notation and play tunes involving the lower and upper register of a recorder, as well as playing major, minor, flat and sharp chords on the ukulele.
How is this curriculum adapted to meet the needs of different children and groups of children, particularly those with SEND?
Music is just as inclusive as the rest of our curriculum here at Lyminster, providing support included in individual learning plans as far as is practicable. Lessons are differentiated through success criteria, scaffolding, instrument choice and cognitive load. Instruments are grouped into tuned and untuned, however within these there are different levels of playing ability required. Some children prefer to play percussive instruments such as drums or pianos as they require only one instruction, therefore we have updated our instrument collection to provide a more supportive range of percussion that can be applied to all areas of the music curriculum.
In a lesson involving composition, children may be supported by ordering notation cards rather than beginning a song from nothing. Children are given increased processing time to listen to a piece again and discuss with an adult before discussing as a whole class. As music is a predominantly practical subject, the need for support with written tasks is low, however, children have the option to work in groups to support one another when composing.
How is progress against, and retention of, this curriculum assessed? How are any gaps in learning then addressed?
While each of our music lessons is broadly assessed for understanding, each topic has an outcome that has a more detailed opportunity for assessment, identified in the Kapow scheme of learning. As the music curriculum focusses on the 4 key strands of music, their continued ability to meet these objectives provides summative assessment for retention of learning and whether the child is on-track to meet age-related expectations for music. Summative assessment is undertaken yearly as a part of the annual report to parents, as well as being discussed in the verbal handovers to the following year’s team to understand what gaps need addressed. Key questions, referring back and musical knowledge games are used in each lesson to recap prior learning and aid retention, their response to these questions supportive teacher assessment.