Whole School Music Curriculum
Music is largely taught by specialist teachers and is organised so that pupils follow a clearly-defined developmental programme of activities and skills which takes them from Nursery through to Year 6. Throughout this programme pupils build a progressive body of musical skills: musicianship, vocal work, choral singing, improvising, composing, listening, instrumental playing and ensemble work. These experiences of active music-making serve to enrich and broaden our children’s education and give them vital opportunities for participation and personal expression, and prepare them for musical experiences at secondary school and beyond.
All pupils receive a weekly class music lesson. These vary in length from thirty minutes for younger pupils to up to an hour for pupils in Year 6. The ideas and concepts taught in these lessons fulfil and develop the requirements of the National Curriculum. Under the broad areas of performing, composing, listening and appraising, pupils are taught practical musicianship skills and encouraged to develop their personal musical interests.
Singing is at the heart of most lessons: the materials and repertoire experienced through singing, performing and listening are later analysed and the rhythmic, melodic, formal and harmonic features are considered, examined and analysed. Pupils then work through a series of practical activities to develop these skills and concepts. In this way, theory follows practice and pupils can develop deep understanding of musical processes by engaging actively with the raw materials of music.
Nursery and Reception
Foundation Stage music is based around learning a repertoire of action songs and singing games. Through a combination of singing, movement, dance and participation, pupils encounter the basic musical skills of feeling the pulse, recognising rhythms, examining pitch, manipulating instruments and recognising their sounds, developing active listening and finding the singing voice. They also learn how to take part and share in musical activity. This playful approach is usually a powerful motivation for pupils to develop early musical skills.
End of Year 2
By the end of Year 2 most pupils are will have found some kind of singing voice, to develop more accurate inner hearing, to recognise and perform the beat either using physical gestures such as tapping or on a percussion instrument, to understand basic rhythms as a subdivision of the beat and to be able to recognise and read them, to develop pitch awareness and to be able to name, use, sing and play the tonal set lah-soh-mi.
End of Year 4
At the end of Year 4 pupils will have developed the singing voice further and be able to sing simple rounds and canons in whole class or smaller groups. Repertoire is chosen from a wide variety of sources. Pupils extend their rhythmic skills by showing good co-ordination on classroom instruments. They learn all the notes of the pentatonic scale and are introduced to doh pentachord and the doh hexachord. They begin to practise reading the C and other pentatonic scales from notation. Pupils are introduced to music technology as a way of recording their work and as a composing tool.
End of Year 6
By now pupils sing in unison, rounds, canons and some easy part songs with good tuning, phrasing and diction. They explore a wide variety of musical genres including world music and simple jazz. They show good physical coordination on classroom instruments including cross-handing techniques on tuned and untuned percussion. Pupils use music technology to explore ways of ordering and layering sound, and as a way of recording and reflecting on their work. They learn the diatonic scale, the natural minor and may also be introduced to some chromatic extensions such as si and fi. They extend their musical literacy and engage in more formal musical analysis. They combine these skills in performance and in classroom composition work.
As well as weekly class music-making there are singing assemblies for all pupils. Pupils in Year 3 learn recorder in addition to their class music lessons. Recorder is taught in groups without charge to parents. This is an ideal opportunity for pupils to consolidate and extend the musical skills learned in class music sessions and to further their ability to read from music notation.
Instrumental lessons, for pupils in Year 4, are available in recorder, flute, violin, cello, brass and clarinet. Additonally, the school is part of the Hackney Music Hub which provides tutors in African dance and drumming (Year 4) and Samba (Year 5). Both of these are offered to pupils without any charge to parents.
The school has a KS2 orchestra which pupils are invited to join upon reaching the required standard. There are two choirs – KS1 and KS2. There is also after-school guitar tuition.
During the school year there are many opportunities for musical performance including shows, concerts and special assemblies. At Christmas there are separate shows involving Foundation stage, KS 1 and KS2. There is an instrumental performance at the end of the spring term and several other formal and informal instrumental performances throughout the year. Year 3 recorder players share their work with parents and visitors at the end of the summer term and Year 6 perform a Leavers’ Show at the end of this term too. Pupils are given opportunities to take part in borough-wide musical performances, such as Pure Voices, and out-of-borough events such as the Hackney Music Festival. There are often musical items in class and other assemblies during the year, and instrumentalists and choirs often perform informally at the KS2 Singing Assembly on Wednesday mornings.
The school achieved the SingUp Gold Award in January 2016!