At Shakespeare Primary School we intend to make music an enjoyable learning experience. We encourage participation in a wide variety of musical experiences through which we aim to build the confidence of all children. Our teaching focuses on developing the children’s ability to sing in tune and with other people, and to understand rhythm and follow a beat. We teach them to listen to and appreciate different forms of music, enabling them to learn about the structure and organisation of music.
As the children get older, we expect them to maintain their concentration for longer and to listen to more expanded pieces of music from a wide variety of composers and genres. Children develop descriptive language skills in music lessons when learning about how music can represent different feelings, emotions and narratives. We also teach technical vocabulary such as volume, pitch, beat and rhythm and encourage children to discuss music using these terms. We teach them the disciplined skills of recognising pulse and pitch and how to work with others to compose music and perform for an audience. As pupils progress, they should develop a critical engagement of music, allowing them to compose, listen to and analyse music to a higher level.
Our pupils learn that music is a universal language that embodies one of the highest forms of creativity. Music lessons will engage and inspire pupils to develop a love of music, develop their talent as musicians and in turn increase their confidence and sense of achievement.
The Charanga scheme of work is used to ensure a wide range of exposure to different genres of music, with lots of practical opportunities to explore. In the classroom, children sing and learn how to play a variety of instruments including keyboards, recorders and a range of tuned and untuned percussion instruments. This helps to develop understanding of creating notes, as well as how to read basic music notation. Pupils learn how to compose, focussing on different dimensions of music, which in turn feeds in to their understanding when listening to, playing or analysing music. Composing or using body percussion and vocal sounds is also part of the curriculum, which develops the understanding of musical elements without the added complexity of an instrument.
The school also has whole class ensemble teaching in Year 4 where children are taught how to play brass instruments by a music specialist. These lessons incorporate teaching musical notation and singing, as well as learning to play the instrument and perform as part of an ensemble. Follow on lessons are also available to Year 5 and 6 pupils in small groups, allowing them to further develop their skills and ability on their instrument.
As a school, we pride ourselves on providing a wide range of performance opportunities, allowing more scope for progression. As well as weekly music lessons, all pupils sing in assemblies, attend weekly hymn singing sessions and perform in seasonal events such as the Infant Christmas Play (KS1), the Christmas Carol Service (KS2) and Easter Services (KS1&2). Opportunities are also taken to perform in class and in whole school assemblies. For pupils who are members of the school choir or school band, there are also further performance opportunities, including those to parents and the wider community, local school competitions and even performances further afield in large venues such as Blackburn King George’s Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall and The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester.
Music assessment is ongoing to inform teachers with their planning, lesson activities and differentiation. Summative assessments are completed each term to inform the subject leader of skills that still need to be embedded. Music is monitored throughout all year groups using a variety of strategies such as lesson observations, planning monitoring and pupil interviews. Children have access to a varied programme, allowing them to discover areas of strength, as well as areas they might like to improve upon. Brass pupils know they can go to the Music Co-ordinator for extra music to practise at home if they wish.
At Shakespeare, we keep in contact with local high schools, informing them of pupils who have particular musical talents. This means they are pointed in the right direction of lessons and other opportunities which will allow them to build upon what they have learnt here.
We know music lessons are having a huge impact on our pupils due to the success of the school band and choir. These extra-curricular activities build on and embed musical knowledge and skills learnt in lessons and also challenge pupils to understand extra musical terms and more complex notation. They perform throughout the year at a number of different events and competitions, not only improving their performance skills but also sharing their talent with the wider community. Children at Shakespeare are proud to represent the school and showcase their musical talents. Prior to lockdown, the choir had been poached by Britain’s Got Talent and had also performed with The Kingdom Choir on their recent UK tour.