For well over ten years now, all children in Year 3 have received a portion of their music entitlement in the form of recorder tuition. In this way all children have the chance to learn a musical instrument and learn to read music. This is something we have always considered important in our school. As a result, the standard of recorder playing has risen. Children are actively encouraged to read music as well as playing by ear and from memory.
Children are taught by their class teacher and for part of each year with the support of a Music Advanced Skills Teacher. Music is taught as a discrete subject but also provides strong links to other areas of the curriculum, particularly through singing and composition.
The emphasis is upon Performing, Composing, Listening and Appraising. Through the activities, pupils develop their skills as performers and as informed members of an audience. Pupils may work as a class, in groups or individually in these lessons.
Listening to recorded music is an important aspect of every music lesson. Pupils are introduced to a wide range of music, including Early and World Music. At times the music selected may take topics into account, but musical progress is paramount. For a part of Year 6, pupils use computers to improve their understanding of music theory and develop their listening skills. They have chances to compose using the same programme and various internet websites. Throughout Years 4, 5 and 6, children are taught about major composers and significant historical periods in music (eg: baroque). They also learn about music from other cultures.
The music curriculum offers opportunities for performance and pupils are encouraged to present their work with an audience in mind. Other children, who are the audience, are encouraged to listen attentively with consideration for performers. Compositions may be recorded and performed in class, in assembly or as part of other performances for children and parents. Sometimes the children compose music for dance work. Alternating between dancing and playing improves the quality of the music.
Children in all year groups sing weekly for half an hour in Big Sing. This is organised in two sessions, one for the Lower School and one for the Upper School. Songs are sung in unison and in parts and become more challenging in the Upper School. Songs are practised for assembly, concerts and just for fun. Some un-tuned percussion is often used. Children clap and sing back rhythms, and develop their ear for music through the Tonic Solfa Kodaly Hand Signs.
Teaching and Learning
Our children are given as much practical experience of music as possible, backed up by factual, informative teaching. We provide all pupils, particularly the least able, with a supportive atmosphere in which to develop their music skills.
We offer learning opportunities that build on pupils’ previous experiences. Children can link their experiences of composition to those listening to recorded or live music and learn with confidence and curiosity about the music of various ages and origins.
Our pupils see themselves as ‘whole musicians’: composers, performers and informed listeners. Children who already receive more formal instrumental tuition, often from peripatetic staff at school, are happy to improvise and compose using their instrument, or any other instruments.
The enrichment of the curriculum is developed through:
- Drumming occurs in Year 4 through the Wider Opportunities programme. Every child has an opportunity to play a range of African drums, culminating in a performance.
- Recorder Clubs for children in Years 4, 5 and 6 who are particularly keen to develop their recorder playing. In Years 5 and 6 they may join the Senior Recorder Group. This often gives them the chance to play the larger treble and tenor recorders. They will join in with the Redbridge Recorder Festival each year.
- Those who enjoy singing may be challenged further by joining one of our two choirs. Children perform in school concerts, at the Royal Albert Hall in the biannual Redbridge Choral Festival, the Redbridge Schools’ Festival and the Stratford Music Festival.
- Instrumental Lessons/Orchestra – Children who pass auditions to learn orchestral instruments may be taught by the visiting Borough staff. Many pupils benefit from these lessons, which take place during the school day. Using pupil premium funding we actively encourage all FSM children to have free instrument lessons and free instrument hire. When they have been learning their instrument for about a year they join the school orchestra and play at various important school functions and concerts.
- Children who play an instrument are encouraged to share their progress with their class and if possible given an opportunity to demonstrate how their instrument works.