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.