At Brightlingsea Primary School we intend to offer all children a varied music curriculum that ensures that all children get a well-rounded musical journey throughout their time with us. In line with our PSHCE curriculum, our music curriculum helps to develop children’s self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement. Opportunities for performing not only peers, but to a wider audience, especially within our local community, helps children to see the value of music in a wider sense. Pupils will also be encouraged to support their PSHCE learning by developing a sense of self and identify, through finding their own musical voice during whole class music lessons.
We recognise that our children will not necessarily be exposed to a wide and varied range of music genres outside of school and so we intend to expose children to the works of a broad and balanced variety of composers and musicians, from different cultures, musical genres and periods of history. Recognising equality through the chosen musicians is particularly important and musicians have been chosen to represent different groups of children, specific to our school.
Exposure to these musicians will be through listening tasks as well as opportunities to engage more thoroughly during music lesson tasks. Listening to and appraising live and recorded music, from a range of musical sources will encourage children to work in a cross-curricular manner linking these pieces, for instance, to their geography and history learning, finding out where they fit in relation to time and place.
We ensure that our curriculum can be accessed by all, offering equal opportunities for everyone. Improvising, composing, creating and exploring each year offers the opportunity to build on the fundamental skills of music at a deeper level each time. Recording compositions through different means including through video, graphic scores, stave notation and use of music technology, allows children with different learning styles the chance to compose in the way that suits them.
We are considerate in our progression of vocabulary in music, ensuring children are exposed to a language rich curriculum and that they understand and can use musical terms in relation to the inter-related dimensions of music. Vocabulary has been chosen carefully for each year group to fit into the units that children study, introducing set vocabulary in each year group.
We know our local community is filled with opportunities for musical involvement and want our pupils to experience that. We work closely alongside members of the church to offer wider performance opportunities for individuals as well as groups, getting parents as well as pupils engaged with the local community.
- Music Scheme
We use The Charanga Musical School Scheme, which provides teachers with week by week lessons for each year group in the school. It provides engaging and exciting whiteboard resources to support every lesson and allows for a range of musical skills and talents within each class. The Scheme supports all the requirements of the National Curriculum. It has been used in all year groups and is enhanced by teachers’ own planning, often for cross-curricular learning, and the O-Generator Music Tech software in upper KS2.
The unit overviews for each topic contain links to prior and future units that focus on the same genre or message. This enables teachers to make links to prior learning and directs them to previous KPIs that will have been focused on alongside the genre. The skills development document allows teachers to break down the National Curriculum for music and understand what each point should look like, for their year group specifically. This enables teachers to assess music more accurately.
Every Charanga lesson begins with a listening and appraising task which exposes children to a wide range of artists and composers. Having the Brightlingsea Music Festival and Winterfest so local, children will often be familiar with local artists but may not have exposure to music from around the world, especially African and South American. As part of their music lessons, children will have opportunities to hear music from a range of cultures, ensuring they are exposed to a wider selection of music.
As well as using Charanga, our music curriculum is enhanced with the use of some BBC Ten Pieces studies and some specific units on singing which enable pupils to meet the requirements for singing in the National Curriculum. We use Sing Up to equip staff with high quality songs, perfect for singing in the classroom.
- Language Acquisition
Having identified that pupils arrive at Brightlingsea Primary School with a lower vocabulary than national, essential musical vocabulary has been identified that should be explicitly taught to children as part of their music education, as well as other subjects. The set vocabulary should be introduced in each year group, as well as continually used in following year groups. Some classes may choose to display the vocabulary, to ensure it is being referred to regularly.
- Musical Enrichment
In addition to class lessons, we make use of Essex Music Services’ Play-It! Scheme which offers free instrumental lessons for every Year 4 pupil. Currently, children have “toot” lessons with a strong focus on reading musical notation in the summer term. The peripatetic tutor that teaches the classes continues to place a strong emphasis of teaching children to use musical vocabulary.
Our weekly singing assemblies offer children the chance to sing as part of a larger ensemble and often involve actions to allow all children to engage in some way. We use Sing Up as well as the Out of the Ark resources to include a variety of current songs as well as school focused songs. Singing assemblies also offer opportunities for embedding musical vocabulary and listening skills. The Composer of the Month is focused on as children arrive and leave the assembly.
We also pride ourselves on our musical productions. Reception host the Nativity story at Christmas, Year 4 perform an Easter show and Year 6, the summer production. These productions are a fantastic showcase for our talented children and often see children thrive who may otherwise find classroom learning difficult. All children are involved in the productions in some way; some in set design, some in sound managing and some in moving props whilst other children prefer to be in the limelight engaging in acting, singing and dancing.
In Year 6, children have the opportunity to apply to become Music Ambassadors. Their roles involve supporting with singing assemblies, organising events, keeping the resources tidy and reporting on musical events for the school newsletter.
- Peripatetic Lessons
At Brightlingsea, we also offer a range of peripatetic lessons which are held during school time. These include: flute, clarinet, violin, guitar, recorder and singing. We also offer Rocksteady lessons for pupils in Reception through to Year 6, where children perform as a band on a termly basis. All instrumental lessons are paid for by parents, with many pupils making use of the offers available for LAC and PP.
- Composer of the Month
Music from our ‘Composer of the Month’ is shared with pupils on their way to and from our weekly singing assemblies. It is a great way to showcase equal opportunities in music and artists have been selected to reinforce this. We have the same composer throughout the whole school and a different piece of music is used each week. A select number of simple facts about each composer is shared with the children during the assemblies as well.
The composers have been chosen to ensure they represent a variety of genres, musical time periods, cultures and genders. This is in addition to the composers and musicians that will be showcased during explicit music lessons throughout the year.
As well as in class provision, we offer several extra-curricular activities for pupils who wish to pursue them. We have an incredibly successful choir that runs after school. The choir has gone from strength to strength since winning the Rotary Junior Choir competition in 2019 and the children perform regularly in the local community, as well as annually at the O2 Arena. The Christmas and Summer Showcase performances offer soloists the chance to perform to an audience and has always been warmly received by parents. It offers an aim for children having peripatetic lessons as something to work towards and is supported by our music tutors. The event also celebrates musical achievements that children may have worked on outside of school.
The impact of our music curriculum will be measured through pupil voice surveys, performances (or video performance) and pupil progress. Children confidently using musical vocabulary to discuss their listening and compositions will also be testament to the high-quality teaching and learning taking place. Parent voices will be important in judging the impact of our music curriculum.
Brightlingsea Primary School Choir, November 2022
Young Voices @ O2 Arena, May 2022