The music curriculum has been carefully designed to develop the children’s skills in the areas of performing, composing and listening and to enhance their understanding of the musical elements. Sometimes projects will link to topics that the children are learning about in class or the festivals around the Jewish year, but always with the intention of building their musical abilities and encouraging the exploration of any themes in a fresh, musical way.
At EYFS, a huge emphasis is placed upon feeling the pulse, as this forms the basis of many of the more complex skills the children will learn further up the school. Music lessons at this stage are mostly based around songs which the children learn to sing and then add instruments and/or actions to enhance musical expression. Children also learn what the school percussion instruments are, what they sound like, how they feel to play and what their names are. They work at learning to play and stop in the right places and how to make patterns of sounds. There is plenty of movement at this stage to encourage children to feel the music in their bodies.
At KS1, the skills learned in Early Years are built upon with simple composition, often using graphic scores with shapes and pictures, to enable children to begin to think about connecting what they see with what they hear. The musical elements are constantly reinforced to allow them to become familiar with musical terminology, and different sessions of each project link to different elements to allow children to explore these more fully. They learn to play the instruments with more deliberation rather than just making the sounds.
In lower KS2, children develop all of these skills. They learn simple rhythm notation and begin to understand how pitch can be written down. They explore the timbres of the instruments in a more complex way, creating thoughtful music around different themes and looking at how choosing different instruments creates different effects. At upper KS2, the children focus on different topics to develop their understanding of different types of music. In Y5, one topic studied is the Blues – the history, the style and structure. They learn to play, sing and improvise on a 12-bar blues and then they write their own verses and perform the whole piece together as a class. In Y6, they explore film music – how it works and how and why it is so effective. Then they try composing their own. Y6 also learn about Samba – what it is, how it is structured, and then the class becomes a Samba band and performs a piece in assembly. They learn to work together as a team to produce an end result and to respect each other by listening critically and commenting on music created by different groups.