Brought to you by Music Education Solutions
Issue 4.1: Spring 2020
INSIDE THIS ISSUE: Whose cultural capital is it anyway? Why donâ€™t schools teach music? NPME Consultation
Songs of Home
What is a Deep Dive really like?
Principles for composing
Musical play & playing musically
Issue 4.1: Spring 2020
Curriculum Music Conference
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Singing Strategy Symposium
Save the Date! The Singing Strategy Symposium takes place on 4th November!
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THE NATIONAL PLAN FOR MUSIC EDUCATION The government has just announced a consultation for teachers, parents and young people, and others involved in music education on the ‘new’ national plan for music education. But what should this new plan really contain? Dr Elizabeth Stafford
When the National Plan for Music Education was first released, 2020 seemed like a long way away. Well here we are with the end of the plan just around the corner, and the government has just opened a consultation to decide what the new plan should contain. I believe that the government should instruct all schools that they must deliver music as part of a broad and balanced curriculum, even if they are academies which currently do not have to abide by the national curriculum. This recommendation would be the single most useful element of a new National Plan for Music Education. Most of the issues with music education boil down to the fact that schools if they wish are allowed to ignore it, and in many cases have felt encouraged to ignore it due to the Ofsted inspection framework (and associated myths about it â€“ both of which are thankfully now changing!), and the introduction of measures such as the EBacc and Progress 8. There is very little point introducing a new NPME if music is not statutory in all schools. I believe that the next most significant element that could be included in a new NPME would be a commitment to proper training of primary teachers in music BEFORE they enter the classroom. This was part of the original NPME that was dropped almost immediately, which in my view was a catastrophic error. If teachers are not trained to deliver music properly, then unless they happen to be a musician themselves, they will be playing catch-up for the rest of their careers. The extension role for hubs to provide CPD for school-based staff is not an adequate substitute for proper music training intervention in ITE. We need to ensure that all our trainee teachers receive a proper grounding in music, and not rely on that being addressed once they enter the classroom. Once these teachers are out in the world, they have to jump over the barriers of finding suitable CPD, in a suitable location, on a convenient date, at a price that they can afford, and then request cover so that they can attend. This means that we cannot guarantee the quality of music teaching across all our schools. CPD should be a continuation of, not an introduction to, the music education that our teachers receive when they are training. It cannot be overstated how important the above issues are to the success of music education in England. If we do not ensure that schools are teaching music, and that teachers are properly trained to do so, we cannot
build a stable future for our sector. This makes the remaining content of a national plan almost irrelevant, and certainly not deliverable with parity across the country! There are also some other issues to consider, such as why the plan does not currently encompass the whole of young peopleâ€™s education from Early Years up to Higher Education. I would be delighted to see this as a feature of the new plan as this would help us as a sector to make more connections and provide more joined-up services for children & young people. In the consultation, questions are asked about music technology, which suggests that this might form a significant part of a new plan. If so, I hope that consideration is given to the cost of resourcing any music technology strand, alongside the time and budget cost of appropriate training for music teachers not familiar with these technologies. The consultation asks many questions about the role of Music Education Hubs. While it is logical to use this opportunity to check how hubs are working, it is important to remember that they are not the only form of music education, and that the NPME is a document relevant to all music educators. The government will need to find a more effective way to ensure that schools in particular take ownership of this new plan, as the original plan largely passed schools by. I still meet schools now who have no idea that we have had a national plan for the last 8 years! Our Music Hub system as set out in the NPME should be the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. We cannot expect Hubs to solve all music educationâ€™s problems. They should be free to focus on enhancing and extending our childrenâ€™s musical experiences beyond the classroom, not picking up the pieces and replacing classroom provision. The only way to achieve this is for the government to ensure that children are having music lessons, delivered by competent and confident teachers, in the classroom in the first place.
Visit this link to respond to the NPME consultation and have your say on the future of music education in England: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/music-education-call-for-evidence
MUSICAL PLAY & PLAYING MUSICALLY MUSIC IN THE EYFS AND BEYOND
Hannah Luckins For Early Years Practitioners, the overarching principles of our Development Matters guidance are all too familiar, but for teachers or subject leaders looking to get a deeper grasp on children’s learning and starting points in their school career, it is a worthwhile reminder. Development Matters (and its partner document Musical Development Matters) emphasise the interrelatedness of a child’s early development under the headings of:
A Unique Child
Here, I hope to exemplify these principles in practice and give some ideas of how to build upon them as children move from EYFS into Key Stage One. This could be described as the development from ‘musical play’ to ‘playing musically.’
A Unique Child - Independent, child-initiated learning In other areas of learning and development it can be easier to relinquish the control over a child’s engagement with the continuous provision, but in music the temptation is strong to teach children a specific song, a specific way to play, a composition structure/ format etc. Letting the children play and explore is not just an age-appropriate expectation of their musical learning during EYFS but also the best way for children to show their unique ideas and skills, and demonstrate their tastes and aural awareness - ultimately leading to the best outcomes. Young children never cease to amaze me with their resilience, perseverance, enjoyment, engagement and imagination when entering into open-ended activities, when given the freedom to explore at their leisure. This can sometimes take a great amount of tongue-biting from adults, who may initially see and hear this as a cacophony of noise with little finesse, however, over time these interactions with music and musical instruments develop and become more refined with little need for adult provocation. Children want to express themselves musically! There are several great examples of this, and how the practitioners/ teachers have supported the musical play in Sounds Like Playing: Music and the Early Years Curriculum by M. Ouvry (2004). This week in our class, the children have been enjoying playing with the toy castle and the accompanying fairytale characters. The children with the instruments independently chose, listened and experimented with different sounds to make a ‘clip-clop’ sound of the horses’ hooves. As they accelerated their playing, their peers with the horse toys instinctively moved the toys faster and began a full descent upon the drawbridge! Here the children were involved in both musical play, and playing musically - and gloriously all independently!
Positive Relationships - Adult observations and skilled interactions This is really good practice for teachers in any age-range, not just in EYFS, however we are under a great deal of pressure and restrictions in order to achieve results and trying to fit more learning into shorter periods of time, which makes it easier to do the opposite of what we know is best in regards
to our observations and interactions as children work independently. EYFS teachers will be very familiar with the age-old debate about timely intervention in children’s independent play in order to move learning forward. A phrase coined and expanded upon by Julie Fisher in her 2016 book Interacting or Interfering? Improving Interactions in Early Years. This is a good reminder for teachers to take a step back and observe what is being investigated by the child by themselves at first, and how they are organizing their own learning and challenge, before jumping in with a question/ a wonder/ an encouragement to promote independent progression. Then… How do we ensure our timely interactions bring value to the child’s own learning journey? I have found it can be a great tool to simply join in with the music they are making. Everyone then has fun with musical play!
Sing/ hum along – no need to be an incredible vocalist, just listen and copy
March to their beat of their music – exemplifying musical concepts before they are formerly learnt in later key stages, it is already ingrained
Call and Response with the child (using short, simple melodic or rhythmic phrases) – the child will feel like the teacher!
Listen to them – giving such value to their unique responses is a confidence boost, and builds foundations where there can be no wrong answer in the music room.
Modelling language and movements e.g. “I like your music, it’s so fast it makes me want to dance” (then dance!)
Wondering rather than firing questions e.g. “I wonder how your music will end?” – again, giving great value to the child’s unique response, without the need for a verbal or definitive answer as they children continue to explore possibilities in their musical play.
Mantle of the expert - Can you play with/ teach your ‘song’ to a partner? Children love to play teachers, and this helps them to unpick and accurately describe/ demonstrate their own work in the process.
Positive reinforcement – some children will revel in the opportunity to perform their musical explorations/ play with others in their setting and enjoy taking a bow to a round of applause. For others, a simple ‘thank you for letting me listen while you were playing’ is more than enough. Only in the one-to-one interactions will you know how best to tackle this for each of your children.
Enabling Environments - Characteristics of Effective Learning For musical play to happen, the whole environment needs to celebrate and normalise music play and exploration. This can be the physical environment – making space to listen and try out instruments as much as any other classroom item (glue sticks, construction materials, reading books etc.) Or indeed the implicit environment (how children are encouraged to have a go, to learn from mistakes, to celebrate their own and others achievements etc.) Young children naturally express themselves musically, in fact Leuven explains ‘music’ is one of the indicators of a highly engaged, happy child: “The child looks happy and cheerful, smiles, cries out with pleasure. They may be lively and full of energy. Actions can be spontaneous and expressive. The child may talk to him/herself, play with sounds, hum, sing. The child appears relaxed and does not show any signs of stress or tension. He /she is open and accessible to the environment. The child expresses self -confidence and self-assurance.” I strongly believe in enabling children to be life-long learners by developing refined Characteristics of Effective Learning. This sets them up for the rest of their school career and beyond but is sometimes sidelined
in the busyness of everyday school life. Our enabling environments build metacognition as well as good character and vital social skills. Music is a prime opportunity to embed these characteristics! Even the often-quoted author of The Suzuki Method, Shinichi Suzuki, where many of our greatest, talented artists of today began, claims “Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.” Isn’t that what we all want for our children – not that they are the best musician in the world, but that they have a beautiful character?
Transition to Year 1 Continuing the mindset and provision for musical play into a Key Stage One or even a Key Stage Two classroom environment and daily routines is easier than you may think. There are so many possibilities, including but not limited to: daily singing/chanting (this can be during counting or phonics or any area of learning to embed key facts), clapping to gain children’s attention, listening to music during independent tasks/reading/ tidy up time etc. These do not cover the music curriculum but do set the tone for successful music learning and musical children, whereby elements of music feel embedded and understood through experiences, and the attitudes of the children to music are positive and enthusiastic. Classroom music lessons have historically been too quick to make children ‘fit a mold’ and therefore the children who don’t or can’t ‘fit’ as quickly as others are sadly soon put off. Musical play is the building block upon which playing musically begins to be built. It develops children’s awareness of expression and story-telling in their musical performances and compositions, as well as in their aural awareness. I endeavor to leave plenty of room for musical exploration (play)
in all lessons, whether they be in the classroom or in my individual instrumental teaching. A friend and colleague of mine who teaches harp at Eastman Community Music School, often uses the phrase ‘comprovising’ which perfectly describes that sweet-spot between musical play (improvising) and composition (writing music for a purpose), which is rarely distinguished as separate entities in Early Years settings, and need not be in Primary classrooms either. To conclude, I hope to have encouraged some primary music teachers to feel free to allow space (and potential increase in noise levels) in order that our children feel comfortable to explore and play with music; with the ultimate goal that our children are happy, confident and skilled in playing musically as they leave primary school, building upon strong development of The Unique Child, Positive Relationships and An Enabling Environment in conjunction with The Characteristics of Effective Learning begun in Early Years.
www.howdeninfants.net www.hannahtheharp.co.uk www.facebook.com/HannahtheHarp
Hannah Luckins is an Early Years teacher and Music Subject Leader at Howden Church of England Infant School in the East Riding of Yorkshire as well as a professional musician, known as ‘Hannah the Harp’. She enjoys leading the school choir and after school music clubs with Key Stage One children, and seeing all children develop their love, understanding and personal response to music. Alongside her work in school she also teaches private music lessons and workshops, and wears the nickname ‘the noisiest teacher’ as a badge of honour!
Put young people’s voices first Principles for Composing in Music Education
The New Year is always a time of ref lection for me, a point each year when I stop to draw breath, consider where I’ve been in the last year and what changes the new year might bring. And in this spirit, I ’ve been ref lecting on what actions could be made by the music education sector, so that we can change how we support young people in composing their own music.
Judith Robinson has extensive experience of working in music education settings over the last 30 years. In her current role at Sound and Music, Judith is Head of Education, leading the strategic development of its education work and the delivery of its programme including Listen Imagine Compose, Minute of Listening and the annual Summer School for young composers.
To clarify: composing means creating new original music or sound, in any style or genre. It encompasses electronic music, grime, notated music, improvised music, singer-songwriting or any other kind of original music. And it’s an activity that can take place anywhere, in or out of school. In October 2019, we published our #CanCompose report, drawing on the results of our National Educator’s Survey. In our survey, 97% of respondents agreed that composing should be a core part of every young person’s music education, and 96% of respondents valued the positive impact that creating their own music can have on young people’s sense of identity and wellbeing. Yet respondents were almost unanimously in agreement (97%) that there are insufficient opportunities for young people to compose or create their own music. Between them, our they shared over 600 barriers faced by young people, pointing to serious structural deficiencies in how young people are supported to create their own music.
This might all sound very daunting. How can “serious structural deficiencies” possibly be overcome? What can any of us as individuals or organisations do to make things better? Here are Sound and Music, we’ve been thinking about the first steps… In the second part of the #CanCompose report, we identified a number of changes (or outcomes) to help to focus our efforts, alongside 21 recommendations. You can find them in the full report here. We’ve already talked about the changes that are needed at a policy level; our Chief Executive Susanna Eastburn MBE gave a brilliant keynote speech at the Music Mark conference in November 2019 on this topic. So, in this article I want to focus on the positive changes we should make, starting with young people themselves and reflecting on their musical and creative journeys.
In the #CanCompose report, these changes are summarised as:
More opportunities for young people to compose in and out of school More relevant and diverse opportunities to compose Improved progression pathways through better networks and signposting
Also at the Music Mark conference, I ran a session for delegates that spent some time exploring how the music education sector might better support young composers. It was interesting to hear from colleagues on how the three outcomes above might be addressed and, although groups of delegates were thinking about how to support young people with a range of different musical interests and approaches, there were clearly some common themes emerging from the ideas and experience in the room. A second, very useful source of information I have drawn on are the evaluation forms and focus group transcripts gathered during our annual Summer School for young composers.
We’ve taken the emerging themes from both sources to draft some guiding principles, shaped by the needs and interests of young people themselves.
Principles for Composing in Music Education: We need to talk to young people to find out what their musical intentions are, what music do they want to compose? Where, how, and who with? This will ensure that young people are engaged and connected with the music they are creating, enabling them to develop their musical voices and shape their own musical journeys. Young people should receive support and guidance from at least one educator (who might be a teacher, a mentor, an industry specialist or a professional composer) who has the skills and expertise to support their creative learning, and knowledge of possible progression routes. This will mean that young people can learn, acquire new musical and cognitive skills and find their own, personal progression pathways. A variety of individual progression routes should be available and accessible to young people. This is in recognition that young people have different creative journeys depending on their interests, needs and motivations.
Young people should be able to connect with other young composers and performers. This will mean that young composers and music creators have a peer group to create music with and donâ€™t feel isolated. Young people should have access to the resources they need including live musicians, software, recording studios and assistive technology. This is because young people need the tools to create and share their music. Music educators should be networked through their local music education hubs to other music education providers including arts organisations, youth organisations, Higher and Further Education institutions. This will enable progression opportunities to be spotted and signposted, and gaps in provision to be filled. The development of creative music skills should start early as part of the curriculum in early years and primary schools. This will mean that childrenâ€™s natural creativity is nurtured, and they experience all the positive effects that our respondents identified.
Dive Deeper into Music
We would love to know your feedback on these principles, to hear about your experiences and to better understand what has worked well for you! We have learned so much from our #CanCompose respondents and the value of sharing ÂŁ45 our experiences per person cannot be underestimated.
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Contact Sound and Music here: http://www.soundandmusic.org/knowledge-hub/contact-us
Half-day course for primary music subject leaders on curriculum design, delivery & assessment, and the new Ofsted Framework.
18th March 2020 Central London
For more information and booking visit: https://musiceducationsolutions.co.uk/products-page-3/courses-available/music-deep-dive/
ISM Trust: Primary Music Toolkit Pioneering music educator Dr Alison Daubney writes for the ISM Trust about the award-winning Primary Music Toolkit, winner of the Excellence in Primary/Early Years award at the Music Teacher Awards 2019 The ISM Trust’s Primary Music Toolkit, accessed by almost 10,000 teachers since its launch in 2017, was the first digital tool of its kind for non-specialist and specialist primary classroom music teachers. It has been built with the everyday working teacher in mind: for mobile and tablets to provide easy accessibility for teachers while on the move.
Research of music teaching repeatedly demonstrates that many primary school teachers feel under confident to teach music. This is unsurprising when we consider that trainee teachers receive a pitiful amount of input relating to music teaching within their training year – if any at all. However, music is a compulsory subject in the National Curriculum, which still applies in the majority of primary schools in England, and is integral to the ‘broad and balanced’ curriculum that Ofsted are clear they want to see. We have a clear mandate from the government that this means it should be taught regularly as part of the curriculum. In a bid to help primary school teachers to better understand what music teaching is and how it could be utilised even more to bring the primary curriculum to life, the ISM Trust, supported by the Schools Music Association (SMA), commissioned the development of a Primary Music Toolkit.
The point of the toolkit is to explore ideas about what musical learning is and how teachers can gain confidence to lead inspiring musical experiences. It is packed with practical help, such as how to set up a classroom and ways to get musical instruments in and out, along with strategies to get attention back to you in a busy and productively noisy room, how to encourage creative exploration on instruments and technologies and strategies for teaching a song. It absolutely isn’t about reinventing the wheel – it signposts a variety of other resources and ideas and does not promote one style or method of music education over another. Instead, it is about promoting sound (pardon the pun) pedagogical ideas that can help teachers to plan inspiring music education. The toolkit sits alongside the guidance on planning, assessment and progression authored by Ally Daubney and Martin Fautley and freely downloadable from ismtrust.org/resources The singing part of the toolkit is written collaboratively with Sing Up, the award-winning organisation with a wealth of experience in leading singing in primary schools across the country. The toolkit is overwhelmingly practical and many of the ideas embedded will help primary teachers to spread the magic of music through their inspiring curriculum and to permeate the cultural fabric of their schools.
The toolkit can be accessed at: www.ismtrust.org/primary-toolkit
Why don’t schools teach music? Thoughts on challenges, changes & obstacles At every music education event that I go to, and almost every time I open Twitter, someone is complaining that ‘most primary schools don’t teach music.’ As someone who spent three years of their life as a researcher, this immediately concerns me as I know that there is as yet no empirical evidence to support this theory. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence about schools who don’t teach music, but there are no underlying reliable nationwide figures to ‘prove’ that this is the majority of schools. I also hear regularly the cry of alarm ‘most schools don’t even have a music specialist’ as if this were a bad thing. However, not having a music specialist does not mean music is not being taught, or that it is not being taught well. And conversely, having a music specialist does not necessarily mean that music is being taught well, since there is no agreed set of criteria to become a ‘music specialist’ beyond simply calling yourself one. Even if you have a great music specialist, this is not the most sustainable
model for music teaching. It relies on the budget to pay for this specialist teaching being available every year, and it also results in the rest of the staff becoming de-skilled with teaching music. If the budget is squeezed too far not only do you lose your specialist provision, but also you don’t have the skills to replace it in-house. So ‘not having a music specialist’ might actually be a good thing if you have committed and enthusiastic class teachers including music in their timetable instead. I think what I find most disturbing about the above suppositions is that they are often delivered in a tone which suggests that schools are somehow at fault for ‘not teaching music.’ However, it is important to remember that schools don’t ‘avoid’ teaching music out of malice, or a desire to harm our children’s education! There are two key external factors which have caused some schools to abandon music teaching. 1. 2.
Inadequate training in ITE / ITT A lack of attention from Ofsted / DfE
It is well-known and often discussed that the majority (and in this case there is empirical evidence to support that claim) of Initial Teacher
By Dr Elizabeth Stafford Director, Music Education Solutions Education / Training provision does not provide adequate support for the development of music teaching skills. Therefore, through no fault of their own, the majority of NQTs begin their careers without the skills or confidence to teach music, joining the ranks of seasoned teachers at their schools who also lack those skills and confidence as they came through the same system! And so the problem perpetuates! There is at present no national agreed provision or plan for in-service teacher training, therefore it is up to individual teachers and schools to decide whether or not to source training for music teaching, which relies on availability, budget, and time. (I should point out that the lack of adequate music provision in ITE / ITT is similarly nothing to do with providers’ desire to harm children’s
education, but has everything to do with the next issue that we will discuss below). For years, Ofsted and the DfE have driven schools into the position of prioritising ‘core’ subjects at the expense of all other subjects, through inspection foci, league tables, SATs data and so on. In 2013 Ofsted attempted to palm off the responsibility for curriculum music onto hubs, after successive triennial music reports showed no improvement in the teaching of music. Unsurprisingly there was an outcry, but gradually hubs, with the support of ACE began to attempt this role, despite it not being in their original remit. However, despite hubs’ best efforts, the rumblings about schools not teaching music or ‘not engaging’ with their hubs continued. Of course, this was entirely predictable, as it is not a statutory requirement for schools to ‘engage’ with their music education hub (nor should it be). In addition, schools were already being sent the message directly from the DfE and Ofsted (intentionally or not) that music was ‘not important’ in comparison to the core subjects, thereby undermining the work of the hubs. However, in an entirely predictable turn of events, the recent change in the Ofsted inspection framework now means that schools are not being forced to focus just on the core subjects, and this has opened up a whole new world of music provision in primary schools. Our Dive Deeper into Music courses are selling out everywhere, and are attended by a significant number of Head Teachers as well as music subject leads. Schools are ready and willing to embrace music teaching, and keen to seek out the tools and methods to do it. Most schools we have engaged with are delighted that they are finally able to take music ‘seriously’ as a significant part of the curriculum. They recognise that there is a skill and confidence gap in the workforce as regards teaching music, but are actively looking for ways to overcome this now that they have the backing of Ofsted. Of course there is still work to be done, but this change to me exemplifies the fact that schools aren’t ‘deliberately’ not teaching music. They have simply been scrambling to please Ofsted and the DfE for fear of the consequences, but now the goalposts have changed in music’s favour. So please, let’s stop ‘bashing’ schools for their ‘failure’ to teach music!
Diving deeply into music how does this feel? Beth Brimmicombe
When I first heard that ‘deep dives’ in music were to become a part of Ofsted inspections, I felt very positive that music would be a step closer to becoming a priority for every child in every school. Music education is not just a ‘nice to have’ - it has always been an entitlement for our children since the introduction of the National Curriculum. I am fortunate to work in a school where this has long been recognised by school leaders and school governors. The introduction of the EIF in September 2019 means that schools are now being held to account for the breadth of the curriculum that is on offer, including music. As an advocate of the importance of music education, this can only be a positive step for all our children.
Preparing for a deep dive in music As keen as I was for inspectors to see and experience the quality of music provision within our school, I still experienced a moment of nerves when I learned that I would take part in my first music deep dive as part of our school’s inspection at the beginning of December.
When we are preparing for inspection, we can often feel that inspectors will want to talk to us about what we are doing as curriculum leads. Now that I’ve been through the process, I realise that inspectors want to listen, to look and to learn so that they gain the evidence they need to help give them a clear and accurate picture of what is happening for pupils, for ALL pupils, as part of the curriculum provision for music across the school. It’s good if you are ready to talk about this.
Deep dive day - what was it like? Each deep dive includes a discussion with the subject lead, lesson visits, discussion with pupils, discussion with teachers in lessons seen (which in this case was just me!), and evidence of pupils’ learning. Lesson Visit 1 - Year 2 As I was teaching at the very start of the day, I was observed teaching music before I had my more detailed discussion with the inspector.
(Normally this meeting would take place before lesson visits, but the organisation of my own timetable meant we had to work around this.) Just before the pupils arrived, I had a short conversation with the inspector who asked â€˜why this lesson now?â€™. This gave me an immediate opportunity to explain the learning that had led us to todayâ€™s lesson, the outcomes I was expecting from this lesson and how this would lead to the learning in the next lesson. The inspector was then able to see in practice what we had just discussed.
Meeting with the inspector Later that morning, I met with the inspector as the Music Lead. I took with me all the documents and evidence I wanted to share of pupils learning, curriculum planning and approaches to assessment. To begin with, we talked around the curriculum for music at our school and how this had been developed, building on the expectations of the National Curriculum for music. This is something we had been working on over a number of years at our school; our plans show how knowledge and skills are sequenced so that, over time, all pupils develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of music and can apply their knowledge and skills in increasingly demanding contexts. Next, I showed how this relates to ongoing assessment so that I am clear that what I teach next builds on the skills and knowledge that pupils have gained, within lessons and over time. I also shared our collection of music evidence. I, together with class teachers, update an online folder for each cohort which contains video, audio and photographic evidence of work (such as graphic scores, performances of compositions, demonstration of reading notation in whole-class African Drumming lessons). Once we had explored the curriculum in detail, its sequencing of knowledge, skills and conceptual understanding, how it enables pupils to know more, remember more and apply their learning in a range of musical
contexts, I had the opportunity to talk about wider opportunities for music within our school. This is where music contributes not only to the Quality of Education aspects of the inspection but also how music is part of the school’s provision to support pupils' Personal Development. I spoke about our three weekly singing assemblies (I lead sessions for Years 1 & 2, for 3 & 4, and for 5 & 6) and how these are also planned with progression, applying taught skills to extend musical experience within a larger group. I explained how these sessions lead to our annual ‘Big Sing’ event which involves every pupil in the school from Reception to Year 6. We talked about the importance of participation in music to support pupils’ self-discipline, teamwork and resilience, and how musical performance helps prepare pupils for managing situations when they find themselves beyond their comfort zone. Our two choirs, which rehearse beyond the school day, are open to any child in years 3-6 who wants to take part and develop their skills - for anyone who just wants to sing more! Children experiencing and participating in live music beyond their own community is also a vital part of their musical and cultural development. I spoke about how we support this through participation in events such as the Scratch Youth Messiah & Primary Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, Young Voices (where every child in Years 4-6 has an opportunity to participate), visits to the school by professional instrumental ensembles, and asking our peripatetic instrumental teachers, all professional musicians, to play a piece during our regular instrumental assemblies.
I was asked about the instrumental lesson timetables that the inspector had seen on the music room notice board. We spoke about the numbers of pupils who participate in lessons (60% of pupils in Key Stage 2), about the proportion of disadvantaged pupils and those who have special educational needs and disabilities who take part in individual or group instrumental lessons, and the level of financial support provided for this through additional funding such as the pupil premium. We also have a band in school which we established to extend the experience of pupils
pupils who are interested in music and for those pupils for whom there are barriers to wider participation in music outside school. I was also able to talk about how our curriculum provides stretch and challenge for pupils whose involvement in and enthusiasm for music means that they are already more advanced in some aspects of music learning than their peers. Lesson visit 2 - Year 5 After lunch, the inspector returned to observe a lesson with Year 5. This time the pupils were mostly working creatively in small groups; the inspector spent some time talking with the children about their musical learning. She also spoke to a group of these pupils back in their classroom following this lesson about their experience of music at our school. Discussion following the lesson visits Later in the day I met again with the inspector to discuss what she had observed in lessons. ‘Why this lesson now?’ was a key aspect of our discussion. We also picked up on other observations she had made in lessons. At our school class teachers are always present in lessons. This is a strategic decision by school leaders and the inspector asked me about the value of this. The reason for this is that we value the opportunity that class teachers have to observe their pupils in a different setting, being taught by another practitioner; working together to support the pupils (plans shared and discussed with teachers to develop teachers’ own professional understanding of music as a curriculum subject) helps provide a coherent experience for pupils. It also supports what we call ‘curriculum connectedness’ - relating the teaching of music more widely to other curriculum areas. We are also keen on developing the musical skills and experience of the class teachers so that music is also happening in classrooms - not just in music lessons. Enabling every pupil to access music and being open and creative in making this a reality has always been a priority. In bringing this into
discussion I was reassured by the inspector that evidence of this was there ‘in bucket loads’. I didn’t need to talk further. If we make it happen, it’s a normal part of what we do - the evidence is there! At the end of the deep dive I reflected that the experience was very positive. I felt that I had been given the opportunity to talk about all of the aspects of music in our school with an inspector who engaged with me and with the pupils in a way that demonstrated real professional curiosity.
Beth Brimmicombe is a specialist music teacher in a Buckinghamshire Primary School of 345 pupils where music is well established as part of a broad and balanced curriculum and plays an important role within the life of the school. Her recent experience of inspection under the new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework (EIF) has enabled Beth to celebrate the school’s commitment to music as part of the curriculum and the wider impact of music as part of the personal development of each pupil within her school.
Top tips to prepare for your deep dive as a music lead… Our music curriculum has been developed over a number of years and reflects the context of our school. Music is taught by a specialist music teacher but this isn’t the only way. You could also buy in a scheme that sequences pupils knowledge and skills and that gives them an experience of music that at least meets the expectations of the National Curriculum. Some programmes provide helpful resources that enable class teachers and non-specialists to deliver music lessons.
Be ready to talk about how this at least meets the ambition of the National Curriculum and how it meets the needs of the pupils in your school.
Be ready to demonstrate that music provision is for ALL pupils how do you modify or adapt lessons so that pupils with SEND are equally included? What do you do in your school to ensure that disadvantaged pupils are supported effectively to access the broad range of musical opportunities?
Be ready to talk about training and support for music teaching within the school.
Be ready to talk about the part music plays in the culture of the school and pupils’ personal development.
Inspectors need to see evidence for what you are telling them. It’s useful to have examples at your fingertips; case studies that you can talk through, planning documents, examples of pupils’ work. If you’ve asked for pupils’ feedback or comments about music learning in school that’s also helpful.
Whose cultural capital is it anyway? Dr Elizabeth Stafford explores the multiple definitions of â€˜the best that has been thought and saidâ€™
When considering ‘the best that has been thought and said’ in English literature, it would be unlikely that anyone would argue with Shakespeare and Dickens falling into that category. But you couldn’t reliably argue that either of these is ‘better’ than Hugo or Goethe because they come from completely different languages and traditions. Music is like this too. It is made up of multiple ‘languages’ and traditions, so despite the national curriculum dropping heavy hints about ‘the great composers’ one cannot just default to Beethoven and Mozart as our only form of ‘cultural capital.’ No matter what anyone says, classical music is not inherently ‘better’ than other forms of music, so to truly extend and develop our pupils’ cultural capital we need to look beyond the music of dead white men and embrace the other ‘great composers and musicians’ working across different musical traditions. Why not look at Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald from the Jazz tradition? Explore Stephen Sondheim and Lin Manuel Miranda’s work in musical theatre? Consider the country music of Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton? Even Ed Sheeran and Gary Barlow could be said to be some of the ‘great composers’ of the pop music tradition. And of course no debate about the value of music education these days is complete without a reference to ‘child of grime’ Stormzy! There are a myriad of options to explore beyond the confines of the Western Classical tradition. The national curriculum encourages us to explore a range of musical traditions, and if we can find the best exponents of each tradition then we can expand our pupils’ cultural capital at the same time as widening their appreciation of the musics of the world. It is particularly important to show that we value our own pupils’ cultures, so when designing our curriculum we should aim to include musical traditions representative of the cultural mix of our school population. Alongside this we should also value our pupils’ own musical interests, whether or not these are linked to their cultural backgrounds, as this is a powerful motivator as well as a great way to personalise learning. In short, in order to truly value the cultural capital of music we need to respect all forms of music equally, and yes, that does include, but is not limited to, classical music!
Songs of Home How a focus on simplicity makes classroom music more accessible without compromising on quality Songs of Home is a collection of folk songs from around the world, created to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Voices Foundation. This free resource was designed with a specific focus on accessibility and simplicity without compromising on quality. The resource has been celebrated by non-specialist teachers and specialist music educators alike, and has been used in educational settings from early years to Key Stage 3. The downloadable pack includes lyrics, basic notation for voice and piano, song descriptions, lesson ideas, and MP3 audio files. To date, Songs of Home has been accessed by over 750 teachers and leaders across 35 countries worldwide.
Music belongs to everybody At Voices Foundation, we understand the challenges of selecting quality music for the primary school classroom. We are aware of the immense joy that comes when a group of children are so captured by a piece of music that it can be heard echoing through school halls, playgrounds, and even brought into children’s homes. Anyone who has witnessed this will understand the positive and powerful impact music can have on a child. When we developed Songs of Home, we set out to collect ten songs from around the world that would address the repertoire challenge whilst inspiring a generation of children. These songs needed to be simple and accessible, but rich in quality and teachable content. Using folk songs to achieve this was the natural choice as their simple language, short forms, and often pentatonic style give them an immediacy and familiarity which make them approachable from the start. After much deliberation and testing, we identified nine folk songs that we felt captured these characteristics. As suggested by the title of the resource, the lyrics in each of these songs focus on one central theme: ‘home’. The tenth and final piece in the pack, ‘Song of Until’, is an original song written by award-winning composer, David Bruce with lyrics by Glyn Maxwell. This song was commissioned by Voices Foundation in collaboration with children and schools to act as a ‘folksong of our time’. Together, these songs reinforce the idea that ‘Music belongs to everybody’, a core educational principle of Zoltan Kodály, whose philosophy inspires much of Voices Foundation’s work. Since completing his MA in Music Education the UCL Institute of Education, Daniel Rooney now holds the position of Learning Officer at Voices Foundation. In this role, Daniel supports all programme activity including schools, training courses and the development of new resources. Daniel coordinates the recruitment and development of the Voices Foundation practitioner workforce. Twitter: @voices_found
Rooted in cultural heritage The ten folk songs in the pack originate from countries including Japan, Ghana, Brazil, Lebanon and Africa, exploring languages including Twi, Portuguese, Hebrew and Polish. Engaging with music from around the world is an enjoyable way for children to build an understanding of the similarities and differences between communities and their traditions. Focusing on the idea of ‘home’ can open up discussions of what ‘home’ means for each child and how this is celebrated across the world.
“It shows the children that everyone comes from different cultures, and in a school with mixed backgrounds it was excellent not just to do modern English or classical songs, and show that all heritages are respected and represented” Classroom Teacher Reach – Local & Global Impact The impact of Songs of Home is far greater than we could ever have imagined. The pack has been downloaded by 750+ individuals in 35 countries across the globe. We’ve seen downloads in 6 of the 7 continents (still waiting on Antarctica!) and have subsequently been nominated for the 2020 Music & Drama Education Awards in the 'Outstanding Music Education Resource' category.
Next Steps By offering a high quality resource to the public for free, Songs of Home has helped non-music specialist teachers and music practitioners to lead and programme choral performances in their schools that highlight the importance of cultural exchange and the role of folksong in music education. This resource will remain free to download for the foreseeable future and we hope its reach continues to grow. Download the pack using this link.
Voices Foundation has over 25 years of experience working side-by-side with teachers to help them to develop the confidence and skills to lead classroom music through singing. Through the process of intensive teacher development, their programmes enable schools to embed music into school life, and act as an agent for whole school improvement. To learn more about Voices Foundation and the programmes they offer, visit their website.
Interview: Susie Riddell The Archersâ€™ star talks about how experiencing music at a young age has influenced her life and career.
I suppose my earliest musical memory would be of my mum singing to me at night. She sang nursery rhymes, Scottish folk songs, and Girl Guide camp fire songs to me throughout my childhood and teens. And into adulthood really. If I was unwell or upset, mum’s soothing night time songs were guaranteed to cheer me up and, even better, send me to sleep! I now sing every night to my own children. I also have strong memories of my primary school hall and the percussion trolley! We had a lovely music teacher and our lessons were fun. There were the obligatory recorder lessons of course – I actually still remember one of the tunes we learned! I always enjoyed singing in assembly. And I have the most fantastic memory of the whole school playing comb and paper along to ‘When A Child Is Born’ for one Christmas assembly. It must have been quite a sound! We thought it was great fun and it was so inclusive – everyone can play the comb and paper. I am so grateful that I have music in my life. Singing in choirs, learning instruments (piano and trombone) and playing in orchestras at primary and secondary school gave me a love of music that has stayed with me. I still sing in a choir. The energy and joy it gives me to sing with other people is difficult to replicate with other activities. And there have been scientific studies proving that group singing improves health and prolongs life! I also met my husband at choir so I can thank music for my family too! My musical skills have enabled me to work as an actor-musician, touring the UK in stage productions. And so many productions require actors who can sing. I also played my trombone on a radio drama for BBC Radio 4 recently. Music has given me career opportunities that would have passed me by. I think music education in schools is vital. Children gain so much from singing, playing, and listening and responding to music. It unlocks creativity and movement. I believe that human beings have a need for music – babies love music from day one. And with a music education from a young age, children are given the opportunity to learn something that will benefit them throughout their entire lives. I've already praised the health benefits of singing in choirs - these apply to children too. And
encourages them to work as a team, and to listen. As the mother of a primary-aged child, I've been heartened by hearing the songs my daughter has been learning at school! She's in Reception at the moment, and is keen to start learning a musical instrument in Year 1 so we'll see what takes her fancy when the time comes. She loves singing at home and I hope she'd like to join the school choir in Year 1 too. If she's able to enjoy music in primary school, I'd hope that she is able to take this enjoyment on to secondary school and beyond into adulthood. I will be forever grateful to my school music teachers for being so encouraging, inclusive and most of all, patient!
Susie Riddell trained as an actor at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. She plays Tracy Horrobin in The Archers on BBC Radio 4 and has twice been a member of the BBC Radio Drama Company. Her extensive radio work includes major roles in Ulysses, Frankenstein, and The Great Gatsby. Theatre includes roles at The Old Vic, Bristol Old Vic, Tobacco Factory, and Birmingham Rep. TV includes Gavin & Stacey, Doctors, Emmerdale and Saxondale. Susie is also co-Artistic Director of the theatre company, Idiot Child, and a co-producer with Dot Dash Productions. Susie enjoys playing piano and trombone, and she sings with the City of London Choir. She lives in London with her husband and two young children.
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