At St Michael’s, our aim is to engender a love of music in our children, to develop their talents as musicians and for them to be confident performers, whether in front of an audience or for their own pleasure. By the time they leave our school, they will have: learned to play a variety of instruments; developed their singing voices; listened to a broad range of music; and gained the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to succeed in their music education at secondary school and beyond.
Our music curriculum follows the requirements of the National Curriculum and is adapted from the Charanga music scheme, which has an integrated, practical, exploratory and child-led approach to musical learning. Apart from Years 2 and 4, who spend most of their musical year learning to play the recorder and strings (violin or cello) respectively, each half term the children’s musical learning has a different focus. Each music unit introduces them to a different musical style and interweaves the following strands:
- Listening and Appraising
- Musical Activities: warm-up games; singing; playing instruments; improvisation and composition
Singing is at the heart of this curriculum, and the weekly music lessons, of at least 45 minutes, are typically based around a song. Lessons are designed to enable children to understand musical concepts through a repetition-based approach. Learning about the same musical concept through different musical activities enables a more secure, deeper learning of musical skills. We also have class sets of glockenspiels and Djembe drums, which are used across the school, and children in Year 3 (glockenspiels) and Year 5 (Djembe drums) have dedicated curriculum time learning to play them. Some music curriculum time is given to the children preparing the musical elements of class productions: the Nativity in Key Stage 1 and musical productions in Key Stage 2. Year 3 also take part in the annual Festival of Voices, learning 20 songs and joining other Oxfordshire schools in a massed choral performance in the summer.
Music is also promoted outside lesson time. We have weekly singing assemblies (Covid permitting) where the children learn music linked to collective worship and the main church services of the year: Harvest, Christmas and Easter. We play music from a wide range of styles in class and in collective worship and we showcase a different musical genre each month. In previous years, the children have attended concerts including by the Afghan Women’s Orchestra and the World Orchestra for Peace at venues in Oxford including the Jacqueline du Pré Centre and the Sheldonian Theatre. We arrange visits from musicians which allow for the children to make music, a Junk Orchestra and Djembe drumming workshop, for example. Peripatetic music teachers also come into school providing individual and group lessons in guitar, drumming and strings.
Children’s response to music and their acquisition of musical skills is individual and we hope that some of out children will be inspired to become true musicians. For all our children, though, our expectation is that they leave St Michael’s with:
- An appreciation of a wide range of musical genres from different times, places and traditions
- At least a basic knowledge of how to play a range of instruments, including woodwind, strings and percussion
- An understanding of the interrelated dimensions of music: pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture, structure and notation, and how music is created
- Confident performers, whether solo or together, whether in front of an audience, or alone, who take pride in what they can achieve
As with all curriculum subjects, staff assess children’s progress and attainment towards these aims, reviewing results with the Music Lead and the Head Teacher. This allows for a discussion not only about the success of each child, but of the curriculum content and delivery.