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Calder Vale St John C of E Primary School

Grow, Achieve, Explore


What is it like to be in a Music Lesson at Calder Vale St. John? 


Our music curriculum acknowledges and builds on the positive impact that listening to, creating and performing music can have on self-esteem, self confidence and mental health. Pupils are encouraged to express themselves through the music they listen to, create and perform and to incorporate healthy music habits as a positive influence in their lives.  

The intent is to develop a broad range of musical skills, knowledge and behaviours - including global and cultural experiences - in order to broaden their outlook. This will allow pupils from nursery to year six to appraise, create and perform music with the confidence to express themselves. Children will build upon their exploration and knowledge of musical instruments and genres to create and appraise as musicians. Through our music curriculum, children will develop confidence, communication, thinking and creative skills and develop their emotional well-being. 



Our music curriculum allows pupils to develop musical and performance skills throughout their time in school. This will be developed year on year and children will build on progressive skills and knowledge using the Charanga Music Scheme.

Children will develop these through four strands: Listening & Appraising, Singing & Performing, Musicianship and Composing.  The general structure for each unit will be a progression from exploration of musical styles and/or instruments, through specific skill development in order to be able to create and perform at the end of the unit. Pupils often make the best progress when music skills are practised frequently in short bursts, however they may also need longer sessions towards the end of a unit in order to rehearse and perform. Therefore, teachers should feel free to use their music lesson time flexibly to best fit the music learning at different times during the unit.  


Listening & Appraising: Within each unit, pupils are presented with musical examples to listen to, respond to, talk about and appraise. Children are often encouraged, particularly in the younger years, to show their response to the music through movement and as they move through school their listening skills and depth of vocabulary are developed in order for them to analyse and talk about the music that they hear. In addition, all children access Charanga’s Listening Calendar within each calendar month- a resource which exposes children to a wide genre of music, time periods as well as including female composers and music from a diverse range of countries and cultures.  


Singing & Performing: Within most units, pupils will learn songs and broaden their song repertoire with opportunities to develop their performance skills within their class environment or to another class. In Foundation Stage and Key stage 1 most songs will be kept within a small vocal range starting with two or three notes in order to develop pupils’ ability to pitch notes accurately and find their singing voice. Some performance songs however will include a wider pitch range for interest and enjoyment. At Key Stage 2, the 2 pitch and range of songs will broaden, challenging pupils to use their voice as an expressive instrument. Performance skills are also built on throughout a pupil’s musical journey, allowing pupils to express themselves through singing and playing and to understand how to communicate through music.  


Musicianship: The musicianship strand develops the musical skills that pupils need to acquire in order to create and perform music successfully. It is divided into a further five interrelated strands: pitch, pulse, rhythm, musical elements and instrumental technique. Each strand is carefully built upon and developed within each year to ensure pupils develop rounded musical skills.  


Pitch: Pitch is taught through Solfa where each note is given a name (doh, re, mi, fa, soh, la and ti). Pupils learn these notes in the order that is most easy and natural to sing and explore how the pitches relate to each other. Key stage 1 explore soh, mi and la, lower Key Stage two explore pentatonic tunes (doh, re, mi, soh, la) and Upper Key stage add fa and ti, whilst also exploring major and minor tonality. Pupils learn solfa names, hand signs and KS1 also show these pitches on their bodies in order to understand their pitch relationship to other notes before going on to read and notate them. 


 Pulse: From the very earliest stages of the music curriculum, pupils are encouraged and supported to feel and respond to the pulse of the music. In Key Stage 1 they practise setting the pulse of the music and in lower Key stage 2 pupils explore changing the pulse of a song as well as understanding the difference between pulse and rhythm.  


Rhythm: In Key Stage One, the different rhythmic values (ie crotchets and quavers) are explored through different steps and pupils learn to say and clap basic rhythms using different step words. Crotchets are referred to as ‘walk’ and quavers as ‘jogging’. Crotchet rests are called ‘Shh’ however children are quickly encouraged to ‘think’ the word ‘shh’ and touch their nose allowing them to hear the silence of the rest whilst feeling the length of the rest using a silent action. 


In Lower Key Stage 2 pupils develop their rhythm vocabulary to include ‘running faster’ for semi-quavers and ‘stride’ for minims. In year 4, in preparation for more complicated rhythmic combinations in upper key stage 2, pupils transfer their ‘step’ rhythm vocabulary to rhythmic syllables. Crotchet - ta, quavers - te-te, rest - ma, semi-quavers tika-tika and minim - too. These onomatopoeic syllables allow pupils to easily say, play and notate the rhythms they are reading.  


By the end of Upper Key Stage 2, as well as using rhythm syllables to read, play and notate rhythms accurately, (including more complicated combinations such as tika-te and te-tika) pupils will also be able to name each rhythm note with the traditional name allowing them to transition easily to standard rhythmic vocabulary that may be used in key stage 3.  


Musical elements: In Key stage 1, pupils progress from identifying musical elements through clear opposites (high/low, fast/slow, loud/quiet) to beginning to use the correct musical terms of pitch, tempo and dynamics. Year 2 pupils will also begin to compare musical elements (ie higher/lower, louder/quieter and faster/slower). In Year 3, pupils are introduced to the elements of texture, timbre and duration. These 6 musical elements are then continued to be explored in Years 4-6 through listening and composition, understanding how they can be combined and manipulated in order to create certain effects, moods and atmospheres within music.  


Instrumental technique: During KS1, pupils explore a wide range of classroom percussion instruments . They compare how different instruments create sounds and explore ways of making different sounds on the same instrument. Pupils will be exposed to and begin to learn the correct names for the instruments. In Year 1 and 2, time is spent with all pupils playing the same instrument ( glockenspiels) allowing the focus of the lesson to be on controlling the instrument. In KS2, the pupils continue to build on their knowledge and skills with classroom instruments using brass instruments with our music specialist teacher Mrs Campbell.  


Composing: In order to create music successfully, pupils need to build on a secure set of skills from the other three strands of the music curriculum. As with other creative subjects within our curriculum, successful composers need to listen to and appraise high quality musical examples and develop the necessary musical skills before being able to create their own examples.  Composition is weaved into units throughout the curriculum and develop the skills and techniques required before pupils create their own music and evaluate its impact.