Music to Your Ears?

National Plan for Music Education – What will it mean for the classroom teacher?
“The National Music Plan, jointly set out by the education secretary, Michael Gove and the culture minister, Ed Vaizey, aims to give every child, regardless of where they live or how well off they are, the chance to learn to play a musical instrument. “Hubs” will be created to provide music education locally.”
Charlotte Higgins,The Guardian, Friday 25th November 2011

‘The Importance of Music-A National Plan for Music Education' released November 2011 places much emphasis on the role of locality music hubs, (these will replace the existing local authority music services) working together with schools to identify and provide for a school (or a cluster of schools) needs in music education.

So what does this mean for schools and what are the expectations of the classroom teacher in terms of the teaching of music?
Currently, the National Curriculum review team is considering the place of a number of National Curriculum subjects, including music, and whether they will form part of a statutory or non-statutory programme of study as part of a school's curriculum. However, the new proposals (due for release at the start of 2012) have been severely delayed, and we are still awaiting the shape of all subjects to be announced – music included. Whilst no one can pre-empt the outcomes of that review, we do know that all schools will continue to be responsible for the provision of high quality music education as part of a broad and balanced curriculum.

For the classroom teacher, the national plan indicates that teachers will still be expected to provide their children with opportunities to make music with others and to learn to sing. Most hubs will provide continuing professional development to schools on the music curriculum to help develop good music teaching strategies, although this could be seriously undermined unless music forms part of the forthcoming National Curriculum.

If music does not form part of the reformed National Curriculum, responsibility will fall upon schools to develop their own music curriculum with the help of regional hubs for support. Although most of us would not consider ourselves great singers or musicians we can make music fun, exciting and relevant to the children we teach, even without the specialist know-how.

Cornerstones hints & tips for music education
I am the first to admit an irrational fear of teaching music, being tone deaf and abandoning my violin at the age of 7! As a classroom teacher, I always tried to make the musical experience fun and exciting and one in which we would discover and enjoy learning together.

Things I would do regularly as a non-specialist teacher would include:

  • Writing songs, raps and rhymes as part of both music and literacy lessons
  • Setting poems to music
  • Analysing lyrics of songs, especially at KS 2 and related to social history
  • Composing music and writing graphic scores
  • Recording our own CDs
  • Writing, learning and performing a class song written by the children and performed to parents and carers;
  • Singing for fun regularly and listening to music as we worked
  • Listening to different kinds of music from around the world and talking about sounds and rhythms we could hear
  • Dancing to music-finding rhythms
  • Having a singing slot each week to learn topical, traditional and favourite songs
  • Inviting community musicians in to teach children songs and sing with them
  • Finding opportunities to make music and sing in front of an audience
  • Providing opportunities for children to listen to professional musicians play or sing
  • Learning songs and singing for special occasions

To read the full report visit: http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/teachingandlearning/curriculum/a00200352/national-plan-for-music-education

The programmes of study for the reviewed curriculum will be released in 2013.

Melanie Moore
Cornerstones Director of Curriculum

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Iain Broome

Iain is a Creative Consultant at Cornerstones and currently produces The Curriculum, our new podcast. He's previously worked on a range of other Cornerstones products, including the Cornerstones Curriculum, Love to Investigate and Cornerstones Yoimoji.

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