WHY ARE WE TEACHING A KNOWLEDGE-RICH CURRICULUM; HOW IS IT DIFFERENT?
Our music curriculum is designed so that pupils can understand the significant roles of music throughout time and place. We do this through specific strategies that develop both knowledge and application of skills. There is an aim of singing as a group within every lesson, looking at music across many genres and minority groups. There is a strong emphasis on comprehensive understanding of music theory, that is further reinforced through practical application. We also focus on listening to, learning about and analysing a variety of music, both western classical, and music from around the work including Blues and Reggae. A key goal of the curriculum is to expose students to music they may not otherwise encounter and to help them understand why and how it has developed.
WHY ARE WE TEACHING THIS CONTENT?
We have made many considerations in regard to what to teach to try and cover the widest spectrum of content for the students to offer them the most exposure to a wide array of music.
We focus of singing because:
- it helps develop musicianship in a group
- it increases student confidence especially when performing
- it enables students to learn a new instrument (their voice) that they may not have otherwise thought of using
We focus on music theory because:
- it increases musical literacy, and better enables pupils to take part in extracurricular activities
- it enables pupils to make faster progress should they decide to engage with instrumental and vocal lessons, and improves the likelihood that the pupil will persevere with that study for longer
- it provides a body of knowledge which pupils could later manipulate to create their own compositions
- it offers students the foundational skills to be able to continue music outside the classroom and past their time in school
We also focus on listening to, learning about and analysing a variety of music because:
- we believe it is important to expose pupils to material that they may not be familiar with
- it gives a reference point for composition in multiple styles
- it develops pupils listening of music in a critical way rather than being passive listeners
WHY ARE WE TEACHING IT IN THIS ORDER?
Our curriculum is based on developing skills and knowledge. We start with the most basic of theory and apply that on the instruments or technology and then we build on that within each unit. For example, in year 7 students will begin with playing simple melodies on the piano, starting with simple note reading, rhythm and application on pianos, and then develop that through the years leading in playing with 2 hands, chord progressions, etc. We carry this idea through with all of our teaching so that we are constantly building upon and reinforcing the skills and knowledge students already have and then keep adding to this, ensuring mastery of the skill. This idea carries through with our singing, where students will start singing all in unison and by the end of year 9 will be singing in sections and adding harmony. Again, the listening questions develop and become more complex as we move through, starting with simple questions relating to the elements of music and moving into higher level questions. The listening questions we specifically listen to are directly related to the subjects we are studying and with the intent of expanding their understanding of the theoretical knowledge they are learning.
WHAT DO PUPILS NEED TO REMEMBER AND BE ABLE TO DO IN THIS SUBJECT?
Students need to be able to remember the music theory we are learning, ie. notes on the piano, rhythmic notation and notes on the staff, so that they can then apply it within the practical activities in the lesson. The more that they can remember the more they will then be able to apply that to the music that we are creating and that they will be able to actively engage in the subject. The better they understand music theory the more they will be able to also critically listen to music and respond to the questions they are being asked.
WHAT METHODS DO WE USE TO HELP PUPILS SECURE THIS KNOWLEDGE IN LONG-TERM MEMORY?
We use regular questioning in music to help recap ideas and information that we have done in past lessons to help students reinforce ideas. As stated previously our entire curriculum is based on developing the skill and knowledge of the various topics, so we are constantly returning back to ideas, reinforcing them and then developing them by adding further and new information to expand their knowledge of the subject while solidifying what they already know.
WHAT METHODS DO WE USE TO HELP PUPILS SECURE THIS KNOWLEDGE IN LONG-TERM MEMORY AND APPLY IT IN COMPLEX TASKS?
We draw comparisons and connections between current and previous units so that pupils can find musical skills and knowledge that run throughout. These connections enable them to produce more developed performances and compositions, as well as musical analysis of the questions that they are listening to in class.
To view the Music Curriculum Overview click here.
More information on the Music Department can be found on their website here.