At Willenhall pupils are taught music every week in a very active and participatory way. From Nursery through to year 4, the music curriculum focuses on performance skills but also on creative thinking and self-expression. Learning is based as much as possible on the cross-curricular themes which are studied in each year group.
In Nursery, pupils enjoy singing a range of songs with lots of actions, and they begin to learn about different instruments and how to play them. The emphasis is on enjoyment and building up confidence and a love of music and singing. This is given some focus in the EYFS Christmas show every year.
In Reception this continues but pupils begin to have opportunities to make choices about instruments, and begin to learn about the building blocks of music such as high and low (pitch) and fast and slow (tempo).
Year 1 and 2 pupils continue this work and they also begin to experience the importance of pattern in music – listening for repeated rhythms or tunes. Also from Reception pupils listen to music from a wide range of traditions and genres, and learn the skills they need to evaluate music and express their opinions. Pupils also begin to learn some of the terms we use when talking about music, such as pitch, and tempo, and rhythm.
Whilst much of the work in Early Years and KS1 is built around performance – both singing and instrumental work – there is also an element of composition – which might mean making music in a group to suit a scene, or it might mean making up simple tunes using glockenspiels.
In KS2 the work started in KS1 continues and is built upon, giving opportunities for more creativity and developing performance skills. They also learn how to read and write musical notation. The ability to play a part in a group performance becomes more important – creating what we call layers of sound where each layer may be different from the others.
In year 4 pupils are given the opportunity as a whole class to learn to play the ukulele. As they build up their skills, they are then encouraged to use the ukulele in their own composition work.
The whole school sometimes takes part in musical performances – such as our Christmas singing assembly. The year 6 pupils also give a performance at the end of year of their leaver’s production – these are specially written and composed for the school by our school music teacher Mr Tucker. These are an opportunity for pupils to show off their singing skills as well as their acting prowess.
Our school choir meets every week and goes from strength to strength. In the Autumn term pupils have the experience of singing at a number of venues, for example, local residential nursing homes. We have also been part of massed choir events at the Warwick Arts Centre through our affiliation with the Armonico Consort – singing in performances of Carmina Burana in Latin and high German, as well as performing with the Positive Youth Foundation.