If primary teachers are to give pupils their legal musical entitlement, they will need help; help that is as practical and realistic as possible. Faced with having to deliver weekly programmes of work covering up to 10 subjects, there is no time for them to re-invent the wheel, particularly in a subject where their training has traditionally been inadequate and their confidence low.
What teachers want are clearly presented, ready-made programmes of work, identifying the concepts to be learned, the parameters to be covered and the aims of assessment, together with recordings of music to be listened to and the songs to be learned. And all at a reasonable price, so that they can use whatever other money they have to compensate for the historical lack of investment in other musical resources.
Targeting Music Year 1 meets most of those needs. The second in a planned series of seven books - one for each year of the primary school - it consists of 38 model lessons focusing on exploring, creating, listening and performing. Designed specifically for teachers without specialist training, they progress from familiar action songs and rhymes through to more complex songs and sustained activities.
These lessons are presented in pairs with a "lead lesson" based on a specific song being followed by a "development lesson", based on the same song, in which activities can be extended as the teacher sees fit.
Each lesson contains assessment points and a clear indication of the "musical learning", "general learning" and "cross curricular" learning being developed through it. There is also a very useful introductory section outlining salient points relating to lesson organisation, listening and responding, exploring and improvising, vocal, instrumental and movement work and assessment.
The sections involving rhythmic notation and the use of solfa syllables might be rather off-putting for some teachers and further written or recorded explanations would have been helpful. On the other hand, it is good to see that Dorothy Taylor is ready to emphasise the value of introducing notation. There are too many musically literate educationists who are ready to deny the importance of helping children acquire such skills. More explicit cross-references to the national curriculum programmes of study would also have been welcome.
Nevertheless, such a useful, reasonably priced and attractively presented book cannot fail to appeal to hard-pressed primary teachers.
Aelwyn Pugh is the co-author with Lesley Pugh of Blueprints: Music Key Stage 2 (Stanley Thornes)