Musical variations

8th August 2014 at 01:00

Primary music

I will not be making any major changes after reading the new national curriculum for music, but it has been an opportunity to review the current planning and look at where we can improve it.

The reference to the "best in the musical canon" has prompted much debate about what that should be. I am heartened that there is not a prescribed list of composers and glad that teachers are free to make their own judgements.

The change from using "elements" to describe pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture and structure to "interrelated dimensions" has caused some head-scratching. However, on reflection, I think that this makes it clear that it is simply not possible to study these elements in isolation.

The new curriculum does provide opportunities for music coordinators. The two areas I intend to ask senior management about are helping us to put in place an expectation to hear good-quality live music, and, using the reference to technology, getting hold of some iPads so that we can use GarageBand software to create music of our own.

Jackie Schneider is music coordinator at St Teresa's Catholic Primary School and Poplar Primary School in Merton, London

Secondary music

No longer grading children according to level is a highly significant change; a few years ago, curriculum specifications made this a must.

Doing away with the grading has removed the widespread confusion about what these levels actually meant, as for years there was no way to standardise them other than in comparison to GCSE guidelines.

I was pleased to see that teaching children to sing, play an instrument and learn about different musical styles all remain requirements - in my view, they are the foundations of any musical education going into key stage 4 and beyond.

If I had to gripe about anything it would be that learning chords and practical ways of playing them, such as inversions on piano or bar chords on guitar, are still not required. However, essentials such as learning scales and notation are all there.

James Harrison is head of music at Raine's Foundation School in London

music curriculum: key notes

Key stage 1

Pupils should be taught to:

l use their voices expressively by singing songs and speaking chants and rhymes;

l play tuned and untuned instruments musically;

l listen with concentration and understanding to high-quality live and recorded music;

l experiment, create, select and combine sounds using the interrelated dimensions of music.

Key stage 2

Pupils should be taught to: l play and perform in solo and ensemble contexts, using their voices and playing instruments with increasing accuracy, fluency, control and expression;

l improvise and compose music for a range of purposes;

l listen with attention to detail and recall sounds with increasing aural memory;

l use and understand the staff and other musical notations;

l appreciate and understand a wide range of high-quality live and recorded music drawn from different traditions and from great composers and musicians;

l develop an understanding of the history of music.

Key stage 3

Pupils should be taught to:

l play and perform confidently in a range of contexts;

l improvise and compose, extend and develop musical ideas by drawing on a range of musical structures, styles, genres and traditions;

l use the staff and other relevant notations appropriately and accurately;

l identify and use the interrelated dimensions of music expressively and with increasing sophistication, including use of tonalities;

l listen with discrimination to a range of music;

l develop a deepening understanding of the music they perform and to which they listen, including its history.

Compiled by Music Mark The Incorporated Society of Musicians has prepared a free curriculum framework for music available at www.ism.orgnationalcurriculum



1 Curricular changes

Prepare for the new primary music curriculum with this briefing from the Incorporated Society of Musicians. bit.lyCurricularChanges

2 What's the score?

Also designed with curricular changes in mind, this framework and wall chart will help with assessment and progression planning. bit.lyProgressionPlanner


1 Striking a chord

A briefing from the Incorporated Society of Musicians with advice on how to deal with the changes.


2 Note by note

A helpful collection of planning documents for the new music curriculum. bit.lyMappingMusic

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