At Sandbach Primary Academy we view music as an essential and enjoyable skill which all children should have the opportunity to appreciate and engage in. We recognise and value the knowledge and skills that qualified music professionals have and therefore work directly, and in collaboration, with the local Sandbach organisation, The Love Music Trust (LMT). This allows children to experience and work directly with local musicians as part of their teaching and learning. Through adopting and adapting the LMT curriculum and Wider Opportunities provision, we are able to provide a focussed and progressive curriculum whilst welcoming professionals, their instruments and expertise into the school. Through this approach, we are also able to strengthen transition for year six children to the high schools, as many of the music tutors continue to work directly with children in year seven and beyond. At Sandbach Primary Academy, our curriculum focuses on four Key Areas of Music, which are woven into learning and developed progressively throughout the school. These are: Listening; Performing; Composing and Understanding, Reviewing and Evaluating. The curriculum is organised so that all children meet end of key stage expectations over a two-year period, whilst being challenged to improve their knowledge and skills each year. Alongside the knowledge and skills taught through the four aspects of music, children learn facts about historical and more recent composers and musicians, as well as those from around the world. This takes our music learning beyond the classroom, providing children with a worldwide view of music over time.
Whilst at Sandbach Primary Academy, children will have the opportunity to explore different tuned and untuned percussion and explore the voice as an instrument. We want to provide opportunities which go beyond normal means and therefore, all children study and learn to play two musical instruments; a glockenspiel and a Bb brass instrument (such as a cornett, trombone or baritone). Taking this approach provides children with an opportunity to apply musical knowledge and skills on very different instruments where more specific technique and skills elevates and extends their learning. Children listen to a broad range of music, including that from different cultures, whilst developing listening skills and compositional skills, too. Children also have the opportunity to join the school choir. Opportunities to perform to an audience are planned for and can take place at our school, at Sandbach School and at local Sandbach events, such as the Sandbach Christmas Lights Switch on, to name a few. Singfest is a LMT organised celebration of the voice which SPA take part in every other year (Year A) in Lower Key Stage Two. Children take part in several workshops over time, with and alongside other schools, whilst receiving vocal coaching from a trained teacher and musician of the voice. The climax of Singfest is a live, collaborative performance in a Cheshire East venue to parents of children from all the schools involved. This has been held previously at Crewe’s Lyceum Theatre and Congleton Town Hall giving children the opportunity to perform in large ensembles in a variety of local venues.
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
In the Early Years Foundation Stage, the fundaments of musical learning and exploration are laid through adult lead musical activities and child-initiated ones. Children receive planned for, enjoyable musical experiences and opportunities to explore through the environment. Children in the Foundation Stage have many opportunities to learn and develop crucial listening and communication skills, whilst exploring how sounds can be made by a range of instruments. Children respond to music through movement and performing together. Learning a repertoire of songs and Nursery rhymes is very important at this stage and language development is further supported through learning songs in English as well as other languages, supporting work on Modern Foreign languages at later stages in the school.
End of EYFS - Reception
In their Reception year, children receive more formal music teaching in 20-minute sessions at different points through the term. They continue to have many opportunities to explore musical knowledge and skills through the environment and singing songs and nursery rhymes is part of their daily routine and learning.
In the Autumn Term, children listen to the composer Kerry Andrew and her piece, No Place Like. Using their voice as an instrument is central to the learning, whilst responding to what they hear with actions, movement or sound is also learnt.
In the Spring Term, the learning focus moves on to the composer Holst and his famous piece from The Planets, Mars. Children learn to describe what they hear and are introduced to musical vocabulary to help with this. During this unit, the children are introduced to the idea of the conductor and begin to explore conducting with their peers, learning to start and stop in their own performances and starting and stopping the performances of others. Sound effects and substituting words in songs are used in group composition to produce a map of visual representations and a piece of class music.
Finally, in the Summer Term, children meet two contrasting composers and their work: Finlandia by Sibelius and The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams. They begin to understand the terms spikey and smooth in a musical context whilst comparing and contrasting the pieces heard. Children are introduced to a graphic score and link instruments with characters. Making music with body parts is learnt whilst mirroring sounds they hear. Listening to and identifying sounds in the outdoors is also learnt and children have the opportunity to create their own short piece of music.
Key Stage One (KS1)
In KS1, discrete music lessons are taught weekly for 30 minutes. Half termly units are now introduced ensuring children have many opportunities to revisit previous learning and apply new learning in varying musical contexts.
In the first Autumn Term, the year one and two children learn through the unit Tell Me a Story. They learn how to sing in unison and use pictures to represent and organise sounds. Children learn what pulse is, identifying the pulse in music whilst learning to maintain a steady one when performing. Pieces of music are created by organising pictures representing sounds and instruments. Children encounter the Blues style of music through the musician Ma Rainey and their piece Runaway Blues.
In the second part of the Autumn Term, a unit of Fireworks and Fantasy. The work of Handel, Music for the Royal Fireworks, is explored and children learn to offer their opinions about musical pieces whilst comparing this to the Blues music last half term. Children are taught about accompaniments and how to play untuned percussion instruments as an accompaniment to a song. A focus of long and short sounds is explored through identification of these in the music heard, representing them with symbols and pictures and learning to play them in response to these symbols.
In the Spring Term, KS1 children encounter 20th Century music by Ravel, listening to and responding to his work, Bolero. The unit, Get on Board is taught and children learn to create effects with instruments, representing these effects with instruments and symbols of their choosing. Composition of these symbols is learnt, with children performing these to each other and learning to say what they like and what they would improve about the composition and the performance.
The unit, Changes, is explored in the second half of the Spring Term where an understanding of lyrics is introduced. Children learn to write their own lyrics for a song and collaboration composition and performance is encountered on a whole class ensemble scale. Again, developing musical opinion and choices is important here and progressed from the last unit. An example form the Pop genre is listened to and explored, through the work of North West artists, The Beatles and their song ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’.
In the final term, the year one and children learn through the Unit, Under the Sea. Representing animals through instrument choice, symbol and sound is developed and organisation of these developed further. In this unit children also explore how music starts and ends, making their own suggestions of beginnings and endings for their compositions. The work of Saint-Saens, Carnival of the Animals in encountered with the piece, The Swan, studied in more detail.
The last unit the KS1 children learn in Year A, is Blast off with Strauss’ piece ‘Sunrise’ taking centre stage. Playing with control and coordination is a key aspect of learning whilst rhythmic patterns and maintaining these whilst lyrics change, are taught. Children are introduced to the terms, tempo and dynamics, listening carefully for these and learning how to improve their own performance through changing them.
The year One and Two children, begin the year by going ‘Down to the Woods’ in their music unit. Children learn what a verse and chorus is and begin to identify melodies in units. The differences between low and high pitch are taught and used in the children’s scores and performances. Children also learn to create a 4-beat rhythmic pattern. Children meet the musician, Kate Bush and her Pop work, Wild Man.
In the second half of the Autumn term, learning is undertaken through the unit, Fire Fire. Children learn how to select, organise and combine sounds to perform and learn new ways to represent graphic notation. Children learn vocabulary to discuss expressive impact of music heard and select instruments for particular effects. Their encounter with composers takes them to the Classical work of Mozart and his piece, Rondo all Turca y.
The next unit takes the children ‘Round the World’ with Brazilian Samba and Indonesian Gamelan listed to and learnt about. Children consider their understanding of ostinato and learn how to accompany singing with an ostinato. Learning to sing in tune is important in this learning and using a wider range of instruments to accompany songs is needed.
In the second half of the Spring Term children meet the Rock and Roll genre through the famous performer, Elvis Presley, and his work Hound Dog. Singing in unison whilst keeping a pulse is expected and performance on both tuned and untuned percussion must demonstrate pulse. Dynamics for loud (forte) and quiet (piano) are heard, planned for and performed whilst listening skills for gradual dynamic changes are expected.
In the summer term, year one and two children encounter a big band version of The Girl from Ipanema by Antonio Carlos Jobim, which has a swing style and feel and introduced brass instruments the children will have the opportunity to learn to play later in the school. Children learn musical vocabulary and use this to discuss effects created in works heard and their own. They learn to identify verse and chorus and develop graphic scores to reflect mood, themes, movement and character.
In the final part of year B, KS1 children head to the Moon and Stars on the ‘Night Ferry’ by Anna Clyne. This example of 21st Century music is enjoyed whilst learning to recognise changes in pitch, tempo, dynamics, timbre and texture. Children represent crotchets, minims and quavers in their notations and make suggestions on how to improve their own performances.
Lower Key Stage One
In lower Key Stage Two, children now to receive weekly lessons of between 30minutes and an hour, appropriate to the content and expectations in learning. Every other year, in Year A, the children of year three or four take part in Love Music Trust’s ‘Singfest’, working and learning collaboratively with schools across Cheshire East and performing on mass at a local venue, to a live audience.
In the Autumn and Spring Term, the year three and four children take part in Singfest. They attend workshop sessions where the voice teacher trains them to warm up their voice, use correct technique when singing and developing their singing voice and style. A wider variety of eras and types of music are usually explored, through a theme for that year. Children learn what rests are and how to use these when performing. They learn the correct vocabulary for different dimensions of music and how to adapt these in their own performances. Children learn to sing with an awareness of parts whilst controlling tempo and dynamics. The final performance of their work is shared with the parents of the children in the schools taking part. A mass ensemble is created and a local venue is used to perform. In their performance, children are expected to control tempo and dynamics with rhymical awareness and expression. This is a very rich and engaging experience, giving the children a taster of working in an ensemble beyond SPA and with professional musicians.
In the Summer Term, lower KS2 children learn about and through the Russian folk tale of Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev. They identify repeated musical themes and build layers of music through graphic score work. Mood, theme, movement and character are important aspects to understand and learn to adjust in their compositional work. Children are also introduced to an ostinato and learn to perform this as a group. Notation of crotchet, quaver and minim are introduced and used.
A planet exploration completes this years musical learning and Holst is met again (previously introduced in Reception), this time exploring his work, ‘Jupiter’ from ‘The Planets’. A given structure is provided for children to create a short piece of music and work on musical themes and dimensions is extended further.
In Year B, year three and four children the children compliment their wider curriculum work with a unit on the Stone Age. They learn how to match words to rhythms and rhythms to words and use both graphic notation and the notation of minims, quavers and crotchets (revision of KS1 learning) in their compositions. Children learn what a stave is and how to use one and develop their sense of pitch, demonstrating this in performances. Night on a Bare Mountain by Mussorsky provides an example from the Romantic era of music.
In the second half of the Autumn term, we Countdown to Christmas, learning to sing and play in different parts. Rests are identified and used in their music and children create rhythmic patterns using words, phrases and notation. Local North West 90’s band, Oasis and their work ‘Wonderwall’ expands their knowledge of musicians and musical genres and provides opportunity to discuss and explore their views and opinions on more current music styles.
In Spring 1, a unit of Folk Music allows to the children compare and describe this genre and its dimensions with musical vocabulary. Many examples from this genre are explored, including The Almanac Singers: ‘Which side are you on?’, providing opportunities to discuss how and why folk music came about and has been used over time. Children learn to sing a simple folk melody and play an accompaniment to one.
The children then move onto their ‘Food Fabulous food’ unit meeting Lionel Bart’s Musical work, ‘Food Glorious Food’ and contrasting this to the Baroque work of ‘Hallelujah’ from Messiah by Handel. Children learn what time signatures are and use them, and rests, in their compositions. Children learn to play with expression and awareness of rhythm whilst fitting patterns together.
In the summer term, year three and four children discover some ‘Tasty Tunes’ exploring the funk genre with ‘I got you’ by James Brown and disco with ‘Freak’ by Le Chic. They learn what a three part ternary structure is and how to use this. Children compose a contrasting section of music and discuss, musically, ways to improve performances.
Their final music learning in Year B of lower KS2 is through the unit, Say Hello, Wave Goodbye. Children learn the difference between pulse and rhythm and know how to combine sounds to create different effects, moods and feelings. This is further developed through listening to the Indian Classical Music of ‘Sahela Re’ by Kishori Armonkar. In this unit, children will also learn a rap and direct other performers as a conductor.
Upper Key Stage Two
Children are taught for an hour each week by visiting music tutors, who are also local musicians to the area. The children work towards a musical award (Autumn - Bronze, Spring – Silver and Summer – Gold) with each term and award increasing in musical knowledge, skill and instrument technique. There is an expectation that children care for and practice their instruments at home. Where possible, a member of staff learns alongside the children to model learning behaviours and demonstrate that music is for all and everyone can be a musician.
By the end of Key Stage Two, a range of genres, musicians and composers have been encountered. Children know three different time signatures and can identify and use techniques to change the mood of a piece. Different rhythms, including syncopation, are explored and a five note, pentatonic scale is used for performance and composition. Performing to each other and performing to broader audiences are regular requirements in both years and on both instruments learnt, developing listening skills and collaboration.
Year A and B (change of instruments and tutors for each year group)
In year five, children spend the year being taught how to play a glockenspiel to provide rich and detailed experience of a tuned percussion instrument, whilst applying previously taught musical knowledge in a new context. In addition, children learn to read formal notation and how to control pitch, dynamics and duration on this instrument. Specifics to the instrument are introduced, such as learning their way around given notes whilst combining these to create different melodies. Children learn how to hold a beater correctly and maintain the best posture for playing. Learning to sing and play at the same time offers a new challenge in later terms whilst introducing accidentals to their known notes develops their knowledge and understanding of the instrument and musical construction further.
In year six, the children expand upon their music knowledge and skills further whilst having the opportunity to apply this through a chosen Bb brass instrument. Here, the opportunity to learn the skills and techniques specific to the instrument are focused on as the children learn the nuances and techniques needed to play a brass instrument. Breathing and use of muscles around the mouth are taught and developed whilst children must learn techniques to improve the articulation and tone of the sound they can create. Using keys or a slide to change the pitch is introduced and sustaining longer notes is expected as the year continues. Children also learn to vary the dynamics of their sound and can perform whole pieces of music by the end of the year. Important aspects, such as clearing water from the instrument and ensuring the instruments are assembled and stored correctly are also taught. Improvisation is introduced later in the year as children grow in confidence on their instrument and in their musicality.
In both year groups, the music tutors share their own personal performances on their brass instrument live and through recordings of concerts, many of which featuring the local famous Brass Band, The Foden’s Band. Some of the tutors themselves have experience of playing with this band, sharing these experiences with the class. Local and historical learning about this famous local band further enriches musical learning for children at SPA whilst providing a proud heritage for them. Some families choose to watch the band when they play in Sandbach park each year.
Children at Sandbach Primary Academy leave with a rich understanding of the four key areas of music explored throughout the school. They are confident performers and are comfortable performing, vocally and on instruments, to a wide range of audiences. Our children are able to play various tuned and untuned percussion, a glockenspiel and a chosen Bb Brass instrument and leave our school seeing themselves as musicians. The children are creators of music through their compositional work and have learnt to listen carefully to a range of music from a range of eras and continents, forming personal opinions and preferences along the way. Exploring this range of musicians and composers, has provided children with a historical and worldly view of music and its impact in communities beyond our own.
Through the music curriculum, children at Sandbach Primary Academy develop crucial personal skills of communication and collaboration, understanding what it means to work as a team with a common goal. They have accessed instruments and tuition beyond normal means and have learnt more about their local heritage through learning about The Foden’s Band. Several of our children go on to choose to continue their brass instrument at high school or take up a new instrument as they continue their musical journey beyond year 6.