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Mougins School

The Learning Curve

Music Education in our Primary School
  • Primary Matters
Valentina Deidda

In our Primary school, Music holds a significant position in the curriculum. From the youngest in the LaunchPad programme to Year 6, every student actively participates in music lessons tailored to their individual needs. These meticulously designed lessons cover a spectrum of musical aspects including appreciation, vocal training, performance, and composition.
Moreover, the academic aspect of music education is complemented by the development of critical soft skills. Music education fosters confidence, enhances listening abilities, and strengthens memory. These skills not only contribute to students' musical abilities but also support their overall academic and personal development. This holistic approach ensures that our students not only learn music but also build valuable life skills through it.

Integrating Music into Early Learning 

First of all, I would like to discuss the contributions of 20th-century developmental psychologists who have emphasised that music is a vital component of early childhood education. These experts have consistently highlighted how integrating music into early learning can significantly enhance children's cognitive, emotional, social, and language development. Music not only enriches the educational experience but also plays a crucial role in shaping young minds, facilitating easier acquisition of concepts, and fostering an environment that nurtures creativity and expression. This perspective underscores the importance of music as more than just an art form, but as a powerful educational tool that can impact various aspects of a child's growth and development.

Two educational psychologists, Jerome Bruner and Howard Gardner, provide invaluable frameworks for our approach.
Jerome Bruner's spiral curriculum theory emphasises engaging and structured learning, particularly beneficial for teaching music to children. It involves introducing concepts gradually and revisiting them with increasing complexity. Bruner emphasises the importance of discovery-based learning, especially in music education, where sensory experiences play a vital role in aiding understanding.
Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences recognizes musical intelligence, validating the importance of nurturing musical skills.
Together, Bruner and Gardner provide a strong pedagogical foundation, advocating for music as a crucial element in holistic education.

Music in The LaunchPad

In our LaunchPad programme, we adhere to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework, which closely ties music education to language development. As part of this framework, our students are exposed to rhymes, which they memorise, and songs from the traditional English repertoire, enriching their linguistic and musical understanding simultaneously.
During our music lessons, we engage the students further by reading them a storybook that is connected to a musical theme. This approach not only introduces children to a diverse range of musical vocabulary but also aims to enhance their listening, attention, and language skills. By integrating music with storytelling, we create a rich, immersive environment that fosters both musical and linguistic development in a cohesive and enjoyable manner. This method ensures that students not only learn about music but also build critical early language skills in a context that captivates their imagination and reinforces their learning.

Music in Key Stage 1

In Key Stage 1 (KS1), our approach to teaching the fundamentals of music emphasises auditory and physical learning experiences initially. Throughout the first part of the year, children primarily learn by listening and engaging in movement-based activities. This method includes marching and clapping to understand the pulse of various musical pieces, as well as clapping and imitating different rhythms to develop their rhythmic skills. As the year progresses, we gradually introduce written forms of musical representation. Initially, children start with graphic notation, which provides a visual approach to representing sounds and is particularly accessible for young learners. Later, they are introduced to staff notation, which allows them to represent pulse and rhythms in a more structured way.
Building on these foundational skills, students are then encouraged to apply what they have learned to create their own music. They use both graphic and staff notation to compose their own rhythms, effectively manipulating their acquired knowledge and skills. This step not only reinforces their understanding of musical concepts but also fosters creativity, allowing them to express themselves through their compositions.

music in primary

Music in Key Stage 2

In Key Stage 2 (KS2), our music curriculum is designed to enrich students' understanding and appreciation of music through a variety of educational strategies. During this stage, students begin learning to play musical instruments and deepen their theoretical knowledge of music. Emphasis is placed on appreciating music through focused listening exercises that explore a range of musical elements, paving the way for insightful class discussions where different ideas and perspectives are exchanged and evaluated.
Additionally, our curriculum includes a structured exploration of the history of music, tracing its development through the centuries in a chronological sequence. This historical perspective not only enhances students' appreciation of music but also contextualises the evolution of musical styles and forms.
To foster independent learning—an essential skill at this stage—our classroom setup divides students into two groups. One group concentrates on music theory while the other practices playing their instruments. After a session, the groups swap roles. This rotation ensures that all students engage both theoretically and practically, allowing them to manage their learning time effectively and focus intensively on each aspect of the curriculum. This method also facilitates a more personalised learning experience, as students have the opportunity to ask questions and delve deeper into new musical concepts during their theory sessions.
This tailored approach is differentiated according to the students' levels of ability, ensuring that each child receives the right level of challenge and support to progress in their musical education. This structured yet flexible strategy not only enhances students' musical skills but also promotes self-directed learning and critical thinking.

Our Primary school's dedication to music education embodies a comprehensive approach to learning that goes beyond conventional boundaries. By integrating insights from educational psychologists like Jerome Bruner and Howard Gardner, we prioritise engaging, structured learning experiences that nurture both musical proficiency and essential life skills. From the Early Years to Key Stage 2, our curriculum fosters a deep appreciation for music while empowering students to explore their creativity and develop critical thinking abilities. As we continue to refine our music education program, we remain dedicated to equipping students with the tools they need not only to excel academically but also to thrive as well-rounded individuals in an ever-changing world.

Valentina Deidda
Music Teacher

  • Primary