Music at Western House Academy is taught in a fully inclusive and innovative way. All students from Nursery to Year 6 learn, not only the skills to sing and play on a range of instruments, but also develop more holistic learner attributes that benefit them in all areas of their development, not only as a musician but as a global citizen. The music curriculum has a rich and varied focus on a range of styles and genres from across the world and throughout history, often linking to Project Based Learning (PBL) topics as well as Maths and English. There always a focus on promoting creativity, curiosity and having the confidence perform to a high standard whether it be to a small group or a large audience.
With music, ‘every opportunity shapes’ a life by including the 4 key aspects of our curriculum through:
Students’ are introduced to a broad range of musical styles and genres with the aim of developing a deep musical awareness and understanding that music is a unique art form as a universal method of communication. The music curriculum at Western House Academy aims to provide holistic learning opportunities that enable the students to develop an appreciation that being a musician is a life long journey and that mastering the art of good musicianship begins with the foundations laid here, at primary school!
Reading and understanding notation is given equal weight in the curriculum to being able to learn to play by ear and from memory in the oral tradition. Both skills help to develop the students’ knowledge of how music is pieced together. The students are also taught to listen with a critical ear to music in order to understand how music is composed. Having this critical ear helps the students when they compose their own pieces in groups and individually.
Developing and providing EXPERIENCE
Throughout the curriculum, the different learning experiences afforded to the children are always placed in social, cultural and historical contexts of where the music originates from and the background behind this. Having an understanding of where Samba originates from, for example, forms a fundamental part of the learning experience, as having an understanding of Brazilian carnival culture helps the students perform with more awareness, understanding and energy!
There are plenty of opportunities for the students to have purposeful and memorable musical experiences in their time at Western House Academy. We have two annual whole-school singing celebrations where every child in the school gathers to sing collectively at Christmas time as well as for the annual Sing Up Day. This develops a strong sense of community in the school and helps the students forge social bonds with their classmates, year groups and older and younger peers in the wider school community. Students also perform in large whole class ensembles to younger year groups, showcasing their learning in their ‘Djembe Drumming’ or ‘Samba Drumming’ projects, for example. Students also have opportunities to perform in small groups and as a soloist, developing their resilience and understanding of what it takes to have the confidence to play music to an audience.
There are opportunities for the children to join extra-curricular music clubs which include:
- Year 3 Musical Collective
- Year 4 Musical Collective
- Year 5 Musical Collective
- Year 6 Musical Collective
- Key Stage 2 Choir
- Steel Pan Band
In these clubs, the children build up to an annual performance at the end of the year at the Music Extravaganza, which is a two night evening concert that showcases the hard work of the children. In the clubs, the children learn to play a contemporary style of music which is a blend of electronic and acoustic instruments in hip-hop, dance and jazzy style of music.
Humans have an innate ability to respond to and enjoy musical stimuli and, particularly as young children develop, the musical opportunities and learning experiences they have often shape their lifelong association with and appreciation of music. This is why, at Western House Academy, great emphasis is placed on the students becoming confident and competent musicians and this is achieved by providing them with a range of different musical contexts that require different musical skills as well as musical understanding. Where students have a keen interest in music, they are welcomed in the many extra-curricular musical clubs the school provides where they can hone their musical skills and develop greater proficiency on a range of instruments.
Music is a subject which requires consistent, high quality collaboration in order for musical outcomes to be achieved. Therefore, the values of teamwork, respect and friendship feature heavily in every single lesson. Emphasis is placed on the need for musicians to be conscious of others around them when they are playing their instrument. Students’ are taught the values of tolerance, ambition and curiosity in every lesson, which helps them to become compassionate and open-minded musicians.
When performing either on stage or in the music room, the children are taught to show the values of courage and resilience. They are taught that effective practicing builds a stronger performance skill set and this, in turn, develops their proficiency as musicians. They are taught to have a growth mindset in music lessons and that the application of effort is more important than any perceived notion of fixed ability level or innate talent.