Having written songs which link to science, literacy and maths, focused on lyrics as a way into reading comprehension and used music videos to support writing (you can see where our passions lie), I wanted to focus directly on the music curriculum itself. This objective in particular:
appreciate and understand a wide range of high-quality live and recorded music drawn from different traditions and from great composers and musicians
Throughout my career, I’ve always stumbled upon ‘Musician of the Week’ PowerPoints or random comprehensions to do with modern musicians, but rarely a scheme to follow with some level of justification. So, here’s my attempt.
Making it Monthly
Firstly, the idea is to have a ‘Musician of the Month’. This is because, no matter how good the intentions, there is very little chance of studying a musician and their music in depth every single week. Plenty of teachers play songs in assembly or choose a musician to play during Times Table Rockstars or study a musician linked to a history/geography topic, which is all still valid, but this is a musician to put on a pedestal to the whole school for a whole month, allowing enough time to spend a few quality lessons a month learning about them in greater detail. Dare I even say, in greater depth! 😜
Recent debates online have raged about the importance of classical musicians in comparison to high-profile pop musicians and it is certainly something at the forefront of my mind. After much toing and froing, I have decided on some basic parameters based on these important key words: high-quality, different traditions, composers, musicians.
1.) Create a 4-year cycle so that there is no repetition in KS2.
2.) Ensure at least one classical musician per term.
3.) Ensure an even distribution of male and female musicians, as well as ethnic diversity and disabilities.
4.) Include a range of both U.K. and world musicians
5.) Consider musicians who are significant due to their musical, social, economic or cultural impact and influence.
6.) Ensure all musicians, resources and song choices are KS2 appropriate.
As you can probably tell, it’s certainly been keeping me up at night choosing who best fits the bill and where they should be in the cycle.
Cycles A, B, C and D will run for 4 years starting from September through to July, making 44 musicians in total (as none are needed for August). Each musician will have a weekly song to listen to (some of which are live recordings), a knowledge organiser with a basic multiple-choice quiz
and a variety of activities directly related to that particular musician.
What Activities and Why?
Nina Simone, for example, was famous for covering other people’s songs so we have created listening activities to help compare her song ‘I Put a Spell on You’ to the Screamin’ Jay Hawkings version, along with a comparison of ‘Feeling Good’ by modern day rockers Muse. We have also produced a listening activity and reading comprehension on Brahms, who played a huge role in influencing her musically. There are also links and further opportunities of learning related to her passion and involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. We have done similar things for each musician.
Autumn Term (Cycle A)
September - The Beatles
October - Nina Simone
November - Ethel Smyth
December - Elton John
Other artists in the pipeline range from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Clara Schumann and Ludwig van Beethoven to Ravi Shankar, Youssou N’Dour and Joni Mitchell, so be sure to join our mailing list or check back soon to see the Spring Term as it develops further. We will try to put an overall plan together but it just keeps changing all the time!
The History of Music
By studying musicians and composers drawn from a range of traditions, this should have a huge impact on children’s understanding of another of the curriculum’s objectives:
develop an understanding of the history of music.
Once the 4-year cycle is complete, I would like to explore this further by creating timelines or posters to support this historical understanding by linking the musicians in this cycle in some way. That is, however, for another time. I’ve got plenty to be getting on with for now!
As always, get in touch on twitter @mracdpresent if you’d like to let us know your thoughts.
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