Music plays a very important part in the Marist curriculum and the wider life of our school. All children receive a weekly 45 minute music lesson, with the exception of children in Early Years and Years 5 and 6 who receive 30 minute and hour long lessons respectively. Class music lessons are delivered by the Music Leader, who is a music specialist. Central to all music provision at the Marist is the desire to enable every child to develop a strong positive musical identity. This is considered essential for sustaining musical learning over the long term but also in fostering a life-long love of music.
The Marist music curriculum is designed to meet the requirements of the new National Curriculum for music and more broadly the aims of the National Plan for Music Education through a comprehensive programme of music education and music making with links to classroom topics and initiatives such as the BBC Ten Pieces, launched in October 2014, which aims to encourage children to compose and explore music creatively.
The new National Curriculum for music emphasises the importance of singing at all ages. Singing forms the foundation of the Marist music curriculum. The voice is a child’s first instrument. Singing is vital in supporting the development of children’s aural memory and key musical skills and understanding on which later musical learning depends. In this way musical learning is at first instinctive and unconscious, internalised through a personal experience of sound that over time becomes increasingly more conscious, attaching symbols to this internal experience of sound. Consequently, we use music teaching programmes and resources such as the Voices Foundation, Sing Up and Charanga, among others, that have singing at their heart and underpin this central philosophy.
As children move through the school, foundational music skills, knowledge and understanding, developed informally through singing, will progress gradually through classroom music lessons to include more formal solo and ensemble musical learning opportunities, including instrumental learning opportunities, supported where appropriate by the use of music technology. Children are encouraged not just to sing and play instruments but to apply their developing musical understanding and knowledge creatively, exploring sounds, and composing and improvising. They are also expected to become critical listeners in assessing and improving their own performance, as well as in listening to and appraising live and recorded performances across a range of musical genres and styles.
This provision is supported by an increasing number of school music clubs and ensembles, individual and group instrumental learning opportunities in partnership with the Surrey Music Hub, Surrey Arts and other specialist music providers. Children have the opportunity to sing and perform at termly concerts and productions, bridging the potential gap between children’s musical learning inside and outside school. We are also working in partnership with among others, independent schools such as St George’s College, Weybridge, Hampton School and the Yehudi Menuhin School at Cobham, a Surrey Music Hub partner, through music workshops and concert visits. Outside the music classroom, children can sing in the Junior (years 1-2) and Senior Singing Squads (years 3-6). In previous years we have participated in the North Surrey primary Schools Music Festival. In 2015, 60 children from the Marist will join children from across Surrey at the Royal Albert Hall in London to perform an opera especially commissioned by Surrey Arts to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede.
Children’s musical learning is planned and assessed over the short and long term. As children progress through the school, they build a musical portfolio of their work which travels with them as they move through the school. Alongside this, over the longer term we are developing musical profiles for each child that records not only their musical learning and achievements inside school but also their musical learning outside school. Children will be able to take these portfolios and profiles to secondary school in an attempt to support a smoother transition between primary and secondary music learning and sustain musical learning throughout childhood. We are building closer links with St John the Baptist School through a newly formed deanery music network between primary schools and SJB to share resources, practice and provide training and support for Music Leaders. For example, last year children from year 5 and 6 attended music technology workshops at SJB to support their musical transition to SJB and expose them to music technology resources.
We continue to develop our existing music provision and resources to ensure all children have access to high quality music education and music making opportunities. We are working to expand the range and number of instrumental learning opportunities, music clubs and ensembles at the Marist in line with the aim of the National Plan for Music Education that all children should have equal access to high quality music and instrumental learning opportunities. This year children in Year 2 and 3 will learn to play the recorder, while children in Year 4 will start to learn the ukulele through whole class instrumental teaching. We are hoping to expand individual and group instrumental lessons via Surrey Arts and the Surrey Music Hub and other specialist music providers.
We seek to build a strong school musical identity, particularly in respect of singing, such that children and staff come to describe the Marist as a “singing school”, where music is at the heart of school life and daily learning. As a member of Sing Up we are starting to work towards our longer term aim of gaining a Sing Up award, which complements our progress towards an Arts Mark Award.