At Cookham Rise, we value music as an integral part of our school life. Music is for everyone and children and adults alike have their own musical soundtrack. Our aim is to develop this love of music through knowledge, understanding and skills. We want children to have fun and enjoyment through the study of music. We want them to be able to experience different instruments, to collaborate with others and to develop their own musical creativity whether that be through singing, playing, composing or improvising. Singing underpins the music offer at Cookham Rise. Through this, our children can develop critical listening skills which will enable them to make connections in music. This listening with discrimination is important to be able to unpick the vast musical canon.
To ensure a clear and coherent music curriculum, we have chosen to use the Charanga Music scheme to underpin our teaching and learning. The benefit of this is that it builds on a spiral curriculum model which allows children to revisit fundamental ideas in the interrelated dimensions of music and to increase the challenge over time. This curriculum is inclusive to children with SEND. As children enter different year groups, the curriculum builds on the previous learning and adds complexity through wider pitch range, more complex rhythms and lyrics, singing in rounds, adding harmonies and developing performance skills.
Children at Cookham Rise all have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. This is achieved through using tuned and untuned percussion instruments within the classroom, by working with our parters at Berkshire Maestros Music Hub, and through our partnership with Rocksteady. We can support families to pursue instrumental teaching who might find it financially difficult through using Pupil Premium funding, or through accessing bursaries. Children who are demonstrating excellence in a musical instrument can develop this further in classroom music through the different levels of written music available for a large selection of instruments. Teachers also have agency to use other resources such as BBC Ten pieces and to develop skills through the use of technology, such as GarageBand.
We offer many performance opportunities; within school assemblies, school concerts, Cookham Festival, with other local schools, county events and national events.
We assess music through responding, creating and making, talking, exploring and notating.
We have chosen three key drivers which are reflected within each of the topics that we cover:
Opportunities – Music teaching is relevant, inspiring and accessible to all. It offers children a unique route to developing their cultural capital through creating conditions where children’s cultural horizons can be extended. This is achieved through class music, whole school assemblies (when Covid allows), performing opportunities outside of school and through visitors into school; e.g. performers and composers. Through our partners, Berkshire Maestros, and Rocksteady; children have opportunities to play music outside of lessons.
In weekly music lessons, children have the time to develop their musicianship in terms of structure, complexity, coherence, revising and refining their ideas, and experiencing different instruments. The curriculum builds on and develops children’s prior skills and knowledge. We have chosen to use the Charanga Music Scheme as it provides a secure and coherent plan for children throughout the school. It uses the spiral curriculum model and maps out the developing musical vocabulary which underpins children’s growing knowledge. We are an inclusive school and as well as adapting our offer to ensure inclusion for children with SEND, it is also adaptable to stretch and challenge children with more advanced musical skills.
Staff are also given opportunities for CPD through staff meetings run by the subject leader; through Charanga training offered for free by the Music Hub. The subject leader will also co-plan and teaching advice and work with staff to overcome any barriers to learning.
Community – within our school community, children are drawn from many other communities in our locality. It is important that children who take up the offer of music is fully representative. Outside the classroom music, children have the opportunity to attend choir (no fee) as well as lessons with peripatetic teachers and Rocksteady and we have had good representation from different community groups in these clubs.
We also make sure that the school brings music to our wider community. We have done this through singing at a local daycare centre, singing to the local nursery, and working with a local composer to sing at the village festival with the other village schools. Music also builds community through its collaborative nature and purpose. It is through music-making projects that children develop their musical understanding which then feeds back into their music-making. Identifying what makes a collaborative performance a good one, through scaffolding children to communicate emotion and meaning musically will develop children’s sense of ensemble and performing for a purpose. This musical celebration validates the outcomes the children have been working towards.
Creativity – It is through making music that children will learn about music. Creativity is celebrated and nurtured in different ways. Scaffolding is very important here and this is where you have to make plenty of noise to build a safe space that makes it possible for small groups or individuals to perform in front of others. Children need to have opportunities to be risk-takers in low stakes environments before becoming more confident and proficient. With this in mind, many of the Charanga composing and improvising activities are done as a full class, to begin with. This offers a “mask of sound” for children to develop their confidences before sharing individually. Due to Covid, we have also had to adapt creatively to how we can offer music in school. We have been able to use live music sessions over the internet and have tailored our offer in terms of our risk assessment; using cleaning materials, technology, classroom set up and time management to overcome obstacles.
Children enter the school with their own musical soundtracks already well populated. At Cookham Rise, we value children’s musical experience and build on this acknowledging their innate musicality. The impact of regular music teaching is to ensure that children are feeling musical and make progress in and through music.
Assessment in music is used to shape future learning and to understand the progress that children have made. Assessments need to be reliable, meaningful and manageable. In music, assessments can take many different forms; through discussion, observation, listening and comparing. We use recordings to map progress throughout the school.
The key question in music is, “what does a good one sound like?”. This can be applied to singing, playing an instrument, composing, improvising and listening. As children are able to identify quality in these areas, this will feed into how they assess their own progress and how they can help to identify their own next steps. Becoming a proficient musician isn’t just about playing faster, longer and increasing complexity; it is about adding quality and being able to use it as an effective medium for communication. It is also about children making connections between the music they experience in the classroom and that of their wider lives.
At Cookham Rise, teachers are able to share assessments using iTrack software to ensure transparency throughout the school. We can also listen and moderate work easily using the shared drive.