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My School's Journey to Getting Music Mark.

What started out as a temporary position for Nick, turned into a whole new direction for his school. Here he shows how music is changing lives at the school.

My boss said to me this week why haven’t you written about our Music Mark? So this post is for @ModernCassie as she asked for it!

I joined my wonderful school full-time in 2017/18 after spending a short period as their visiting Music teacher in the last few months of 16/17.

The school made an instant impression on me and in a few weeks found myself being interviewed for a position. This was not something that I had anticipated as I had taken a year out of full-time teaching so that I could be a part of my daughter’s life before she attended school. However to join them on their journey from Special Measures to Outstanding was too much to turn down.

As you are probably aware my instrument is brass and immediately my Year 3/4 class had the opportunity to take part in group lessons.

In my first year we initially focused just on trumpets and had some great results. However I am aware that this does not work for every child so this year we expanded the offer to include trombones, euphoniums and baritones. This has improved the sound produced and shown the children it’s not just all about playing the trumpet.

I have used my knowledge to support most lessons but have found the arrangements on invaluable and have shortened the time I have to prepare for sessions. They have a funky feel and seem very appealing to the pupils that we have at the school.

In my first year all teachers would use this system exclusively to offer music in the classroom and this would offer me some reassurance that they were following a scheme.

Towards the end of the year, we also introduced a choir for the Key Stage 2 pupils to allow them to work as an ensemble and experience performance. So year 1 was busy but I wanted year 2 to be better!

I want to give children the opportunity to learn an instrument during their time at school as it transformed my life! I have been made by Music and Dyslexia and I am very grateful for the skills they offer.

So this year pupils in Year 2 learn Recorder, Year 3 & 4 Brass and Year 5 & 6 Ukulele. We also offer a Brass after school club and soon will start a Clarinet Club in 2019. Our choir has developed further and have challenged themselves with more difficult pieces.

Reception and Year 1 focus on rhythm and singing with a little bit of improvisation.

Giving a child access to musical instrument enhances their lives and challenges them to learn a new language and supports them across the curriculum.

I love the response that I get every time a child picks up an instrument but in recent weeks it’s been great to see how those pupils who have specific learning needs have progressed (I hope in a few weeks to share the progress of a pupil who is currently studying Trombone).

The National Curriculum specifies that pupils should be taught the following at Key Stage 2 –

Mu2/1.1    play and perform in solo and ensemble contexts, using their voices and playing musical instruments with increasing accuracy, fluency, control and expression
Mu2/1.2    improvise and compose music for a range of purposes using the interrelated dimensions of music
Mu2/1.3    listen with attention to detail and recall sounds with increasing aural memory
Mu2/1.4    use and understand staff and other musical notations
Mu2/1.5    appreciate and understand a wide range of high-quality live and recorded music drawn from different traditions and from great composers and musicians
Mu2/1.6    develop an understanding of the history of music.

Give them an instrument and they will do this and more. If you have an opportunity to influence a primary school on how they deliver music, do it!

You don’t have to be a music expert and is just one platform that can help you get it into the curriculum.

Music is a part of life and it might just change a child’s life. It has for me in many ways and I will remain so grateful to my teacher who handed me a euphonium, 31 years ago and said “You don’t want to play a Trumpet you need to play a Euphonium” and as you can imagine I said “what’s an Euphonium!”.

This journey that I have told you enabled our school to be awarded Music Mark this year. I am  proud of the achievement and will ensure that children experience a wide musical experience. However it’s been a team effort and I thank @ModernCassie for her continued support and encouragement.  

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The author

Nick Sermon is a Primary School Teacher with subject leadership in the Arts and Maths. He has worked in music education for 20 years with the majority of the time being within Further Education, but he has also supported his local Music Hub and has been a Director of Music for The RAF Air Cadets establishing two national ensembles. Being Dyslexic himself he has developed a passion for technology as he has used this to support his career in education. He wants pupils to have these opportunities so to have the opportunity to express themselves and succeed. All aspects of mobile technology are considered if ultimately they raise the attainment of the pupil.

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