Issue 52: Schemes of Work

At the moment I am in the throes of planning the class music lessons for a primary school where I teach one day a week. My timetable there has changed slightly, meaning that I now have to create complete plans for half a term’s lessons in advance, rather than creating medium term plans and filling in the details closer to the actual time of delivery.

The benefit of doing the detailed planning of each lesson has been that I can work closely with the class teacher to link in to what they are learning each week in the classroom. So, for example, when I knew that they had been watching “Happy feet” and talking about penguins, it was the work of a moment for me to build a lesson around the song “Have you ever had a penguin come to tea” (Singing Sherlock book 1, and endless YouTube videos of children of all ages singing the song with the actions). Just that song, and a quantity of boomwhackers and chime bars for the notes CDEFGA  completely filled 45 minutes with singing, moving to music, exploring pitch and scales.

However, the disadvantage is that it is harder to make sure that you are following a well-planned progression through the various elements and stages of the curriculum.

I have been enthused (seriously!) by looking at some examples of music curriculum planning diagrams buried in the Ofsted report on music teaching in schools, which you can find here:

With  the help of the handy “snip tool” (a windows 7 accessory), I have “snipped” out two of the diagrams:


These two schemes take a more flexible view of what can be taught at which stage, and make it easier to see the complete picture, and I think that these are a great improvement on the “elements of music” focus in the QCA documents, which are also the basis for the Music Express series.

In my lesson planning for this term, I have taken the relevant statements from the second diagram, and combined them with elements from the first diagram.

So, for my year1/2 class, I have taken “Pupils recognise and explore how sounds can be made and changed” as my start point, and over the course of the this half term I will focus on pitch, duration and tempo.

Last year, the upper Keystage 2 children were fortunate enough to have a whole year of Wider Opportunities samba lessons, which has honed their rhythm skills to a high standard. However, they have not had much experience of using pitched percussion, so I will address that by choosing “Pupils recognise and explore the ways sounds can be combined and used expressively” and focussing on pentatonic scales, ostinati, weaving parts and rounds.

I will be using recording and playing back as much as possible so that the children can hear the effects of their musical choices and improve upon their own work.

But what of the lower Keystage 2 children? Lucky children, lucky me. We will be having a year of Wider Opportunities djembe!

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