Issue 101: Class music lesson plans

Compared to my colleagues who teach other subjects in the primary schools that I work in, I think that I have it easy when it comes to lesson planning.

Compared to some of my other music teaching colleagues, I am far too scrupulous and detailed in my planning. One fellow music teacher actually asked “You write lessons plans?! For music classes?!” with an air of amazement.

Yes I certainly do!

My typical class music lesson plans, for whatever age-group within the primary school (children aged 5 to 11) will include the teaching objectives, references to the National Curriculum, a list of activities, and a list of resources. Somewhere along the line there is a longer term plan, so that I can keep track of “where I am going” and stay within an overall context for the period, which is usually half a term, and that is within the context of the whole school year.

Let’s see:

Teaching Objectives; having decided what my broad topic is – for example structure, or pentatonic scales, or song-writing, or pitch, or learning to play the ukulele, I plan what I want to cover in this particular lesson, building up from previous teaching and laying the foundations for the next step.

References to the National Curriculum; this is trickier to unpack, as the National Curriculum seems to come and go and twist and turn each year. It seems to me though, that each brand new Curriculum document covers roughly the same ground but in a different order, with a different emphasis, using different words.  I have created a simple summary of the one I was issued with several years ago (so it is probably out of date) and use that as a starting point. The main thing is to ensure that you have covered all the main elements over the whole of the year, and keeping a record of the elements that you have taught.

Teaching Activities; This is a list of what we will be dong in the lesson; singing songs (and a note of what I might need to add – eg

  • teaching a tricky rhythm or adding actions or percussion);
  • listening to music (and a note of what I want the children to listen out for, and questions I might ask);
  • warm-up activities and games (and a note of what I need to watch out for if the children might become over-enthusiastic!);
  • other topic-specific activity eg composition (and how I will lead the children into the activity);
  • assessment (often by listening to each other, or by recording and playing back);
  • extension (how the activity can be developed by children who are progressing faster or further than others);
  • homework (practicing or preparation for the next lesson – this isn’t always relevant)

I reckon each lesson will involve changes of posture; sitting still, standing and doing actions, music making; singing, chanting and playing instruments; talking and listening; by me, by the children, in groups or as a whole class. This all gets planned into the lesson.

List of Resources; It is very frustrating to get the children over to the teaching space and discover that you have forgotten to bring pencils and paper, or handouts, or triangles, or a particular piece of music. Making a list beforehand helps me to gather all the endless clobber associated with the average music lesson. I then just load up the children and get them to carry it all over (except my sound system and computer, which I always carry myself, on the ground that if I drop it, I have only myself to blame!)

I don’t know how my colleague who scoffed “Planning? For music lessons? Surely not!?” will get on. I do have a fairly good idea how my own lessons will run!

And, of course, there are always the days when, having made your detailed plans, something happens and you will do something completely different. That’s fine too!  aliens on the keyboard

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