Music is a universal language that embodies one of the highest forms of creativity. At BSA we pledge to deliver a high-quality music and drama education (linked to the National Curriculum and embedding high performance learning techniques) which engages and inspires all pupils to develop a love of music and performing. Through a range of stimulating and exciting activities, we will endeavour to increase their self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement.
Our aim is that from Foundation Stage upwards pupils will have the opportunity to perform, listen to, and evaluate music across a range of genres and traditions, including the works of the great composers and musicians. Through engaging in a wide range of practical experiences, they will develop the skills and attitudes necessary for successful performance in all aspects of the performing arts. The department promotes expertise development (one of the 7 pillars of HPL), by giving each pupil the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. Through the encouragement of practice and hard-work we aim to build an understanding that to achieve as performers and become experts they need persevere to put in the necessary work. We encourage all pupils to employ a growth mindset which enables them to take risks without fear of failure; enabling all pupils to challenge themselves with opportunities in both curricular and extracurricular activities. We provide a positive, inclusive environment where pupils can develop their imagination, self-esteem and teamwork skills.
Researchers suggest that regularly playing an instrument changes the shape and power of the brain and may improve cognitive skills, with the potential to increase IQ by up to seven points. It is commonly agreed with educators that musical training raises a child's grades in all subjects. The parts of the brain that control motor skills, hearing, storing audio information and memory become larger and more active when a person learns how to play an instrument. Tests show that musically trained participants remembered 17% more verbal information than those without musical training.
At BSA we believe that learning to play an instrument enables pupils to develop as high performance learners in every subject because they become more self-disciplined, attentive and better at strategy planning. Guitar, recorder and keyboard skills are introduced at KS2 and we also have a peripatetic instrumental programme in which we offer individual specialist lessons on a variety of instruments delivered by teachers who are experts in their instrumental field. Through collaborative, practical work, we believe the study of music helps to develop lifelong skills and the ability to:
- Work as part of a team to meet a high-pressure deadline
- Have the confidence to push your own thoughts forward but be sensitive to others' opinions
- Listen and respond to new information whilst under pressure
- Learn new things quickly which you then have to present confidently to an audience
- Come up with an original idea and take it all the way to completion
- Focus entirely on the task in hand regardless of distraction
- Rework an idea at the last minute to adapt to a change in the team
In the acquisition of expertise, we use technology in the classroom in order to progress to the next level of musical excellence. The department has a range of instruments including digital pianos, drum kits, electric guitars and amplifiers. The classroom is equipped with keyboard workstations and has direct access to a designated area in the IT suite where pupils can compose and arrange music using the sequencing software BandLab. In addition, we have a sound-proofed practice room with a full band set-up for use in popular music units, extra-curricular clubs and rehearsals. We also have access to outdoor spaces for group work in Drama. In every lesson, pupils have access to the different learning areas in the department and can make appropriate choices to promote their own learning.
Students are formally assessed on a regular basis with one or two assessments per unit of work. These can be in the form of a written examination, listening test or quiz. We also have ongoing and discreet formative assessments where the consolidation of skills for each pupil is used to inform a flexible planning system, enabling us to provide stimulating and challenging tasks at an appropriate level for each individual.
Parental Engagement in a child’s learning has a profound effect on pupil progress and we aim to promote this through regular practice at home, leading to a variety of opportunities for performance in assemblies, concerts and productions in all aspects of the performing arts.
Foundation Stage/Key Stage 1
Pupils are taught to use their voices expressively and creatively by singing songs and speaking chants and rhymes. They use movement and actions in time with their songs. They play a range of untuned instruments and start to listen with concentration and understanding to a range of music; experimenting with creating, selecting and combining sounds. Use of the Music Express schemes ensures that non-specialist teachers can deliver a high-quality curriculum.
Key Stage 2
In KS2, pupils start to play musically with increasing confidence and control. They also begin to develop an understanding of musical composition; organising and manipulating ideas within musical structures and reproducing sounds from aural memory. From Year 4 pupils receive a specialist music lesson once a week and learn to play the recorder using conventional notation. They are given the opportunity to perform in solo and ensemble contexts, using their voices and playing instruments with increasing accuracy, fluency, control and expression. They also improvise and compose music for a range of purposes and learn to listen with attention to detail and recall sounds with increasing aural memory, learning to identify the different elements that provide the foundation for all music. Acting skills are developed in class performances and separate productions in Lower KS2 and Upper KS2.
Key Stage 3
Pupils build on knowledge and skills gained in KS2 and develop a deepening understanding of music specifically linked to their Geography or HIstory units to help further embed their learning in other subject areas whilst giving them a platform to perform confidently in a range of solo and ensemble contexts using their voice, playing instruments, acting and dancing with growing accuracy and expression.
During the Coronovirus pandemic, the children have been learning that performance is just as accessible in BSA through a variety of video and audio software. The ability to be ambitious and risk-take through different dance, drama and musical activities is being explored creatively through different technological resources.