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, styles 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 expert they need the motivation to put in the necessary work and perseverance. We encourage all pupils to employ a growth mindset which enables them to take risks without fear of failure, enabling all pupils to try more challenging work and we provide many opportunities available for involvement in both curricular and extra-curricular 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. These 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 and can improve day to day actions such as being alert, planning and emotional perception. Tests show that musically trained participants remembered 17% more verbal information that 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. That is why we place such importance on practical work in the Performing Arts curriculum. Keyboard skills are introduced at KS2 and we also have an instrumental programme in which we offer individual specialist lessons on a variety of instruments. Through collaborative practical work, we believe the study of music and development of competency in performance 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 is well-resourced with a range of professional standard 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. Pupils who participate in the instrumental programme will also have the opportunity to take graded examinations with internationally recognised providers including ABRSM and Trinity Guildhall. LAMDA Group Examinations in Drama are accessible via the extra-curricular and enrichment programmes.
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 play tuned and un-tuned instruments and start to listen with concentration and understanding to a range of music and experiment 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 the music that they perform and listen to with increasing discrimination and awareness which will inform their own practice as performers. With access to a wide range of music from great composers and musicians in the three main strands of classical, popular and world music, pupils begin to perform confidently in a range of solo and ensemble contexts using their voice, playing instruments, acting and dancing with growing accuracy and expression. They improvise and compose, extending and developing more sophisticated ideas including the use of tonalities, different types of scales and other musical and dramatic devices.
In our commitment to HPL, in Year 9 pupils are encouraged to take control of their own learning journey (the 7th pillar of HPL). We believe that success is more likely if the child is motivated to learn; this is increased when they have developed the skills to be an autonomous learner and are able to practice, train and learn independently with a minimum of direction from the teacher. They will have the opportunity to demonstrate these skills and develop their own ideas by selecting, producing, directing and performing a group production as the culmination of their achievement in Performing Arts at the end of KS3.