HMI: Curriculum Matters

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Music from 5 to 16

The complete document is presented in this single web page. You can scroll through it or use the following links to go straight to the various sections:

Introduction (page 1)
The aims of music education (2)
Objectives, content and method (3)
Assessment (18)
Appendix 1 Centrally provided music (20)
Appendix 2 Checklist for teachers of the 5 to 11 age group (23)
Appendix 3 Responsibilities of the head of department (secondary) (25)
Appendix 4 Accommodation and equipment (27)

The text of Music from 5 to 16 was prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 13 June 2011.

Music from 5 to 16
HMI Series: Curriculum Matters No. 4

London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office 1985
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.

[title page]

Department of Education and Science

from 5 to 16

Curriculum Matters 4


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Crown copyright 1985
First published 1985
ISBN 0 11 270579 0

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The aims of music education

Objectives, content and method
Music to age 73
Music to age 116
Music to age 149
Music to age 1615


Appendix 1
Centrally provided music

Appendix 2
Checklist for teachers of the 5 to 11 age group

Appendix 3
Responsibilities of the head of department (secondary) - checklist

Appendix 4
Accommodation and equipment

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This is the fourth in HM Inspectorate's discussion series Curriculum Matters. It sets out a framework within which each school might develop a music programme appropriate to its own pupils.

The document focuses on the aims and objectives for the teaching of music between the ages of 5 and 16 and considers their implications for the choice of content, for teaching approaches, and for the assessment of pupils' progress.

Like all other papers in this series, Music from 5 to 16 is a discussion document and the Inspectorate would welcome your comments and suggestions on it and the issues it raises.

If you have any comments, please send them to the Staff Inspector (Music), Department of Education and Science, York Road, London SE1 7PH, by 30 November 1985.

This publication has been widely distributed to schools and LEAs.

Senior Chief Inspector

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It is essential that this document should be read as a whole, since all sections are interrelated. For example, the lists of objectives must be seen in relation to the defined aims and to what is said about the principles of Music teaching and assessment.

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1. Radio and TV regularly feature young people making music. Relays from national and international competitions, festivals, concerts and musicals have given the public a new awareness of the artistry, versatility and dedication displayed by our many gifted young musicians. However music education for the 5 to 16 year age group is not intended to cater only for the needs of the talented; all can derive considerable fulfilment and enjoyment from the study and practice of music - at whatever level or in whatever form best suits the particular needs of the individual.

2. Music is included in the curriculum of most schools for pupils up to the age of 16. At the nursery and infant stages and in classes at the younger end of the junior school, music should be an integral part of every child's daily experience. An element of specialised music teaching, often with the support of a music consultant, is introduced after the age of 8 and music normally becomes an individual choice subject in the secondary school after 14.

3. Music is essentially a practical subject. Those who, however modestly, actually perform and compose music are more likely to respond to it with understanding than those who do not. In consequence, a great deal of music in schools takes the form of a rich and varied programme of music making - singing and playing - some of which takes place outside the normal school timetable. Instrumental work is well developed in many primary and secondary classrooms and for children who show a particular aptitude and inclination, additional tuition in orchestral, band and other instruments is often provided as an extension of the formal curriculum. Music readily links with other subject areas and can make an important contribution to the life of the school and to the wider community beyond.

4. Learning music has something in common with the acquisition of language. The early stages are largely intuitive, depending much upon the ear and involving a great deal of memorising, imitation and experimentation; by degrees, this exploratory approach merges into a more sequential learning process. As one experience builds upon another, musical skills and concepts are acquired in a logical progression. However, the mastery of techniques should always be subservient to experiencing the music itself; children learn at differing rates and an excessively structured programme of work will be unlikely to succeed if the interest, enjoyment and sense of achievement of

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certain pupils are set at risk in the process. Music education should provide first-hand musical experiences which are sufficiently absorbing and challenging to engage all pupils' continuing enthusiasm.

5. After setting out broad aims for music education, this paper goes on to propose specific objectives for each of four age groups. For each age group there follows a section on 'Content and method'. On the assumption that what music is taught is only slightly more important than the way it is taught, these two closely related aspects are treated together. Especially in the more exploratory realms of music education, success may depend just as much on successful teaching strategies as upon the selection of appropriate materiaL

The aims of music education

6. Music education should be mainly concerned with bringing children into contact with the musician's fundamental activities of performing, composing and listening. By working directly with the raw materials of music, young people can best discover something of its nature - its vitality, its evocative power and the range of its expressive qualities. An attempt is here made to summarise what should be the aims of music education for pupils of varying aptitudes and abilities between the ages of 5 and 16.

7. The aims of music education are to:

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  • develop an awareness of musical traditions and developments in a variety of cultures and societies.

Objectives, content and method

Music to age 7


8. By the age of seven, children should have had musical experiences which should enable them, with varying degrees of skill and understanding, to:

  • alphabetical, counting, sorting, cumulative songs
  • nursery and folk songs
  • singing games
  • religious songs, some of which can be used in school assemblies
  • modern, 'pop', and 'fun' songs;
  • imitate and recall simple rhythmic patterns by clapping and by playing on untuned percussion instruments; imitate and recall simple melodic patterns by singing and playing on tuned percussion; combine an arrangement of rhythmic and melodic patterns in order to provide a simple accompaniment to a song;
  • take part in simple improvisations using voices and instruments;
  • play by ear on percussion instruments or recorders or both;
  • invent a melody or a short composition using voices and/or instruments, possibly in response to a direct stimulus (for example a story, a poem, a mood, movement or activity derived from play).

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  • participate as a member of a group involved in making music;
  • create movement in direct response to a musical stimulus;
  • associate sounds with symbols; to show a readiness to see the relationship between performed music and various forms of notation (pictorial, graphic and conventional);
  • listen with attention and understanding so as to be able to associate the sounds of different kinds of music with particular situations, occasions and people.
Content and method

9. Most children come to school at the age of four or five with a well-developed awareness of everyday sounds; many will have heard a great deal of music in a variety of different styles on radio, TV, record or tape. Some bring with them a store of remembered songs and jingles and a few may have explored sounds in the home, playgroup or nursery school. A few can already play tunes by ear on a keyboard or a tuned percussion instrument. Most children respond readily to music of every kind and willingly accept it as an essential and enjoyable part of the varied pattern of classroom activity.

10. The skilled class teacher uses songs as well as stories, poems, movement and art to extend the children's understanding of the world and their place in it. Nursery songs encapsulate a range of situations, experiences and emotions - all of which can be recalled at will each time the song is performed. Children quickly memorise these songs and teachers should ensure that they are taught a wide repertoire. They are intrinsically enjoyable and, apart from the purely musical experience involved in matching melody and metre with mood and ideas, singing provides an additional experience of language. Some songs help children to find out and remember. Some initiate movement and dance and others can be developed into games. Songs with a pitch range greater than an octave are best avoided; young children often experience difficulty when expected to sing outside their natural compass. It is important to avoid any implied musical rejection of children in any way, for example because of late pitch development or difficulties with rhythm. Most children sing along with their teacher at first; accompaniments to songs are rarely essential but, when used, are best kept light and rhythmic. As vocal control increases, a wider range of expression in singing becomes possible and, from about seven

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years of age, children can be led to experience a sense of achievement as they strive to sing in tune and apply appropriate dynamics.

11. Many schools' provide a sound-table where children can investigate a variety of everyday objects capable of producing sounds. These can include hollow boxes, shakers, bells, graters, pipes, forks and other everyday utensils; children need opportunities to experiment with such articles and discover their sound making properties for themselves. Tuned and untuned percussion and simple wind instruments should also be available and pupils encouraged to discover the most effective ways of playing them. Instrumental accompaniment to singing can easily be improvised, perhaps pointing the sense of a nursery rhyme, accentuating a climax or reinforcing a characteristic rhythm. Attempts at group music making may be daunting at first but can help children to gain confidence and to learn important lessons about cooperation, tolerance and sensitivity.

12. Most young children enjoy playing by ear and improvising real or 'scribble' music; some will go on to invent melodies for singing and dancing and a few may work out their own simple ensembles based upon existing or specially composed music.

13. Those who have made up their own music are usually more receptive and discerning when they hear the music of others. In addition to the listening that goes on all the time when children are making music, there should be occasions when they can hear live and recorded performances of music in a variety of styles and from a wide range of sources. Children need to practise their listening skills and simple games can be devised to develop their understanding of such concepts as rhythm, pitch, duration, dynamics and timbre.

14. All the activities described above can be experienced effectively without recourse to any kind of musical notation. However, at the time when normal reading skills are being mastered, some children may also want to learn how to read music. As they begin to experience the pleasures of ensemble playing many see the advantages of acquiring some understanding of musical scores, whether pictorial, graphic or conventional in character. Those who show the aptitude to learn recorders, violins and guitars may advantageously begin to play by ear and imitation; however, as and when there is a need for notation, it should be made available to them.

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Music to age 11


15. By the age of eleven, children should have had musical experiences which enable them, with varying degrees of skill and understanding, to:

  • demonstrate an awareness of sounds of every kind, including those produced electronically;
  • identify, collect and imitate sounds of various kinds; to classify and to describe them; create new sounds and combinations of sounds; .
  • be able to recognise and discriminate between the various elements of music such as pitch, rhythm, dynamics, timbre, melody, solo, accompaniment, chord, ostinato, drone etc;
  • know from memory and be able to join in with a wide-ranging repertory of songs appropriate to the age group in as many as possible of the following categories:
  • traditional folk songs and ballads
  • songs from other lands and other cultures
  • songs from former times
  • modern songs including some 'pop'
  • songs for all seasons
  • songs for assembly
  • simple descants, ostinati and second parts in conjunction with the above
  • rounds and canons
  • music in and for drama;
  • accompany singing on tuned or untuned instruments by playing remembered rhythms, melodic phrases, drones, repeated chord sequences and added parts;
  • improvise and compose original music (employing voices and/or instruments) with or without recourse to a direct stimulus such as a picture, movement, a narrative, a poem, a lyric, a mood, a situation, drama etc; make a permanent record of such compositions by means of tape recorder and/or the appropriate musical notation;
  • play by ear and perform simple pieces (both notated and otherwise) individually and as a member of a group;
  • listen with attention and understanding to live and recorded music and to be able to describe what has been heard (in

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  • respect of mood, style, instrumentation, structure, origin etc) both orally and on paper, using appropriate vocabulary;
  • discover relationships between music and other studies;
  • recognise something of the evocative and expressive qualities of music.
Content and method

16. Those concerned with children's music education should encourage sensitivity towards and discrimination about sound in general and every opportunity should be taken to stimulate and sustain children's fascination with sounds of every kind. Whenever possible, sounds and sound sources should be assembled and displayed; children should be encouraged to 'collect' interesting sounds, if necessary using portable tape recorders for the purpose. The increasing availability in schools of computers and other electronic devices can arouse interest in the potential of synthesised sound.

17. As suggested earlier (paragraph 2), an element of specialised music teaching is often introduced from about the age of eight onwards. The work of eight and nine year olds may still be under the direct responsibility of the class teacher (encouraged by the school's music consultant and supplemented by the use of appropriate schools broadcasts on radio and TV), but children of this age need a regular weekly allocation of time for music.

18. Teachers should check on each pupil's musical progress so that help can be provided as and when it is needed with such matters as the development of pitch sense and rhythmic coordination. Any problems need to be tackled promptly but tactfully. If such difficulties are ignored at this stage, they may permanently inhibit some children from taking an active part in music making activities. Boys in particular often need the reassurance that temporary difficulties of this kind need have no lasting bearing on their potential to enjoy music and to participate in music making.

19. When singing together, pupils can gain an immediate experience of mood, style and dynamics in music and in the process experience a heightened awareness of words and their meaning. Concern for the quality of the vocal sound should also be encouraged. Intonation and blend can often be improved by singing unaccompanied; rounds, descants and added parts can heighten the musical interest and increase the sense of achievement. Songs from other times and other lands (whether or not

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sung in the original languages) widen the repertoire and give children insight into different life styles. The cosmopolitan features of song and dance are readily enjoyed and shared by pupils from different cultures; and participation in them can lead to a greater awareness of musical similarities and differences between cultures and of the enrichment which can come from sharing them.

20. One of the simplest forms of combined music making occurs when an 'instant' instrumental accompaniment is provided for a song which the children are in the process of learning. The impact of certain songs may be heightened by the addition of an appropriate rhythm using maracas and claves. Folk songs based on the pentatonic scale can be varied by the addition of simple ostinati; many songs can be accompanied effectively by a drone bass or by chord sequences played on tuned percussion, guitars, autoharps or other instruments.

21. Classroom 'workshops' of this kind can lead on to group arranging and composing in which children's own ideas are incorporated into a composite piece of work. Considerable variation in levels of attainment may be evident at this stage and care should be taken to encourage all children to take part according to their experience, understanding and ability. Working together on such musical projects can also help children to develop concentration, perseverance and greater social awareness.

22. Children showing particular interest and aptitude should be given the opportunity to receive tuition on string, woodwind or brass instruments. Although such tuition is usually arranged by withdrawing pupils from classroom lessons, children should be encouraged to see it as an integral part of the school's musical provision; wherever possible, such work should be included in curricular and extra-curricular music making. Close liaison needs to be maintained between the school's music consultant and the visiting teachers; it is also helpful to arrange some oversight of the children's instrumental practice and ensemble work (see Appendix 1).

23. Although some of the most intensive listening to music can occur when children perform to or with each other, some formal opportunities for listening to music should also be provided, whether as a whole school, a whole class, or as a small group. Children should be familiar with music having different styles

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and origins. If played at assembly, music should be something to listen to and not merely an accompaniment to entering and leaving the hall.

24. As some of the music teaching provided for children between the ages of 7 to 11 may be on a specialist or semi-specialist basis, it is important to ensure that it does not become isolated from the rest of the curriculum. An example of how music can be associated with the teaching of religious education, poetry and drama occurs in its use in assembly to illustrate parables and stories and in sung versions of poems. Occasions might also be found for children to supply the music for the pupils' own dance and mime. They could be shown how a study of the ratio between the lengths of vibrating bodies or columns of air and the pitch of the sounds they produce reveals a direct link between mathematics and music. Scientific observation of the properties of tubes, bells, drums and loudspeakers can lead pupils towards a better understanding of the important connections between music and sound in general. Early music played on 'original' instruments like recorders, plucked strings and tambour can help to evoke the spirit and atmosphere of the first Elizabethan age. Taking part in a performance of the 'Agincourt Song' or the 'Marseillaise' can vividly evoke two notable events in European history. A gipsy song from Spain or a calypso from Jamaica can bring an added dimension to aspects of geography. Connections can be established between music and every other subject area. Music cuts across traditional subject barriers and can help pupils to appreciate the wholeness of learning.

Music to age 14

25. Music is a compulsory subject for most secondary pupils until at least the end of the third year. By the age of 14, they should have had such musical experiences as to enable them, with varying degrees of skill and understanding, to:

  • show discernment about sound as a natural phenomenon and its function as an integral part of the environment;
  • show an awareness of the range and nature of musical sounds that can be produced vocally, instrumentally and electronically;
  • sing individually and in groups with good vocal tone and acceptable articulation; to be able to maintain 'a simple part while others are singing or playing; to take part in a round or canon; to know and to be able to join in with a variety of appropriate songs in most of the following categories:

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  • traditional folk songs
  • songs of the British Isles and its regions and its various cultures
  • modern songs including certain 'pop' songs
  • work songs (including shanties, cowboy songs etc)
  • historical and modern ballads
  • blues, jazz and gospel songs
  • songs from cantatas, musicals, operas, the music hall and other forms of music theatre;
  • participate in group music making (conventional and avant-garde, classical and popular, vocal and instrumental); play and sing by ear, making use of simple notation (graphic and conventional) as and when appropriate; improve technique, increase accuracy and develop a sense of effectiveness in performance; and make a satisfactory sound recording of a music-making activity.
  • take part in improvisation (controlled and free) in both large and small groups;
  • devise original instrumentations, arrangements or 'backings' of known music both individually and in groups;
  • compose (but not necessarily notate) original music (vocal and/or instrumental - including electronic) in response to an external stimulus (for example a poem, a place, a structure, a picture, a dance routine, a film or TV sequence, a story, a dramatic plot, a dialogue etc) both individually and in groups;
  • show sufficient skill in reading scores of various kinds to support a range of practical activities in music;
  • listen to music both live and recorded and make a critical, analytical and descriptive response to it;
  • know and appreciate music that originates from other times and other places and which celebrates diverse aspects of human behaviour and experience;
  • be aware of the different contributions that music can make to personal and community life; and be able to call on the social skills and understanding needed when working through the medium of music, for example in making music together and in sharing it with the community.
Content and method

26. Pupils entering a new school bring with them varied experiences and perspectives of music. The music teachers of the

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receiving school should be in close touch with the schools from which the pupils have come. Exchange visits by teachers and pupils should occur systematically and information about the musical experiences and attainment of the transferring pupils should be made available. Regular meetings to discuss programmes of work and occasional neighbourhood workshops or festivals involving all the schools in the area can improve communications and continuity for the pupils. Agreement by the interested parties as to what might constitute reasonable objectives for pupils who have attained the age of transfer help to ensure effective continuity in music education for pupils moving from one school to another.

27. While some consolidation of learning may be necessary at the start of the new academic year, many teachers prefer to go straight into their prepared schemes of work, building upon the positive qualities they expect their pupils to exhibit on arrival. Even when the ordering of pupils' musical experiences at the primary stage has been haphazard or unsystematic, most children will have acquired a useful range of skills and concepts which can provide an acceptable basis for future work. Whether or not they have made good progress on an instrument or gained particular confidence in reading music, most can be expected to have developed a strong feeling for rhythm, melody and harmony and an ability to respond positively to musical sounds in general. Many will have learnt a varied repertoire of songs; some will be able to play by ear or improvise on simple classroom instruments; a few will have made progress in studying an instrument such as the violin, flute or piano; and all will know a great deal of music, consciously or unconsciously encountered in and out of school over the previous six years.

28. Although for convenience certain areas of work are here referred to under separate headings, it is assumed that in any worthwhile course there will be constant opportunities for the three principal activities of performing, composing and listening to interact and thereby reinforce the wholeness of musical experience.


29. While singing should continue to figure prominently in any scheme of work at this stage, the traditional 'massed' singing approach may not always be appropriate. Vocal improvisation which can do much to develop concepts of melody, harmony and texture, should be encouraged and there should be scope for some part work, combination with instruments and frequent

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integration of songs into classroom ensembles. Recording, mixing and amplifying this work can further heighten interest. The expectations of the teacher should remain high and vocal work should not be allowed to degenerate into a routine, depersonalised sing-song.

Playing instruments

30. As described earlier in this paper, certain tuned and untuned classroom instruments can be used in ensembles after the acquisition of only a minimum of preparatory technique. The same applies to electronic keyboards and synthesisers where these are available. Two or three chords on half a dozen guitars will effectively accompany the remainder of the class when singing a folk song, work song or ballad. The addition of 'instant' percussion (tuned and untuned), recorders and keyboards of various kinds can involve a whole class. Some published material of this kind is available but many teachers find it more practicable to arrange non-copyright music specially for their class bands, incorporating whatever wind, string and other instruments are available. Such arrangements should allow for the fact that some children entering the secondary school have only a rudimentary knowledge of musical notation. If parts are carefully graded, however, such ensembles can provide the best incentive for the acquisition of further playing techniques and for developing sufficient notation reading skills for effective interpretation and communication in music. Schools should also recognise that pupils who have made progress with the study of an instrument need time for their lessons and for practising.


31. Improvisation enables children to gain an enhanced experience and understanding of the nature of music as participants responsible for its creation. Although the work needs to be carefully structured in the early stages, children can be encouraged to take initiatives within the framework provided. The structure may involve a chosen time signature and tempo in combination with a melodic and/or harmonic framework. The pentatonic scale (possibly modified by a flattened third in jazz improvisation), the whole tone scale, a four bar repeating ostinato (or ground bass), an eight bar chord sequence, or a 12 bar blues can all be used as a basis for exploration. Certain contemporary compositional techniques are also well suited to this kind of activity and some teachers prefer to begin in this way

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so as to establish an entirely new and exploratory approach, possibly in contrast to the styles of music encountered at an earlier educational stage. Aleatoric or 'random' music - whether improvised or played from graphic scores - provides access to a whole new 'soundscape' at an age when pupils reasonably expect to find something more innovatory in their music at school. The introduction of simple electronics using tape recorders, oscillators, electric keyboards, synthesisers and computers can give further stimulus to this work.


32. As pupils gain confidence in working as a class employing the basic raw materials and techniques of music, they should be given simple assignments in composition to be carried out in groups. Careful planning is needed if such group work is to be fully productive; children must be given reasonable tasks to perform in the course of which they can make their own decisions and exercise their own artistic judgement. 'Playback' and appraisal (both by the children and their teacher) is an essential part of this process and usually entails taking tape recordings for easier reference. This kind of course requires detailed preparation, the provision of specially produced assignment cards, adequate resources, constant assessment and effective evaluation.


33. The kind of programme outlined in the preceding paragraphs should itself provide pupils with extensive opportunities for critical listening in the course of their own music making. This should be supplemented by hearing live and recorded music much of which can be directly related to the practical work being undertaken in class. For instance, a group of children who have created their own march will be interested to compare their composition with examples written by Schubert, Sousa or Prokofiev; to take another example, those who have created their own avant garde 'soundscape' will listen all the more attentively to a piece by Stockhausen, Ligeti or Penderecki. This method of approach can also lead to a fruitful study of the political, social and commercial uses of music (for instance in war, during the industrial revolution, in religious or secular ceremonies, or as incidental music in TV, film and radio); attempts can be made to discover what characteristics in a piece of music reveal its time or place of origin. An examination of form and structure in music can be conducted similarly - but should always relate to the substance of the music rather than to the acquisition of mere facts about composers' lives and works.

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Music and other subjects; integrated work

34. As suggested above (paragraph 24) music relates naturally to many other subject areas. Some schools arrange their timetables in such a way that work in all the performing arts (music, drama and dance) can be grouped together, thus giving opportunities for inter-related arts activities to develop. In others, the making of musical instruments (including string, wind, percussion as well as simple electronic devices) has arisen directly from the demands of classroom performances. Modern language teaching can give rise to the singing of French, German, Spanish, Italian or other foreign language songs in the vernacular. Profitable links can also be made with most other subjects in the curriculum.

35. Further opportunities for integrated work - particularly in conjunction with staged drama - may occur outside the formal timetable. Many schools also hold regular rehearsals of orchestras, bands, choirs and other groups after school hours. There are fewer time constraints upon extra-curricular practices and, for musical activities, there is the additional advantage of being able to bring together players and singers of similar attainment but from different forms, from different age groups and occasionally from different schools (see Appendix 1).


36. Although many experienced teachers successfully undertake a 'workshop' approach with normal sized classes, such an arrangement is not ideal. Teaching music as a practical subject calls for smaller groups than those formed by most whole classes. Some form of 'blocking' or setting of music is desirable so that teaching groups do not normally exceed 20 and the composition of classes can be adjusted to suit the particular needs of pupils. Whatever the organisational pattern, it is essential in the first three years of secondary school, that sufficient time is allocated to enable worthwhile work of a practical kind to be undertaken with all pupils. Where music is a component of an integrated arts course it is particularly important to ensure that the time allowed for it is not unduly restricted. Some but by no means all secondary schools have purpose-built accommodation for music. Where this is the case a full range of activities ought to be possible. Where the accommodation is not so comprehensive the programme of work will be determined by the possibilities of the teaching space available and the ingenuity of the teachers.

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Music to age 16


37. Pupils who have studied music continuously up to the age of 16 should have had such experiences as to enable them, with varying degrees of skill and understanding, to:

  • memorise music as demonstrated by an ability to recall and reproduce rhythms and melodies and simple chord sequences by ear;
  • reach an appropriate standard of mastery of the techniques of singing, playing and reading music as demonstrated both in prepared and unprepared solo and group performance;
  • show the ability to embellish/develop/improvise vocally and/or instrumentally upon a given musical idea and to add (by ear) a counter melody/descant and/or a simple sequence of chords to a given melody;
  • demonstrate the ability to devise original statements in music (using voices, instruments and simple electronics) both for individual and group performance; work at such compositions using various systems (scalic, harmonic, aleatoric, ethnic, etc), forms (dance, song, variation, binary, ternary, rondo etc) and media (vocal, instrumental, voice(s) and instrument(s) combined, electronic etc);
  • respond with understanding to music in contrasting styles and evaluate the quality of live and recorded performances with regard to their accuracy, style, interpretation, orchestration etc;
  • identify and define the distinguishing characteristics of different pieces of music (period and country of origin, structure, instrumentation, function etc); with the aid of a score and recording to determine the form, nature and source of different pieces of music;
  • be sensitive to and have had experience of providing music for other artistic forms such as drama, dance, film, video, slide sequences, puppet theatre etc;
  • show evidence of a wide, varied and direct experience of music, and the ability to recognise something of its spiritual, emotional, therapeutic, social and educational qualities.
Content and method

38. For many pupils aged 14 to 16, music is offered as one of a series of options, it being assumed that many of those who

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make this particular choice will take an external examination in the subject at the end of the course. A few schools provide non-examination music courses in either or both of the fourth and fifth years. Some of these provide instrumental tuition - including opportunities for a late start in such instruments as brass, woodwind, guitar, keyboards, synthesiser and drums. Some offer opportunities to devise and perform music in combination with drama and dance; to master recording techniques; or pursue a musical project arising from a personal interest. Some but not all such activities might figure in an examined course and might, in certain circumstances, be taught in conjunction with it. The paragraphs that follow however, refer more particularly to two-year optional courses whose full range of objectives were summarised in the preceding paragraph and which may culminate in external examination at 16-plus.

39. The national criteria for music in the GCSE examination emphasise the central importance of performing, composing and listening. Although performance has figure in most CSE and in some O-level syllabuses for some time, the appearance in the new examination of composition (disregarding the elementary pastiche in earlier harmony papers) is something of an innovation. Assessment of the listening component is likely to be concerned more than hitherto with the actual sound and structure of music than with information about when and how it came to be written. Although not all that is worth doing can or should be examined and course syllabuses should not be unduly conditioned by the examination that attends them, important innovations of this kind are bound to have a significant effect upon future teaching and learning in the fourth and fifth year music classes in secondary schools.

40. Although it can be assumed that most fourth formers embarking upon a two year course in music will have some competence in performance and a reasonable knowledge of musical notation, the main emphasis (as in the course up to 14) should be upon the development of a range of critical and sensitive responses to music. Performance should consist of more than the rote learning of a few set pieces; pupils should be encouraged to develop practical musicianship and to take real musical initiatives. They should listen attentively to each other and frequently perform in ensembles so that they may discover from the inside the way music actually works. Playing by ear and improvising, sometimes believed to be forms of self-indulgence, can have a liberating effect on singers and players alike. For pop,

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jazz, folk and ethnic musicians, such approaches are fundamental to their art. Performance as taught and examined in schools should take full account of the rich variety of vocal and instrumental music making in contemporary society.

41. Playing by ear and improvising, as well as being effective activities in their own right, may also provide a starting point for composition. At some stage, all composition requires crafting and polishing; sometimes this can be done best by working at a piece on an actual instrument or voice. Arranging music is also a form of composition and one that is particularly suited to the needs of a relatively small group of committed young musicians in schooL Scoring a piece for the vocal and instrumental forces available in the class imposes constructive and realistic boundaries on what is possible, gives immediate insight into good harmonic practice, reveals some of the basic principles of orchestration and provides subsequent opportunities for the arranger to take practical responsibility for directing an authentic performance of the piece.

42. Pupils who have worked successfully in re-arranging existing music will be well on the way to composing entirely original pieces. Where possible, student work should be related to that of established composers working on similar problems. Sometimes, the starting point might be listening to a performance by a professional. Having heard a singer showing great feeling in the interpretation of a simple folk song, pupils might wish to compose a modern folk song for themselves, perhaps choosing a subject particularly related to their own interests. Such melodies sometimes lend themselves to the addition of chords (worked out by ear if necessary on guitar, autoharp or electric organ); a second voice could be added in the form of a descant or lower part. A parallel exercise could be carried out using instruments instead of voices; dance movements, variations, passacaglias or blues might all provide interesting patterns for work. In other projects, pupils might investigate the properties of the old ecclesiastical modes, the pentatonic, the whole tone and the 12 tone scales; they might also explore aleatoric or electronic procedures in composition. The field is enormous - so much so that teachers need to structure these courses carefully in order to ensure that pupils are not overwhelmed by the sheer volume of possibilities open to them.

43. Where pupils are actively engaged in performing, creating, re-creating and discussing their music, they should find ample opportunities to acquire acute and discriminating listening skills.

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Having performed and invented so much for themselves, they should be all the more aware of style, form and quality in the music of others. Programmes should be so devised that pupils are encouraged to listen to music with open, unbiased minds, exercising with proper modesty their own judgement of what they hear rather than relying unduly upon the assessments of others.

44. Young musicians in the fourth and fifth years are likely to be actively engaged in a variety of musical activities both in and out of school. More advanced performers will benefit from being given additional opportunities to sing and play alongside others of a similar standard; several may develop powers of leadership and skills which can be put to good use by offering themselves as accompanists, tutors for junior ensembles or as directors of sectional rehearsals as and when they may be required.


45. There has been long-standing controversy about the feasibility and even the desirability of assessing progress in aesthetic subjects. Opponents of the idea cannot see any way of evaluating development which intimately involves human feelings and emotions; proponents contend that the effectiveness of all forms of educational provision should be subject to regular assessment. Ironically, certain aspects of musical progress have been more thoroughly assessed (via graded examinations) than almost any other area of the curriculum. Unfortunately, such examinations do not always identify such elusive qualities as musicianship and creativity, sometimes valuing technical accomplishment above musical understanding.

46. While the challenges and limitations of the assessment of musical progress are readily acknowledged, evaluation should be undertaken by the teacher for the following reasons:

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  • effective assessment of pupils' progress helps the teacher to adjust courses to match changing needs;
  • systematic knowledge about individual progress is needed to inform pupils, parents and teachers.
47. The musical progress of younger children should be checked by class teachers in the context of their regular assessment of all other aspects of the pupil's development. The suggested objectives for various age groups listed earlier in this paper give some indication of what might reasonably be expected of children at various ages and stages. The assessment of older junior and younger secondary pupils should also be related to the objectives set out for particular age groups. The teacher/consultant with overall responsibility for music in the school would normally be involved in the process of assessment.

48. Aural tests seldom give a complete picture of aural awareness as some of the most helpful assessments can be made only when children are engaged in actual music making. Although short answer papers may conveniently be used in exercises designed to assess listening ability, the actual tasks should involve hearing musical excerpts of various kinds and require real discrimination on the part of pupils. Probably the most effective assessments are those which are built up cumulatively into a form of profile.

49. Diagnostic tests of musical ability give an objective assessment of children's aural awareness but tell very little about individual interest and motivation.

50. Effective systems of assessment may reveal shortcomings in certain pupils and developing abilities in others. Used with discrimination, they can lead to the provision of additional or remedial help for some and more advanced tuition for others. Information gained from such assessments should be made available to all concerned with the education of the pupil. In certain circumstances, a study of such findings can contribute to improvements in progression and continuity of the music education being provided.

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Appendix 1

Centrally provided music

Instrumental tuition

1. Virtually all LEAs employ a team of peripatetic instrumental specialists to work in schools, colleges and music centres. The instruments they teach include all bowed strings, all woodwind, percussion, band and orchestral brass. A few LEAs also offer lessons in pianoforte, guitar, voice and ethnic instruments. Some form of selection of pupils likely to benefit from instrumental tuition is usually unavoidable but evidence of determination and parental interest are often as important as innate musicality. An early start is desirable in teaching string and keyboard instruments and, for this reason, much of this work is often begun in primary and middle schools.

2. Instrumental tuition, especially in the early stages, is normally provided in groups. These should be reasonably small and homogeneous so that their members can progress together at the same rate. In this way, much routine teaching can be dealt with in the group and opportunities for regular ensemble work incorporated into the lessons. It may be necessary to give special encouragement to boys to take up an instrument so as to avoid the development of a possible imbalance in participation between the sexes. Most LEAs initially allow children to borrow instruments but may encourage them to acquire their own when progress is assured.

3. Many of those who have made a successful start on an instrument in the primary or middle school continue to learn it throughout the secondary phase either at school or in a music centre. A few LEAs give bursaries or special awards to enable children who have reached an appropriate standard to continue their lessons on an individual basis. Opportunities to play in an orchestra, band or other ensemble are provided in many schools and more advanced players may also be invited to join in area activities promoted in the music centre.

4. Occasionally, peripatetic teachers contribute to a school's class music programme; in some instances, this includes giving tuition to late beginners on instruments such as guitar, drums, keyboards and ethnic instruments.

Music centres

Most LEAs promote a variety of musical activities outside normal school hours in schools or other premises designated as

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music centres. Activities may include advanced or specialised tuition not otherwise available in the schools; aural and musicianship classes; tuition in a second instrument; and various forms of ensemble work including choral. Young players have the opportunity to join a group of an appropriate standard so as to tackle demanding music under more specialised direction than would normally be available in their own schools. Depending upon local circumstances, there may be orchestras and bands classified as elementary, intermediate and advanced as well as chamber groups, wind ensembles, recorder consorts, clarinet choirs, show bands, guitar groups, steel bands, string orchestras, ethnic and early music groups. Professional conductors are often engaged for the top orchestras and bands and sometimes professional players are appointed to coach individual sections. However, the direction of ensembles is usually in the hands of peripatetic instrumental teachers, operating according to their particular specialisms but under the overall direction of the music adviser or the head of centre. Public concerts are given, festivals attended and foreign tours and youth exchanges often arranged. Instrumental activity of this kind increasingly reaches a commendably high standard and confers considerable prestige upon both the participants and the supporting authority.

Schools, LEA and Instrumental Service Liaison

LEAs should publish their policies relating to instrumental work, outlining parents' and pupils' commitments, any financial complications, the criteria for selection, the role of the school and the responsibilities of the peripatetic teacher in relation to the school. Peripatetic teachers should be encouraged to provide a scheme for the school, outlining the music that is to be learnt, the stages of progress and the likely expectations. Regular written assessments of pupils' progress should be provided.

Much of the success of instrumental work depends upon an active partnership being maintained between schools and members of the instrumental service. The following checklist offers specific suggestions of ways in which schools can maintain or improve the efficiency of this joint provision:

  • there should be at least one teacher specifically designated to liaise with all visiting instrumental teachers;
  • an adequate room should be provided for the use of the visiting teacher and his pupils; a pianoforte, music stands, tape recorder and sheet music should be made available as necessary;

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  • children's attendance at lessons should be carefully checked and where rotas are employed, every effort made to ensure that children are reminded of the time of their next lesson before it occurs;
  • occasionally, designated teachers may be able to observe instrumental lessons, or even join the class as participants if desired; in this way, it is possible for them to know precisely what is being expected of the children in their charge;
  • the designated teacher should ensure that pupils carry out regular practice between lessons and arrange for it to be supervised wherever appropriate;
  • instrumental pupils should be included in appropriate ensemble activities as soon as they have reached the minimum standard required. Where possible, visiting instrumental teachers should be invited to assist with the coaching;
  • when their progress warrants it, children should be given the opportunity to hire or purchase their own instruments;
  • children should be encouraged to maintain their instruments carefully; it may be necessary to make temporary additional storage arrangements when instruments are brought to school on lesson or ensemble days;
  • it is important that the instrumental teacher provides a regular report on each pupil's progress;
  • the enlistment of sympathetic parental support for instrumental teaching is likely to contribute significantly to its overall success and it is essential that teachers recognise in their planning and expectations the heavy demands of time and cost that the parents of young instrumentalists often have to face.

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Appendix 2

Checklist for teachers of the 5 to 11 age group

In many primary and middle schools, there is at least one teacher who has rather more expertise in music than his or her colleagues. Such a teacher may have a designated responsibility for music throughout the school, coordinating all the musical activities both in and out of class and offering help and advice to less musically experienced class teachers. This usually includes the preparation of a written scheme of work setting out the school's aims and objectives in music and suggesting possible methods of approach for the non-specialist. The following checklist has been designed to assist teachers in carrying out their musical responsibilities.


1. Is there a written scheme of work?
2. Has it been discussed with all teachers who teach music?
3. Does it identify aims in the teaching of music?
4. Are these aims translated into objectives which provide realistic guidelines for lesson planning?
5. Does it offer a good balance of musical activity linked with the acquisition of necessary skills, concepts, attitudes and ideas?
6. Does it cater for pupil differences in terms of age, ability, interest, family and cultural background?
7. Does it give clear guidance as to content, method and assessment?
8. Does it list organisational needs (adequate time, resources, grouping, accommodation) for successful implementation of the activities?
9. Is it reviewed from time to time?


1. Has this been planned throughout the school?
2. Does each teacher involved know what the others have taught? Are careful records kept?
3. Are there discussions with teachers of other subjects in the school to develop complementary teaching?
4. Are pupils' backgrounds and individual needs known and are relevant records of their progress kept up to date?
5. What happens to these records? Are programmes of work and individual pupil records passed on?

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6. How do new arrivals into the school fit into the pattern of progression?


1. Is the role of the teacher with designated responsibility for music clearly defined?
2. What links are there with contributory schools? Does the designated teacher visit these schools? Is sufficient information received to enable a suitable curriculum to be formulated?
3. Are there sufficient and purposeful links with schools to which the pupils transfer? What musical records are transferred? Do they apply to all children?
4. Do parents have an opportunity to discuss their children's progress in music?

Professional development

1. How is a new member of staff inducted into the teaching of music?
2. Does the new teacher have the opportunity to observe other teachers and to discuss aims and ways of working?
3. What are the needs for school-based in-service training? How does the designated teacher respond to those needs?
4. Is the LEA adviser kept informed of the work? Is help sought on curriculum and staff development etc?
5. Are staff encouraged to attend local, regional or national courses?
6. Are the additional expertise or ideas acquired on such courses shared with other members of the staff?

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Appendix 3

Responsibilities of the Head of Department (Secondary) - checklist

1. After consultation with colleagues, the preparation of a scheme of work in relation to the staff, time and resources available.

2. Such a scheme should set out

  • aims,
  • objectives,
  • knowledge, understanding, attitudes and skills to be achieved by specified ages and stages
  • the areas of study and styles of teaching (including class management) through which these goals are to be achieved.
3. Support pupils by diagnosing their strengths and weaknesses, providing remedial help/extra tuition for particular pupils, analysing and attending to special needs or interest.

4. Maintain a continuing debate within the department by holding regular, minuted staff meetings to consider the above, test new approaches and materials as required and to revise and re-evaluate schemes of work in response to changing circumstances.

5. Arrange close liaison with the music adviser, visiting instrumental staff, contributory/receiver schools, music centre(s) and other centralised activities.

6. Work closely with departmental and senior management colleagues over such issues as:

  • time allocation including duration and frequency of periods;
  • timetabling - size of teaching groups, blocking, setting, team teaching;
  • accommodation for music - its adequacy, deployment, preservation, development;
  • purchase, allocation and security of all forms of musical equipment used in the department;
  • relationship and possible cooperation with other departments/disciplines;

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  • extra curricular activities including likely target groups, timing/siting, liaising with other staff members likely to attract a similar clientele;
  • support for other staff (including helping probationers to develop strengths and overcome weaknesses) to provide in-service training and maintain productive contact with visiting staff.
7. Keep musically alert and alive; avoid a closed mind and professional isolation.

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Appendix 4

Accommodation and equipment

Primary schools


Certain types of musical activity, especially those involving group work, are difficult to organise within the confines of a normal classroom. This is particularly the case in open plan schools. If a spare room is available in the school, possibly as a result of dwindling rolls, thought might be given to allotting it to music. Here are some of the ways in which such a room can be used to advantage:

  • if reasonably soundproof or isolated, music lessons and other activities can take place in it without causing serious disturbance to others;
  • furniture (including flat topped tables, music stands etc) can be chosen to suit the needs of a 'workshop' approach to music;
  • the specialist music room will provide a focus for musical activity and interest in the school;
  • instrumental tuition, practice and various ensembles can usually take place there with the necessary instruments and equipment readily to hand;
  • it will provide a convenient base from which the music specialist/co-ordinator can maintain oversight of instruments, beaters, sheet music, tapes and records.
Even if a specialist room is provided, it may still be preferable for some classes to be taught in their own form bases. Especially where the policy is for music to be taught 'a little and often' and where it is closely integrated with work in other subject areas, it could be disruptive to transfer the class to the music room for relatively short periods. In such circumstances, it is necessary for a trolley containing musical instruments and other materials to be available centrally to wheel into form rooms as and when required. Ideally, of course, every class base should have a fair selection of its own instruments, recordings, song books, charts etc in its music area in addition to there being a well equipped music room available in another part of the schooL


The number of musical instruments, music stands etc needed varies from school to school according to its size and

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circumstances. The equipment that is chosen should be strongly constructed and of good quality. The following list, by no means exhaustive, indicates the range of such apparatus in general use at the primary stage:

a. tuned - chime bars, glockenspiel, xylophone, metallophone, tubular bells, timpani; at least one bass instrument is normally required;
b. untuned - tambour, side drum, bass drum, bongo drums, tambourine, pair of cymbals, suspended cymbal, triangle, castanets, claves, maracas, Indian bells;

a. recorders and melodicas of various pitches/sizes;
b. orchestral woodwind and brass (depending upon availability of visiting instrumental teachers etc);

a. autoharp, chordal dulcimer, zither;
b. violin, viola, violoncello, double bass, guitar (the choice and size will depend upon the age of the pupils and the availability of visiting instrumental teachers);

a. pianoforte
b. electric keyboard/electronic organ

A/V aids:
record player, tape recorder, cassette recorder, junction boxes, overhead projector, TV set, VHF radio and video recorder; library of discs and tapes;

metronome, music stands, music board, charts, scores and song books.

Secondary Schools


It is helpful for the music suite to be associated with the hall or theatre; wherever situated, it should be accessible after school hours and, ideally, comprise the following:

    classrooms, one of 85 sq metres and the other(s) of at least 53 sq metres with high ceilings, good acoustic properties, sound-

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    proofing and moveable furnishings suited to rehearsal/workshop/teaching conditions;
  • soundproofed teaching/instrumental/practice rooms of around 8 sq metres - preferably grouped around and accessible to the main classrooms; at least one should be large enough to accommodate ensemble work (15 to 20 sq metres if possible);
  • electronic/recording studio (well secured) preferably with a glazed view of the larger classroom;
  • space(s) for secure permanent and temporary storage of instruments and other equipment with built in and adjustable compartments as appropriate;
  • repair area with working surfaces and sink;
  • foyer/circulation area (with toilets off) with extensive display facilities.


A checklist of principal needs would include:

  • classroom musical instruments (sufficient for classes to operate simultaneously); these should comprise tuned and untuned percussion (including full sized orchestral/band percussion, drum kit etc), recorders, guitars, electric keyboards, synthesiser(s), computer;
  • other musical instruments: orchestral and band instruments for long term or temporary loan, keyboards instruments including pianofortes, electric organ(s), electric keyboards (with headphone/monitoring facilities), ethnic and early instruments;
  • audiovisual aids including whiteboards, overhead projector, good stereo recording systems, (with playback facilities for disc and tape), slide projector, reprographic equipment with video and compact disc if possible.
  • printed materials (published and home produced): books and scores (including set works for examination candidates), leaflets, worksheets, song books etc;
  • library: books, discs and tapes; access to the central library for sets of scores, instrumental parts, discs, tapes, videos etc.