“Music is about communication, creativity and cooperation, and by studying music in schools, students have the opportunity to build on these skills, enrich their lives, and experience the world from a new perspective.” – William J Clinton
Our Aim/Vision Of Music at The Leys
Music is a foundation subject in the National Curriculum. At the Leys, we believe that every child should be given the opportunity to express themselves in this subject. All children have weekly class curriculum music lessons and take part in singing assemblies. Music is taught in a practical way; exploring the musical elements of pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture, structure and appropriate musical notations. We have high expectations and encourage every individual to reach their full potential. During the school year, there are many opportunities for children to share their music-making in performances to each other, parents and the wider local community.
Singing, playing and composing music offers great opportunities for self expression, non-verbal communication, cooperation and teamwork. It also improves listening skills and helps with learning in other subjects too. It has even been scientifically proven that studying and creating music helps to grow and strengthen neural pathways in the brain. It is powerful and can change your mood. Music is all around us in life, and has an important role to play in well being and the feeling of belonging to a community. Children may not become musical performers in later life but taking part in musical activities can deepen their understanding and give great pleasure!
“If I had not studied music, there would be no Macintosh computers today.” Jef Raskin
(Human-computer interface expert, best known for conceiving and starting the Macintosh project at Apple Computers in the late 1970s)
Delivery Of Music at The Leys
Most children at The Leys are taught by our music specialist teacher, using a combination of different schemes taking the best ideas from each. The learning has a music skills-based focus and is progressive. Skills are revisited many times as children progress through the school, each time building on their past experience and understanding. The Kodaly method and the Orff approach are used extensively.
The Kodaly method, (named after the Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly,) uses a child-development approach to sequence, introducing skills according to the capabilities of the child. New concepts are introduced beginning with what is easiest for the children and progressing to the more difficult. Children are first introduced to musical concepts through experiences such as listening, singing, or movement. It is only after the child becomes familiar with a concept that he or she learns how to name and then later notate it. Concepts are consistently reviewed and reinforced through games, movement and songs.
The Orff approach, (developed by the German composer, Carl Orff,) is a developmental approach to music education. This method engages the child’s mind and body through a mixture of singing, dancing, acting and the use of percussion instruments. It combines music, movement, drama and speech into lessons that are similar to a child’s world of play.
Subject Overview 2023-24
Progression through the school
In EYFS action songs are often sung in circle time and children are given the opportunity to explore instruments freely in their classroom and outside area. There is also a weekly singing assembly with the music specialist.
KS1 pupils learn many songs, rhymes and games. The voice is the first means of musical expression and the children are encouraged to explore what their voices can do, (timbre, dynamics, pitch, duration.) The singing voice is developed and the children begin to control their voice to pitch match. Lessons contain lots of fun practical activities including exploring the percussion instruments and how they make a sound. They are taught how to play the instruments with correct technique and have their first experience of accompanying stories with sounds and songs with rhythm patterns. The computer programme Purple Mash is used in year 2 for composition.
“I like playing the boomwackers because they make really nice musical sounds.”“It is fun and you can hit them on your hand and on the floor!”
Year 3 children are taught how to play the recorder or boomwackers in their music lessons by our music specialist teacher. Once they have learnt a few notes, they are encouraged to improvise and compose their own music. They also learn how to read simple rhythms and pictorial musical notation which prepares them for learning traditional music staff notation in the future.
Year 4 pupils have weekly music lessons with our music specialist teacher. They learn about the science of sound and this is linked to how musical instruments are categorised into the 4 “families” of instruments, strings, woodwind, brass and percussion. They are also introduced to traditional staff notation and more complicated rhythms. They continue to use the musical elements, with increasing understanding, in their performances and compositions.
Our year 5 children are taught by a peripatetic music teacher from Hertfordshire Music Service. They learn how to play the steel pans together as part of a steel band ensemble; exploring typical cross rhythms from genres such as calypso, soca and reggae.
They find out about: the history of music in the Caribbean; other steel band performances from Trinidad to the UK; great calypsonians; and how steel pans are made. Y5 students will have the opportunity to play on 4 different types of steel pan ranging from Bass, Guitar, Double Second and Tenor. They play a wide range of pieces from classical to calypso to help support their understanding of steel pan playing technique, pitch, dynamics, tempo, timbre, structure, duration and notation. They perform their music at our school concerts and The Leys School Fairs.
At present, our year 6 cohort are taught by their own class teachers. They focus on: improving their singing skills, singing in 2 or more parts and widening their vocal range and repertoire; accompanying songs with both unpitched and pitched percussion instruments, showing a deeper understanding of how chords and harmony underpin music; composing their own music, linked to their class topics; studying the chronology of the history of music and the importance of the context, audience and the purpose of the music; and exploring improvisation with different timbres and music structures.
Enrichment Activities at The Leys
We have a Music Week which involves everyone. During this, we focus on listening to music and the children explore their different responses to it creatively in artwork, prose or poems. In the past we have had a visiting musician who helped pupils to broaden their music horizons and create music in new and different ways. There is also a quiz for the whole school to join in.
Children in Key Stage Two are offered the opportunity to take private piano lessons, as an extra, on a one to one basis through Herts Music Service.
“It’s fun and relaxing. It’s good to play songs you know well after a stressful day.” Year 4 piano pupil.“I like learning new techniques and new songs.” Year 5 piano pupil.“ I enjoy playing some really cool pieces now that I’m a higher grade. My favourite piece is ‘Hound Dog’ !“ Year 6 piano pupil.
There is a Leys School Choir which usually meets to rehearse weekly, and is open to all children from Y4-Y6. There is no audition and all are welcome. They have a big, annual trip to a massed choir event - either Young Voices or Herts Music Service Gala at the Royal Albert Hall in London, which is always popular and very exciting!The choir regularly sings at school events, fairs and concerts, including a Christmas performance in the nearby church. They also perform at local community events, such as the switching on of the Christmas tree lights in the neighbourhood and at a community lunch to entertain the over 60s.
The Leys School Choir at The Royal Albert Hall, March 2020 (below)
Latest Class News
23rd April 2021