Mr. C Duffy
We want our students to be valuable citizens of society, community and country.
‘When words fail, music speaks’
Along with Mathematics and Science, music is a truly international language.
We built the curriculum with the intent that students will be:
Communication is an integral part of a musician’s toolkit. Any musical performance will include a presentation of some variety by way of a speech to introduce a performance; the performance itself and also a reflection. We include this model in our teaching by including a performance opportunity in every single lesson. The PIN marking strategy that is embedded in KS3 and KS4 contributes to the inclusion of musical theory knowledge, a glossary of key music elements and terminology. At KS4, we communicate extended exam questions. Reading to support music and literacy is a key factor in our ‘Do Now’ activities. This theoretical access for students means that we can spend more time doing practical music making.
The World music project/scheme of work studied in Year 8 features music from all over the world. Not only do we study the music, we study the historical, geographical and cultural elements within that genre to ensure that students are fully aware and have an appreciation of its origins. For example, when studying Latin music and Caribbean music, we read about and discussed the geography of those regions, the political and historical migrations that have contributed to the evolution of the genres. We also use a combination of old and new music to represent historical evolution of the respective genres.
Scientific research and personal experiences show that a playing music is an important part of mental wellbeing. The ability of a musician to express emotions in a healthy and creative way has proved to be a fantastic outlet for many students that have studied music over the years, and continues to be. A successful musician develops the skills to multitask and prioritise time efficiently. These are essential skills for life. Student voice is very positive regarding the effects that learning music has had on their health and wellbeing. For a significant number of students, a love of music has improved attendance and behaviour across all subjects. When these students were asked about the reasons for this positive change, their responses where: VO: “I like the feeling of being good at something, it makes me feel like I am important and it keeps me calm. Everyone is good at something, and I am good at music.” Another student RK: “Music has given me something to focus on, I don’t always try as hard in other subjects, but I know that if I work hard and listen then I will get better at all things”.
Becoming an expert on a musical instrument is a series of long and medium term projects. Mastery takes discipline and prepares students for the world when personal or business matters require good and effective management.
Extra-curricular opportunites for our students have opened up a whole new world to them. During my short tenure we have had trips and performances alongside our music partners, Bolton Music Service, GM Music Hub, Chethams and the Halle. Our students have seen world class orchestras for the first time, worked alongside professional musicians, performed at some of the most prestigious local stages.
Memory and numeracy is scientifically proven to improve due to studying music and learning an instrument. A successful musician will have a repertoire of several songs at least and many musical patterns (rhythmical, harmonic and melodic) that need to be remembered and ingrained. There are many studies that show increased brain activity and function when learning a music instrument, over time this can often result in improvements in other subject areas such as maths and science. A student, SH, explains that: “some subjects in science are now much easier because I understand what amps and wavelengths mean now because I can see how they are used in music”.
All students who progress through KS3 and KS4 in music are able to set up very technically challenging instruments. This includes traditional instruments and more modern electronic instruments including mixers, amplifiers, music software, computer hardware, effects units, microphones, keyboards, synthesisers. Confidence in technical skills is beneficial for the future as the world is now full of technology in all sectors. KS3 students can all operate acoustic and technical instruments. Students who access extra-curricular music provision can operate more music technology due to increased time and instruction. KS4 students can all operate every relevant piece of technology available to them to get the best outcomes from the technology.
The ability to be creative is a central part of studying music. Improvising, composing music and performing music all enable learners to deal with a myriad of challenges that may and often do crop up. A creative solution is almost always necessary to enable the ‘show to go on!’ Most creativity in music and in the wider world revolves around problem solving. Musicians often develop the skills to analyse more thouroughly and take a measured approach before designing and implementing a solution. These solutions tend to be more effective and longer lasting than those who embark on a solution before fully understanding the problem. Musicians can be soloists, but when asked the question, musicians always tend to prefer and gravitate to learning/performing as part of a group/ensemble. Orchestra’s, bands, choirs etc are very historically enduring ensembles and provide a thriving opportunity for musicians to collaborate and work as a team. Differentiation is a prevalent part of music teaching and enables teams of different abilities to work together. The Beatles were an example of the perfect team working in harmony.