Ofsted inspections are increasingly focusing on how schools are providing a broad and balanced curriculum, where creative subjects such as Music play a key part. With pressures to reach the raised standards for English and Mathematics, this presents a challenge for teachers, especially when teaching year groups where children are taking the Statutory Assessment Tests (SATs). However, making the time to include creativity and Music in the curriculum, will positively benefit both your children and your school.
What are the benefits from providing children with musical experiences?
Music is clearly a subject that has a high value in its own right. However, research also demonstrates that music can support children’s learning in a wide range of areas:
There are so many physical benefits to playing musical instruments. As children explore and make sounds they develop both their fine and gross motor skills, through using different parts of their bodies and by manipulating tools such as beaters, when they play chimes or drums. In addition, they will improve their co-ordination, by moving their arms, and even legs to differing rhythms and beats.
English and Mathematics:
By giving your pupils opportunities to play musical instruments, you can also develop skills that will support children in more academic subjects. It is well known among the education profession that teaching children rhymes, poetry and songs is of vital importance, as they develop pupils’ phonological awareness and improve their sound discrimination skills, a pre-requisite for early phonics, reading and writing. The rhythms and patterns children explore in Music support the patterns found in Mathematics too. In addition, playing a musical instrument can improve concentration skills and teach children the importance of perseverance, a key skill when faced with challenging tasks.
Another benefit of playing and exploring with musical instruments is that they provide pupils with opportunities to work collaboratively, whether experimenting with instruments in child-led activities or playing in a class ensemble. Through playing instruments with others, your pupils will not only learn to co-operate, but also develop the ability to listen, concentrate and take turns: important life skills for children in any age group of the primary phase.
Emotional / Communication Development:
For many years, experts, such as Music Therapists, have recognised the way Music can be beneficial to children’s communication and emotional development. Music can support children by teaching them to interact with others by using sound and through giving them an outlet for emotions they struggle to express verbally. Although these benefits can be experienced by any child, such experiences can be particularly powerful for pupils with Special Educational Needs. Music gives all children an effective medium, through which they can be creative and express their feelings and channel their emotions without inhibition.
Schools recognise the importance of developing children’s understanding and respect for other cultures, especially as some pupils have had little experience of encountering cultures that differ from their own. As a result, teachers use a wide of range strategies to educate children different cultures and religions. Music provides a particularly exciting and memorable, often interactive, starting point for the exploration of cultures, both within and outside of the UK, so why not find out how your pupils respond to inspirational musical experiences, by increasing their exposure to music?
Traditionally, pupils had frequent opportunities to develop their imagination but in recent years, such opportunities have become more limited, meaning children now often find it harder to tackle new problems that require ingenuity! However, Music still provides schools with a versatile tool that can inspire pupils to use their imaginations as they improvise and create their own compositions.
How can schools maximize music opportunities?
Finding the time to include musical activities in the classroom, initially appears challenging, but there are a range of ways Music can easily be incorporated into the day of any learner.
Within your setting, why not set up inspirational creative learning areas stimulating child-initiated play, where pupils can access musical instruments independently? By also providing interesting, musical environments in your outside area, your children will have the freedom to make noise, be creative and interact with their natural surroundings while playing and exploring. Such inspiring musical spaces can be designed and created in a range of places, including Early Years outdoor areas, playgrounds or as part of a sensory garden.
In the classroom, music can also effectively be incorporated into everyday routines and activities, through music, rhymes and songs; it is also easy to build music into regular assembly times. Music can be an effective assistant in managing mood, energy and learning in the classroom. Visit http://www.greatexpectations.org/the-rock-n-roll-classroom-using-music-to-manage-mood-energy-and-learning to find out more about the useful book ‘The Rock and Roll Classroom’!
Find out how a Bradford Primary School has had great success in improving moral, learning and results through adding lots more music to the curriculum, rather than extra maths or literacy classes at https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/oct/03/school-results-music-bradford.
For older children, schools can continue to take of advantage of formal musical learning opportunities on offer. https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/sep/02/10-resources-for-teaching-music offers 10 great ways of building music into the curriculum from Early Years to Secondary School.
What funding is available to support school Music?
Finding funding and providing Music lessons, has often been challenging for primary teachers who do not specialise in this area. However, in 2017, the government made over £75 million available to Music Hubs to provide children with musical experiences; through this funding, schools can apply for grants from the First Access programme to provide specialist music tuition for pupils from Key Stages 1 to 3, as well as professional development for staff. Through doing this, schools cannot only give pupils opportunities to play instruments traditionally found in classrooms, such as the recorder, but can also offer broader experiences for pupils, including African drumming.
There are so many ways music can be effectively incorporated into the school day, so don’t delay in thinking how to build more musical opportunities into your school, so your pupils will reap the benefits academically, emotionally and physically. You will find staff moral will improve too, as music brings a bit of magic to everyone’s lives!
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