At Frogmore Junior School, we teach music using the Charanga Curriculum. Charanga is an online resource that can be accessed in every classroom using the interactive whiteboard. Each lesson, the children are introduced to a new piece of music that they engage with through active listening. They are encouraged to reflect on what they can hear through answering questions that range from the types of instruments that they can hear; whether the piece of music tells a story; how the piece of music makes them feel; whether the piece of music reminds them of anything. This provides an opportunity for the children to make links with what they have learned about the elements of music and hear these elements in context. This can make the musical theory that they have leaned seem more meaningful. During each Charanga music lesson, the children will learn to sing a song and to play along with the piece of music using recorders, xylophones and glockenspiels. Music is incorporated into the weekly routine of the whole school through fortnightly singing assemblies and many children are members of the school choir and I Rock programme. The children in the choir (and the staff) enjoy the annual trip to the O2 to sing with the young voices – this is one of the largest school choir performances in the world!
At Frogmore, we believe that children should be given the opportunity to experience and appreciate music from all genres. We also believe that music can be powerful and can be used to motivate, uplift, and relax our pupils. We would like our children to have the opportunity to learn to play musical instruments as we understand that not all children will have these opportunities in their home lives. The charanga curriculum provides the opportunity for children to learn to be critical about what they hear and use musical terminology when describing the composition of the music. In addition, the weekly lessons enable them to engage with musical instruments and consolidate their musical theory learning through putting their skills to use.
At Frogmore, music is taught once per week for between 45 mins to an hour. All children in the school also attend Singing Assembly once per fortnight. At the end of the Autumn term, we hold a carol concert – each year group will learn a Christmas carol and perform this to the whole school and to parents who come to listen. The whole school also learn some carols that they perform all together for the parents. Often during French and Spanish lessons, the children will learn to sing songs in a foreign language.
The introduction of the Charanga curriculum has improved accessibility to music teaching for staff across the whole school. Using these online lesson formats, it is now possible to teach children to play along to music with musical instruments in every classroom. Children are now able to access high quality teaching across all areas of the music curriculum – the majority of staff at Frogmore would not claim to be musicians but are now able to deliver engaging lessons utilising musical instruments. The children at Frogmore are enthusiastic about music lessons and look forward to these sessions. The same can be said for the fortnightly singing assemblies which are fun, engaging, and accessible to all.
What a ‘typical’ lesson looks like:
A typical music lesson begins with the introduction of a piece of music, either instrumental or song. The children listen and appraise the piece by considering questions such as "What do you hear?" "Do you like this piece of music?" We move onto pulse and rhythm games using body percussion and movement. These progress into sung exercises including call and response and practising rhythms from the focus piece. We then move onto learning to perform. This varies depending on the unit from performing a song to performing the piece on tuned instruments such as the recorder and keyboard. Lessons are taught once a week for 45-60 minutes. The learning question is shared with the class at the beginning of each lesson and teachers can use both online resources and musical instruments during lessons.