What does an excellent primary music lesson look like?


Excellent primary music lessons are MUSICAL. Children participate in real music-making activities that would be recognisable as such outside of the classroom. They listen to, perform and compose real music from a range of genres, cultures and styles.

Lessons are differentiated, not just by general ability level but musically. Pupils bring their instruments to lessons and in so doing make connections between their curricular and extra-curricular musical lives. Pupils’ musical tastes are taken into consideration and valued, so that the music that they bring to the classroom is given equal importance to that provided by the teacher.

Music is the dominant language of the lesson. Verbal instruction is concise, and pupils spend the majority of the session making music. Wherever possible, pupils demonstrate understanding through music-making rather than through verbal or written response.

Music is taught for music’s sake. Music lessons may link to other areas of the curriculum, but their sole purpose is not to support other subjects. Music lessons are based around the national curriculum, and the progressive development of musical skills, knowledge and understanding, not around ‘topic songs’ or other such cross-curricular concerns.

Pupils sing, move, play and create to internalise musical concepts, which are then made conscious by the teacher to ensure both practical and theoretical understanding. Theory and practice go hand in hand so that music is both felt and understood.

Pupils are supported and challenged as listeners, composers and performers, and demonstrate high levels of enjoyment and engagement. The teacher also demonstrates a high level of enjoyment!

Our nationwide programme of Excellence in Primary Music courses continues in February 2016. See our Teacher CPD Course page for further details.

Elizabeth Stafford

February 2015

Updated February 2016