Teaching Secondary Music


Edited by: Jayne Price & Jonathan Savage

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    List of Abbreviations

    AfLAssessment for Learning
    CRBCriminal Records Bureau
    DCSFDepartment for Children, Schools and Families
    D&TDesign and Technology
    DfEDepartment for Education
    GCSEGeneral Certificate of Secondary Education
    ICTInformation and Communication Technology
    INSETIn-Service Training
    MIDIMusical Instrument Digital Interface
    NAMENational Association of Music Educators
    PATPortable Appliance Testing
    PGCEPost-Graduate Certificate of Education
    PLTSPersonal, Learning and Thinking Skills
    PSHEPersonal, Social and Health Education
    OfstedOffice for Standards in Education
    QCAQualifications and Curriculum Authority
    QCDAQualifications and Curriculum Development Agency
    QCFQualifications and Credit Framework
    SEALSocial and Emotional Aspects of Learning
    VLEVirtual Learning Environment

    About the Editors

    Jayne Price is the Music Education Coordinator, MTL Course Leader and MA tutor in the School of Education and Professional Development at the University of Huddersfield. She taught for 15 years as a music teacher and Head of Music in secondary schools in Derbyshire and Leeds and as CPD Coordinator with responsibility for the training and development budget. She has a particular interest in the early professional development of teachers and her work on the MA is closely linked to this area. She was the Lead Regional Subject Advisor for Music in the National Curriculum in Yorkshire and the Humber.

    Jonathan Savage is a Reader in Education at the Institute of Education, Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow to the Royal Northern College of Music. He has a wide range of interests related to teaching and educational research. He is Managing Director of http://UCan.tv, a not-for-profit company that produces educational software and hardware including Sound2Picture, Sound2Game and Hand2Hand. Jonathan also works as an educational consultant for CfBT, NAME, Roland UK, the TDA and other industrial partners. Jonathan maintains a blog (http://www.jsavage.org.uk) and free educational resources (http://www.ucan.me.uk).

    About the Contributors

    Anthony Anderson is the subject leader for Music and an AST at Beauchamp College, Leicestershire. He was Lead Regional Subject Advisor for the East Midlands for Music in the National Curriculum. He writes regularly for Rhinegold and is music curriculum consultant for Espresso Education and Channel 4 Learning.

    David Ashworth is a freelance education consultant, specialising in music technology. He is Project Leader for http://www.teachingmusic.org.uk and ICT consultant for Musical Bridges. Other recent work has included consultancy for Musical Futures, Trinity/OU, QCDA, BBC and Teachers TV, and CPD design and delivery for SSAT and many LEAs and music services. He is currently leading a number of projects in the North West of England and elsewhere on the use of ICT in live performance.

    Carolyn Cooke is a subject leader for the Open University Music PGCE course. Prior to this she was Head of Music in a large secondary school and a Regional Subject Advisor for Music in the National Curriculum in the South East.

    Martin Fautley is Professor of Education at Birmingham City University. For many years he was a secondary school teacher, subsequently undertaking doctoral research at Cambridge University into the teaching, learning and assessment of creative acts in the classroom. His research interests encompass creativity, composing music, assessment, activity theory, and teaching and learning in the arts. He has published academic research articles in Music Education Research, British Journal of Music Education and Music Education International.

    Jane Humberstone is an Advanced Skills Teacher for the East Sussex Music Service and Secondary Curriculum Chair for the National Association of Music Educators, and was the South East Lead Regional Subject Adviser for Music in the National Curriculum. She has also engaged with and delivered INSET for the KS3 Music Programme, Exemplification of Standards and Assessing Pupil Progress. In her previous school (an 11–16 Performing Arts College) she was responsible for the implementation of Assessment for Learning.

    Phil Kirkman lectures on the Music PGCE course at the University of Cambridge and teaches at secondary level in a comprehensive school in Suffolk. After several years of teaching and in management at secondary schools he moved into educational research and continues to work in areas relating to music teaching and learning, new educational technologies, compositional development and learner agency.

    Kevin Rogers has been County Inspector with Hampshire Music Service for the past ten years, including a secondment to the Secondary National Strategy in 2005/2006 to lead on the KS3 music programme. He has also worked recently with QCDA on two national assessment projects involving music at KS3.

    Alex Timewell is a passionate musician and general enthusiast for anything to do with music. Alex has worked for more than ten years as a Lecturer in Music and Performance Skills at a large UK further education college and is conducting a research project in music education for his PhD.


    Welcome to this book on music education. We hope you will find it an interesting and helpful collection of ideas about music and how it can best be taught in our schools.

    This book is published at an interesting time. Under the previous Labour government, a series of curriculum reforms took place which asserted the primacy of the National Curriculum in all state schools. Music was a key part of these reforms, and a new statement about music and its place in the education of all our young people was central to this. As a curriculum subject, Music was included in this National Curriculum and, consequently, was an entitlement for all pupils and an essential element in their schooling from the ages of 5 to 14.

    Today's political climate is more uncertain. The new Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition is reconsidering the role and function of a National Curriculum. Already, the proposed free schools and new academies are exempt from following the National Curriculum. The recent publication of the White Paper (DfE 2010) called The Importance of Teaching has confirmed a number of things in this respect; it has set out a series of proposals and allows us, probably for the first time, to get a clear idea of where things are heading.

    This has been a worrying period of time for music education. It is currently under a governmental review, being led by Darren Henley. So, it is interesting to examine this White Paper to see what, if any, conclusions can be drawn about music and its place within the school curriculum. Whatever the recommendations of the Henley review, they will have to fit within this broader policy framework.

    Firstly, there is going to be another revision of the National Curriculum. Despite 2010–11 being the first academic year when the whole of Key Stage 3 is being taught the current version of the National Curriculum for the first time, the Coalition has made a clear decision that this is not fit for purpose.

    When it comes to the primary and secondary curriculum, the general theme of the White Paper is to reduce what the Coalition sees as unnecessary prescription, bureaucracy and central control. Their view is that the National Curriculum in its current form weighs teachers down and saps their ability to be innovative and creative.

    So, the White Paper proposes to review the National Curriculum over the next year or so, leading to the implementation of a new National Curriculum in September 2012. The next generation of the National Curriculum will set out ‘clearly the core knowledge and understanding that all children should expected to acquire in the course of their schooling’ (see DfE 2010: para. 4.7). Part of this revision will be a greater focus on subject content (ibid., para. 4.9). The final documentation will be ‘slim, clear and authoritative (ibid., para. 4.12). At this point, it mentions that parents should be able to use its contents to hold schools to account.

    The establishment of an English Baccalaureate has a prominent place in the White Paper. This will be awarded to students who secure ‘good GCSE or iGCSE passes in English, mathematics, the sciences, a modern or ancient foreign language and a humanity such as history or geography’. None of the arts subjects have been included within this framework.

    Early indications seem to be that head teachers will be keen to develop this award as there will be a separate record of the number of pupils getting this new award in new, published performance tables. Those schools that, in the words of the White Paper, 'succeed in giving their pupils a properly rounded academic education’ will be more easily identified (ibid., para. 4.22). Arts subjects clearly fall outside this boundary. The White Paper does not say that they are not part of an academic education but, by omission, one can see that the view is that the arts are clearly not thought of as academic or worthy of inclusion. At Key Stage 4, there is a prescription in the White Paper that schools will be encouraged to offer ‘a broad set of academic subjects to age 16, by introducing the English Baccalaureate’. Well, as we have seen already, music is clearly not conceptualised as an academic subject in this White Paper nor is it, or any of the arts, within the Baccalaureate. There are real dangers that this will lead to a reduction in music courses provided at Key Stage 4.

    One of the few (three) references to music in the White Paper may be found at para 4.31. Here it is in full:

    Children should expect to be given a rich menu of cultural experiences. So we have commissioned Darren Henley to explore how we can improve music education and have more children learning to play an instrument. The Henley Review will also inform our broader approach to cultural education. We will support access to live theatre, encourage the appreciation of the visual and plastic arts and work with our great museums and libraries to support their educational mission.

    Music, it seems, will form part of a cultural ‘package’ within the curriculum. It seems highly likely that Music will loose its place as a separate and discrete subject with the curriculum. It will be left to individual schools to decide how and when it is offered and to whom. From other comments made by the Secretary of State for Education in interviews on various media outlets immediately after the launch of the White Paper, it seems that he is imagining that schools will spend 50 per cent of their time on the National Curriculum subjects, with the other 50 per cent being at the discretion of the school. An uncharitable view could be that no prescription for music within the Key Stage 3 curriculum leads to no entitlement and no coherent, systematic and developmental progression for every child's music education. However, there is much to be decided and future policy announcements in 2011 will clarify this situation further.

    Finally, additional worries about a two-tier system are still very prevalent. As we see in 4.14, academies and free schools will have the freedom not to follow the National Curriculum at all ‘where they consider it appropriate’ not to do so, but they will be required to teach a ‘broad and balanced’ curriculum. But this phrase, although having a historical resonance, is not defined. Many anticipate that this will lead to many children not receiving any music education at all within their compulsory schooling.

    Trying to second guess these political changes is difficult. Similarly, pinning one's colours to any specific political ‘mask’ is unhelpful in a book like this. Rather, we (that is the editors and the individual chapter authors) have tried to produce a practical, and at times personal, account of how music should be taught and learnt within in our schools. In our view, this starts with the work of the teacher. Interestingly, recent initiatives in music have often prioritised the student or ‘learner’ and put them in a central position within formal educational settings. There is much of value in such approaches. But, fundamentally, we believe that it is the teacher who has the ultimate say in where teaching and learning within a formal educational setting such as a classroom begins. They have a choice to make. Formal, didactic teaching may be at one end of that spectrum; informal, student-led learning at the other. Either way, the choice is one that that the teacher has to make. Even not making an ‘apparent’ choice (and allowing students to decide) is, ultimately, a choice by the teacher in this respect.

    So, what follows is a model for teaching and learning in music that is loosely based around the current National Curriculum for Music. Perhaps you are wondering why, given the current political uncertainly outlined above, we have chosen to use the National Curriculum framework for Music as a structure for this book? If, as seems possible, this framework may be removed or significantly slimmed down in forthcoming changes to the National Curriculum, why use it here at all?

    These are good questions but there are good answers. Firstly, we believe that the current National Curriculum for Music provides a sound and comprehensive basis for successful teaching and learning in music. The majority of the authors in this book, including both of the editors, had no part to play in the construction of this framework. However, we believe that it presents a coherent and extremely helpful outline. The latest version of the National Curriculum published in 2007 built on the previous revision of 2000. This, in turn, was a helpful re-examination of the curriculum devised and implemented in the early 1990s. So, there is a strong historical tradition to the ideas and approaches inherent with the National Curriculum that we ignore at our peril.

    Secondly, the National Curriculum orders present a systematic approach to teaching and learning in music within a broader curriculum framework that links other subjects, themes and ideas together in a holistic manner. While cross-curricular or inter-disciplinary approaches (and these are quite distinct) may seem a step beyond the main purpose of this book, we will argue in what follows that maintaining a broader perspective relating to music and its place within a child's education should be an essential aspect of every teacher's work.

    Thirdly, all the writers within this book have seen the benefits in the teaching and learning of music that this framework has had on teachers working with it over the last few years. They were all part of a curriculum development project run by the National Association of Music Educators and CfBT Education Trust. This project supported the work of music teachers across the United Kingdom in numerous ways. By working closely with teachers, through large training events to one-to-one support in the planning of individual units of work, we have seen how the ideas contained within the National Curriculum for Music can be usefully applied to help broaden the ways that music can be best taught within our classrooms.

    If you are someone who is just about to embark on a career in the teaching of music in our schools, or if you are an established teacher of music, we are sure that you will find plenty of value in the following pages. We are not arrogant enough to say that all the answers are here, but there is plenty of experience here to learn from. We trust that you will be open and receptive to new ideas. No one is the perfect teacher and we are all still learning. These ideas are offered in that spirit of shared discovery. In the words of an African proverb:

    If you want to go fast go alone,

    If you want to far go together.

    Department for Education (2010) The Importance of Teaching. London: DFE. Also available online at: http://publications.education.gov.uk/default.aspx?PageFunction=productdetails&PageMode=publications&ProductId=CM+7980 (last accessed 15 December 2010).

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