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“Music washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.” Berthold Auerback


Music Curriculum Intent

Our intent for music can be summed up through this quote from the DfE’s Model Music Curriculum. “Music is all around us. It is the soundtrack to our lives. Music connects us through people and places in our ever-changing world. It is creative, collaborative, celebratory and challenging. Music can bring communities together through the shared endeavour of whole-school singing, ensemble playing, experimenting with the creative process and performing. The sheer joy of music making can feed the soul of a school community, enriching each student.”


At Essa, we want to inspire, engage and challenge children by equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to become confident, enthusiastic, skilled musicians, with a love and appreciation of all different styles of music. Our music curriculum is ambitious, engaging and inclusive for all our children, enabling them to develop their skills across a range of genres, musical styles and disciplines. We want every child to view themselves as a born musician.

The children deepen their understanding of music through learning key facts such as music notation, vocabulary and composers across a range of genres, historical periods, styles and traditions (substantive knowledge). This is achieved through deliberate practice and allows children to develop and demonstrate fluency of knowledge They also develop their expertise as musicians by learning the musical skills they need to use their substantive knowledge effectively (disciplinary knowledge). This involves the interpretation of the interrelated dimensions of music (pulse, tempo, texture, rhythm, dynamics, structure, pitch, timbre and notation) and how this knowledge is used and combined.


Our music curriculum ensures that knowledge and skills are explored in depth – it is not about trying out a range of instruments, but about becoming an expert in particular musical skills. When selecting the content of the curriculum, teachers have taken into account what the children need based on their prior knowledge and experiences.


The knowledge and skills that the children develop are progressive from EYFS to Year 6. To ensure that this progression is embedded, we use ‘Big Ideas’ as ‘golden threads’.

The ‘Big Ideas’ for music are:

  • Listen and appraise

  • Explore, compose and improvise

  • Play a musical instrument

  • Use voices

  • Perform​​


These golden threads run through our curriculum planning from Reception to Year 6 and allow children to explore common themes across different units of work, developing the interrelated dimensions of music in each strand. Careful consideration is given to building a schema of musical knowledge and following a well-sequenced curriculum. Our music curriculum is not about separating off different instruments, styles or genres. It is about developing children’s understanding through meaningful examples and repeated encounters with common threads. The scheme follows a spiral approach to musical learning, with children revisiting, building and extending their knowledge and skills incrementally. This ensures their learning is consolidated and augmented, increasing musical confidence and enabling them to go further. The ‘Big Ideas’ allow children to create a schema of musical knowledge that flows and progresses with them throughout their educational journey.
















 Regular opportunities are built in throughout our music curriculum for retrieval practice. This allows the children to make these links and ensure that powerful knowledge is embedded in the children’s long term memory. Our music curriculum is built on the premise of keep up, not catch up and there are regular opportunities for children to revisit and summarise their learning throughout a unit and over time. We recognise that the curriculum will sometimes need to be adapted for some learners to access it. This happens in music through:

  • Pre-teaching vocabulary such as the dimensions of music 

  • Providing ear-defenders or sensory breaks when a child is sensitive to volume 

  • Adapting the expectations of sheet music, eg. Using shapes instead of notations 

  • Offering a range of musical instruments, including percussion to allow each child to have a musical role


To supplement our music curriculum, we have developed a ‘Listening and Singing Curriculum’. The ‘Listening Curriculum’ details a variety of songs that we have mapped out across the genres of modern pop music, classic pop music, classical, musicals and world music. The aim of this curriculum is to increase the children’s cultural capital by exposing them to different types of music that they may not have experienced. We aim to put whole class and whole school singing at the heart of the children’s musical experience. The ‘Singing Curriculum’ maps out a range of songs for the children to learn in each year group that allows them to use their voices and practise choral singing. The aim is to develop their enthusiasm for singing as well as their vocal skills and cultural capital.

Music Curriculum Implementation

The curriculum is built on the foundation of three ‘Es’:

Entitlement or core curriculum offer

Whilst children’s formal music education begins in KS1, the development of music skills begins in EYFS. Rhymes and songs are shared daily through focused sessions indoor and out, and children are encouraged to access music in continuous provision. Weekly expressive arts sessions give children the opportunity to develop their substantive and disciplinary knowledge.


 In KS1 and KS2, music is delivered in units of work across the year which allow children to begin to build knowledge of important concepts and ideas from a young age, and continue to build on these foundations throughout their education. The children have the opportunity to study a broad range of music content, underpinned by the ‘Charanga’ music scheme, which is aligned with the ‘Model Music Curriculum’ and supports teacher subject knowledge. A range of high-quality resources such as instruments and recording equipment are available to support the curriculum.


Children who demonstrate a love of music have the opportunity to develop this in a number of ways:

  • Choir club

  • Vocal coach from Essa Academy

  • Music lessons from Essa Academy staff

  • Educational visits to watch musical performances

  • Singing assemblies

  • Christmas and end of year performances

  • Outdoor provision on playgrounds



Children who excel in music have the opportunity to pursue their talents in a number of ways:

  • Rock Steady group

  • Opportunities for solo performances

  • Vocal coach



All of our school community (staff, senior leaders, governors and children are involved in measuring the impact of our Music curriculum in different ways. This is planned for through the School Development Plan, and using our annual monitoring cycle and termly development plan to map out monitoring and review over the year.


Impact is measured by:

-       Collecting data from formative assessments (whole-class quizzes, assessment cups, exit tickets)

-       Pupil voice to determine what children have remembered over time 

-       Staff voice to determine effectiveness of provided planning and the impact of professional development

-       Parent voice in our annual survey

-       Reviewing written learning or performances

-       Reviewing progress made against steps to success each lesson and across a sequence of lessons

-       Governor visits to evaluate different areas of Music


An impact statement is written each term by subject leaders to assess effectiveness of current provision, progress against objectives on action plans and inform and identify next steps.

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