Ofsted Inpection. Music Deep Dive. February 2024

MUSIC ‘Deep Dive’

Walking into the building I meet a governor busy with blue tac. It’s not going to be a normal day. It never is. Up in the Music Room I remove my weekly timetable from the wall because we don’t want the inspectors to realise that we are not following the usual timetable. Glancing at my emails I read a warning about suspicious men in the area taking photos of children outside schools. Police advice has been emailed to all staff.

At 8.20 all the staff meet the lead inspector and the two other inspectors. “We are here to support you, just do what you normally do” etc. etc. As if! Who is kidding who here?

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Year 2 – Songs, Rests and Games

This morning’s lesson is with a Year 2 Class that has a high proportion (40%) of children with SEN of one sort or another. We begin with a new song, Tony Chestnut.

Tony Chestnut knows I love him

Tony knows, Tony knows

Tony Chestnut knows I love him

That’s what Tony knows”

I sing it a couple of times and then begin to teach it one phrase at a time.

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A day in the Life. Halloween

I arrive at school at 7.45. I spend the first part of the day making sure I am ready for the various activities ahead. At 8.30 I teach a one-to-one piano lesson for half an hour. We look at a two pieces together. I draw attention to the chords that makes up each bar of these basic I-IV-V tunes. At 9 o’clock I take a call from the office: one of the trumpet students has returned her trumpet because she is going to stop. I did not know about this. I look at some emails and see that the trumpet teacher is ill today. I go to several classrooms to let the trumpet students know that there won’t be any lessons today.

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Year 4 – Ukuleles – Second Lesson of the Year

We start the lesson in a lively fashion. Last week I taught the class a simple song called Bala Pata Zum (by all accounts a song from Ghana, though I cannot give you a translation and I’m sure what we are singing here is a simplified version). It is simple, but combined with a different action for each word it becomes more of a whole-body challenge. I encourage everyone to face their Music Partner so that we can all help each other to get it right. Once we’ve run through it a few times I ask how we can make the song more challenging.

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Year 3 – First lesson of the year (with Xylophones)

 As the children come into the Music Room to sit down, one boy asks “What are we doing in Year 3?” The answer is that he will be doing lots of musical activities that he did last year but at a greater level of complexity and skill. I just tell him we are playing xylophones today.

It’s the first lesson of the year so I spend some time going over everyone’s names. I try to make it right around the class recalling each child’s name. I realise there are various singing games that could serve this function but a simple recall on Lesson 1 works best for me. Continue reading “Year 3 – First lesson of the year (with Xylophones)”

Year 5 – Pentatonic Scales and World War II

(The lesson takes place in a classroom that has suitably distanced tables. This leaves practically no room for the teacher to move around. Moving from the teacher’s desk to the whiteboard means battling through a series of A2 sheets hanging from a washing line as if in a jungle).

In Year 5 we are waiting for a large delivery of xylophones. There will soon be enough xylophones for one per pupil in each Year 5 class of thirty. This is thanks to a grant from a charity called Restore the Music. You can follow them on Twitter @RTMusicUK. While we wait for these instruments to arrive the lessons feature a mixture of various musical challenges, certain songs related to the Year 5 topic this term and general musicianship development. Today’s lesson went very well and I felt like sharing it with the world.

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Year 3_Working with 4-beat Rhythms_November 2018

Working at my current school, Rhyl Primary in Camden, has meant making some changes to my music-teaching. For a start both Year 4 classes learn ukulele and all the Year 5 children learn keyboards. As well as this, because of the temporary nature of my original contract, I have not introduced any of the children to solfa because it seemed pointless considering that it would be unlikely to continue when I left. It’s been odd for me ignoring solfa because it has been integral to my teaching for the last seven years. You will see in the following account that I encourage the children to show the pitch with their hands but we do not work with the solfa names or handsigns.

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A Day in Bradford: Jimmy Rotherham at Feversham Primary Academy

On the 8th of November I took a train to Bradford because I wanted to meet up with primary music teacher Jimmy Rotherham* and see him at work in Feversham Primary Academy (‘fever’ rhymes with sever not as in fever). He has come to national and international prominence as the music teacher of a school where the headteacher pointed to the high-quality and frequent music lessons as the reason for a remarkable improvement in literacy outcomes. The school is in a deprived area of the city with a very high proportion of children who have English as a second language.

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November 2018: An Update

There have only been two articles written on this website over the last twelve months. This is because of the upheaval caused by being moved on from my music-teaching post at Manorfield Primary School in Tower Hamlets in July of 2017.
By April 2017 my headteacher at that school had finally stopped hinting and told me that he would be replacing me with two tutors from the Colourstrings organisation to save the school money. This was a massive blow to me as I had spent the last four years building up the level of musicianship right across the school.

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Yr2_Simple But Effective

It’s the first music lesson of the Summer term for this year group. I need to make sure it’s fun and stimulating and challenging, just like every other music lesson! The class troop in after playtime and some children clearly don’t want to have to sit down after the intense excitement of running around in the noisy playground with their friends. The lesson will appeal to this natural desire to move their bodies and play.

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