Harpur Hill Primary School & Nursery

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Learning music, singing and playing an instrument is a wonderful thing to do.  Learning and enjoying music are important for life.   

We aim for pupils to make more music, think more musically and consequently become more musical.​ There are wider benefits to music beyond music.  For example, concentration, phonemic awareness, literacy, memory and academic achievement.​  Being musical contributes to children's cultural capital and improves their life chances and social mobility; therefore, we have a moral purpose to teaching music.​ 

Music in the National Curriculum

The National Curriculum for music aims to ensure that all pupils:  

  • perform, listen to, review and evaluate music across a range of historical periods, genres, styles and traditions, including the works of the great composers and musicians  
  • learn to sing and to use their voices, to create and compose music on their own and with others, have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, use technology appropriately and have the opportunity to progress to the next level of musical excellence  
  • understand and explore how music is created, produced and communicated, including through the inter-related dimensions: pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture, structure and appropriate musical notations. 


Music should be an enjoyable experience for pupils inspire them to develop a love of music and their talent as musicians. Children will participate in a range of musical experiences, building their confidence, creativity and sense of achievement.  They should develop their understanding of rhythm and pitch and learn how music is structured, as well as learning technical vocabulary for these elements. As children’s confidence builds, they enjoy the performance aspect of music. They will learn to compose and listen to a range of music, including a range of styles, from different cultures and eras. 

By delivering the National Curriculum for music, we will provide the opportunity for children to: 

  • play and perform in solo and ensemble contexts, using their voices and playing musical instruments with increasing accuracy, fluency, control and expression 
  • improvise and compose music for a range of purposes using the inter-related dimensions of music 
  • listen with attention to detail and recall sounds with increasing aural memory 
  • use and understand staff and other musical notations 
  • appreciate and understand a wide range of high-quality live and recorded music drawn from different traditions and from great composers and musicians 
  • develop an understanding of the history of music. 

Children should leave primary school equipped with a range of skills to enable them to succeed in their secondary education and to be able to enjoy and appreciate music throughout their lives.   


Classes are taught in a whole class weekly music lesson.  In these sessions, children have the opportunity to listen and respond to music, as well as singing, performing and composing, for example using glockenspiels or recorders, and brass instruments in Year 4.  Music is taught as a discrete subject but also across the curriculum. For example, areas of learning, such as times tables in maths, vocabulary in languages and movement in dance can all incorporate different elements of music.  

We use the Charanga spiral music programme as the basis of our sequenced music curriculum.   The interrelated dimensions of music weave through the Charanga units to encourage the development of musical skills as the learning progresses through listening and appraising, differing musical activities (including creating and exploring) and performing.  Children are given the opportunity to sing and play instruments, use the correct language and terminology associated with music, as well as listening to a wide range of composers and musical genres.   

As music requires a level of specialist knowledge and expertise, we provide teachers with CPD to enable them to feel supported and confident to deliver the music curriculum.  Charanga is particularly helpful in supporting non-music specialists.  We are committed to ensuring that we invest in quality CPD for our existing staff (e.g. Charanga webinars or workshops with the Bendetti Foundation), as well as purchasing specialist teachers to deliver part of our music curriculum.   

In Reception, children access the Musical Gems programme, delivered by specialist music teachers from Derbyshire Music Partnership.  The Musical Gems programme has been developed by teachers with specialist experience in early years settings to enhance the three prime and four specific areas of development set out in the revised Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework.  The programme is based on the principles of Kodaly, and delivered using rhymes, song, movement, games and instrumental work. 

The National Plan for Music Education and the Model Music Curriculum both state that children should learn to play an instrument as part of a whole-class instrumental programme supported by teachers from their local Music Education Hub. In Year 4, all children learn to play a brass instrument as part of the Wider Opportunities programme, delivered by a specialist instrumental teacher from Derbyshire Music Partnership. 

In addition to the class-based music curriculum, we also offer a wide range of singing and instrumental opportunities within school.  These include guitar, violin and cello lessons (Year 2 upwards), lunchtime clarinet club (Year 4 upwards), after school ukulele club (Year 2 upwards), and after school choir (Year 2 upwards).  Instrumental teachers are accredited via the Derbyshire Music Partnership and teach children individually or in small groups.  These lessons are either free, subsidised or paid for by parents. 

In Year 5, children may continue playing their brass instrument through the Further Opportunities programme, which provides subsidised small group instrumental lessons.  Children may choose to take up a different instrument, at this point, and are also entitled to a subsidy.   

Concerts and performances, such as Christmas plays and nativities and end of year shows, demonstrate that music is important to the life of the school.  We also provide children with the opportunity to perform to a wider audience and within the community, for example in concerts at St John’s Church and local care homes. 

We have pathways available for our young musicians to perform beyond school, having close links with the Opera House, Derbyshire Music Hub, Peak District Music Centre and other local music groups.  Children may start playing a musical instrument at primary school and then perform in larger groups and ensembles beyond school.  This may include regular membership of a band, orchestra or choir, as well as joining local productions and performances, for example as part of the Buxton International Festival.   

Charanga Music Scheme overview

Charanga - The Interrelated Dimensions of Music



The impact of music at Harpur Hill Primary School and Nursery can be monitored through formative and summative assessment opportunities.  Each Charanga music lesson outlines opportunities for guidance to support teachers in assessing pupils against the knowledge and skills outlined in the unit.  Assessments in music may include observing children’s performance and contributions in music sessions, as well as discussions with children to assess their knowledge, response and thinking.    

In addition, we survey children and staff to monitor enjoyment and engagement in musical activities within the taught curriculum and beyond.  We record the number of children participating in the choir and playing instruments.  Having a high number of pupils singing in the choir or playing an instrument, as well as enjoying musical activities, is seen as an indicator of the success of our whole music curriculum.  

The specialist music teachers assess their pupils specifically according to their instruments, and this can be measured through pupil performance.  As children progress on their instruments, they learn to play pieces of increasing difficulty that require further technical expertise and mastery of the instrument.  Some children may progress to taking Grades on their instruments, assessed by an external body, such as the Associated Board Royal School of Music.   

The expected impact of our music curriculum is that children will: 

  • Meet the end of key stage expectations outlined in the national curriculum for music.  
  • Have the opportunity to play an instrument and sing in a choir. 
  • Be confident performers, composers and listeners and will be able to express themselves musically at and beyond school. 
  • Understand the ways in which music can be written down to support performing and composing activities.  
  • Show an appreciation and respect for a wide range of musical styles, from different periods of history, or from different places around the world, and celebrate its diversity. 
  • Demonstrate and articulate an enthusiasm for music and be able to identify their own personal musical preferences. 
  • Foster a love of music and value its importance in their lives, now and in the future. 
  • Be supported to enable musical ambition and excellence to flourish. 
  • Have the opportunity to become tomorrow’s musicians.