I love music curriculum planning but it can be really hard work!
Why, you ask??
Well music is a universal language that is found in every culture and society around the global. So when you have the freedom to create your own music curriculum, particularly at primary and middle school, it can be really challenging deciding what music should be included and what can be left out.
So in this blog I am going to share with you three factors I like to consider when planning a new curriculum:
- Start with the end in mind!
You need to know where you curriculum is heading and what the next step is for your students academically. If you are hoping to increase uptake at GCSE music then your KS3 / middle school programme needs to give your students a good grounding and flavour of the key musical skills and content. This way your students can start the course with some prior knowledge and feel confident that they will be successful.
If you are creating a new module or topic – start with the end in mind. What is the student outcome of this module. So for example if you are writing a film music topic do you want your students to understand leitmotifs, drones, textures, harmonies, specific composers, perform specific film music, etc. By planning the student outcomes of the topic you will already have the assessment in mind and this will mean that the lessons and activities can be easily created to support your students reaching the outcomes.
2. Musical Elements and Devices
Once you have started your planning consider how you will explore musical elements and devices in the topic. Students studying academic external courses like GCSE, A Level and IB need to be confident explaining and identifying musical elements and devices so it is good to bring this terminology into KS3 / middle school planning. In the film music topic I have students composing leitmotifs using keyboards, their own instruments and classroom instruments. Students are encouraged to think about the pitch, rhythm, texture, tonality and instrumentation when creating each of their leitmotifs. We talk about how they can use these musical elements for creating their leitmotifs and we use these terms when we discuss existing compositions by famous film composers.
3. A balance of Musical Genres
At the start I said one of the hardest parts of curriculum planning is narrowing the world of music down to a few topics a year. So when you look at your curriculum planning try to aim for a balance of musical genres and styles. It can be easy to teach music we are passionate about and it can be easy to teach music that the students are passionate about. However, if we want to encourage students to take external exam courses we have to keep a balance between pop, western art traditions and world music because students generally have to explore these topics in more detail in those courses.
And finally, keep a balance across your curriculum between listening, composing, performing and appraising.
One of the areas needed to grow a music program is to understand the need to educate and communicate with the wider community about the excellent work you and your students are doing on a daily basis. But, very few colleges or universities teach music graduates how to successfully market their music programs or studios.
Delivering a music concert requires you to be focused on delivering the best creative performances as well as manage the logistics and smooth running of the event. In fact, when so many music teachers work alone, this is a massive amount of work by itself. So it is no wonder that we forget to plan what we are going to say until 5 minutes before the concert!
Every year, audiences all around the world sit in school halls to watch the annual winter concert. Yet very few people understand the massive commitment and workload that goes into present and creating school concerts.