Trainee primary teachers soon realise that music is the golden thread running through the curriculum, but along with that realisation, there is often some nervousness about their own ability to deliver music lessons. So BEC Teacher Training primary trainees were excited to get the opportunity to attend a workshop with primary music expert Andrea Blackwood Barnes. We talked to trainees and tutors about why the session was so successful.
Clare Smith, Primary Course Director at BEC Teacher Training, told us more about the importance of music in the primary curriculum. ‘Music pervades the school year and gives it structure’, she explained. ‘Even the youngest children are able to follow the pattern of the seasons and celebrate the festivals that mark the progress of the year through music and song, for example through Christmas carols or harvest festival songs. Music has a key classroom role too, from supporting calm transitions between activities to helping young children to recall key facts through simple songs like the ‘Seven Continents Song’. Nor should we forget the enormous contribution music makes to other curriculum areas: an exploration of rhythm and rhyme in music can help develop children’s appreciation of poetry in English, and music can be linked to Drama and to the exploration of stories such as Treasure Island, songs of the First World War may help children to better understand the historical period, music from Chinese New Year or Diwali may contribute to an appreciation of culture and celebrations throughout the world. Playing music and singing together also helps children to develop their social skills as they learn to listen carefully to each other, share and handle equipment carefully and cooperate harmoniously. Music making helps children to find their part in wider society too, whether by visiting local care homes and community events to perform or by bringing together pupils, staff and families at school celebrations.
With music playing such a crucial role and with most primary teachers delivering the equivalent of one 40-minute music lesson a week, it’s clearly important to be able to get it right. That’s why Clare was so delighted to be able to welcome back Andrea Blackwood Barnes, who was once again generous enough to give our trainees the benefit of her expertise. An accomplished musician Andrea plays piano, guitar, violin and saxophone in orchestras, rock and jazz bands as well as recording her own electronic music. As an experienced primary school teacher with a Masters Degree in Music Education, she works closely with many of our partner schools such as St Peter’s Church of England Primary School in South Weald. Here a rich and inspiring music curriculum designed by Andrea introduces children to musical theory and to a wide choice of instruments from steel drums to keyboards as well as teaching them to appreciate a huge variety of music from different cultures and eras, ranging from Scott Joplin to Debussy, from gospel songs to Mamma Mia.
Andrea’s engaging session did not disappoint! Fully hands-on, it didn’t just outline the role of music and the key curriculum content, but encouraged the trainee primary teachers to get involved in handling the instruments and practising demonstrating their use. Andrea’s practical and supportive approach ensured that even the less confident trainees enjoyed joining. Our trainee teachers certainly found the workshop truly inspirational. Hayley told us: ‘Today’s session made me excited to teach music, something I never thought I would say. The practical ideas of how to actually teach music were so helpful.’ Mollie couldn’t agree more; she felt the session had really prepared her well for the challenges of the classroom and told us: ‘I am much more confident now with the activities I can use when teaching music.’ Indeed, two of this year’s trainee teachers were so enthused that they have chosen to make music the main topic for their own independent research. One of them is Claudia, who commented: ‘I felt I knew nothing about music terminology, like pitch and tempo, but when Andrea explained it all, I found I knew more than I thought. It was really useful because the session content links to my action research project.’
Andrea’s session was one of many, all delivered by experts in their field, that prepare BEC Teacher Training trainees to confidently deliver a high-quality curriculum. We are recruiting now for September 2022. If you’d like to find out more about our primary teacher training click here or contact [email protected]. If you’d like to learn more about teaching music in secondary schools read our blog on this topic Share Your Passion For Music.