Why is the Music curriculum as it is?
Bede Academy’s Christian ethos is at the heart of the Music curriculum. God has given us the gift of music to reflect our Creator’s creativity, to benefit others, and to worship Him. This underpins our Music curriculum, as students explore the complexity of music creation as well as the privilege of music appreciation.
At Bede Academy, we recognise that Music plays an important part in the day to day lives of our students: they may make music in one of the Academy’s extracurricular ensembles; they may listen to music on their way to school; or they may simply experience it through film, TV, and media. Because of this, students across Bede South and Bede North are taught the analytical tools for unpicking the “whys” and “hows” of music – “why does this music make me feel like this?”; “how do composers create a certain soundscape and atmosphere?”. Across Bede South and Bede North, we aim to allow students to appreciate music through experience, specifically through listening, performance, and often composition. Our aim is to give all students a deep appreciation and understanding of how music is created to enhance.
Substantive knowledge (key musical concepts) are introduced in Bede South, built on and re-visited throughout the curriculum in order to ‘make it stick’. This model allows students to build on prior knowledge and increases their enthusiasm for music whilst embedding this knowledge into their long-term memory. A focus on music theory also removes a potential barrier to learning during performance and composition units which appear later in their musical learning.
Disciplinary knowledge (music skills) are also embedded into each unit of study and are re-visited and developed throughout the curriculum. All students are encouraged to put their knowledge into practice by developing and using a range of skills, including reading musical notation, performing on an instrument, improvising their own music, and composing. as well as being encouraged to explore their personal creativity.
Specialist vocabulary for topics is taught and built up from Bede South right through to Bede North, and effective questioning to communicate ideas is encouraged. Concepts taught should be reinforced by focusing on the elements of music, so that students can understand how to analyse and understand music from a variety of styles and genres. We encourage students to “think like musicians” to foster an enthusiasm and interest in this subject.
The Music Department has strong links within the Academy’s local context of Blyth. At Bede South and Bede North, enrichment visits to local music venues, such as the SAGE Gateshead, are organised for students to provide them with new cultural experiences linked to their curriculum learning. Students also enjoy in-school visits from local musicians and Bede alumni, where we strive to enthuse our students into thinking about their career as a musician in the future. Enrichment opportunities, such as day events (e.g. “BBC Music Day” and Personal Development lectures) are planned in order to provide broader provision and the acquisition and application of both substantive and disciplinary knowledge. Some of these events also involve families and the wider community.
Students who have been inspired by the Music curriculum proceed to further their musicality in extracurricular ensembles, which in turn benefit the community. These extracurricular ensembles are provided throughout Bede South and Bede North, and include drum clubs, orchestras, jazz bands, flute clubs, theory clubs, and various choirs. Members of the community are invited in to the Academy to view performances by these groups, as well as high-quality Academy Musicals, such as Les Misérables, The Sound of Music, and Evita, to name a few. At Bede South, all students also have the opportunity to take part in class concert performances, where parents are invited to see the progress and achievements their child has made in the Music lessons.
Students also perform informally across the community at local church events, such as the ‘Flower Festival’, and each Christmas time, with the South and North choirs singing carols in a number of care homes across the locality. This enables our students to serve the wider community whilst also allowing for great enjoyment and further academic and character development.
Making music feel accessible to all is paramount, with many students experiencing low self-esteem in this area of Blyth. The encouragement given through both lessons and enrichment opportunities helps to weaken students’ mental barriers, and promotes music as a subject that can be enjoyed by both male and female.
We endeavour to ensure that the Music curriculum we provide will give students the confidence and motivation to continue to further develop their skills into the next stage of their education and life experiences.
The Academy core values firmly underpin the development of character within the Music curriculum: with honourable purpose, we recognise that we can make music to enhance experiences for others; with humility, we recognise that musical and creative abilities are given by God; with integrity, we recognise that we must work hard to achieve challenging musical goals; with determination, we recognise that learning to perform music requires commitment and resilience; with courage, we recognise that we must have the willingness to leave the “comfort zone” and take risks to find success; with accountability, we recognise the importance of effort and putting the onus for success onto the individual; and with compassion, we recognise the value of respecting others and working as a team for a greater benefit.
Subjects include GCSE Music and A-level Music.