How Music Playtime Supports Teaching & Learning

  • Early Years & Key Stage 1, England
  • Foundation, Wales
  • Early Years & Foundation Key Stage 1, Northern Ireland
  • Early & First Level, Scotland

Music is a 'spiral' curriculum through which children consolidate and extend their knowledge and skills as musical elements and concepts are revisited and reinforced. Music is a kind of language and, when we learn to speak any language, we internalise new words and phrases by hearing them and speaking them in a whole range of situations before, later, reading language too. The topic-based structure of Music Playtime facilitates revisiting musical concepts and skills in different contexts using songs, games, movement, creativity and listening. The activities that introduce the use of simple symbols to represent sounds lay a foundation for later work involving musical notation.

Music education is an essential part of Expressive Arts and Design, one of the seven Early Learning Goals set out in the UK guidelines for educating children up to the age of five years and the topic-based design of Music Playtime supports best practice in Early Years teaching. The activities are based around the requirements that EYFS children sing songs, make music, dance, experiment and 'express their ideas, thoughts and feelings through music'.

The tiered structure of Music Playtime - Early Years material followed by Key Stage 1 - provides a smooth transition from Reception to Year 1. Music Playtime fulfils The National Curriculum in England music programme of study, which states that, at Key Stage 1, children should be taught to:

  • use their voices expressively and creatively by singing songs and speaking chants and rhymes
  • play tuned and untuned instruments musically
  • listen with concentration and understanding to a range of high-quality live and recorded music
  • experiment with, create, select and combine sounds using the inter-related dimensions of music.

The UK music teaching curriculum is historically founded on the musically and educationally sound, 'Compose, Listen and Appraise, and Perform' model put forward in 1979 by Keith Swanwick, which continues to inform the broad basis of the six musical learning strands recommended in a recent Incorporated Society of Musicians revised framework for primary music teaching.

  • Singing
  • Playing
  • Composing
  • Improvising
  • Listening with Critical Engagement
  • Social, moral, spiritual and cultural

Music Playtime is an ideal way to introduce these strands - all six are meticulously integrated into the scheme, with an emphasis on practical music-making using a mixture of voices, instruments, 'body sounds' and 'found sounds'. Each unit contains:

  • Introductory Activities
  • Songs and Chants
  • Skills and Games
  • Creative Music (exploring and making up music)
  • Listening, Appraising and Movement
  • Cross-curricular Activities

Supporting SEND

A few points to bear in mind for SEND music lessons:

  • Consider the whole child and complete learning experience in your planning. Music Playtime's topic-based, creative approach in which the teacher plays an active part in the music is especially useful in this respect.
  • Music Playtime helps you to ensure breadth, balance and also an appropriate degree of repetition. Pulse is an especially important element of music in SEND lessons so look out for the activities that are labelled as being useful for developing this.
  • Pay prior attention to the environment, behaviour management and arranging any extra support you might need.
  • Have contingency plans in place - imagine the unexpected before it happens. Consider how you will keep a calm, positive atmosphere.
  • Rehearse your lessons, making sure you thoroughly know the words of songs. Anticipate how you hope to interact with the pupils. Arrange practical matters such as positioning of children, props and resources in advance.
  • Many children who find verbal communication difficult can vocalise creatively and expressively during music activities, including singing.
  • Use SEND-appropriate resources, including both traditional, brightly-coloured percussion instruments and technology-based instruments such as SKOOG, particularly where children have physical limitations.