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Ideas for Teaching Music at KS2

Music teaching at its finest!

Teaching music at KS2 is challenging but within the capabilities of even non specialists.

Teaching music at any key stage is challenging. Specialists may find their school’s resources outdated. Non specialists may flounder as they lack the subject knowledge and related pedagogy to teach music lessons of sufficient quality. The latter may even utter the phrase, “I’m not musical at all.”

But that’s poppy cock. Everyone is musical to some degree. Have you ever found yourself tapping your foot to the beat of a song? Have you ever whistled or hummed a melody as you go about your daily business? Do you listen to music for pleasure? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then you’re probably more musical than you think.

Now that we’ve established your musicality, let’s give you some repertoire and ideas to get you teaching music…

Clapping Games

Who doesn’t love a simple game that requires no prep? Clapping games offer an inclusive activity that can be used for ‘warm ups’ or a musical starter. Here are three clapping games that you can try with your class as soon as you get the chance:

  1. ‘Don’t Clap This One Back’

Learning objective: To listen with attention to detail and recall sounds with increasing aural memory.

How to Play: The teacher claps a rhythm and the children (in unison or individually) copy the rhythm. If the teacher plays the agreed ‘forbidden rhythm’ however, the children must not copy the teacher.

2. ‘Two in a Row’

Learning objective: To listen with attention to detail and recall sounds with increasing aural memory.

How to Play: The teacher claps a rhythm. The children copy. This continues until the teacher claps the same rhythm twice in succession. The object of the game for this children is to spot repeated rhythmic phrases and to not copy the teacher when these occur.

3. ‘Pass the Rhythm’

Learning objective: play and perform in solo and ensemble contexts, using their voices and playing musical instruments with increasing accuracy, fluency, control and expression

How to Play: Seat the children in a circle. Challenge the children to send a simple rhythm (perhaps comprising of just one or two claps) around the room whilst maintaining a steady pulse. This requires real teamwork!

SINGING AND PERFORMING

Singing in the classroom doesn’t have to be a drag. Why not try introducing simple ‘campfire’ songs? The great thing about these types of songs is that they’re easy to sing and instantly recognisable. The silly lyrics will also go down well the children too! Use a campfire song to meet the ‘playing and performing’ objective of the 2014 National Curriculum for music.

MUSIC TECHNOLOGY

Many schools are awash with laptops, computer suites and tablet devices making it possible to add a digital dimension to teaching music.

Why use digital technology in music lessons? How should we use digital technology in music lessons? Here’s a brief overview of what’s possible…

  1. Record children’s compositions using an array of free software including Garageband (Apple devices), Audacity (PC), Music Maker Jam (Apple/Android/Windows). These programmes are relatively simple to operate and children in KS2 usually get to grips with them pretty quickly. There’s an abundance of videos on YouTube detailing how to get started with these programmes. Check out these ones…




2. Teaching music is also about enabling children to listen critically to musical works. Using software such as Desktop DJ, it is possible to put a playlist of selected songs at your pupils’ fingertips.

Encourage children to listen to a wide range of recorded music. See what they can tell you about the music and use the music they hear as a way of introducing musical vocabulary.

NOTATION

Part of teaching music at primary level involves teaching children different ways of notating music. In other words, teaching them to record music in writing using symbols.

Standard Western notation can be introduced by likening note values to simple words and syllables. For example, a crotchet note worth one beat can be assigned the word ‘tea’. Two quavers notes could be ‘coffee’. This idea is perhaps best explained here.

Graphic scores are another very inclusive way of getting children to record their music pictorially. This involves children using symbols they select to represent their music. Dots for example, could denote short, staccato phrases. Position on the page might represent pitch. There are endless possibilities here.

LISTENING

Many children in your class will already have strong preferences towards certain types of music. It is the role of the teacher to develop their musical knowledge by exposing them to a range of recorded and live musical performances.

Play music in class during transitions but also ask children to actively listen to music you have selected. Model how to describe music using appropriate musical vocabulary to familiarise children with the elements of music. Good starting points might involve children talking about:

Tempo (Fast or Slow)

Dynamics (Loud or Quiet)

Pitch (High or Low)

Mood

Ostinato (This is a repeated musical phrase sometimes called a ‘riff’)

Timbre (Instrumentation and the qualities of those sounds)

Another good way to get children to begin using musical terminology is to introduce Christine Brown’s musical elements song:

(Tune: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star)

Pitch means sound are high or low.
Tempo means go fast or slow.
Dynamics can go with a BANG!
Or make a sound as quietly as you can.
Pitch means sounds are high or low.
Tempo means go fast or slow.

Over and over and over again
Ostinato is the name.
Duration can be short or long
The length of sounds in a tune or a song.
Over and over and over again
Ostinato is the name.

Rhythm makes a pattern of sounds.
(Clap clap-clap clap clap/clap-clap clap claap)
Pulse will keep a steady beat
Sounds like slowly marching feet.
Rhythm makes a pattern of sounds.
(Clap clap-clap clap clap/clap-clap clap claap)

Timbre is quite hard to say.
Listen to the instruments play
Bright and bold, harsh or hollow.
Maybe gentle, warm or mellow.
Timbre is quite hard to say.
Listen to the instruments play.

CROSS CURRICULAR OPPORTUNITIES

There are of course numerous ways in which music can be introduced into other areas of the curriculum. You only have to look through our educational songs to see the rich opportunities.

A good idea I heard from a colleage recently was to use song the song ‘Lean on Me’ to teach children about subordinate clauses and complex sentences. I haven’t tried this yet but it seems like a great idea and I will be sure to do so in the near future.

 

Do you have any unusual or proven ways of teaching music in the KS2 classroom? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By | 23 February, 2017 | Array

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