Free 2-week trial!

Singing games

Welcome to ACTIVE MUSIC!  I hope you can find some resources here to inspire you with your primary music teaching.  I have 12 lesson plans for you, over 20 notations of fantastic games and activities and 10 video clips of children playing the games, for you to enjoy!

FREE 2-WEEK TRIAL!  

We can send you the full ACTIVE MUSIC set for 2 weeks to have a good look at and trial in your school.  Test it and see.  You will only know if will be helpful to you if you have a go.  See if your teachers are inspired and your children thoroughly enjoy the activities.  A recent school said of their trial that the children loved it and there were a lot more instruments suddenly being used in the school! They also found it easy to follow, which it is! The lessons are progressive and build on the children’s musical skills in easy steps.  Why not give it a try? Please click HERE for more Active Music details.

If you would like to go ahead with the FREE TRIAL please email Sally at office@primarymusicspecialist.com with your full school address and we will happily organise that for you.

Run your own Music Clubs and Workshops – Julie’s story

Start your own Music Business

Using all our singing games and musical activities, we train people to run their own music businesses for primary children – running after school music clubs, music workshops in schools, private music classes, Saturday and holiday workshops etc.  This is a testimonial from Julie Decarroux, who trained with us.  She loved her work and was very successful.

Since Julie trained with us, we now have an easy-to-learn-from-home training package. Please visit www.startyourownmusicbusiness.com for more information.

After school music clubs

“I trained with Sally Wagter in 2007 and was so impressed by how well organised her course was.  Not only were we given lots of material and a fantastic method to teach, but we were also equipped with the practical business skills to start up in schools, such as knowing what would be required from us in terms of CRB and insurance, and plenty of leaflets and DVDs to get in touch with the headteachers and parents. It was just so helpful to have all this promotional material, as it meant that i could start applying to schools straight away.

I immediately got some work in 3 primary schools as an afterschool music club leader, and stayed there for 3 years until I moved to another city, earning about £70 profit per weekly club (15 children per club paying £5.50 each, minus £13.50 hall hire), so about £210 per week. After 2 years of running these clubs I was contacted by the local Music Service. They were very impressed with the method I’d learn form Sally (Active Music)which was completely in line with the National curriculum and most importantly delivered in a fun and interactive way thanks to all our singing and musical games.

They hired me to teach the KS1 curriculum for them which I enjoyed a lot. Since moving to Bristol I am planning to start my own independent music school still using singing and musical games as a foundation as well as the Kodaly method to teach rhythm and pitch, and incorporating percussion playing to teach primary children the foundations of music in a fun way.

I am so grateful to Sally for sharing her passion and precious method because it just works so well with children: they love it and I have so much fun teaching them!”

Music National Curriculum levels explained – level 4

Music level 4

NATIONAL CURRICULUM:      LEVELS INTERPRETED AND IDEAS GIVEN

LEVEL 4:

 

MAINTAIN OWN PART IN A GROUP, PERFORMING BY EAR and FROM SIMPLE NOTATIONSFor the children to successfully keep a steady pulse, play an accurate rhythm or sing a melody in tune as part of a group piece.  They may need to follow a conductor to achieve this. Performing by ear involves playing from what you hear, remember or are improvising at the time.  Children are also to read from simple rhythm notations and melodic notations  C D E F G (note names)  or D R M S L (solfa names).

SING IN TUNE WITH EXPRESSION – (same as level 3) The ability to achieve this will depend a lot on the amount of experience they have had of singing and how much practise in pitch-matching skills.  It is good to ask children to sing solos – if they are willing – and to take notes etc and direct teaching accordingly.  Some will still need help with singing 2 or 3 notes in tune while others will have naturally strong and in-tune singing voices with a wide range and a good tone.  Good ways to test this are to ask the children to sing solos of songs they have learnt in class.  It can often be surprising who is hiding a lovely singing voice and who, though confident, cannot yet sustain a melody. If they can’t, they can still learn through lots of games involving the practising of 2,3,4, and 5 note melodies.

PERFORM SIMPLE RHYTHMIC PARTS Take a 4-phrase chant using rhythm ingredients the children are familiar with . Divide the class into 4 groups and give each a line to clap simultaneously.   Build and reduce the layers of sound. In this way every child is performing a rhythmic part. An ostinato is another successful way of achieving this objective. While one group claps the rhythm of a chant another claps a separate chosen rhythm repeatedly throughout.  Alternatively the children can write and perform their own rhythm patterns, using voices, clapping or instruments.

PERFORM SIMPLE MELODIC PARTSas above but with melodies.  Take a song based on the pentatonic scale (so all the notes sound good when played together). Give each group a line to sing, building and reducing the layers of sound or take a melodic ostinato for a group to perform while the melody is sung. Alternatively the children can write and perform their own rhythmic and melodic patterns, using voices or tuned instruments.

IMPROVISE RHYTHMIC AND MELODIC PHRASES AS PART OF A GROUP PERFORMANCEThere are many good games to develop this skill. The simplest rhythm one is for the class to chant ‘1,2,3,4’ in time to a pulse, followed by a child playing a 4-beat improvised pattern, followed by the class chanting ‘1,2,3,4’ again. This continues round the room. The idea is for the children to improvise in turn while keeping a steady pulse throughout the whole piece. This can be developed to 8-beat phrases. Exactly the same game can be played with melodies using notes from the pentatonic scale.  In order to be able to improvise in groups children need to be able to keep in time with a steady pulse and listen clearly to each other.

COMPOSE WITHIN MUSICAL STRUCTURESGive the children a remit – Eg. Write a 4-beat rhythm pattern.  That is already a composition.  They can then be asked to write 4 rhythm patterns, add a melody from a choice of notes and even add words. In this way they are starting to write their own songs within a clear musical structure. Another idea is to each write their own 4 or 8-beat pattern and work in groups to perform them, building and reducing the layers of sound. On a more Creative Curriculum basis, the structure may be to compose a piece of music based on a particular subject and to include voices only for example.

DESCRIBE, COMPARE AND EVALUATE DIFFERENT MUSIC USING APPROPRIATE MUSICAL VOCABULARYLook at the specific musical elements within a piece. See GLOSSARY (if using Active Music) It is important to clarify exactly what you are looking for.

Music National Curriculum levels explained – level 3

Music level 3

NATIONAL CURRICULUM:      LEVELS INTERPRETED AND IDEAS GIVEN

LEVEL 3:

 

RECOGNISE HOW SOUNDS CAN BE COMBINED AND USED EXPRESSIVELY This can be achieved through listening to recorded music, recognising different types of instruments being played, in which combination and discussing the effect. Children can listen for different instrumental sounds, different voice sounds (harmonies) and even sound effects.

SING IN TUNE WITH EXPRESSION – it is interesting that children are expected to be able to sing in tune at this stage – considering many adults still struggle to sing in tune. It will depend a lot on the amount of experience they have had of singing and how much practise in pitch-matching skills.  It is good to ask children to sing solos – if they are willing – and to take notes etc and direct teaching accordingly.  Many will still need help with singing 2 or 3 notes in tune while others will have a naturally strong and in-tune singing voice.  Good ways to test this are to ask the children to sing solos of songs containing 2,3,4 and 5 notes only.

PERFORM SIMPLE RHYTHMIC PARTS THAT USE A LIMITED RANGE OF NOTESTake a chant such containing limited rhythmic ingredients, E.g. Ta and Te-te.  Divide the class into 4 groups and give each a line to clap simultaneously.   Build and reduce the layers of sound. In this way every child is performing a rhythmic part. An ostinato is another successful way of achieving this objective. While one group claps the rhythm of a chant another claps a separate chosen rhythm repeatedly throughout.  Alternatively the children can write and perform their own rhythm patterns, using voices, clapping or instruments.

IMPROVISE REPEATED PATTERNSChildren make up rhythmic patterns on the spot and start to play them repeatedly. Others can join in with their improvised patterns. This will only work if the children are given and listen to a steady pulse and each other. They will also need to know how long to make their pattern (4-beats is a good start)

COMBINE LAYERS OF SOUND WITH AWARENESS OF THE COMBINED EFFECT Experimenting with different timbres (types of sounds) and their combinations and making decisions as to which most effectively create the effect they are looking for.  This could involve combinations of rhythms, melodies, instrumental sounds etc. Ostinatos are ideal ways of layering sounds. Layers of sound can be built up and reduced to create effective compositions.(Ideal within Creative Curriculum).

RECOGNISE HOW MUSICAL ELEMENTS ARE COMBINED AND USED EXPRESSIVELYUnderstand how music often needs a steady pulse, the rhythm that fits in with it and how the melody is added on top. Recognise how music changes according to the dynamics (volume) and tempo (fast and slow pace). Children can also look at different rhythmic and melodic patterns and see how well they fit in together.

COMMENT ON INTENDED EFFECT OF MUSICwith regards to their own compositions, children need to have very clear objectives to be able to do this well. Eg, to listen to each other, start and stop at the same time and keep a steady pulse. The fewer aspects they have to listen out for, the more accurate they can be in their assessment.  With regards to pre-recorded music, again, clear specifics of what to listen for are vital. 

Music National Curriculum levels explained – level 2

Music level 2

NATIONAL CURRICULUM:      LEVELS INTERPRETED

LEVEL 2:

 

 

RECOGNISE HOW SOUNDS CAN BE ORGANISED – how rhythms can be notated in stick notation and melody added etc. How sounds can be chosen for specific remits and put into an order – beginning, middle and end, creating compositions.

SING WITH A SENSE OF SHAPE OF THE MELODY – This does not mean singing completely in tune, but being able to follow the basic direction of the melody as it rises and falls.  Some will obviously be able to sing in tune at this stage but most should be able to follow the shape of the melody to differing degrees. It’s worth asking children to sing solos and keeping notes.

PERFORM SIMPLE PATTERNS AND ACCOMPANIMENTS KEEPING TO A STEADY PULSE – Play a steady drum beat for the child to clap to or listen to music with a steady pulse and ask the child to hear the pulse and show you with actions.  If their pulse is steady and regular they have mastered it. They ideally need to show they can do this without you leading. To play patterns to a pulse they can repeat rhythm patterns you give them to the pulse of the drum.

REPEAT RHYTHMIC PATTERNS – Clap a short rhythm pattern for the child to clap back. If they achieve this accurately, make the pattern longer. Most children should be able to clap back a 4-beat pattern at this stage although a few will not ‘get it’. Depending on the amount of practise they have had, many should also be able to clap back 8-beat patterns.  Again, it’s worth keeping notes.

ORDER SOUNDS WITHIN STRUCTURES – Choosing sounds for specific remits and deciding when to play them, to create effective compositions. (Creative Curriculum)  Giving children blank graphic scores and asking them to fill in different patterns for different sounds also works well as they have the outer structure and are ordering the sounds within it.

REPRESENT SOUNDS WITH SYMBOLS – Rhythm names, a few note names – C D E F G or solfa symbols for pitch,  – S L M, depending on which they have learnt. Alternatively they can make up patterns within graphic scores or make up their own notations.

PERFORM WITH AWARENESS OF OTHERS – Keeping a steady pulse, starting at the same time, singing at the same time as the rest of the group, listening to each other, following a conductor.

RECOGNISE DIFFERENT MOODS IN MUSIC – Play a variety of different recorded music and discuss the differences – how the music makes the child feel – Children can discuss emotions, move to the music or even draw in response to a variety of musical styles.

Music National Curriculum levels explained – level 1

 

Music curriculum level 1

MUSIC NATIONAL CURRICULUM:     

LEVELS INTERPRETED

LEVEL 1:

 

RECOGNISE AND EXPLORE HOW SOUNDS CAN BE MADE AND CHANGED – children to explore voice, body percussion and instrumental sounds and  to experiment with how they can do things differently to make different sounds.

KEEP A STEADY PULSE – Play a steady drum beat for the child to clap to or listen to music with a steady pulse and ask the child to hear the pulse and show you with actions. If their pulse is steady and regular they have mastered it.

REPEAT SHORT RHYTHMIC PATTERNS – Clap a short rhythm pattern for the child to clap back.

RECOGNISE HIGH AND LOW NOTES – Play high and low notes on various instruments for the child to listen to. Ask him to demonstrate his recognition by holding his hands high or low – or using his whole body to stand up or crouch down.

RECOGNISE LOUD AND SOFT NOTES – Ask the child to think of a signal for loud and soft. Play or sing some music changing the volume and ask the child to demonstrate what you are doing by moving his hands accordingly.

SPEAK, SING, CHANT – keep notes on the child’s ability to do all 3. Speaking is obviously the easiest, unless the child has a specific developmental issue.  Chanting requires a feeling of rhythm in the words, which is more of a musical skill. This needs to be heard and felt. Singing requires knowing the difference between speaking and singing and demonstrating a pitch level in the voice. A good exercise for this is to take a chant, speak it, sing it on one note, then two notes etc.

CREATE AND CHOOSE SOUNDS – Depending on the remit, the child chooses instruments to represent specific sounds and uses them – or their voices – creatively for an intended effect.

PERFORM WITH AWARENESS OF OTHERS – Keeping a steady pulse, singing at the same time as the rest of the group, listening to each other, starting at the same time, etc.

RECOGNISE DIFFERENT MOODS IN MUSIC – Play a variety of different recorded music and discuss the differences – how the music makes the child feel – Children can discuss emotions, move to the music or even draw in response to a variety of musical styles.

TAKE ACCOUNT OF MUSICAL INSTRUCTIONS – Follow your symbols of when to start and stop singing and how loud or soft to sing, for example.

Music teaching can be easy!

Assessment in primary music

assessing music

I thought you might like to know what has worked for me when assessing my primary children with their music. As music is largely practical it can be hard to pin down and record where your children actually are, and therefore where to take them next. The following tips really helped me…

 

 

 

ASSESSMENT IN  PRIMARY MUSIC      Considerations and ideas…

  • Real assessment is what the children can do WITHOUT you.  Therefore, good ideas are lots of ‘my turn, your turn’ while teaching a song, play call and response games and regularly ask the children to perform what they have learnt without you. This will give a much truer picture of where they really are and where you need to take them.
  • You can only ever really tell if a child can sing if they sing you something on their own or in a very small group. Even if a song sung by a whole class sounds good, it may be being carried by the more confident and often the less confident are not singing at all.
  • It is important to look at the melodic and rhythmic ingredients of a song and to consider whether it is appropriate to expect your class to sing it. For example, ‘Cauliflowers fluffy’ is extremely complex melodically and rhythmically and has huge intervals and chromatics, but because of the words and the fun element children as young as 4 are often expected to sing it at Harvest.  Children need to have songs and games with ingredients that they can cope with so they can succeed in and gradually build on their musical skills.

         MUSICAL SKILLS: How to assess

  • Can the child keep a steady pulse? Play a pulse on a drum or play music with a clear pulse and ask the child to ‘find’ and show you the pulse by an action.
  • Can the child copy/make up rhythm patterns? Rhythm patterns can be clapped to the child, who claps back. If they can clap a 4-beat pattern, try an 8-beat pattern and so on. For more advanced children ask them to compose on the spot and clap a pattern for you to clap back.
  • Can the child sing in tune? Use songs with 2,3,4 and 5 notes to begin with that are also well within the child’s range. Ask children to sing solos, or if too shy, in small groups. Use lots of games that involve solo contributions. These are ideal for those children who do not feel comfortable singing solos – they often don’t realise they are!
  • Assess these by little tests and keeping regular notes.
  • GROUP WORK – this is an excellent way to assess – teach a game and only when the children are very familiar with it, ask them to practise and perform the game in groups – this gives a better opportunity for you to listen, watch and assess.
  • QUESTIONNAIRES: These are fantastic ways of finding out where your Key Stage 2 children are in their abilities, knowledge and attitudes towards music.  They can tell you about instruments they learn, what grade or level they are at, let you know their understanding of musical terms and can even rate their own singing voices. If teaching has been specific, clear progress can be seen and proved if the questionnaire is repeated later on in the year.
  • LEVELS: Tick sheets for the children:  Children can have their own ‘I can’ sheets according to their music level and tick off skills as they are secure in them.  This will enable them to be aware of where they are and what their next musical aims are.  From experience I can see that this raises children’s motivation levels hugely.
  • LEVELS: Tick sheets for you: There are a variety of ways in which you can keep tick sheets for National Curriculum levels for your class (see examples)
  • MUSIC BOOKS: Have music books for each child which can go with them through the school.  Write musical notations, opinions of music listened to and composition structures etc. Also include worksheets connected to Creative Curriculum music they have been involved in.  It is all ‘evidence’ and can help in keeping up with where the children are in their music.
  • CLARITY OF OBJECTIVES: Always think ‘What are the children learning musically through this song/game/activity?’  E.g they may be learning to keep a steady pulse, accurately clap a rhythm, sing two notes in tune, recognise dynamic changes etc. When you are really clear about your musical objective, it is so much easier to check if the children have learnt that particular skill.  Many activities, songs and games will need to be regularly covered for just one musical objective to be achieved. It can sometimes take years for a child to even reach one! However, musical objectives are quite clear and follow clear stages of development so can be assessed more easily than might be thought!
  • DIFFERENTIATION: Once assessed, you can use this information to put the children into music groups or to differentiate activities and expectations.
  • ABILITY GROUPS:  As music is a very practical subject, ability groups work excellently for the top groups,  but the lower groups really flounder.  A group of high ability children working together will obviously achieve so much more yet the lower ability groups can really lose confidence.
  • MIXED ABILITY GROUPS: I have found these work far better as differentiation is achieved by the more able leading and the less able being supported. The more able can be pushed by being given the role to conduct. Organising musicians and taking a musical lead is a very important skill to develop.

WHAT IDEAS HAVE YOU FOUND THAT WORK WELL IN ASSESSING YOUR PUPILS?

http://www.primarymusicspecialist.com