Striking the right note – music at Ipswich Academy
In a world in which we are surrounded by music every day, Music lessons help pupils understand and appreciate it in some way, whether that’s by learning an instrument, connecting on an emotional level or even using it as a method of self-regulation. It’s also a subject which has many benefits that reach far beyond learning an instrument or improving children’s musicality.
To give our students the best music education we can, all our lessons are planned and taken by specialist teachers. We have also allocated Music more space in the timetable – rather than being on a carousel rotation, music is now a regular part of the curriculum so all students in year 7, 8 and 9 receive an hour’s music lesson every week, all year round. We also run several extracurricular clubs for students who wish to explore music further, including music tech club, guitar club and Let’s Jam where they can turn up and play songs together.
As well as improving their musicality, students are also building interpersonal and intrapersonal skills in their lessons. We ensure there’s always a practical aspect to every lesson, usually group work and performance. These activities build confidence and self-esteem, and grow skills such as team-building and working with others. Learning to play a musical instrument also teaches resilience and patience, as there is no shortcut to competence, just perseverance!
A good example of what music can teach is demonstrated in our Year 7 unit called ‘Find Your Voice’. On one level this is about singing and body percussion, but it is also there to help deal with the performance anxiety many Year 7s have, especially as they are starting a new school. The goal is for them to recognise that music is a subject where there are high expectations, and even though their worries are understandable, they are still encouraged to perform. The quality of the singing is important, and so is building the learner’s confidence, so in future units of study and elsewhere in their life they are better able to cope with similar situations.
As well as learning about music theory, our pupils also learn about the cultural aspect of music and its history. As we learn about different genres of music, we also study the context and diversity of the genres; the place where it was born, the people who created it and the time period. For instance, when studying funk, soul and blues pupils also learn about slavery and segregation. In this way Music is a cross-curricular subject, linking pupils’ learning to many other areas on the timetable.