What are Whole Class Instrumental Lessons?

Due to the publication of the Model Music Curriculum, there has been a renewed interest in Whole Class Instrumental Lessons. This type of teaching has been around since 2003, and has changed and developed over time to suit the needs of primary schools across England. So what exactly is Whole Class Instrumental Teaching and how does it work?

Whole Class Instrumental Teaching is, perhaps unsurprisingly, instrumental teaching that takes place in whole classes! So instead of certain children going off into a room for 1-2-1 or small group tuition, the entire class has an instrumental lesson altogether. This can be all on the same instrument, or on different instruments to make a class ensemble. It was originally targeted at KS2, but many schools have these programmes in KS1, and even sometimes in KS3!

The great thing about these programmes is that they give children the opportunity to learn a musical instrument when they might not have been able to if their parents had to pay for tuition. But it’s not just all about learning the instrument, in our Learning Music whole class instrumental programmes general musicianship and the music National Curriculum are covered too. This reflects the Open University’s findings in 2007 that ‘the richest musical and learning experiences are those where performing, composing, listening and appraising are brought together.’

In our whole class instrumental lessons children learn basic instrumental technique, play musical games, sing songs, move to music, and create music of their own. The emphasis is on developing creativity, having fun, and dispelling any perception of music as elitist. Through these programmes we can contribute to your school’s inclusive approach, and aid pupils’ musical and general development.

The process of learning an instrument is an ideal companion to developing the skill of notation reading, which is something that many primary teachers do not feel confident delivering themselves. This means that whole class instrumental programmes can be great for schools where the teachers are less confident with music, or not music readers, as they provide the specialist input to fill in any gaps in pupils’ musical learning. This will be particularly important for schools who are intending to follow the new Model Music Curriculum, where the Performing strand includes a large amount of integrated notation work beyond what is expected in the National Curriculum.

If you are considering your extra-curricular strategy for music, it can be a fantastic idea to start with a whole class instrumental programme to get children excited about playing an instrument, and then offer small group, 1-2-1 or ensemble provision that follows on from that experience. This will give a really structured progression route for pupils who wish to develop their musical skills further, and will get the most benefit out of the provision long term.

To find out more about Learning Music’s Whole Class Instrumental Programmes, click here.

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