There are many approaches to planning vocal and instrumental lessons, and no single method or system would suit every teaching situation. Therefore, rather than providing templates or examples of planning, this section of A Common Approach gives some guidance on the principles of planning that can be applied to the individual contexts in which teachers work.

Medium-term planning should guide a sequence of lessons over several weeks, by identifying which learning objectives from the relevant Programme and Study are to be covered and what teaching strategies could be used to achieve them. Wherever possible, learners should be involved in setting their own medium-term goals. The teacher can then select appropriate learning objectives that will enable the learner to make the required progress to achieve the desired outcomes. Thus teachers can ensure that learners develop the appropriate skills and understanding from the relevant Programme of Study while making the learning meaningful to the individual, enhancing their engagement in the learning process and helping them to develop skills in self-reflection.

Medium-term planning should:

  • identify activities and progression over an anticipated medium-term time-scale. This may be of half a term or a whole term’s duration, or possibly longer.
  • build on learners’ prior learning and musical experiences, involving learners in setting their own goals through an individual learning plan that is reviewed regularly in lessons
  • select learning objectives in relation to the needs of the learners that outline the steps involved in acquiring and developing the desired musical skills, knowledge and understanding
  • identify expectations of what learners will be able to do by the end of the identified period of time
  • include activities that relate to chosen objectives, facilitate anticipated progress, and are based on learners’ interests
  • encompass the six interrelated areas of musical experience: listening and internalising; making and controlling sounds; creating and developing musical ideas; singing/playing music; singing/playing music with others; and performing and communicating
  • include details on other important issues such as practice, assessment, self-evaluation, extension and enrichment opportunities
  • identify repertoire and resources, including the use of technology. Whilst repertoire is always changing, examples chosen should have intrinsic value and reflect a breadth of styles and traditions.

Short-term planning is the process of identifying objectives and activities for each lesson. Systems of short-term planning for vocal and instrumental teaching are often combined with practice records. Whatever system is used, short-term planning needs to be manageable considering that teachers are often involved with a large number of learners and may work in several locations in a day.

Flexibility in short-term planning is key, and plans will often have to be adapted to meet unexpected circumstances or responses of learners. The responses of learners should be noted and used to inform the objectives and activities for the next lesson.