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Making the Most of Musicians in Primary Schools

7th February 2024

Text reading 'Musician of the Month' and logo of a globe with headphones over the top.

Musician of the Month provides a whole school approach to music teaching, with resources designed to focus on a different musician each month. Matt Dix, the CEO and Founder of Musician of the Month, shares how this allows students to explore musicians in more detail whilst still learning about a wide variety of genres and traditions.

Musician of the Month has launched across the UK this year and hundreds of schools are exploring the lives and music of musicians they would never have heard of otherwise.

Placing a musician on a pedestal for a whole month for the entire school to study provides plenty of time for children to delve deeply into the nuances of their music. It also generates a shared experience between children and creates a culture of music appreciation within the whole community, including staff, children and parents.

Musicians may fleetingly appear in different year group curriculums, or be enjoyed and promoted due to a teacher’s preference, but there is much to be said for having a whole school approach; one carefully curated to link to the nine protected characteristics of the Equality Act, one spanning all genres of classical composers, traditions and musicians, and one that is equal in both male and female artists. Musician of the Month has launched its campaign so that all children are able to see themselves as potential musicians or consumers of music.

This month, children at St. South Wilford Primary School in Nottingham are learning about Florence Price. Year 1 to Year 6 will be involved in a whole school assembly where they will learn that she was the first African-American woman to have her music played by a professional orchestra. They’ll learn what inspired her music and they’ll learn that she was all but forgotten until her manuscripts were discovered in an abandoned Chicago house in 2009. They’ll have a chance to read differentiated knowledge organisers, online quizzes, and listen and respond to American spirituals.

A primary school in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire are playing the weekly videos and songs of Beethoven this month. Corridors are humming, and children will stop and read the whole school music display complete with history timeline, geography musicians map and Beethoven poster, whilst parents will receive a Home Information Sheet complete with a QR code playlist and book suggestions.

The Music Coordinator at St Mary’s RC Primary School in Middleton has seen the impact first hand:

“There has been a significant increase in children’s interest of unfamiliar music styles and musicians, along with an increase in the knowledge of how musicians can break stereotypes and bring down barriers. This has also linked to their understanding of social justice. Elements of SMSC such as Black History and other cultures have been complemented well by the Musician of the Month resources, as well as actual musical vocabulary increasing away from our used music scheme in school.”

Designed in a six-year cycle, every child will experience a new musician every month as they journey through school, with diversity and inclusion at the heart of every choice. Primary schools receive Key Stage 1 & Key Stage 2 digital resources through online access, and resources can also be delivered by email once a month should schools wish. Short, simple activities have been designed to be easily delivered by non-specialists and the scheme complements and sits alongside already existing curriculum schemes of work.

One teacher at Bosbury Primary in Hereford has seen that the children in her school have been able to discuss the various composers and musicians with so much more confidence, along with all the staff embracing the new musical culture it has created.

“This is one of the best resources we buy into at our school and I can’t imagine our daily school life without it!”

As children’s musical knowledge and experience is expanded, as new cultures and traditions are explored, and as children are inspired by both the music and the discussions that are generated each month, the hope is that Musician of the Month is inspiring a new generation of music listeners, eager to explore music beyond their own borders.

You can learn more about Musician of the Month on their website, or give it a try with their free sample of David Bowie resources!