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Return to School - Sharing Practice in Music

Dear All,

I hope everyone is continuing to keep well and is able to move forward with practical music making in the classroom across the challenging time we are currently facing.

Below I have captured some conversations and discussions that I've had this week with Heads of Music across a number of schools in Hampshire. These have focused around the return to school and classroom work for KS4 and KS3 as well as further planning for online provision. I will discuss the themes further at the music panel meetings that I have booked in next week, to see how I can best support colleagues across the county. I hope that the conversations below may also support you with the discussions you are having with senior leadership regarding your current teaching situations.

Please do get in touch if you would like to talk on an individual basis.

Start to Term and Classwork

Year 10 and 11 Catch Up


In some schools music teachers are using extra-curricular time for GCSE performance work, as ensembles are not taking place due to Covid restrictions. Teachers are using this time to start recordings - students being assigned individual slots in extra-curricular time across different days with support for improving performances as well capturing first recordings. The thinking here is that it is important to be proactive with the time available in the event of potential Covid disruption where students/teachers would then have to work from home, potentially interrupting or delaying recordings. Clearly using extra-curricular time might not be possible in some schools where there is a Covid policy for students to go home straight after their last lesson.


Teachers are focusing on composition in the classroom. Another important area to ensure a good amount of time for the development of a composition. Again it is important to work on completing this as early as possible in the classroom as composition will be very challenging if students have to work remotely from home. From home students have real challenges around accessing their current composing work and/or using similar or compatible equipment.

With KS4, teachers are finding the process of providing feedback on composition difficult due to social distancing and wearing PPA. Teachers have been working on using remote access from a standalone machine to view/hear a student’s work and post feedback. The challenges around this will relate to networking systems and the type of computers in the classroom.

Largely with composition the gaps in learning/support for developing are not too dissimilar to a normal start of the year expectations.

Listening and Appraising

Listening / Appraising work is clearly important though taking more of a back seat at the moment due to a focus on recording work for performance and working on composition in the classroom. Teachers know that Listening / Appraisal work can be set more successfully as remote learning at home than composition. In addition a fair amount of coverage has already taken place across the summer term lockdown. There is also still time from spring 2021 onwards to complete and revise. However, some schools are using extra curricular time for this too, setting up revision sessions after school. Part of this extra provision is to support students with mocks (Nov/Dec for some schools). Teachers are concerned that mock grades, depending on Covid disruption, might be used again as part of teacher assessed grades for the final grade. Again, after school work may not be possible if schools have a Covid policy where students are to go home straight after the last lesson.

Instruments in the Classroom

In terms of resources for class music making, the predominant instrument being used is the keyboard with SoL being adapted to enable this to be consistently used for performing/composing across the autumn and spring terms. Keyboards are in static positions and class seating plans set so students use the same instrument each time. Teaching is therefore taking place in specialist rooms with students working at keyboards in pairs. Also, particularly KS4, there is a consistent use of computers (DAWs); each student from a class assigned a machine to work at that is the same for each lesson. Equipment being cleaned after each class, before the next class arrives.

A highly effective and efficient cleaning unit being used in some schools is by Depro Care - please see link below. A unit that sprays and sanitisers in seconds. Around £200 per cleaning unit.

Teachers are also using sets of percussion instruments - African drums - for whole class learning. Drums are either being assigned to the same student from the same class each time. No cleaning of the drums between classes as in the same year group bubble, however, students sanitise before and after class use. Or the drums are cleaned between classes using wipes. The SoL learning is delivered with the drumming always taking place as a whole class (no group work - again static class positions using a consistent seating plan).

Extra Curricular

Some extra-curricular work is taking place (again not all schools - this is dependent on school Covid policy). Where this is happening it it in small groups, e.g. woodwind, brass with students all from the same year group bubble (socially distanced by 2 metres). Where singing is taking place this is outside and socially distanced. Schools working towards a Christmas concert are looking to video groups and stream to musicians and parents.

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