The children at Vicarage love music. As you walk around the school you will always hear music playing, children singing and instruments playing. Music lessons are taught in years 1-6 fortnightly by Mrs. Surridge, the music coordinator. During this session children have the opportunity to explore the building blocks of music such as rhythm, pitch and pulse, to sing songs and listen to music from a different time and place. The song choices used in curriculum music are varied in genre. They include selections from different countries, different times in history and a variety of languages. As the children enter the juniors they learn to play an instrument. Year 3 children learn to play the recorder, in year 4 they play the ukulele and as the children enter year 5 they can choose an ECAM instrument to study for two years (see below). The children have plenty of opportunities to perform on their instruments either in a group or alone. By the time most children leave Vicarage they are beginning to read traditional music notation fluently and can enjoy singing a number of songs either with lyrics or from memory. The comprehensive listening and appraising scheme means children can make valued judgments about music they hear from other times and places.
Music in other subjects
Music is also used for teaching in other subjects. It is well known fact that information is easier to remember in song. Songs are taught in Spanish to help children to learn the language, and in topics to remember historical facts about e.g. the Vikings.
ECAM is short for ‘Every Child a Musician’. It is a tuition scheme generously funded for children attending Newham schools by the Mayor of Newham. The scheme enables any child who wants to, to choose an instrument as they enter year 5, and have lessons for two years. This year at Vicarage children can choose from keyboard, guitar, flute and violin. The children have small group lessons after school hours, taught by tutors sent from ECaM. The lessons are 30 minutes long and run in 3 sessions between 3.25 and 4.55pm. The lessons are progressive and children evidence this by taking exams on their chosen instrument on a regular basis. Many of our children entered for these exams last year and all passed, with some gaining Distinctions and Merits. We are very proud of their achievements. Below is an extract from the Ecam web page stating the benefits from learning an instrument;
Every Child a Musician: how it works
Playing a musical instrument can improve your child’s learning experience. Research shows that learning a new instrument can:
- help to improve your child’s literacy, creativity and intellectual development
- develop your child’s self-confidence
- develop your child’s concentration to help him or her learn other subjects
- develop your child’s motivation
- help your child to take pride in his or her musical achievement
- enjoy music.
We provide a free 30-minute session each week and give your child a musical instrument as a gift.
Our results for stage one ECaM examinations were very impressive for the Autumn term. Children did their tests on Keyboard and Guitar. Every child passed their test. Most of them passed with marks exceeding 85% meaning they earned a Distinction. Of the Keyboard students 2% passed, 44% passed with Merit, and 44% passed with Distinction. Of the guitar students 88% passed with Distinction and 12% passed with Merit. All of these children have received their London College certificates and ECaM stage 1 badges. This Spring term we will have the first lot of violin students taking their stage 1 exam as well as our next lot of Keyboard students. I’m sure they will be just as successful and we look forward to their results.
“These students at Vicarage have a natural curiosity in music that you don’t see very often. They are a pleasure to teach”. Naufal Mukumi- ECaM Keyboard Tutor.
Historically there are three choirs at Vicarage; year 5 and 6, years 3 and 4, and year 2. Year 2 choir will start in January. The choirs sing in and out of school on a regular basis. The song choices are varied in genre, just as they are for curriculum lessons. The children sing on a variety of occasions including at school concerts, community events and at the local old peoples home. Once or twice a year the older children will sing with other choirs at the local secondary school or a London concert venue such as the O2 Arena, as part of a massed choir event. The next event of this kind will be at the O2 in January 2018 and choir members in years 4, 5 and 6 will be invited to attend. Children can go on to join community choirs as they move on from Vicarage. Many of our choir members have gone on to join ‘Extraordinary Voices’ run by the Newham Music Hub. Children who join the choir are expected to attend every practice, have excellent behaviour and show commitment and loyalty by learning words and supporting performances. Membership is by invitation only.
The Choir at the O2
Our school choir regularly perform in the local and wider community. On Monday 29th January the year 4, 5 and 6 children from the choir went to the O2 Arena to join the Young Voices Choir for a performance alongside 7617 children. We had so many songs to practice and have been learning the melodies and lyrics since before Christmas. Our performance seats were at the very top of the Arena but fortunately the organisers cleverly provided a special App called ‘Find my child’ so parents knew where to watch their child during the performance. The choir sounded fantastic and remembered all the actions and choruses very well. We heard an acoustic guitarist, watched The Urban Strides dancers and heard an a cappella group called The Magnets. Finally we accompanied a female vocalist called Natalie Williams. Best of all were the Young Voices Choir songs. We were exhausted by the end, but had a night we will remember forever.
Quote from Sujana 4C
“The choir had an amazing visit to the O2. There was a bustling crowd and we had to be courageous to sit at the very top. We sang heartily and Mrs Surridge gave us a huge ‘Well done!’ Over the last few months we have worked hard and concentrated on our singing. Mrs Surridge worked hard to train us. We owe her a huge WOW!”
Why is music important?
The benefits of music
Quote from British Psychological Society (BPS) investigation into how making music can improve behaviour and problem solving skills in young children.
Making music can improve both pro-social behaviour (voluntary behaviour intended to benefit another) and the problem solving skills of young children according to a new study. Building on existing research which found that making music significantly improves pro-social behaviour in young children) the current study investigated not only the potential effects of music making (singing or playing an instrument) on pro-sociability but also its effects on problem-solving and whether there was a difference between boys and girls. Rie Davies said: “This study provides support for prior research by Kirschner and Tomasello (2010) and also highlights the need for schools and parents to understand the important role music making has in children’s lives in terms of social bonding and helping behaviours.
Music and happiness
From a study by Vince Raison, commercial music writer
Humanity has been expressing itself through music for more than 40,000 years. It’s no wonder we are hardwired to be moved by music. Babies respond to happy, or sad, songs from a very early age and the intensity of connection only grows stronger as we develop.
Music activates several different parts of the brain – there are complex messages to take in. Melody, pitch, rhythm, language, emotion, even memory and visualisation, all being received, or generated, in unison.
Created by Mrs Surridge, October 2017
Learning to listen with Decoda- Live Music!
At Vicarage we regularly have live performances in school. Decoda are a group of fantastic musicians who we regularly invite in to play for the children. This year the group came and worked with our older children on learning to listen carefully and how motion is used in music to create and effect. A beautiful piece of music creating the image of a swan swimming on a lake was played for the children. The children were then encouraged to clap the busy rhythmic pattern created by the feet of the swan. They then learned to sing the smooth melody to recognise the contrast in sounds and how the combination told a story about the gliding swan on the rippling water. This kind of careful structured listening is useful in all areas of learning, not only musical understanding.
Sing Up Christmas 2017
The end of term at Vicarage saw the first Sing Up competition to be supported by our parents. The children were very excited to be performing their chosen songs for an audience of adults. Every chair available was taken by the parents and this was a wonderful show of support for our children. The standard of singing and performing was very high and the judges had a difficult task deciding the winners in each year group. The points were added up and the prizes handed out to the happy winners.
Our Sing Up competitions are always very competitive and are a great way of encouraging team work, engaging teachers and their classes in music and confidence in performing. Music has many positive benefits to learning (see above).