It’s always exciting to read yet another education document, and the publication of the draft National Curriculum is rather hefty at over two hundred pages.
Music is a universal language that embodies one of the highest forms of creativity. A high-quality music education should engage and inspire pupils to develop a love of music and their talent as musicians, and so increase their self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement. As pupils progress, they should develop a critical engagement with music, allowing them to compose, and to listen with discrimination to the best in the musical canon.
I’m fascinated to know what is meant by ‘high-quality’, ‘talent as musicians’ and ‘listen to the best in the musical canon’. Who writes the canon? Who determines high quality? And is this assuming everyone is talented? And what is talent? The aims include pupils listening to ‘the works of the great composers and musicians’ – who decides what these are? Classic FM? It’s great to see composition feature and the importance of singing though perhaps giving them the ‘opportunity to progress to the next level of musical excellence’ is a little ambiguous.
I am pleased to see that the aim to ‘understand and explore how music is created, produced and communicated, including through the inter-related dimensions: pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture, structure and appropriate musical notations’ remains important.
My own interest is in Key Stage 3 particularly and there is no significant different here other than in vocabulary. Replacing musical elements with ‘dimensions’ is rather an attractive expression, and perhaps reinforcing how these interrelate is more effective than considering such musical elements as truly separate entities. Western art music clearly takes pride of place in the National Curriculum and the loathness term ‘great composers’ appears and the term ‘tonalities’. Importantly, playing, improvising and composing all remain vital components of an effective music education and they appear in the draft document.
The draft document can be read here.