Co-Curricular Music is Bursting Out All Over

Nativity plays, instrumental concerts, singing assemblies and carolling – join Sing Education as we explore extracurricular music this December.

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Many of us think of the Christmas season as a time for rest, reflection and renewal. A long awaited opportunity to spend time with family and friends, absolutely, but also a chance to proverbially “put our feet up” before the hubbub of the New Year sets in.

But if you’re a primary school pupil at one of Sing Education’s more than 80 partner schools – December is go, go, go!

It’s performance time!

From nativity plays to carols concerts to instrumental showcases to singing assemblies, this month’s calendar is full of opportunities for music to joyfully spill out from our classrooms, music rooms and auditoriums into wider school life and the local community.

Will you join us?


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First Stop Curricular: The Cornerstone of Primary Music Education

The backbone of any good music provision is the curricular time. So whenever Sing Education are working with a new primary school, the first things we look at are the constraints of the timetable. We’re looking to maximise curricular time and to distribute it properly, making sure that lesson lengths are long enough and robust enough to meet the needs of the differing age and key stage ranges. 

Working with the headteacher and the school’s music lead, we interrogate all the elements of the school’s timetable – where can we push a little here, pull a little there – to ensure that music education in that partner school meets (or exceeds) the rigorous demands of not just the NPME and the Model Music Curriculum, but also Sing Education’s own curriculum.

As our Director of Operations, Josh Cadman shares:

“Our curriculum is not off the shelf. It’s been developed over a long time in-house by us and that development of expertise in curriculum development means that we have a very strong education team who train our teachers to be fantastic music teachers. It also means that our music teachers have a fantastic curriculum to teach. That’s robust, challenging, engaging, full of active music making.”

And clearly it’s working!

Sing Education currently reaches over 28,000 pupils each week with the life-changing experience of high-quality primary music education. 

And our pupils are excelling – not just in “doing” music – but also in understanding the theory and composition that underpins their performance. 

“My students show an advanced knowledge in music and their performance, so I’m always trying to find new ways to challenge and stretch them. They are very inquisitive, and  sometimes their questions mean I have to go away and do more research on a subject so I can better help their learning.”

  • Johanna Smith, Sing Education Music Specialist, Dairy Meadows Primary School


? Music enhances learning by encouraging curiosity and problem-solving in the classroom.

A group of schoolchildren in white shirts are lined up side by side, singing with focused expressions. The foreground features a girl with her mouth open mid-song, capturing the moment of active participation in a choir performance or music class. The background is softly blurred, emphasizing the children's engagement in the activity.
A row of tambourines with wooden frames and metal jingles is neatly arranged, showcasing the instruments' varying shades and sizes, ready for use in a music education setting. The focus on the tambourines' details conveys a sense of preparation for a hands-on, rhythmic learning experience.

Next Up Performances: Extracurricular Music in Context

When we engage with a new school, we also look at where Sing Education can develop additional enrichment activities – such as singing assemblies, choirs, clubs and the like – to embed expanded learning opportunities into the life of the school. With our approach to whole school music, co-curricular opportunities such as performances, musical trips and 1:1 instrumental tuition are not an afterthought – they are baked into the very fabric of each new engagement.

Importantly, we find that our two-pronged approach – curricular plus extracurricular music – is a winner across the breadth of our partner school landscape. It works for schools committed to improving their music education offer, as well as for those already demonstrating a strong track record of delivering great school music.

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One of the key reasons?

We know music pays tremendous learning dividends across other core subjects such as science and maths. 

In fact, The Big Issue recently highlighted the transformation of a primary school in Bradford as it made significant strides to raise educational standards through the application of music learning. 

After years of challenging academic performance, the primary now takes the national spotlight, ranking in the top 10% of schools for progress in literacy AND for the fact that 74% of its pupils – nearly all who speak English as a second language – attain the required grades for reading and maths. (The national average is 53%).

“Feversham Primary Academy…turned its exam results and its reputation around by injecting music into the curriculum at every opportunity. Rhythm and movement form the Kodály approach, a method of teaching based on the idea that children learn better and quicker through musical games, even if that means making a song out of a maths equation.” BIG

? Music enhances learning within and across the larger school timetable.

Co-Curricular Music - Raising Aspirations, Changing Lives

Extracurricular music is so very important to young people that the Social Mobility Commission, convened under Dame Martina Milburn in 2019 concluded that “[t]he breadth of extra-curricular activities, spanning the musical, artistic, social and sporting domains, are widely considered valuable life experiences that should be open to all young people, regardless of background or where they happen to live.“ SMC

In fact, certain extracurricular activities – such as music and sport – have been proven to positively impact pupils intent to remain in post-compulsory formal education. 

“Youth who attend music classes regularly are almost 40% more likely to aspire to pursue further education.” SMC 

And with this fact, the knock on impact to pupils’ future career choices, lifetime earnings potential and ability to be economically and socially mobile are clear.

? Music enhances pupils’ social and economic opportunities beyond the classroom.

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Extracurricular Music: Uniting Voices and Pupil Experiences

Co-curricular music education extends musical experiences beyond the classroom, enriching the larger school community. 

Rooted in a strong foundation of classroom music, these activities foster joy in music-making and facilitate cross-year group relationships. They offer children a chance to create music, connect with peers from various classes, and nurture friendships over the academic year. 

Additionally, extracurricular music provides a strong developmental framework, allowing younger students to witness the rewards of hard work and practice by observing the outcomes achieved by their older peers.

? Music enhances wellbeing and social development amongst and between peer groups.

A group of schoolchildren in uniform, with a focus on a smiling girl in the foreground, captures a moment of joyful engagement among students. The children's attentive expressions suggest a shared experience, likely in a classroom or assembly setting, fostering a sense of community and learning.
A smiling man dressed in a smart grey suit jacket and a light blue shirt stands in front of a colorful mosaic background. His confident, friendly expression suggests a professional and approachable demeanor.

Extracurricular Music: Touching the Whole School and Community

Lastly, when Sing Education help design and deliver a new school’s music development plan, we look closely at how the programme can be strengthened to touch broader areas of school life and/or impact the wider local community through seasonal enrichment programming. 

As Josh Cadman notes:

“So whether that’s Christmas or summer performances, we’re seeing more and more schools prioritise this expanded vision of music, particularly as we’ve moved out of the pandemic. 

We’re seeing schools are wanting more and more cocurricular music again, like they had before. They see it – and rightly so – as a chance to bring communities together at performances and also as a chance to showcase pupils’ musical skills building, enhanced wellbeing and social development to school staff, governors and parents alike.”


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To learn more about Sing Education, including how our music provision, online instrumental lessons and at home learning resources contribute to a well-rounded music curriculum, please visit

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