Marching to the Beat – Whole School Music Bolsters English, Maths, Wellbeing

Done well, whole school music can completely transform your primary school – from academic reputation to learning outcomes to pupil experience. Explore how Sing Education do it.

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Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Well when it comes to music and language, we bet you’ll be surprised to learn what came first was…

Music!

And by several million years.

“Music is far older than language. The FOXP2 gene associated with speech has been recovered from Neanderthal fossils, yet rhythm and melody have been around for millions of years before that, as attested by the fossils of chirping crickets and singing birds. Sapiens evolved on the ape line, and our songs evolved from the vocalisations of non-human primates.” SPEC

Three crocheted chickens with red combs and beaks are positioned on a wooden surface, accompanied by several colorful crocheted eggs. The craftsmanship gives the chickens a charming and whimsical appearance, evoking a cozy, handmade aesthetic.
The image shows a person and a child ascending a flight of outdoor steps, with the child wearing a bright red coat. In the background, a large conical building with a distinctive spire reaches into a sky dotted with fluffy clouds. The building's surface appears to be made of ribbed metal or similar material, giving it a textured appearance. The scene is composed with a sense of upward movement and aspiration, emphasized by the grandeur of the architecture and the expansive sky.

Music is in our genes..and brains

Are you left-brained or right-brained? 

Prefer working at tasks that require logic, rational thought, calculation? Then you might very well be left-brain dominant. 

Conversely if you prefer to dive into activities that are more artistic, creative or spontaneous then you might be more right-brain dominant.

What’s curious about music is that it activates both hemispheres of the brain…but at different life stages and in different cognitive contexts. 

Newborn baby hearing a parent’s lullaby? 

Their right hemisphere will be stimulated to respond and develop. 

Year 5 pupil learning to play the ukulele? 

Their left hemisphere will fire more often and grow stronger neural pathways.

Download the checklist here!

“Humans may well be born with a musical instinct, yet music training changes the structure of our brains. A baby, as well as an adult with no musical training, processes music through the right side of the brain, which deals with emotion. If you are taught to sing or to play a musical instrument, your brain starts to process music through its left hemisphere, associated with language. In short, trained musicians are left-brained.” SPEC 

Learning English as an Additional Language? Try Music!

“Most people accept the fact that music and singing affect language development, but perhaps they have not seen how this can be done in the way that we do. 

We use Instagram to show parents what’s going on in the class and how the activities work. People have expectations that their child will improve their English and pronunciation. 

We also recognise this is what the parents really want and we try to make sure that our approach meets their expectations.” ASH

Music school in Bromley? Broadstairs? Barnsley?

No. 

Try Kazakhstan. 

It was there, in the capital city of Astana, that Joe Scott from Preston, Lancs., opened a music school for children in 2018. 

And while the geography may be global, the principles are the same.

Learning music supports broader academic performance – particularly proficiency in language and mathematics. 

Moreover, choral singing – due to its emphasis on rhythm, pulse, diction, listening skills and team work – is a great example of this. Singing in English also strengthens a child’s understanding of vocabulary, grammar, and idiomatic expression – critical skills for students with EAL needs.

Download the checklist here!

“Music has plenty of benefits. It helps children to listen attentively, behave well, learn languages and mathematics, develop coordination skills, improve reading, enjoy themselves, be part of a team and other skills,” [Scott] said. Most importantly, Scott believes music lessons from a native speaker also help children develop a deep connection with the English language and learn pronunciation and vocabulary.” ASH

The image shows a close-up of a printed page with a set of mathematical equations, specifically a system of linear equations with variables x1, x2, x3, and x4. The focus is shallow, with the foreground and background blurred, highlighting the middle equation which reads "6x2 - 2x3 + x4 = 7". The equations are part of an algebraic problem, possibly for an educational purpose such as homework or a textbook example.
A group of primary school children are seated on the floor, actively participating in a classroom activity with raised hands and animated expressions. A teacher, slightly out of focus in the background, observes with a smile, indicating a positive and engaging learning environment. The children's attention is directed towards something or someone not visible in the frame, suggesting interactive learning.

Music Changes Fortunes - A School Turnaround Like No Other

Heard of Feversham Academy?

Probably not. 

And until the 2010s, it was a rather unremarkable secondary school in the NorthEast of England. 

Except for its exam results. 

They were consistently poor – frustrating pupils, parents and teachers alike. The community started to give up on the school, with parents choosing other local options and staff feeling that a turnaround was nigh on impossible.

“As recently as 2011, Feversham lagged behind the national average in English and maths results, families avoided sending their children there and staff morale was at an all-time low.” BIG

But then something changed.

Curricular music at the school was reinvigorated – and given a huge timetabling boost. Students started receiving up to 6 hours of music tuition a week, with emphasis on learning that was fun, integrated with other subjects like maths and put at the heart of their school experience.

Here’s what happened…

“Feversham Primary Academy in Bradford 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. Pupils receive up to six hours of music tuition a week.

Now, the school is in the national top 10 per cent for progress in literacy, and last year 74 per cent of pupils in the school – almost all of whom speak English as a second language – made the required grades for reading and writing, beating the 53 percent national average. Since music was introduced as the fabric of learning, rather than an optional bonus, attendance of both pupils and staff has skyrocketed. And they’re having fun.” BIG

Download the checklist here!

March to the Beat of a Different Drummer - Choose Whole School Music

Done well, whole school music can completely transform your primary school – from academic reputation to learning outcomes to pupil experience. 

Whether you’re responsible for early learners (EYFS), children with special educational needs (SEN) or students where English is their second, third or fourth language (EAL), to unlock these benefits you just need to tap into music’s unique ability to:

  • Support emotional wellbeing
  • Encourage self-expression and 
  • Facilitate language acquisition.  

For example, when Sing Education students sing in the classroom, they naturally learn to recognise, understand and then reproduce both vowel and consonant sounds, along with other elements of the musical curriculum such as rhythm, pitch and tone. This makes vocal performance such a perfect medium for supporting learners with English as an Additional Language (EAL) needs.

In addition, we celebrate culture and diversity throughout our bespoke curriculum. Sing Education tuition specifically incorporates a lot of English folk songs, as well as music from around the world, such as Asia and Africa. 

This really helps with developing language skills, especially for children with EAL background and needs. Where English is not the dominant language in the home, learning to sing in English can help tremendously because it naturally uses the rhymes and rhythms of the English language.

Lastly, whether a child has English as an additional language, has a special educational need or disability, or is a high academic achiever, music is a subject that all children can access in an equal way. This factor allows pupils to build a great sense of confidence, pride and accomplishment irrespective of their musical starting point.

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 www.singeducation.co.uk/schools

For even more information, practical tips and guidance to help you design a well-rounded school music programme, click here to download your FREE CHECKLIST “Year 6 – Are they ready for the next step?”

Download the checklist here!

About Us

Founded in 2014 and serving more than 16,000 children each week, Sing Education is a first class provider of primary school music education. Focusing on high-quality, singing-led tuition, we deliver a complete solution for schools which includes teacher recruitment, training and management, bespoke curricular resources and educational consultancy services. 

Through music lessons, singing assemblies, choirs, after school clubs and instrumental tuition, Sing Education works with students from Nursery right through to Year 6. Our core philosophy is that “Every Child Has A Voice,” and, as educators active in the classroom, our directors and teachers know firsthand how much young learners benefit from exciting, rewarding music education. 

Sing Education currently partners with schools throughout Greater London and Kent, as well as Yorkshire and the Humber. 

Not yet on the list? Please enquire about our expansion plans for additional areas we will serve during the 2023-24 academic year.

singeducation.co.uk/schools

#SingEducation #HubsAndSpokes #InsideMusicEd

 

Sources:

  1. Top notes: why does music make you cleverer? The Spectator SPEC
  2. Unique English language school in Kazakh capital teaches English through music The Astana Times ASH
  3. Why the crisis in music education is a crisis for all The Big Issue BIG

 

Two young students, wearing blue school sweaters, are seated on the floor with a look of concentration and wonder. The girl in the foreground is singing with an open mouth, suggesting active participation in a classroom activity, while her peers in the blurred background appear to be equally engaged. The atmosphere conveys a sense of immersion and enjoyment in the learning experience.

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