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Hullabaloo Primary Music Curriculum

The Model Music Curriculum (henceforth to be known as the MMC)!

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start #julieandrewstribute.

Well, in their own words when it was published, it is “the Government’s ambitious plan for all children to have access to an excellent music education… supporting all pupils in their musical progression from Year 1.” The late schools’ minister, Nick Gibbs’ brainchild, the 36-page MMC, was first published on 26th March 2021 as a non-statutory document. On the back of this, Ofsted confirmed that *“there will be no pre-requisite from inspectors that schools should adopt the Model Music Curriculum’. However, ‘there remains every expectation that schools have in place a music curriculum that is ambitious, well-sequenced, implemented well, and which leads to good musical outcomes for all pupils.” Interestingly, as part of their research review series, Ofsted published a music analysis paper in July 2021, which made no reference to the MMC. This would, indeed, reinforce their previously iterated stance*.

How does the Model Music Curriculum fit with the National Curriculum?

Schools (apart from Academies, Free Schools and Independent Schools) are required by law to teach the National Curriculum for Music. The thinking behind the MMC is to provide teaching and learning guidance to help fulfil this requirement; in other words, put some meat on the bones. 

The collection of ideas set out in the MMC was put together by music experts (the self-named ‘Expert Panel’), rather than classroom practitioners. When there had been substantial curriculum development work already undertaken by experienced, skilled teachers in music hubs across the country, why did the government look elsewhere for inspiration? We can’t answer that question, but we can answer the next one!

How does the Model Music Curriculum fit with Hullabaloo! Primary Music Curriculum?

Should we embrace or ignore the MMC? Well, let’s identify some key points and then look at how we have addressed these through Hullabaloo!  

1. A broad range of musical genres and periods are recommended for listening. This means children from a young age will be exposed to a wider repertoire of music. They will have the opportunity to learn about music from across the ages, from different culture, societies and genres. In turn, this helps develop musical understanding and broaden tastes.

In Hullabaloo! Primary Music we have included our ‘Repertoire’ range, a series of half termly pieces to be used at any point during the corresponding unit, to broaden musical horizons. From Gershwin to Chopin, the backstories of the pieces are memorable and engaging, helping pupils to learn more.

We have also included a wide range of styles, traditions and genres within the units themselves, from American cheerleading to Inuit lullabies!

2. The MMC is incredibly challenging for any non-specialist to teach confidently. After all, there is no real curriculum development without teacher development, and we know that music CPD hasn’t been high on the agenda recently. The focus on reading and writing notation will bring many out in a cold sweat. In the 2019 MMC consultation, designed to support the ‘Expert Panel’, the UK Association of Music Education advised that “at Key Stages 1 and 2 many, if not most, teachers are not music specialists and therefore the guidance that they require needs to reflect this.” Does it look like anyone really took any notice of that?

We want everyone to be able to teach music confidently, which is why we have included ‘learn as you teach’ film clips within Hullabaloo! We will also be offering a range of training options in the near future, designed to upskill and inspire staff to teach music well.

3. There is also very little detail on how to teach the content. It’s more like a list of ‘whats’ but no ‘whys’ or ‘hows’, making it theoretical and dry. “Where are the resources?” has been the cry.

In Hullabaloo! Primary Music Curriculum is our answer! We have aligned planning and resources to the MMC without being exclusively driven by it. Carefully planning and crafting a curriculum, with all associated planning and resources, should not be viewed as a tick-box exercise and we have thoroughly considered the outline and shape of the MMC without being restricted by it.

4. It appears to be linear in design. It has been an agreed premise, predicated on cognitive theory for many years, that music involves spiral learning i.e. new learning has a relationship with old learning and is put in context with the prior information.

A unique feature of Hullabaloo! is the way in which evidence-based research has been used in its design. Making music memorable is our strapline and we have ensured that opportunities for repetition and recall, which will lead to retention, are at its heart without boring everyone into a deep sleep!

5. Let’s not skim over another important point – the lack of developmental consistency. Why is there no specific learning about dynamics or tempo in Key Stage 1, other than a reference that is made in passing in the Year 2 singing section of the document, as if it is an aside to teaching beat and rhythm?

This is where (and why!) Hullabaloo! Primary Music Curriculum diverges from the MMC. All the ingredients that create a piece of music (the elements) are introduced thoroughly in Key Stage 1, enabling pupils to begin to see at an early stage of their music learning how the elements relate to each other and form part of that spiral model.

6. There seems to be a music technological void in this model which is inexcusable. I know the new EYFS curriculum made no mention of technology, but the assumption there was that, as we live in a digital world, technology is integrated into the lives of young children. Music-specific technology is not, however, and should be taught explicitly, including recording and sequencing music.

In Hullabaloo! Primary Music, we purposefully introduce pupils to music technology in Key Stage 1. The use of a range of hardware, as well as software, is encouraged so that pupils can develop their skills across the primary phase. Alongside their core musical learning in composing and performing, they become familiar with recording and sound manipulation to enhance the impact of their work.

Let’s Sum it Up

So, to summarise, Hullabaloo! Primary Music Curriculum is a totally awesome scheme that teaches more than the National Curriculum and fully embraces the Model Music Curriculum.  

If you are looking for a spiral music curriculum that develops young, confident musicians and shows unmistakeable progression of knowledge and skills, don’t spend hours of your precious time inventing (or re-inventing) the wheel.

Try it for free here!