St. Nicholas’ School is a school full of music! We believe that every child is entitled to a good music education which is why we have specialist music teachers to teach both class music lessons and singing assemblies. Every child has the opportunity to enjoy music through listening, singing and playing instruments. Singing assemblies are split into Key Stage one, Years 3 and 4 and then Years 5 and 6 all on a separate afternoon.
Class Music Lessons
Class music lessons are taught either by the class teacher or by a specialist music teacher once a week. These lessons include a listening activity, singing, improvising and composing using tuned and untuned percussion instruments, musical notation, and musical games that introduce and reinforce the children’s knowledge of the interrelated dimensions of music: beat/pulse, rhythm, pitch, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture and structure. Children have the opportunity to listen to and discuss their opinions about a wide range of music, from a variety of genres such as classical, jazz, baroque, electronic, pop, blues, ragtime, rock, romantic, to name a few! Although we mainly use Charanga as our music scheme, lesson are often adapted to the children and the choice of listening material is taken from the new Model Music Curriculum.
Each year group gets to perform to the school. Currently, Foundation Stage produce both something for Christmas and a short play in the summer term too; Christmas performances vary, but usually Key Stage one perform a musical play with a Christmas theme and sometimes Years five and six treat us to carols and readings around the Christmas tree. Towards the end of the spring term, Year three entertain us with a play and then just before May half term, Year four have their chance to shine, often with a fun musical. Finally, Year six wow us with a final musical! In the past these have included, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, “Shakespeare Rocks”, “The Wizard of Oz”, and many others.
Year 3 Music Project
This is a project that was started in 2015 and has continued every year since. Originally it began with children in Year 2. However, sadly it had to be put on hold during the Covid pandemic, so in order to ensure that the children didn’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity, we have re-started it this academic year with children in Year 3. It was both set up and is run entirely by volunteers. All children in Year 3 are given the opportunity to have four free lessons on an instrument that they choose out of a given selection. These have included: violin, ‘cello, recorder, keyboard, guitar, ukulele and pbuzz (a type of plastic trombone for beginners). The project was the brain-child of our visiting music teacher, Julia Drown, who also runs the school orchestra. It is a fantastic chance for the children to try out an instrument before committing to lessons in order to see if it is the right instrument for them. A number of children have then gone on to have formal music lessons. It has been a wonderful project, which has proved popular with the children. It has also been an excellent way to get members of the community involved as we are reliant on volunteers (currently from a local secondary school) to come and teach their instrument to the children.
Year 4 Whole Class Instrumental Lessons
In previous years, both Year four classes have had whole class music lessons on a specific instrument. These have included brass instruments and clarinets. A specialist teacher came in every week to teach the whole class and then the whole year group performed to the rest of the school and to parents, usually at the end of the spring and summer terms. Again, a number of children ended up continuing lessons with the county music service and joining the school orchestra. Although currently this is not happening, we hope that it will resume again in the near future.
Currently we have visiting peripatetic music teachers for Woodwind, brass, keyboard, violin, ‘cello, guitar and ukulele.
We have a large orchestra for Key Stage two children who play an instrument. We are grateful to our adult volunteers who support the children and make it possible to support a number of children who are relatively new to their instruments.
Other Musical Opportunities
There are many other musical opportunities at St. Nicholas’ School. Every year the children have a chance to showcase their talents in “Goat Factor”. This is a talent contest in which children pay a small amount to enter and a small amount to vote for their favourite acts and the money goes to a charity to buy goats for people in other countries. This is often a fantastic opportunity for children to demonstrate their musical skills, as well as dance and many other talents.
Another annual event is Oxfordshire’s Festival of Voices. This takes place in June in the magnificent Dorchester Abbey, in Dorchester-Upon-Thames, in Oxfordshire. Around 30 children in Year five come together with approximately 200 children from other schools in Oxfordshire to sing a collection of between 15-20 songs which they learn during the first half of the summer term. It is a fantastic occasion and one that children often remember taking part in for years afterwards.