The Music for Schools Foundation uses a scheme that is specifically designed for children aged 7-11 years old (those in Key Stage 2), learning in a small group environment at school. Lessons usually take place during the school day (with some exceptions at the school's request) and the timetable is always agreed with the school before tuition commences.
We believe that group teaching not only makes lessons enjoyable and motivating for pupils, but also enables them to develop a better aural awareness of intonation and ensemble playing. The opportunity to listen to other pupils on a regular basis, both on the same and different instruments, can have a very positive impact upon individual musical learning.
WHAT HAPPENS IN LESSONS?
Our main aim is to introduce pupils to learning an instrument in a fun and exciting way. We will always teach pupils in groups wherever possible and our tutors are constantly assessing the groupings to ensure all pupils reach their maximum potential.
During lessons, pupils begin by working through the Standard of Excellence band method, a series of tutor books with accompanying backing music, specially developed for group learning. The books allow pupils learning different instruments to have lessons together, enabling pupils to develop ensemble playing skills from a very early stage. The accompanying backing music is a key element of the Standard of Excellence method. Used both in lessons and at home, it enables pupils to play along with a simple tune and the added backing tracks ensure a full and melodic sound. From the outset, pupils can play recognisable tunes even if they are only familiar with one note. Playing along with a recorded track also enables pupils to develop a natural sense of pulse and rhythm.
The Standard of Excellence book also includes an integrated reward scheme, with pupils acheiving a bronze, silver and gold award as they progress through the book. This helps to motivate pupils and enables parents to measure their progress, even if they are not musical themselves.
Flute players use an additional tuition book called Abracadabra as well - the flute can be a tricky instrument to start on, and the Abracadabra has alternative starting notes that some pupils find slightly easier. The Standard of Excellence is used alongside so that the pupils can still benefit from our group system.
For our Recorder players, we use the Vamoosh! book, which is a lovely fun introduction to music for our younger musicians!
Music theory is a key element of learning an instrument and is incorporated into most lessons, either through focused exercises or simple tasks such as clapping rhythms or identifying key signatures.
Tutors may also bring additional music into lessons for pupils to study, for example festive music at Christmas or popular songs from the charts, films or musicals. This variety enables pupils to expand their musical repertoire by playing different styles of music and builds on the skills learned from the Standard of Excellence. Other activities during lessons may include composition, instrument care and maintenance (essential to ensure it remains in good working order) and ensemble playing.
As pupils progress, some may move onto the Associated Board exam syllabus. For more information about exams, please visit our exams section.
WHO ARE OUR TUTORS?
Our tutors are a multi-talented group who come from a wide variety of musical backgrounds, including professional musicians, the armed forces and everything in between. What ties them together is a true passion for music and a desire to share this with our pupils.
Each tutor undertakes full training before commencing teaching and this continues with an on-going professional development programme. As we mentioned, our tutors are multi-talented and so each tutor is able to teach all the instruments we offer. We believe that it is this which makes our tutors unique; as they have an in-depth understanding not only of their principal instrument but extensive musical knowledge which enables them to develop well-rounded musicians.
All our tutors live within an easy commute of your school and are fully DBS checked. They liaise regularly with your school to ensure lessons run smoothly and are often an integral part of the school fabric, taking part in celebration assemblies, carol concerts and other school events.
WHICH INSTRUMENTS DO WE TEACH?
Instruments currently taught on our scheme are Clarinet, Flute, Saxophone, Cornet and Trumpet. In addition, for our smaller pupils we also offer lessons on the Mini Clarinet (the Nuvo) and the Mini Flute (Curved Head). We also offer Recorder lessons for any pupil wishing to start learning in Year 2. Visit our Instruments page for more information about the instruments themselves.
Encouragement is essential if pupils are to progress and get the most out of their lessons. Every week, the tutor will indicate what they would like your child to work on - a little homework is inevitable! You can help in lots of ways, even if you aren't musical yourself. Simply setting aside a routine for practice is a great start, and little and often is the most effective approach - 10-15 minutes every other day is enough. We understand that lots of our pupils are young, and the physical demands alone of blowing an instrument can be exhausting! It is also worth remembering that asking pupils to concentrate for any longer can be a challenge, so there's no need to spend hours and hours at it (at least to begin with!).
There is also practice that your child can do without making a noise (for those moments when you don't want to discourage them but really want some peace and quiet!) - simply let them hold their instrument and move their fingers on the keys without blowing!
Remember as well that a little praise goes a long way - you may not be able to recognise the tunes straight away, but some words of encouragement will encourage your child to keep going. If your child has the opportunity to perform in some way, try to come along if you can. Or put on some 'concerts' for family!
MAKING MUSIC ACCESSIBLE
Our mission is to make music accessible to all. We are therefore proud to be able to offer a number of our pupils lessons at a reduced rate, in line with our eligibility criteria. Please contact us for further information.