Music Curriculum

Music National Curriculum

Purpose of study

Music is a universal language that embodies one of the highest forms of creativity. A high-quality music education should engage and inspire pupils to develop a love of music and their talent as musicians, and so increase their self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement. As pupils progress, they should develop a critical engagement with music, allowing them to compose, and to listen with discrimination to the best in the musical canon.


The national curriculum for music aims to ensure that all pupils:

  •         perform, listen to, review and evaluate music across a range of historical periods, genres, styles and traditions, including the works of the great composers and musicians
  •         learn to sing and to use their voices, to create and compose music on their own and with others, have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, use technology appropriately and have the opportunity to progress to the next level of musical excellence
  •         understand and explore how music is created, produced and communicated, including through the interrelated dimensions: pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture, structure and appropriate musical notations

Attainment targets

By the end of each key stage, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study.

Subject content

Key stage 1

Pupils should be taught to:

  •         use their voices expressively and creatively by singing songs and speaking chants and rhymes
  •         play tuned and untuned instruments musically
  •         listen with concentration and understanding to a range of high-quality live and recorded music
  •         experiment with, create, select and combine sounds using the interrelated dimensions of music

Key stage 2

Pupils should be taught to sing and play musically with increasing confidence and control. They should develop an understanding of musical composition, organising and manipulating ideas within musical structures and reproducing sounds from aural memory.

Pupils should be taught to:

  •         play and perform in solo and ensemble contexts, using their voices and playing musical instruments with increasing accuracy, fluency, control and expression
  •         improvise and compose music for a range of purposes using the interrelated dimensions of music
  •         listen with attention to detail and recall sounds with increasing aural memory
  •         use and understand staff and other musical notations
  •         appreciate and understand a wide range of high-quality live and recorded music drawn from different traditions and from great composers and musicians
  •         develop an understanding of the history of music



The government have produced a model music curriculum to which there is a link here:



More young people will have the opportunity to listen to and learn about music through the ages, from Mozart and Bach to The Beatles and Whitney Houston, as part of a new plan for high-quality music lessons in every school.

To support the Government’s ambitious plan for all children to have access to an excellent music education, the Department for Education has today (26 March) published a new music curriculum for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3. The plans to refresh music lessons follow the full return to school for all pupils after covid.

As part of the curriculum, pupils will learn about the great composers of the world and develop their knowledge and skills in reading and writing music. They will be taught about a range of genres and styles covering historically-important composers such as Vivaldi and Scott Joplin, world renowned pieces like Puccini’s Nessun Dorma, and be introduced to instruments and singing from Year 1.

The Model Music Curriculum has been developed by a panel of 15 music education specialists – teachers, education leaders and musicians from across the UK – and led by Baroness Fleet, Veronica Wadley. The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) was contracted by the Department for Education to draft the Model Music Curriculum under the guidance of the panel.

School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:

Music is a hugely important part of most people’s lives. This is especially true during the lockdown period, in which music has been used to inspire, soothe and energise us.

A rich variety of music should be part of the daily life of every school. We want all schools to have a rigorous and broad music curriculum that inspires their pupils to love music, and stands alongside high levels of academic attainment.

I know music lessons will have been challenging during remote education, and while there is rightly a focus on academic catch-up, it is also important for children and young people experience music, sport and arts for their wider development.

After the most difficult of years, it’s time for a musical renaissance across England’s schools and I hope this will inspire a new generation of musicians.

The plan aims to support all pupils in their musical progression from Year 1 – where they’ll be introduced to beat, rhythm and pitch - through to secondary school, where pupils will be introduced to more technical aspects of music like quavers, treble clefs and staccato and legato.

At Key Stage 1 and 2, listening to a variety of music styles and sounds is designed to broaden pupils’ musical horizons and encourage them to be open minded about the music they listen to. At Key Stage 3, pupils will have the opportunity to discuss and interpret the musical meaning behind songs, and develop their creativity through improvisation and composition.

As well as ensuring all pupils can benefit from knowledge rich and diverse lessons, the Model Music Curriculum is expected to make it easier for teachers to plan lessons and help to reduce workload by providing a structured outline of what can be taught in each year group. Case studies for each year of Key Stages 1 and 2 are provided as part of the plan to clearly demonstrate how teachers can combine knowledge, skills and understanding in a practical way.

Veronica Wadley (Baroness Fleet), Chair of the expert panel, said:

I passionately believe that every young person should be able to experience music and have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. This experience can build confidence and self-esteem and also helps raise the aspirations of what children and young people can achieve in all areas of their life.

Music unites people and communities - and gives great joy and comfort. In schools, it brings together young people through the shared endeavour of whole school singing, ensemble playing, experimenting with the creative process and through the love of listening to friends performing.

The new curriculum, with its year-by-year guidance, is designed to help schools provide high quality music education for all pupils and reinforces the important role that music plays as part of a broad and balanced curriculum for all children.

Julian Lloyd Webber, Cellist and Conductor, said:

Music has immeasurably enriched my life and I cannot imagine existing without it. It provides motivation, stimulation and, most of all, joy.

We should never underestimate the power of music, it knows no boundaries of language, race or background. It is the universal language – everyone has a soundtrack to their lives.

The new Model Music Curriculum will provide children with a wealth of knowledge about music – and it’s fun too.

Simon Toyne, President of the Music Teachers’ Association, said:

The Model Music Curriculum is an important step in supporting our teachers to ensure every child is able to access meaningful music lessons in the classroom.

For children and young people to grow as musicians, they need to experience the world of music in all its richness and depth, with their musical knowledge and skills steadily growing over time. This cannot be achieved through short soundbites or teaching on a carousel system.

The curriculum’s expectation of a minimum of one hour’s classroom music per week from Year 1 to Year 9 - with first access instrumental tuition, and musical ensembles in addition to that one hour – could make a substantial difference to the musical lives of our children and young people, and to the country at large.

Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage said:

The importance of arts and culture in children’s education cannot be overstated. Music has helped many of us through the challenges of the past year in how it connects, inspires and entertains. I am delighted this new curriculum will mean all children have access to a high quality music education. This will help bring through a whole new generation of talented musicians.

Thousands of schools are already working with Music Education Hubs, which were set up in 2012 to support the teaching of music both in and out of school and to deliver the curriculum in the most effective way.

Schools and other education settings should be continuing to provide high quality music education, with regard for the department’s guidance on activities such as singing and playing instruments.



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