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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 inter-related dimensions: pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture, structure and appropriate musical notations.

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 inter-related 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.

Year Three

Vocal Progression (Performance)
  • sing songs in a variety of styles with confidence;
  • show increasing awareness of pitch and awareness of the shape of a melody;
  • compose words and actions to go with songs;
  • imitate increasingly longer sung phrases with accuracy;
  • sing with an awareness of the phrases in a song;
  • understand that posture, breathing and diction are important;
  • chant or sing a round in two parts;
  • sing songs with a recognised structure (verse and chorus/call and response);
  • follow simple hand directions from a leader;
  • perform with an awareness of others.


Composition Strand (Composing)
  • Words and actions to go with songs;
  • A simple rhythmic accompaniment to go with a song, using ostinato patterns;
  • Music that has a recognisable structure; beginning, middle and end or verse/chorus;
  • Music that tells a story, paints a picture or creates a mood;
  • Music that uses repetition/echo.
Responding and Reviewing (Appraising)
  • Internalise the pulse in music;
  • Know the difference between pulse and rhythm;
  • Start to use musical dimensions vocabulary to describe music – duration, timbre, pitch, dynamics, tempo, texture, structure;
  • Use these words to identify where music works well/ needs improving.
Listening and Applying Knowledge and Understanding
  • Use musical dimensions together to compose music (Creativity);
  • Know number of beats in a minim, crotchet, quaver and semibreve and recognise symbols (duration);
  • Play with a sound-then symbol approach;
  • Use silence for effect and know symbol for a rest (duration);
  • Describe different purposes of music in history/other cultures;
  • Use written symbols both standard and invented to represent sounds;
  • Use relevant musical vocabulary (e.g. pitch, rhythm, tempo and pulse) when talking about the elements of music within a piece;
  • Recognise changes in the music using word like ‘pitch’ (high or low), ‘timbre’ (sound quality), ‘dynamics’ (loud or soft) and ‘tempo’ (fast or slow).

Year Four

Vocal Progression (Performance)
  • sing songs in a variety of styles with an increasing awareness of the tone of their voices and the shape of the melody;
  • copy short phrases and be able to sing up and down in step independently;
  • identify whether a song has a verse/chorus or call and response structure;
  • sing two/three part rounds with more confidence and increasing pitch accuracy;
  • sing confidently as part of a small group or solo being aware of posture and good diction;
  • follow a leader, stopping/starting, playing faster/slower and louder/quieter;
  • perform to an audience of adults, an assembly or other classes with increasing confidence (Happiness/Enjoyment).
Composition Strand (Composing)
  • A simple rhythmic accompaniment to a song using ostinato patterns and drones;
  • A simple melody from a selected group of notes (i.e. a pentatonic scale);
  • Music that has a recognisable structure;
  • A piece of music that reflects images/atmosphere, that has a clearly defined plan, making subtle adjustments to achieve the intended effect;
  • Arrange a song using tuned and untuned accompaniments developed from the song and perform to a friendly audience.
Responding and Reviewing (Appraising)
  •  Know how pulse stays the same but rhythm changes in a piece of music;
  • Listen to several layers of sound (texture) and talk about the effect on mood and feelings;
  • Use more musical dimensions vocabulary to describe music–duration, timbre, pitch, dynamics, tempo, texture, structure, rhythm, metre, riff, ostinato, melody, harmony;
  • Identify orchestral family timbres;
  • Identify cyclic patterns.
Listening and Applying Knowledge and Understanding
  • Combine sounds expressively (all dimensions) (Creativity);
  • Read notes and know how many beats they represent (minim, crotchet, semibreve, quaver, dotted crotchet, rests);
  • Know that sense of occasion affects performance;
  • Describe different purposes of music in history/other cultures;
  • Follow a basic melody line, using standard notation;
  • Describe and compare and then evaluate different kinds of music using appropriate musical vocabulary;
  • Describe how a piece of music makes them feel, making an attempt to explain why;
  • Recall sounds with increasing aural memory.

Year Five

Vocal Progression (Performance)
  • sing songs in a wide variety of styles, showing accuracy and expression;
  • sing as part of three-part round: sing a second part with increasing confidence;
  • recognise and talk about specific styles/traditions with growing awareness of musical similarities/differences;
  • sing a song with an understanding of its history and purpose (i.e. song about the environment, gospel song, protest song);
  • perform a song  showing an awareness of phrasing and the shape of the melody;
  • sing independently with increasing confidence and accuracy.
Composition Strand (Composing)
  • Compose music for a special occasion e.g. a march or fanfare (Happiness/Enjoyment);
  • Write lyrics to match a melody (Creativity);
  • Compose descriptive music in groups, using the musical elements and musical devices such as repetition, ostinato, drones, combining musical phrases and effects;
  • Compose a group/class arrangement of a song using voices and instruments (Community);
  • Refine and record compositions either graphically or using ICT;
  • Use a range of symbols (conventional or graphic) to record compositions.
Responding and Reviewing (Appraising)
  • Know how pulse, rhythm and pitch fit together;
  • Use a range of words to describe music (e.g. duration, timbre, pitch, dynamics, tempo, texture, structure, beat, rhythm, metre, silence, riff, ostinato, melody, harmony, chord, flat, sharp, dotted rhythm, staccato, legato, crescendo, diminuendo);
  • Use these words to identify strengths and weaknesses in own and others’ music.
Listening and Applying Knowledge and Understanding
  • Create music with an understanding of how lyrics, melody, rhythms and accompaniments work together effectively (pitch/texture/ structure) (Creativity);
  • Read/work out the musical stave (notes as Year 4);
  • Perform songs in a way that reflects the meaning of the words, the venue and sense of occasion so that the audience appreciates it (Passion);
  • Describe different purposes of music in history/other cultures (Diversity);
  • Perform from simple notation on tuned/untuned instruments;
  • Use musical vocabulary to explain some of the reasons why a piece of music might have been composed;
  • Explain how different musical elements (pitch, tempo, rhythm, melody and dynamics) have been used to create mood and effects.

Year Six

Vocal Progression (Performance)
  • sing confidently in a wide variety of styles with expression;
  • communicate the meaning/mood of a song;
  • sing a simple second part of a two-part song and maintain own part in a round with confidence;
  • perform a song from memory with attention to phrasing, dynamics and accuracy of pitch, for a special occasion (Passion).
Composition Strand (Composing)
  • Create own simple songs reflecting the meaning of the words (Creativity);
  • Compose music that reflects given intentions, e.g. descriptive music, a rap, a melody with an ostinato accompaniment;
  • Arrange a song for class performance with an appropriate pitched and unpitched accompaniment;
  • Refine own compositions after discussion;
  • Use a range of symbols (conventional or graphic) to record compositions;
  • Use ICT (computers/iPads/tablets/mp3 recorders etc.) to record, sample, sequence, loop and manipulate sound to create soundscapes/compositions.
Responding and Reviewing (Appraising)
  • Know how the other dimensions of music are sprinkled through songs and pieces of music;
  • Use musical vocabulary confidently to describe music;
  • Work out how harmonies are used and how drones and melodic ostinati (riffs) are used to accompany singing.
  • Use knowledge of how lyrics reflect cultural context and have social meaning to enhance own compositions (Diversity);
  • Refine and improve own/others’ work.
Listening and Applying Knowledge and Understanding
  • Use increased aural memory to recall sounds accurately;
  • Use knowledge of musical dimensions to know how to best combine them;
  • Know and use standard musical notation to perform and record own music (adding dotted quavers);
  • Use different venues and occasions to vary performances (combining all musical dimensions);
  • Describe different purposes of music in history/other cultures (Diversity);
  • Understand/use staff and use unconventional notation when composing;
  • Describe how music can be used to create expressive effects and convey emotion;
  • Identify and explore the relationship between sounds and how different meanings can be expressed through sound and music.