What Should I Spend My Primary Music Budget On?
Does this sound familiar – you’re a music subject leader with a budget allocation for your subject, but you’ve no idea what to spend it on – a nice problem to have some might say! First thing’s first, what are the actual requirements for music in primary schools?
The National Curriculum requires that pupils learn to play both tuned and untuned instruments. Tuned instruments are pitched instruments that can play a melody, whereas untuned instruments aren’t pitched, and therefore can only play rhythm.
What untuned instruments should be used in primary schools?
Untuned instruments are very easy to use, so you can have a variety of different options without having to worry about staff ‘learning’ how to use them. If you have money to play with, then getting a few percussion packs for different musical styles would be great, such as a Samba Percussion Pack and an African Percussion pack. This allows you to play music from Latin and African traditions authentically, to give your pupils the best possible experience of making music in those styles. There are plenty of topics within the Kapow Primary music scheme of work that these packs would be stylistically great for, like ‘South America,’ ‘Rainforests,’ and ‘South and West Africa,’ and they could also be used as your untuned instrument option for all the other topics too.
If you want to go for a more general option, or your budget is tighter, then you might like to invest in a more general ‘classroom percussion’ pack which will have all the instruments you’re used to seeing in a primary school, such as woodblocks, maracas, guiros and so on. You could also supplement this with a more general world percussion pack, which will include instruments from a range of traditions so that you can add a bit of authenticity to your music making, especially good for the the Kapow Primary topics that focus on different geographical regions like India, or festivals like Chinese New Year.
Example Samba Packs: https://www.normans.co.uk/product/ltl-30-player-samba-pack
Example African Packs: https://www.normans.co.uk/product/a-star-20-player-djembe-pack
Example Classroom Pack: https://www.normans.co.uk/product/a-star-30-piece-percussion-class-pack
Example World Music Pack: https://www.normans.co.uk/product/a-star-15-player-multicultural-basket
What tuned instruments should be used in primary schools?
Due to the fact that tuned instruments play a melody, these are generally a bit more technical to get to grips with. If you have members of staff who already play instruments, it would be a good idea to see if you can link this in with your curriculum and resourcing, so that the teachers don’t have to learn completely new skills. However, if you are starting with a blank canvas, then here are some of the best options:
- Glockenspiels – have the note names written on them, so all you have to do is bash the right letter! You can’t go wrong, until the pupils start picking the notes off to see what’s underneath…!
- Ukuleles – these have the advantage of being ‘cool’, easy to pick up, and they play chords so you can accompany your own singing. The downside is tuning them takes AGES!
- Keyboards – although this might seem like a difficult instrument to master, you’d be surprised how much children can do with these instinctively. A number of our Kapow Primary units use keyboards as an option for both melody and chords, so they are a versatile option for delivering the scheme.
Music subject leader top tip
Whichever untuned and tuned instruments you buy, if they come with beaters, you want extra. And by extra I mean at least an extra 50%! You’d be astonished how quickly these can get lost, bent, snapped, or have the heads removed – even the really robust ones. If you don’t want to end up halfway through the year with loads of perfectly good instruments that you can’t use, then you need to pre-plan for beater shortages!
Music CPD for teachers
Another great investment for your money would be CPD for your non-specialist teachers, who may not feel terribly confident about teaching music. If you subscribe to Kapow Primary, it comes with a library of CPD videos that teach general musical concepts such as the interrelated dimensions of music, as well as a video to walk you through each lesson in detail. Perfect for under-confident teachers! Other useful links are:
Inspire-Works – https://www.inspire-works.co.uk/
Beat goes On – http://www.beatgoeson.co.uk/
Bollywood Brass Band – https://bollywoodbrassband.co.uk/
Music Education Solutions – https://musiceducationsolutions.co.uk/
Whatever you decide to spend your money on, make sure it is high-quality, and will improve the practical music-making experiences that you offer to your pupils. Just like Kapow Primary!