BerkswichCE Primary School

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Music overview - whole-school unit summaries

Berkswich CE Music Overview - Whole School Unit Summaries


Please see below to view the summaries of each unit from Nursery and Reception to Year Six. 


There are six units covered by each year group over the year; reading the summaries is one of the ways that you can understand how the children progress through their learning. Please also see a copy in pdf form below with the summaries on a one-page grid. 

â–ºFirst Term in Autumn

(orange indicates an instrumental unit)


EYFS - Exploring Sound

Exploring how voices and bodies can be used to make sounds.  Experimenting with tempo and dynamic when using these and playing instruments. Identifying sounds in the environment and differentiating between them. 


Year One - All About Me (pulse and rhythm)

Identifying the difference between the pulse and rhythm of a song and consolidating understanding of these concepts through listening and performing activities, including singing the shape of a melody, playing on the pulse and creating word rhythms.


Year Two - Animals (West African call and response)

Using instruments to represent animals, copying rhythms, learning a traditional African call and response song and recognising simple notation. Progressing to creating animal-based call and response rhythms, using tempo, dynamics and timbre and playing in time with group members.


Year Three - Pentatonic Scales (folk music from china, melodies and composition)

Understanding that music from different parts of the world and different times, has different features. Beginning to show an awareness of metre. Playing and creating pentatonic melodies, composing and performing a piece of music in a group using layered melodies. Evaluating using musical vocabulary.


Year Four - Indonesia (instrumental unit four)

Learning about the key features of gamelan music, including the Slendro scale and cyclical rhythmic patterns, identifying traditional gamelan instruments, learning about the concept of an octave and exploring how different timbres are used. Playing a gamelan inspired piece in two parts on tuned percussion using staff notation.


Year Five - Ancient Egypt (compositional notation)

Identifying the structure, pitch and rhythm of written notes and experimenting with notating their compositions in different ways to help develop their understanding of stave notation. Using stave notation to compose and perform their own. Play a melody with reasonable accuracy.


Year Six - Fingal’s Cave (dynamics, pitch and tempo)

Exploring the sounds of an orchestral piece. Appraising the work of Mendelssohn and further developing the skills of improvisation and composition, changing dynamics and pitch (differentiating between the two) and reviewing purposeful texture changes. Taking on the role of conductor and following one to show changes in pitch, dynamics and texture.


â–ºSecond Term in Autumn

(orange indicates an instrumental unit)


EYFS - Celebration Music

Learning about the music from a range of cultural and religious celebrations, including Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas. Responding through movement, a call and response song and creation of their own vocal sounds and those made with instruments.


Year One - Snail and Mouse (classical music, dynamics and tempo)

Using voices, bodies and instruments to listen and respond to different pieces of music that are slow and fast. Observe others and move, speak, sing and play with some accuracy. Learning and performing a rhyme and song with a focus on tempo (keeping a steady pulse and singing in time from memory).


Year Two - Traditional Western Stories (orchestral instruments)

Introducing the instruments of the orchestra. Learning how different characters can be represented by timbre, how emotions can be represented by pitch and how changes in tempo can convey action. Using knowledge of timbre, tempo and dynamic changes when creating a piece of music.


Year Three - South Africa (instrumental unit one)

Learning the basics of staff notation, including crotchets, crotchet rests, minims and semibreves, recognising these by ear and from notation. Exploring South African music, singing and playing a gumboot dance-style piece in two parts, creating a harmonic ostinato.


Year Four - Rock and Roll (bass lines)

Recognising and discussing the stylistic features of different genres, styles and traditions of music. Learning about the origin and features of rock and roll music, playing the Hand Jive and Rock Around the Clock, looking specifically at a walking bass line on tuned percussion, and performing a whole-class piece.


Year Five - Blues (using chords)

Identifying the key features and mood of Blues music and its importance and purpose. Learning what a chord is and playing the cord of C. Learning the 12-bar Blues and the Blues scale (ascending and descending), and combining these to create an improvised piece with a familiar, repetitive backing.


Year Six - Songs of WWII (harmony and control)

Developing greater accuracy in pitch and control. Identifying pitches within an octave when singing and using knowledge of pitch to follow scores and develop confidence when singing in parts. Using scores with a good sense of timing. Recalling the counter-melody line with a good degree of accuracy.


â–ºFirst Term in Spring

(orange indicates an instrumental unit)


EYFS - Music and Movement

Creating simple actions to well-known songs, learning how to move to a beat and varying tempos and pitches. Expressing feelings and emotions through movement and signing to music.


Year One - Under the Sea (musical vocabulary)

Exploring key musical vocabulary, through making visits to underwater worlds and a coral reef. Listening and moving to different types of sea-themed music, responding to changes and choosing instruments with appropriate timbre to represent undersea creatures. Create pitches and rhythms and perform a layer of the music within an overall piece.


Year Two - Musical Me (letter notation and folk)

Learning to sing the song ‘Once a Man Fell in a Well’ and to play it using tuned percussion, adding sound effects, experimenting with timbre and dynamics and using letter notation to write a melody. Learning to show a range of emotions using voices. Playing known melodies using letter notation in the correct order and invent new ones with different dynamic levels.


Year Three - Jazz (syncopated rhythms)

Playing ‘off beat’ and singing a syncopated rhythm. Learning about ragtime style music, traditional jazz music and scat singing. Children improvise a scat singing performance with sounds and words. Create a jazz motif using a swung rhythm using tuned percussion with a jazz version of a nursery rhyme.


Year Four - India (instrumental unit five)

Learning and understanding the history and key features of Indian Bollywood films and their key musical features. Through composition, investigating how ambient sounds can be used to enhance a film score, practising staff notation and performing a film sequence using instruments and movements.


Year Five - South and West Africa (chords and rhythms)

Learning ‘Shosholoza’, a traditional South African song, playing the accompanying chords, maintaining time. Using tuned percussion and learning to play the djembe and mastering some dance moves. Singing with the correct pronunciation and maintaining a part with accuracy. Playing more complicated rhythms in time and with rests.


Year Six - Film Music (impacting an audience)

Exploring and identifying the characteristics of film music, identifying how different styles and instruments evoke different emotions. Recognising the impact of major and minor scales on the listener. Creating a composition and graphic score to perform alongside a film using body, voice and instruments to suit a theme.


â–ºSecond Term in Spring

(orange indicates an instrumental unit)


EYFS - Musical Stories

Exploring traditional tales and songs. Moving to music with instruction, changing movements to match the tempo, pitch or dynamics; understanding that music and instruments can convey moods or represent characters. Composing, practising and performing a story and playing an instrument as part of a group story.


Year One - Fairy tales (timbre and rhythmic patterns)

Introducing the concept of timbre; learning that different sounds can represent characters and key events in a story. Clapping to the syllables of words and phrases before creating rhythmic patterns.


Year Two - Space (orchestral: dynamics, timbre, tempo and motifs)

Identifying dynamics, timbre, tempo and instruments in music heard, and comparing pieces by the same composer. Explaining how some the same instruments can have many different sounds. Visually representing music in creative and more formal ways and learning to play and compose motifs.


Year Three - Caribbean (instrumental unit two)

Learning about the history and features of Calypso music, including the importance of percussion instruments in Trinidad. Performing a calypso-style song with voices and tuned percussion - playing this in two parts from staff notation (including quavers) and adding their own improvisations. Applying learning when using a pentatonic scale.


Year Four - Rivers (changes in pitch, tempo and dynamics)

Linking to geography learning, pupils represent different stages of the river through vocal and percussive ostinatos, culminating in a final group performance, using notation and performance directions to represent their composed ostinato. Children sing a cappella in tune and in harmony with others, developing breath control.


Year Five - Holi: The Festival of Colour (composition)

Exploring the associations between music, sounds and colour, composing - justifying purposeful choices using musical terms correctly. Recording their compositions in written form and collaborating to create and perform their own musical composition to represent Holi.


Year Six - Pop Art (theme and variations)

Exploring the musical concept of theme and variations and discovering how rhythms can 'translate’ onto different instruments and within classical pieces. Recalling the names of instruments according to their orchestra sections. Identifying different rhythms correctly (within 3/4 time) and copying these accurately with a good sense of pulse. Using knowledge of theme and variations to create an artistic impression.


â–ºFirst Term in Summer

(orange indicates an instrumental unit)


EYFS - Transport

Identifying and copying sounds produced by different vehicles using voices, bodies and instruments, demonstrating tempo changes and understanding how symbols can represent sound. Interpreting and performing a simple score.


Year One - Superheroes (pitch and tempo)

Learning how to identify high and low notes and to compose a simple tune, exploring some different instruments and investigating how

tempo changes help to tell a story and make music more exciting. Altering and controlling instruments and voices to make both quiet and loud sounds. Creating and following graphic scores.


Year Two - On This Island: British Songs and Sounds (folk and contrasting compositions)

Singing, playing and following instructions to perform as a group. Taking inspiration from the British Isles, exploring how to create sounds to represent three contrasting landscapes: seaside, countryside and city, creating their own soundscapes.


Year Three - India (traditional instruments and improvisations)

Introducing to traditional Indian music. Learning about the rag and tal, listening to a range of examples of Indian music, identifying traditional instruments. Reading musical notation to play the correct notes of the rag. Creating improvisations along to a drone and tal. Singing with an awareness of other children’s parts. 


Year Four - North America (instrumental unit six)

Exploring the music of composers like Philip Glass and Steve Reich, learning about the key features of minimalism, such as interlocking patterns and layered textures. Considering how minimalism has been influenced by other musical styles, while singing and playing a minimalist piece (‘Interlocking Patterns’) in two parts to apply their skills in reading staff notation and playing tuned percussion.


Year Five - Dance Music (looping and remixing)

Learning how dance music is created, focusing particularly on the use of loops. Starting with body percussion rhythm loops in time with a group. Learning how to play a well-known song before putting a dance music spin on it to create their own versions with a clear structure, backbeat and two different loops (using knowledge of octaves as appropriate).


Year Six - Baroque (exploring structure and style)

Exploring music of the Baroque Period (from 1600-1750). Looking at the great Baroque composers and musicians and at the structural and stylistic features of the music that they wrote and performed, including recitative, cannon, ground bass and fugue. Increasing knowledge of Baroque composers and the musical features they were well-known for Playing parts of a canon using staff notation, composing a ground bass melodic ostinato and learning a fugue section.


â–ºSecond Term in Summer

(orange indicates an instrumental unit)


EYFS - Big Band

Learning about what makes a musical instrument and the four different groups of musical instruments in an orchestra. Using recyclable materials to play their own instruments. Following a beat using an untuned instrument and performing a practised song to an audience with a focus on tempo (speed) and dynamic (volume).


Year One - By the Sea (vocal and body sounds)

Children are encouraged to feel pieces of music, conveying mood through movement and making links between music, sounds and environments. Controlling instruments and voices to make both quiet and loud sounds. Creating and following graphic scores. Making a variety of sounds with their voices and instruments and creating a graphic score that can be played from.


Year Two - Myths and Legends (texture)

Creating rhythms and arranging them in a particular order or structure. Describing musical texture (thick or thin). Developing understanding of musical language and how timbre, dynamics and tempo affect the mood of a song. Learning to create music through the use of a graphic score with textural layers.


Year Three - South America (instrumental unit three)

Learning about the history and features of  Latin American music. Performing a salsa style piece in piece parts from staff notation and adding their own improvisations on tuned and untuned percussion. Developing performance techniques, including song and dance.


Year Four - Samba and Carnival Sounds and Instruments (South America)

Introducing samba and the sights and sounds of the carnival celebrations, such as Carnival in Brazil. Learning about the traditional sounds and instruments, syncopated rhythms and composing their samba breaks.


Year Five - Musical Theatre (combining performances)

An introduction to the features of musical theatre. Categorising action songs or character songs. Learning how singing, acting and dancing can be combined to give an overall performance, exploring how music can be used to tell a story and learning about performance aspects, including smooth transitions between dialogue, singing and dancing.


Year Six - Composing and Performing a Leavers’ Song

Creating their own leavers’ song, personal to their experiences as a class. Listening to and critiquing well-known songs. Writing the lyrics, exploring the concept of the four-chord backing track and composing melodies using tuned percussion instruments and using letter notation. Performing and refining performances in the light of evaluation.


Please also view our music learning journey used by the children to see how they progress through the units over their time at Berkswich CE.