Learning to appreciate and perform music from many cultures

Music is a wonderfully inclusive form of expression that brings joy and comfort to us all. The ability to appreciate music of different styles adds to our enjoyment, and helps develop critical thinking. Music can be approached scientifically or mathematically, but equally it can be a totally free form of expression.

How we cover the music curriculum year by year


Everyone has the opportunity to be a musician at Henleaze Junior School. We inspire music-making at whole school, class and individual level and aim to encourage and develop positive attitudes to music learning by providing a varied and engaging curriculum, exciting children’s curiosity. We aim to develop listening skills as children learn about a variety of cultures and musical styles, with an opportunity to learn to play different types of instruments and to compose and perform music. Working in a team on group compositions and performances, they build a sense of belonging, self-esteem and positive wellbeing and develop a love of music.


The National Curriculum states that in KS2 children should:

  • 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 

At Henleaze we strive to cover more, providing opportunity to:

  • learn an instrument. All children learn to play the ukulele in Year 4 and children are currently able to learn the violin, clarinet, cello, guitar, flute, recorder, saxophone and brass instruments. 
  • improve their physical coordination through learning about beat and playing an instrument.
  • develop their self-confidence and sense of belonging.
  • develop listening skills and identify features of the music they listen to
  • widen their exposure to different types of music and styles.
  • have multiple opportunities to perform to an audience, celebrating all levels of achievement.
  • express their creativity through composition and performance.
  • sing collaboratively across year groups and the whole school
  • foster important attitudes such as independence, perseverance, responsibility, team work and positive self-criticism. These are all valuable life skills for children of all abilities
  • most importantly, to enjoy music.

Planning and delivery

We are lucky to have a music specialist, who delivers part of the music curriculum in every class, with the class teacher covering the rest of the curriculum. The music specialist also leads whole school singing and runs an after school choir. In the classroom, children learn about notation and develop an understanding of how to read music as well as learning about pitch, tone, rhythm and tempo. They have opportunities to play tuned instruments and a variety of percussion instruments, to perform and compose during lessons and are given opportunities to discuss how music makes us feel, the story the music is telling us and the reasons certain instruments may be used.

All children take part in a weekly singing assembly which includes input on famous musicians, the history of music and exposure to music from a wide range of backgrounds before diving in to learning songs collaboratively.

We are really lucky to have a school orchestra and a school choir. Over the years, children have performed in venues across Bristol and taken part in events with other schools, providing exciting opportunities and memorable moments. We hold an annual music evening whereby children are given the opportunity to perform to an audience.

Wherever possible, children should have opportunities to witness live music and where possible musicians are invited to teach alongside our staff bringing further aspirational opportunities for the children and where available, children can attend concert venues to perform and listen to live music. More recently year 3 and 4 were treated to a string band consisting of ukuleles, banjos and guitars performing for them in assembly and the orchestra attended an orchestra workshop performing alongside other Bristol schools. In 2019, the whole school engaged in a music and PE based enrichment week called ‘Let’s Play’ whereby children worked alongside other year groups to engage in activities such as learning samba instruments.

Cross curricular links

Music provides opportunities to link to various aspects of the curriculum. Music is a form of expression and has been used for centuries and across the world. We tap in to the relevant styles to match our history and geography topics and also use song to help us remember historical facts in our year group assembly performances for example using song to inform how Stone Age people were hunter gatherers. Lyrics and music are an excellent way to help children remember facts and information and are regularly used in classrooms.

Extra-curricular music opportunities

We offer children the opportunity to learn to play musical instruments in individual or small group lessons each week, during the school day. Many of the children who learn to play instruments join the school orchestra and go on to participate in other local youth ensembles.

Details of the instruments currently on offer can be found in our Music Tuition letter. Lessons are booked directly with the tutors. Details of how to apply are in the letter.

Equal opportunities and inclusion

By nature music provides an inclusive platform. We aim for the curriculum to cover a range of global cultures, to give equal prominence to the work of significant men and women, and to reflect the lived experience of the people in our community.

All pupils share the same statutory entitlement to a broad, balanced and differentiated curriculum regardless of the ability, gender and cultural background. We plan our music lessons to facilitate the learning of all pupils as individuals with differing needs, backgrounds, experiences and expectations. Children with SEND will be provided with adult support, an expectation of differentiated outcomes and, where needed, differentiated worksheets and varied appropriate equipment.

Music assists in physical coordination and self-confidence. It fosters important attitudes such as independence, perseverance, responsibility and positive self-criticism. Working in a team on group compositions and performances, they build a sense of belonging, self-esteem and positive wellbeing. These are all valuable life skills for children of all abilities.