UK Curriculum Requires Students to Learn (I Mean REALLY Learn) Music: Is Anyone Listening Across the Pond?

Recently, the new school curriculum for schools in the UK was made public. Here are the highlights:

Level 1
Pupils recognize and explore how sounds can be made and changed. They use their voices in different ways such as speaking, singing and chanting, and perform with awareness of others. They repeat short rhythmic and melodic patterns and create and choose sounds in response to given starting points. They respond to different moods in music and recognize well-defined changes in sounds, identify simple repeated patterns and take account of musical instructions.

Level 2
Pupils recognize and explore how sounds can be organized. They sing with a sense of the shape of the melody, and perform simple patterns and accompaniments keeping to a steady pulse. They choose carefully and order sounds within simple structures such as beginning, middle, end, and in response to given starting points. They represent sounds with symbols and recognize how the musical elements can be used to create different moods and effects. They improve their own work.

Level 3
Pupils recognize and explore the ways sounds can be combined and used expressively. They sing in tune with expression and perform rhythmically simple parts that use a limited range of notes. They improvise repeated patterns and combine several layers of sound with awareness of the combined effect. They recognize how the different musical elements are combined and used expressively and make improvements to their own work, commenting on the intended effect.

Level 4
Pupils identify and explore the relationship between sounds and how music reflects different intentions. While performing by ear and from simple notations they maintain their own part with awareness of how the different parts fit together and the need to achieve an overall effect. They improvise melodic and rhythmic phrases as part of a group performance and compose by developing ideas within musical structures. They describe, compare and evaluate different kinds of music using an appropriate musical vocabulary. They suggest improvements to their own and others’ work, commenting on how intentions have been achieved.

Level 5
Pupils identify and explore musical devices and how music reflects time and place. They perform significant parts from memory and from notations with awareness of their own contribution such as leading others, taking a solo part and/or providing rhythmic support. They improvise melodic and rhythmic material within given structures, use a variety of notations and compose music for different occasions using appropriate musical devices such as melody, rhythms, chords and structures. They analyze and compare musical features. They evaluate how venue, occasion and purpose affects the way music is created, performed and heard. They refine and improve their work.

Level 6
Pupils identify and explore the different processes and contexts of selected musical genres and styles. They select and make expressive use of tempo, dynamics, phrasing and timbre. They make subtle adjustments to fit their own part within a group performance. They improvise and compose in different genres and styles, using harmonic and non-harmonic devices where relevant, sustaining and developing musical ideas and achieving different intended effects. They use relevant notations to plan, revise and refine material. They analyze, compare and evaluate how music reflects the contexts in which it is created, performed and heard. They make improvements to their own and others’ work in the light of the chosen style.

Level 7
Pupils discriminate and explore musical conventions in, and influences on, selected genres, styles and traditions. They perform in different styles, making significant contributions to the ensemble and using relevant notations. They create coherent compositions drawing on internalized sounds and adapt, improvise, develop, extend and discard musical ideas within given and chosen musical structures, genres, styles and traditions. They evaluate, and make critical judgments about, the use of musical conventions and other characteristics and how different contexts are reflected in their own and others’ work.

Level 8
Pupils discriminate and exploit the characteristics and expressive potential of selected musical resources, genres, styles and traditions. They perform, improvise and compose extended compositions with a sense of direction and shape, both within melodic and rhythmic phrases and overall form. They explore different styles, genres and traditions, working by ear and by making accurate use of appropriate notations and both following and challenging conventions. They discriminate between musical styles, genres and traditions, commenting on the relationship between the music and its cultural context, making and justifying their own judgments.

Exceptional performance
Pupils discriminate and develop different interpretations. They express their own ideas and feelings in a developing personal style exploiting instrumental and/or vocal possibilities. They give convincing performances and demonstrate empathy with other performers. They produce compositions that demonstrate a coherent development of musical ideas, consistency of style and a degree of individuality. They discriminate and comment on how and why changes occur within selected traditions including the particular contribution of significant performers and composers.

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