At Dog Kennel Hill we aim to send every one of our children to secondary school able to play a musical instrument, and able to make, listen to and enjoy all sorts of different music. Everybody learns steel pans, drums, xylophone, guitar and composition, and everybody who wants to gets a chance to perform in public.
Nursery, Reception and year 1 classes are taught by May Thompson. They sing and work on xylophones and djembe drums. They also begin to learn about rhythm, structure and musical notation. From year 1, they can join the Youngstarz after-school singing group, which meets on Friday afternoons.
Years 2-6 are taught by the music subject leader, Daniel Monte, and get 40 minutes music education a week. The year is split into modular blocks: classes spend six weeks each on drumming, xylophone, steel pans, guitar and composition. Theory is taught where it best fits in: for example, harmony is taught when learning xylophone and steel pans. All the music the children learn is specially written, arranged or adapted in order to support children at their particular level of learning.
Every child will perform at one of the school’s Friday whole-school music assemblies at some point in the year. At the music assemblies, classes play a piece they have learned that week, or in the case of steel pans, a piece they have been working on for the past six-week block. Children with special needs attend an extra music group on Friday lunchtimes, learning music individually adapted to their abilities. Everyone gets music; no one is excluded.
There are also chances to play at the school’s Christmas concerts and at the summer and Christmas fairs, and the brass band performs at Shakespeare’s Globe every year to 18 months.
Children in years 5 and 6 also get the chance to learn an extra instrument and play in one of the school’s bands: Daniel Monte runs the steel-pan group, May Thompson runs the brass band and Trevor Kentish does the drumming group. Children in year 5 are auditioned, but anyone in year 6 who wants to is welcome to join in. There is also a lunchtime guitar group for children in years 5 and 6 who have their own instruments: unfortunately, the school is not able to lend out guitars for children to practise at home.
The school choir is open to all children in years 4, 5 and 6 and meets at Friday lunchtimes. Daniel Monte takes the choir, with the help of Tania Degale, who also runs the Youngstarz singing group for children in years 1, 2 and 3. As well as singing at assemblies and events throughout the year, the choir gives an annual Chrismas carol concert at Borough Market to raise money for Save the Children.
This year, Southwark council has also given a recorder to all children in year 4, and has funded a temporary music teacher.Back to Curriculum