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Setting the Tone: A Music Lead’s Essential Toolkit

Being a Music Lead is a job unlike any other, no matter your background, how experienced you are or what you play. Whether you’re wrangling whole classes, setting up extracurriculars or championing your subject with SLT, there’s a unique set of joys and challenges that come with the role.

Every Music Lead, like every school, is different. No matter where you are on your journey, as your local Music Hub we’re here to support you and the challenges you might be facing. And where better to start than with the perennial teaching favourite – a great list!

Let’s dive into our guide designed to empower music leads to not just succeed but excel in your roles.

Stay Informed

Keeping up to date with relevant information in the education sector can be a real challenge, but it can also be one of the most useful ways to help you in your role as music lead. Make sure you have read recent guidance and information, particularly the National Plan for Music Education (NPME), the Model Music Curriculum and Ofsted’s most recent report on music education in schools.

These documents can help you create your vision for music in your school, shape your curriculum, and consider the opportunities available to your pupils.

 As the saying goes, “with knowledge comes power”, so let’s empower ourselves and stay informed.

Make a plan and commit to it!

This may seem obvious but ensure your school has made a long-term commitment to music. Then you can create a plan and commit to it. 

In many cases, music leads may work in solo departments, have part time staff, or include non-specialists in their team. This makes it more important than ever to have a school vision that is communicated widely and consistently among staff to ensure long-term progress.

Consider what you want music too to look like in your school in the next three years. This can be done alone or, even better, with a member of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT). Together, you can make a plan to achieve your goals!

Do you need to review your curriculum and ensure staff are trained to deliver it? Are you looking to increase the number of pupils accessing instrumental tuition? Perhaps you want to broaden the extra-curricular offer in school?

All these goals are achievable, but, as with all good things, will take time.

The National Plan for Music Education encourages all schools to have a Music Development Plan. We have created documents to support you in this by reviewing your offer and making a step-by-step plan. Take a look here.

Seek help and training

In Ofsted’s most recent report on music in schools, it recognises that many teachers have limited opportunities and time to continue upskilling and engaging with available training. 

As educators, it’s crucial that we continue to invest in our own education, finding opportunities to learn new skills and deepen our knowledge. While this can seem challenging, particularly when faced with barriers like finding funding or cover, there are plenty of creative ways to upskill.  

We believe training opportunities come in all shapes and sizes. Why not try the following:

  • Exploring different genres of music to include in lessons
  • Investigating YouTube tutorials on using GarageBand or other free or easily available resources
  • Connecting with other local music leads to learn about their offerings in school

These seemingly small actions could make all the difference, starting you on a great path of improvement for yourself, your school, and pupils.

If you are looking for something else, why not check out our training offer, including our annual schools conference, free for schools in our region!

Know your pupils

Have you asked what your pupils want from music making opportunities in school? Do you know what they listen to, play at home?, Do they play in bands, music centres or programmes beyond the school?

The more we can learn about what our pupils already do and want to experience, the better we can shape what our offer looks like.

Striking the right balance of making opportunities and learning relevant to our pupils while providing them a broad offer can be challenging, but the more we know through learner voice, the more engaged they’ll be!

Advocate for your subject

When the Department for Education (DfE) published the refreshed NPME in June 2022, we were delighted to read the title ‘The Power of Music to Change Lives’. At Kent Music, we truly believe that music has this power and should be studied and valued for its own sake.

Don’t just teach music because studies have shown it can improve numeracy grades or because it offers transferable skills (although it does). Music has the power to change lives as it is, and that should be more than reason enough to teach it.

Talk to your SLT about your plans for music, ensure the school governors are informed, and proudly share your successes and impact you are undoubtedly having!

The ISM has a wonderful document that supports teachers in advocating for music making in schools. Take a look here.

Have fun!

Remember why you got into teaching in the first place, and what brings you joy about music.

Music lessons are meant to be enjoyed and open up a whole new world for our pupils. So, remember to have fun yourself!

Want to take your first step to a refreshed vision for music in your school?

Here’s some links to get you started:

  • Get started on your Music Development Plan by clicking here
  • Contact your Area Manager about how you can build tuition in your school
  • Get in touch with our School Support team to enquire about bespoke work with your school on curriculum design and training on delivery
  • Join our various  networks and training sessions on offer to keep informed!
  • Keep an eye out for our annual schools’ conference – it runs in November every year and is free for all schools in our region. Keep an eye on our CPD page and your termly school newsletter for updates!