Staplehurst Primary has an amazing number of students in music lessons. Music Lead Teacher Penny Seal tells us how she made this happen!
Hi! Can you introduce yourself?
I’m Penny Seal. I’m the Music Lead Teacher at Staplehurst Primary. I am very fortunate that I do not have class responsibility, so can give all my time to my passion, which is Music. I give piano lessons privately in the mornings and cover PPA music mainly in the afternoons.
What is your approach to music in your school?
My approach to music over the last two years that I have been lead teacher, has been to encourage a “buzz” amongst the children about music, whether that be joining music clubs, taking instrumental lessons or just enthusing in their music lessons.
What is your vision for music in the school?
My vision is to get staff more interested and feeling confident to teach it, although having been a class teacher for many years, I appreciate the lack of time and the stress which goes with that role and fully appreciate that music is hard as a subject to “fit in”.
As a result, I try not to pressure class teachers too much, but rather make suggestions and gently nudge via email! I also try to make myself available for any staff that need help. I have found that using “Charanga” as a scheme has really aided those members of staff who lack confidence to teach music.
What has been your proudest achievement so far?
My proudest achievement so far has been in the number of children taking up instrumental lessons here at Staplehurst.
Two years ago, we only had 3 children learning and at the end of the last academic year we had over 40! I am now constantly stopped in corridors, emailed and asked in lessons, about when a child can begin lessons.
That’s a really impressive number of children learning instruments at your school! How did you build tuition?
I advertise on our newsletter frequently and have been heard to say to a child showing promise in music lessons, “You should learn an instrument” or caught a parent at the end of the day and sowed the seed in their head, that they have a talented child.
We have a large music room and I point out instruments to them when they have a class lesson and sometimes give them a 5-minute treat at the end of the lesson, having a go on some of the instruments. We recently acquired a drum kit and a clarinet which has got the children talking and keen to try.
We try to give children opportunities to perform in assemblies and during lockdown we began “Pop up concerts.” Those that wanted to perform at lunchtime came to the music room with a few chosen friends, to listen to them play. I then put these on Twitter or our newsletter.
What are your three top tips on being a Music Lead?
My 3 top tips for being a music lead would be to not have a class responsibility (unusual I know), act on the enthusiasm of the children and give them as many musical experiences as possible throughout the year.