Musical Futures: Just Play-the story so far

Musical Futures: Just play is such an interesting project to be involved in. I have met some really inspiring primary teachers here and overseas who may not have much musical experience or instrumental skills but who recognise the value of making music with their classes.

Musical Futures: Just Play

Posted by Anna-MF UK

Back in October 2014, Abi and Anna from MF UK and Ken from MF Australia visited New York to have a look at the work of Little Kids Rock, a non-profit organisation committed to opening up musical opportunities for primary aged children in schools through their Modern Band Programme.

2014-10-23_03-00-10 Abi, Anna and Ken with pupils engaged in a little Kids Rock after school inititive, NYC Oct 2014

Following the visit, we looked at the overlaps between our approaches and in particular how running an intensive musical training workshop for teachers could help primary generalists to feel confident and competent to start to use Just Play with their classes.

“The teacher felt the critical thing was that she had gone through the process alongside the pupils, could see it through their eyes, understand what is difficult, embarrassing, made her nervous etc so she felt she could…

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Baseline-Ours or Theirs?

As the new school year is looming, there’s lots of talk about baseline testing for music. What ‘tests’ do people use, how do they convert test scores into levels/grades/whatever the heck they are using in the post-levels era?

It seems there’s a real market for the perfect baseline test, one that solves all the problems and provides the solutions.

In this post I reflected on the minefield that is often the start of the year 7 experience in music. But whose baseline is it anyway?


What happens when you get to year 6? Chatting to a friend with a child just coming to the end of primary school they told me how suddenly everything changed. Gradually the topic work that brought together geography, history, art, science decreased and the volume of homework grew and grew. Sheet after sheet of mock questions came home, there were extension groups that meant missing younger years doing class assemblies, RE and topic left to PPA cover and the child grew disillusioned with school and increasingly stressed about the pressure they and their teacher were under. Tales of being shouted at by the deputy head and behaviour in class deteriorating worried the parents, yet there wasn’t a thing they could do. As a borderline level 6 student the pressure was on. When I asked the child about the last term before the SATs he can only remember literacy, writing and…

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Do you have to be a musician to teach music

As Musical Futures launches their “Just Play” pilots designed to be led by generalist primary music teachers (no musical experience required!) in Australia and Scotland in the next 2 weeks, I’m revisiting a debate that always raises controversy and rightly so!


Emile Holba

And do you have to be musical to teach music. Is there a difference?

I want to try and clarify my stance on this by looking at some of the things I have taught and seen others teach over the years and in particular how it has been taught.

Fresh from Uni I was armed with a music degree and having had plenty of opportunities to perform in a variety of musical contexts on several instruments I certainly thought of myself as a musician at the time. However, I don’t think, looking back, that I was particularly musical. As part of my PGCE we did some improvising and without notation, I froze. I certainly didn’t consider myself to be any kind of composer and singing without the comfort of the formality of a choir with a conductor and the music was my least favourite activity. I shied away from conducting…

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The power of student choice – Sophie’s story

On my last day at Monks Walk we held a big event for 100 children from feeder primary schools. As part of this, they watched a concert in the afternoon and then sang with our choirs and orchestra to finish the day. It was the perfect end to 11 years and I will remember it as one of my favourite days there. But the absolute highlight was that some of my year 9 class performed work they had created in class as part of the concert.

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Can anyone help?

I first blogged this on the Peer to Peer network and the comments at the bottom show it’s a hot topic for debate. The search for answers to some of these issues and in particular how using Musical Futures approaches can have an impact will underpin one of the first tasks in my new role as I visit Musical Futures teachers across the UK, spend some time in lessons, discover how they have integrated and adapted MF into their teaching and departments. I know I will learn a lot.

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