Music

Monmouth School Boys' Prep Music

At Monmouth Boys Prep we believe every boy has musical potential which can be developed and nurtured. Our provision enables strong musical progress to be made by all. Boys receive three curriculum music lessons a week and further time is set aside for singing and hymn practice. The curriculum lessons develop knowledge about music through the direct experience of music, developing and refining the following skills over time:

  • Singing
  • Movement
  • Performing
  • Conducting
  • Listening
  • Inner hearing
  • Memory
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Creating (improvisation and composition)

Through an approach to learning inspired by the great Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodály, lessons are child centred, allowing the opportunity for discovery and enquiry. Musical concepts are first experienced through the form of singing games or playful musical activities before being formally presented and practised. Learning is sequential in nature and boys acquire their skills through a process of musical discovery, rather than simply being ‘told’ things that they can work out on their own. Good singing, awareness of tuning and and a strong sense of pitch is developed through the gradual introduction and use of singing names (solfa) and hand signs. These hand signs and singing names are a great tool for developing melodic understanding, inner hearing, sight reading and memory. Boys who join The Grange Choir are able to further develop and explore their skills and understanding in this area.

The other central strand to the music curriculum (the third music lesson of the week) comprises our impressive instrumental learning programme. In P. I, all boys learn to develop skills on a string instrument through whole class tuition and then put on an end of year concert for parents. In P.II boys who opt to take individual string tuition form a year group string ensemble, while the rest of the year group try out woodwind and brass instruments. In P.III and P.IV the year groups are divided up into a string ensemble lesson and a wind band ensemble lesson for all boys who have opted for instrumental tuition. These ensembles are a fantastic grounding for the boys to then go on and join the Monmouth School Boys Prep Band and Orchestra.

The progression and acquisition of musical skills is tailored to the needs of the individual class and the boys within them, but an overview of the typical progression is offered below:

Prep 1:

  • Singing games, movement and songs from around the world carefully selected to enable experience of the following:
  • Beat / rhythm (including natural movement and rhythm names)
  • Crotchet, quavers and minims (through natural movement, singing games and rhythm names)
  • Gradual introduction to solfa (do, re, mi etc)
  • Pentatonic hand signs (inner hearing) and gradual introduction to reading these notes on the stave
  • Simple dynamics and developing an awareness of expression when performing
  • Metre and time signatures in two, three and four time
  • Conducting in four time
  • Inner hearing using the pentatonic scale
  • Reading, writing and improvising using the skills developed above
  • Introduction to the violin and cello as part of whole class learning
  • Performing to parents (solo and whole class performances)

Prep 2:

  • Listening, including focus on classical repertoire. The listening reinforces musical concepts developed and encourages an expressive and imaginative response to the music.
  • Singing games, movement and songs from around the world carefully selected to enable experience of the following:
  • Extension of solfa, (singing names) introducing solfa below the tonic ‘doh’
  • Inner hearing games using handsigns
  • Development of musical memory and awareness of structure and form through use of handsigns and musical games
  • Development of two part hearing through use of canons, hand signs and stave notation
  • Dynamics and developing expression and strong communication when performing in class.
  • Ledger lines
  • Introduction to relevant note names in C major
  • Repeat signs
  • Conducting in two, three and four time
  • The minor pentatonic scale
  • Semiquavers and revision of beat and metre using natural movement
  • Reading, writing, improvising and composing using the skills developed above
  • String Ensemble (one lesson per week)
  • Wind and brass instrument taster course (one lesson per week)
  • Performing to parents (solo and whole class performances)

Prep 3:

  • Listening, including focus on classical, folk and world music repertoire. The listening reinforces musical concepts developed and encourages an expressive and imaginative response to the music.
  • Singing games, movement and songs from around the world carefully selected to enable experience of the following:
  • Semiquaver rhythm patterns
  • Syncopated rhythm patterns
  • Formal introduction to the ‘fa’ handsign and singing name when musically ready
  • Note names in C, F and G major (focusing in on the first five notes of the scale)
  • Two part hearing and performing using handsigns and stave notation
  • Development of musical memory and awareness of structure and form through use of hand signs and musical games
  • Introduction to simple and compound time metres, once these have been fully experienced
  • Reading, writing and composing using the skills developed above
  • Curriculum String or Wind ensemble (one lesson per week)
  • Performing to parents (solo and whole class performances)

Prep IV:

  • Listening, including focus on classical, folk, popular and world music repertoire that reinforces musical concepts developed and forms the inspiration for arranging and composing.
  • Singing games, movement and songs from around the world carefully selected to enable experience of the following:
  • Dotted rhythm patterns, including dotted crotchet and dotted quaver rhythms
  • The triplet
  • Formal introduction to the ‘ti’ handsign and singing name
  • The major and minor scale
  • Note names in C, F and G major (referring to the full scale)
  • Melodic sequence
  • Development of musical memory
  • Revision of compound time metre
  • Introduction to the flattened seventh ‘ta’ handsign and singing name
  • I – IV – V chords
  • Intervals
  • Reading, writing and composing using the skills developed above
  • Arranging and development of well-known folk tunes and pop songs in small groups
  • Use of music technology including ipads to develop arrangements and compositions
  • Curriculum String or Wind ensemble (one lesson per week)
  • Performing to parents (solo, small group and whole class performances)