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IMG_3990Year 4 Song for Shackleton 2017 - 28_03_2017, 22.07.mp3IMG_1486IMG_1476



We believe our children deserve to be given a wide range of musical experiences that encourage them to value music as something that can not only help them express their ideas and emotions but also gain insights into their own and others' cultures, places and different times in history.  Through class-based lessons and visiting tutors, our children learn the basic skills with which to play a range of musical instruments and a musical vocabulary that enables them to discuss what they are listening to and to express what it means to them.  We endeavour to assess pupils appropriately so that they are aware of the progress they are making and of steps they can make to further improve their skills and knowledge. We intend for children to build on their skills each year during their time at HJS, becoming more and more confident and articulate, with talented and strong musicians being inspired to pursue their talents as far as they are able. Children play pitched and unpitched instruments as well as exploring digital music making, creating soundscapes, reading graphic scores and simple notation.  We aim to give children opportunities that enable them to understand how music can affect people in profound and unexpected ways and to expect that it can also have this effect on them, and that they, in turn, can have this affect on others with their own music.  We aim to give our children confidence in their musical abilities so that that they will enable to use these to enhance their physical, social, emotional, mental and spiritual health.  They will see music as a vital and integral part of a rich and fulfilling life.  Sometimes this happens within the classroom, but at other times they experience the vitality of music through reflected appreciation when performing for their peers or parents.  We aim to give our children many opportunities whereby they can feel the benefit that comes from sharing their passion for music and performance.

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At Hertford Junior School, we understand it's important have fun when we make music, whilst having an emphasis on success through practice and rehearsal.   Our specialist music teacher ensures that music lessons are tied in with the learning journeys that children are following in class.  She makes sure that children have the opportunity to listen and respond to music from modern and historic composers as well as play instruments and compose for a wide range of purposes and audiences.  We pride ourselves on being a Singing School and many visitors comment on the amazing sound we make when we sing together.  

Autumn Term

The whole school prepares a range of challenging and stimulating songs to sing at our amazing Christmas Concert.  Every year group performs a song, our fabulous year 5 & 6 Mega Choir sings a song and the whole school joins together to celebrate our wonderful voices.  We truly are a Singing School!  This event is one that the whole school community looks forward to and feels an enormous sense of pride in. Every year we are increasing the range of music celebrated at this event with musicians and singers stepping up to show off their skills and deepen our feelings of pride in our musical community.  In addition to this:

Year 3 use rhythmic performance skills to prepare and perform a poem for the rest of the school.  They also gain insight into the different functions of chanting around the world.

Year 4  build on their rhythmic skills to perform poetry in groups.

Year 5 develop rhythmic language skills and write their own rhyming couplets.  They then perform the words they have written to the rest of the school.  They also have the opportunity to play steel pans as they explore a simple scoring of Thus Sprake Zarasthustra.

Year 6 design and dramatise performances of poems, using costumes and improvising incidental music to bring their poems to life.

Year 5 & 6 are given the opportunity to sing in the school Mega Choir and represent Hertford Junior School at the Brighton and Hove Music and Arts Christmas Concert, singing as part of a 1500 strong mass choir, supported by a live big band.  This is an amazing experience that we look forward to every year.  It gets many children excited about the musical opportunities that await them in secondary school.

Children from years 3-6 are also invited to take part in Rap'n'Rhyme performance poetry club, writing poems on the theme of Samesky's Burning The Clocks lantern parade.  Performance poetry is an accessible way for all children to find a voice with which they can loudly and clearly present their words to the world.  Participants write their poems each week for one and a half hours.  6 weeks later they perform their poems at an amazing event at the Jubilee Library and their poems are recorded and set to music and published on  www.rapnrhymers.com.

Spring Term

Year 3 learns about the instruments and organisation of orchestras.  They listen to Saint Saens' Carnival of The Animals and use this knowledge to help them compose sound pictures with voices and percussion instruments to represent machines.  They learn how to read and write a graphic score.


Year 4 revisits the orchestra, developing their understanding of the sections of the orchestra and instruments found in each section.  They listen to Prokofiev's Peter and The Wolf and learn how music can be used to represent characters and action.  They use this knowledge to help them compose improvised music to represent elements of Shackleton's adventures in the Antarctic.  The learn about Nico Muhly's vocal composition "Mothertongue" and replicate the layering of pentatnoic vocals in their final recording of "Song For Shackleton".  They are also introduced to Terje Isungset, a Norweigen composer who makes music with instruments made of Norweigen ice.


Year 5 uses Garageband on iPads to arrange samples to make their own incredible digital dance music.  They also find out about the amazing classical connections between our partying city, The Pavilion and famous classical composers; Beethoven and Rossini.  They discover some surprising links with an almost forgotten musician; George Bridgetower.  They are introduced to the history of samba music and learn how to play in a samba band.

Year 6 discovers how the emotional impact of music affected people during WW2.  They learn to sing some of the iconic songs of WW2.  They learn an iconic British dance of the 1930s and discover how this dance and music was used to upset the Nazi German government. They learn about the experiences of some German Jewish musicians who were able to survive the war because of their music.  They then use music to tell a story about WW2, using chords, melody and percussion.

During the Spring Term children from years 3-6 are invited to join the Samba Sensations Band that meets once each week after school to learn rhythms to play on a parade to open the Brighton Arts Festival at the start of May.  We dress up alongside Hertford Infant School children and enjoy showing them how amazing our percussion skills are.  Parents are invited to come and participate in the samba band and when we march through the streets of Brighton together in the parade we are incredibly proud of the amazing music we make.

Children from years 3-6 are again invited to take part in Rap'n'Rhyme performance poetry club, writing poems on the theme of Science.  Their poems are published on www.rapnrhymers.com.  These poems are also recorded as audio files of the children's voices.  The recordings are given to Brighton University 2nd year Illustration degree students, who illustrate them with artwork and animations.  You can see previous animations here:


This connection with organisations outside of our own school helps to remind children that their creativity is a spectacular thing that can inspire others to also be creative.  It is wonderful to see how the university students respond to the children's poetry.  We are also often lucky to have ex-pupils coming back to be peer mentors for Rap'n'Rhyme club, many of them volunteering as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Summer Term

Year 3 learn how to play and write simple notation.  They also learn how to read simple melodies and play them on recorders and tuned percussion instruments.

Year 4 learn about ancient Egyptian musical instruments and make their own Ancient Egyptian sistums.  They then play and write notated rhythms using the sistrums.  They read and write rhythmic melodies on the theme of the River Nile.

Year 5 learn how to play ukeleles, practising chords and accompanying their own singing.  They demonstrate their new skills in a show for parents and the school community.  This is part of the Soundmakers project run by Create Music, our fabulous music hub.

Year 6 create body percussion rhythms, inspired by Brighton's Stomp show that is now a global phenomenon.  They also learn songs to sing at their Leavers Assembly.

Every other year we have a phenomenal Hertford's Got Talent Show.  Children from years 3-6 are invited to audition for a spot in our show, they rehearse each week and the whole school is involved in the final show.  Year 5 and 6 children are also the comperes of the show as well as the sound technicians and stage managers.  Every show enables us to see what talented young people we have in our community, from dancers to singers, cup-stackers to magicians to comedians.  

As music is one of those areas of the curriculum that can have an enormously positive impact on children’s self esteemconfidence and spiritual development, we are very careful not to make the subject too obviously academic, whilst being rigorous and keeping records that ensure the children are aware of the progress they are making after each block of learning.  This inform us about the steps we need to take to help them make progress within their own abilities.  Children fill out traffic lighting sheets at the start and end of terms 2 and 3, which is a form of self assessment and most can clearly see the progress they have made from the start to the end of the term.  Our music teacher is in contact with secondary schools to ensure that children have the necessary skills to enable them to learn the skills they need to make the most of their musical opportunities in secondary school. 

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Music is enormously important in HJS.  Having a specialist music teacher who is enthusiastic and has a wide knowledge of her subject is an important aspect of this. The children are keen to share new songs they have written and new pieces they are learning.  They are excited to come to music lessons and singing assemblies and enjoy the wide range of musical experiences offered to them.

In 2022 23% of our children are learning an instrument in school.  This is nearly twice the City’s overall participation rate, which is 12.8%.  This is an amazing achievement.

Music education at HJS has an impact on children, parents and siblings as many of the music events are acknowledged highlights of the year.  Our Christmas Singing show is very well attended every year and the enthusiasm, energy, emotion and pride with which the children sing takes the parents’ breath away.  Every year we have small ensemble singers and soloists who lead their classes in singing their songs.  We are so proud of their confidence and courage, sharing their skills with us all and inspiring others to be brave enough to raise their voices together.  We believe that if they can find their voices in singing then they may find they are better able to use their voices generally.  Our Samba band is open to parents to join in with and this is very enjoyable.  The samba band is proud to work together to make a great sound and parade their skills through the streets of Brighton.  Again, parents accompany their children along the route and are proud of their children’s musical abilities.  We support the infant school on the parade and go to the infant school to teach them our chants.  Our band love to show their old teachers how clever they are and their wonderful playing inspires years 1 and 2 to look forward to getting involved with the samba band when they come to HJS.

Our bi-annual talent show is another incredible way in which we help our children to shine, encouraging them to take a professional pride in creating the best performance they can.  Singers sing to karaoke tracks, learning how to use microphones.  We have instrumental players as well as dancers and other performance acts.  Again, we are so proud of our children moving out of their comfort zones to perform at HGT.  Not only does this experience do them a lot of good personally, it also builds positive relationships with other children and with staff.  They see sides to each other that they wouldn’t otherwise see.  We are increasingly proud of the cultural exchange that this show gives our children.  In previous years we have had children singing in Russian, Hebrew and Arabic.  Y6 children are also invited to learn how to be sound technicians, controlling the PA equipment and monitoring the levels for microphones and backing tracks.  Others support by being stage hands, moving furniture on and off the stage, others are comperes, hosting the show and learning how to hold an audience between acts.  The children’s skills are taken seriously and everyone values the confidence this gives so many of our performers.  It is a real community effort that brings everyone together, which is just what music should do!  These are skills they are encouraged to continue developing at secondary school and beyond.

Our children often surpass all expectations in performance skills both inside and outside school.  In 2019 one of our year 5 poets won the Green Gathering Festival Poetry Slam Final.  This was in a open performance poetry competition against adult poets.  She won two free tickets to next year's festival and will be performing a 20 minute set at the festival.  We are so proud of her.  

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Pupil Voice 2020

How do you know you are making progress in music?

       I go home and talk about my lessons with my parents.

       I can see my progress in my traffic lighting, looking at the first colour and the last colour.

       I feel good.

       I can hear that I am making good music.

       I am more confident and can take advantage of opportunities, like singing solos. 

       I couldn’t do solos in year 3 but I could now I am in year 5.

       I learnt how to sing by watching my friend.  I used to just open my mouth and not sing, but I watched him singing loudly and copied him and this year I was a soloist.


What does a good musician look like?


       Confident – this means they have practiced.

       Relaxed – this means they have practiced.

       Determined – not giving up – having another go to get better.


Cultural Capital

Hertford Junior School provides children with a very rich musical diet that reflects our music specialist's own diverse love of music and the arts.  Children find out about unusual musical connections that exist in their own city, such as Rossini, Beethoven and Bridgtower as well as Stomp.  They learn about classical greats like Saint Saens and Prokofief as well as unusual contemporary composers that work globally, such as Terje Isungset and Nico Mulhy.  They have the opportunity to join the massed choir at the BHMA Christmas Show at The Brighton Conference Centre to sing with 1300 other singers.  At this event they are accompanied by a live big band, which is a wonderful experience. This is an opportunity that many will not have had before and may make them more likely to go to see similar events outside of school in the future.   The songs they learn for this show are often challenging, incorporating makaton, and singing in parts. Our choir always rises to this challenge as we encourage them to believe they can all achieve success through practise.  Every child also takes part in the BHMA Soundmakers project and learns how to play accompanying chords to song on the ukulele.  All of these experiences mean that they not only see music as an activity that is enjoyable in itself, but also one that opens many doors to other experiences and spaces in the city…and in life.

We try to celebrate all the different cultures that exist in our school, giving children opporunities to share their cultural heritage with the school community through poetry, song and visiting artists.  We also support the Migrant English Project charity, involving poets there in our Rap'n'Rhyme activities in the Autumn Term.

Children from year 3 and 6 can also take part in Let’s Dance, responding to music through dance, run by Nicola Martin, our PE specialist.  They perform annually at a huge show at The Dome, which is a fabulous venue and an incredible space for our children to inhabit for an evening.  

Our music specialist also champions performance poetry, encouraging children to play with the rhythm of words and then perform in public spaces, such as the big Jubilee Library and the Brighton Museum.  Their poems are currently exhibited in the Brighton Museum and the Booth Museum.  Their poems are also illustrated by university students as animations in a collaboration with Brighton University and illustrated live by local illustrators at our final event at the Jubilee Library.  These events encourage children and their families to inhabit the cultural spaces in their city which they might otherwise not engage with.

We believe that all the opportunities we give our pupils encourage them to feel they are a vital and important part of their city and their community and that they have a right to take part in the cultural activities that go on here.  We want them to feel that they have a right to inhabit the public spaces in their city and to understand that they are welcome, indeed necessary, in all of them.

Their poems, animations and photographs can be found at www.rapnrhymers.com

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