tobin music
Accelerating music literacy
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Key stage 1
Key stage 2
Key stage 3

Guidelines for using the Tobin Music System
within the National Curriculum at Key Stage 2

Constraints and pressures in KS2 often mean that music lessons get neglected, especially in the run up to SATS exams. However, if a school has a good music system in place then much of the work for KS2 can already have covered in years 1-2. If, as a KS2 practitioner, you and the children are new to the system, then it is still possible to achieve a very high standard of music-making before the children go onto secondary education. The classroom teacher does not need to be a music specialist and will be able to link a great deal of the system to other subjects - enabling cross curricular links that will develop numeracy and literacy as well as science, art, PE and DT.

If the children have had experience of the Tobin Music System in KS1, they can continue with the First Steps to Music. Schools and teachers who are new to the system can also start KS2 children with this book and can also use the Musicolour CD Rom to aid teaching and learning. First Steps to Music will cover all the children need to know about - duration (note lengths); the musical alphabet; time signatures; the great stave (reading notation); tones and semitones; scales and harmony (manipulating major and minor chords). The system will actually mean than the children attain levels far higher than thought possible for this age group. The system is also a superb resource for specialist music teachers who are looking to deliver National Curriculum requirements in a more progressive and skills-building way. Once the system is established it is possible for the pupils to begin working through 'Second Steps to Music', which builds on harmony even further.

Do you want to bring wider opportunities for instrumental teaching into your school? The DFES would like to see this happening in all schools but for many schools it is not financially possible.

Wizards Way Recorder Book 1 is an excellent and inexpensive resource to help you to implement this. You can have all the children in your school able to read music and play the recorder. This ingenious system of using colour coded stickers makes perfect sense to the Tobin-trained child. The system also promotes independent learning, as the pupils are able to work out things themselves without having to interrupt the lesson time. The book also explains the significance and importance of harmony throughout.
We recommend the following resources for the KS2 curriculum:

  • Great Stave Poster
  • Rhythm Shapes
  • Note Cards
  • Musicolour Programme
  • First Steps to Music (one book per child - a licence can be bought to copy the books if you contact the publisher) also the Teacher's Manual
National Curriculum Requirements The Tobin Music System
Performing skills

Pupils should be taught how to:

a) sing songs, in unison and two-part, with clear diction, control of pitch, a sense of phrase and musical expression;

b) play tuned and untuned instruments with control and rhythmic accuracy;

c) practise, rehearse and present performances with an awareness of the audience.
A number of pitch-matching games and songs to help children to control their voices. Clear guidance is given to the teacher to achieve this. Awareness of harmony is central to the system and will help the pupils to sing in parts. Throughout the books children have opportunity to play drums, hand chimes, recorders and other instruments, with accuracy in pitch, rhythm and harmony. The training courses available allow teachers to look at this in depth.
Composing skills

Pupils should be taught how to:

a) improvise, developing rhythmic and melodic material when performing;

b) explore, choose, combine and organise musical ideas within musical structures.
The children will be taught how to compose and improvise from the beginning of the system. The use of 'rhythm shapes' is a vital tool in helping them to understand rhythm. 'Harmonic awareness' means that the children can compose and improvise meaningful and satisfying music with structure.
Appraising skills

Pupils should be taught how to:

a) analyse and compare sounds;

b) explore and explain their own ideas and feelings about music using movement, dance, expressive language and musical vocabulary;

c) improve their own and others' work in relation to its intended effect.
Careful listening and practise promotes the desire to improve work. The system is so very well organised that pupils soon develop a keen ear to discriminate the quality of their work. The children will learn about major and minor tonalities which helps them to develop a wide musical vocabulary to explain their ideas and feelings about music.
Listening and applying knowledge and understanding

Pupils should be taught:

a) to listen with attention to detail and to internalise and recall sounds with increasing aural memory;

b) how the combined musical elements of pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture and silence can be organised within musical structures (e.g. ostinato) and used to communicate different moods and effects;

c) how music is produced in different ways (e.g. through the use of different resources, including ICT) and described through relevant established and invented notations;

d) how time and place can influence the way music is created, performed and heard (for example, the effect of occasion and venue).
Pupils are able to internalise sounds because First Steps to Music employs a variety of learning styles; visual, aural and kinaesthetic. The use of rhythmic shorthand, shapes, colour, aural training games and movement help all types of learners to grasp important concepts. The unique use of rhythmic shorthand means that children can write down a rhythm as soon as they hear it. The first steps manual enables the teacher to explain all of the key elements so that children have a thorough understanding of how they are ordered to create different moods. The teaching of notation is the basis of the system so the children will have no difficulty in reading and writing their own scores. The 'Musicolour' CD Rom is also an interactive way of practising these skills. Through their own performing and composing the children learn about the influences on western music (classical, pop, rock, fusion)
Breadth of Study

During the key stage, pupils should be taught the Knowledge, skills and understanding through:

a) a range of musical activities that integrate performing, composing and appraising;

b) responding to a range of musical and non-musical starting points;

c) working on their own, in groups of different sizes and as a class;

d) using ICT to capture, change and combine sounds;

e) a range of live and recorded music from different times and cultures(e.g. from the British Isles, from classical, folk and popular genres, by well known composers and performers).
The books and the Musicolour CD Rom all promote a thorough understanding of musical concepts to aid composing, performing and appraising. Children get the opportunity to perform and compose individually but also as a whole class. This helps them to have a deeper understanding of pitch, rhythm and harmony than is thought possible. The children acquire a very good understanding of the systems that western music is built upon; whether it is classical, rock, pop or fusion music. The system also includes the pentatonic scale and how it works; children can sing, perform and compose in many relevant styles using the Tobin Music System.
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