At Dunston Hill, it is our vision that every child leaves our school with a passion for music. Music is a subject that permeates so many aspects of our lives. It plays a key part in pupils’ enjoyment and supports them with regulating their mental well-being and focus. Through performance, we provide children with opportunities to develop into confident individuals, able to express their talents.
At Dunston Hill, we are proud to hold Artsmark award at silver level, and music was a big part of achieving this award. With our school’s emphasis on the good mental health of our pupils, it is vital that we continue to focus on the importance of the arts as an outlet for feelings and understanding of the actions and emotions of others. The impact of singing on mental health is widely reported on and developing this with our learners is vital: from the love of learning rhymes and familiar songs in nursery, right through to creating a buzz with pop songs and class celebrations. All of our children are encouraged to take part in singing and learning to play musical instruments in groups or individually, building up their resilience and having the courage to overcome any fears or worries.
Teaching of music in school is implemented through a structured, yet flexible, programme called ‘Charanga’ which allows progressive series of lessons to develop skills, layering on and revisiting them each year in line with the model music curriculum. This is supported through our local authority’s Music Hub. Playing a variety of percussion instruments is facilitated from nursery onwards, leading to the reading of musical notation with which to play in year 6.
Singing is an integral part of our school lives, starting with singing assemblies each week with Mr. Sutherland and following through with regular singing in classes, daily where possible. Classes are invited to sing in assembly following their learning in class and do so with excitement and enjoyment, showing off their singing and taking great pride in the group performance. We run a choir year-round for children from year 2 to year 6, our pupils building up their repertoire to perform in our local church and in front of parent audiences and we sign up each year to the Big Sing at Sage Gateshead. This is a very exciting event that allows our children to sing with a live band and be inspired by professional musicians. Our younger children in year 1 take part in the Big Sing for mini singers at Sage Gateshead, building up their confidence, courage and resilience from their first years at school. Every child, throughout their Key Stage 2 time, receives the equivalent of a full year’s music tuition from a qualified teacher from Gateshead Music Service and recently this has been ukulele tuition.
Pupils at Dunston Hill become confident to push themselves out of their comfort zones and challenge themselves to learn something new, be that new songs or playing a musical instrument. They develop a deep enjoyment of performance, even on a small scale, and being part of larger ensembles. Our pupils show a high level of interest in arts in school, shown by attendance at extra-curricular clubs as well as their responses through our arts council (made up of a child from each class y1-6). Our choir is always well attended and this allows us to take part in community and public events throughout the year, such as Carol Services at our local Church at Christmas.