Music within the Grace Garden School Curriculum


  • Music is an enjoyable and engaging activity that meets individual therapeutic and developmental needs
  • Fine and gross motor skills are developed through instrumental playing and singing
  • Communication skills are developed (verbal and non-verbal)
  • Memory function is developed through musical engagement
  • Group music work develops the capacity to Listen and respond appropriately in group situations
  • Music engages the Hand, Head and Heart of the individual, in an experience that doesn’t necessitate theoretical understanding
  • Social confidence can be gained through meeting resistance to public expression, and through finding one’s own part to play in the whole
  • Collective music making can foster staff and student development in the 7 life processes/care qualities
  • Musical performances focus collective creative activity, marking the seasonal festivals and strengthening community
  • Music can build understanding and empathy with different people and cultures, and enrich class curriculum themes
  • Music complements Higher Sensory Development within field 4.  Music works primarily with the sense of hearing (listening), and is therefore as much a receptive as an expressive discipline.  It works directly on our ability to hear, listen and take in everything that is around us


  • Music is for everyone; students and staff, and where appropriate the wider community.  For those students with a particular ability or interest there is a more in-depth curricular offer


  1. Every child is offered a musical experience within the class context, based around seasonal songs, or music relating to curricular themes. (To be developed with the music coordinators over the next year)
  1. Every Ruskin Mill provision will have a bespoke instrumentarium which will include a wide variety of acoustic instruments giving a broad timbral palette.  Many of the instruments used require engagement of the foundation senses (life, balance, self-movement and touch). The instruments are fashioned using archetypes from earlier stages of instrumental development, which engage the player in diverse movements and activities within the 3 planes of space
  1. Electric instruments, amplification, and recording studios are generally not used because they can be counter-productive to the development of the foundation senses through physical engagement with the material world.  Exceptions can be made in particular circumstances to meet an individual need (i.e. limited mobility)
  1. Group music sessions (Choir/Instrumental ensembles) including staff and students work towards the festivals and other events that mark the course of the year
  1. The musical sessions will engage with, and develop, an understanding of a diverse range of musical styles and cultural idioms
  1. Elements of music theory are taught where appropriate
  1. Students are encouraged to contribute to the cultural life of the provision through sharing music in assemblies, drama performances, festivals, graduations and concerts
  1. Individual and small group sessions will develop skills and enable participation in the larger groups. The individual curriculum is tailored to the needs of the students at the discretion of the music tutor working in the following areas:


  • Pitch-matching tuition given where necessary
  • Suitable songs chosen by negotiation and played in keys suitable for the voice of the individual
  • student singing is accompanied by tutor doubling tune where necessary and filling out harmony
  • Vocal tuition offered where appropriate (with a focus on helping the student find their ‘natural’ voice, rather than teaching them to mimic particular singers)
  • The meaning of text/character of song discussed where appropriate
  • Songs are rehearsed and performed
  • Students will be encouraged to participate in the joint staff and student choir 


  • Tunes learned kinaesthetically, and chosen according to ability and wish of student
  • Use of all 10 fingers where possible
  • Learning melodies (Left or Right hands- and in octaves if able)
  • A colour or number system of notation used where necessary and appropriate to aid memory or refer to. Conventional notation and theory taught where appropriate
  • Chords are added to a melody, incrementally
  • an improvisational approach used where necessary/developmentally appropriate
  • Conventional notation and theory taught where appropriate


  • Focus on good flowing movement and quality of sound
  • pre-tuned, open string chord played by student as teacher sings song and plays other chords
  • Simple riff played on 1 string. Further riffs with incremental challenges
  • Learning melodies on open strings; then incrementally developing left hand work into melodic playing on the high strings
  • Bass guitar part using open strings. Teacher sings song and plays chords. Add left hand fingered notes
  • Plucked open strings in a variety of ways. Start simply and develop simple picking patterns
  • chords on 3 strings
  • Co-improvisation
  • Learning to construct bass guitar parts
  • Conventional notation and theory taught where appropriate


  • Student invited to play an instrument of their choice in their own way. The music teacher plays with the student (co-improvises) in such a way as to make the total rendering an artistic whole
  • Some further steps from the discipline of music therapy may be added e.g. encouraging the student to reflect a change offered in dynamics, style, mood or pace
  • Co-improvisation can serve as a preliminary stage to more directed learning, and be part of an ongoing development and way of exploring modes/scales, timbre, dynamics, musical narrative, emotional expression and theoretical aspects

Graded Series of exercises and pieces for instruments from the RMT collection:

  1. Skin (hand drums)
  • Learning the strokes (attention to movement and quality of sound)
  • Hear and echo back rhythms, adding increasing challenges
  • Learn simple unison pieces involving left and right hands and 2 drum strokes
  • Exercises where students sequentially play different rhythms
  • Learning a piece involving different rhythms played simultaneously
  • Co-improvisation/jamming where appropriate
  • All of the above will be graded into different levels to suit need

2. Wood (xylophones)

  • A xylophone bar is selected and played 4 times, followed by another bar played 4 times. Many variations built up all aiming to establish good movement and sound, and ability to play co-operatively in a pulse
  • Hear and echo back rhythms with progressive challenges
  • Exercises/pieces where multiple parts play different rhythms
  • Melodies learned (through a mixture of visual, aural and kinaesthetic learning modalities) with increasing challenge
  • Melodies rehearsed with others for performance
  • Chords learned (developing to 2 sticks per hand)

3. Metal Percussion

  • Learning correct playing action
  • Striking one note simultaneously as a group
  • Melodies learned (including tubular bells for a bass line)
  • Learning a piece from a graphic score
  • “Conversations”: responding in terms of dynamics, timbre and rhythm

4. Bowed Strings

  • Learning bow-hold and bowing action
  • playing one long note with a good sound
  • rhythmic echoes
  • learning a tune (psaltery: only bowing action required)
  • learning a tune (cello/violin: open strings only)
  • Learning a tune (cello/violin: first finger notes)
  • rehearsing and performing a piece

Playful Musical Games

  • These are particularly useful for younger children when directed activity is difficult, but can also be good for warm ups or to change the pace of a session. (e.g. ‘finding sounds’ blindfolded games, musical games in movement, Dalcroze Eurythmics etc.)
  • A resource of playful musical games to be developed by the music faculty for use by music tutors and class teachers

Instrument making

  • Instrument making can begin in the genius loci through creative exploration of the found sounds in the environment. This exploration can develop listening sensitivity to the natural environment
  • Instrument making relates sound production back to its origin in material nature. Where possible materials are sourced from within the Genius Loci
  • Crafting a xylophone bar using green-woodworking tools. Listening is required to achieve good quality timbre and tuning
  • A further project would be crafting a glockenspiel bar in the blacksmith’s forge
  • Use of other local materials where appropriate eg. Slate (Trigonos)
  • Pitch and tuning can be explored in an engaging practical way through the 2 activities above
  • The craft workshops have their own musicality through rhythmic work with natural materials that can bridge to the fundamentals of a music curriculum


  • Music Coordinators who can connect the parts into the whole through work with
  1. Small groups (and where necessary individuals)
  2. Staff (both musically skilled and unskilled)
  3. Large groups of staff/students together (eg. Choir/instrumental ensembles)
  • The instrumentarium is curated and well maintained by the music coordinator
  • Training for the music coordinators Tonalis/Andrew Thompson/James Watts
  • Training for class teachers will be delivered by James Watts as part of the Specialist Steiner Schools training as part of the Field 4 module
  • Training for the school teaching staff will be delivered by the music coordinators to enable staff to deliver curriculum basics in the class context. This should be embedded into a regular routine as part of the school day
  • The music coordinator will run a joint staff/student choir/ensemble working towards festival events
  • Diverse student profiles will necessitate a flexible and differentiated approach. Individual student lesson plans will be devised by the coordinator and class groupings will be arranged between the music coordinator and other relevant staff
  • Utilising the musical skills of the existing staff body as well as upskilling/building the confidence of staff with the intention of establishing musical culture within the provisions (i.e. in the classroom, garden and workshop, not just the music room)
  • Target setting is done by the music coordinator based on their understanding of each student’s capacities, giving appropriate challenges in the areas of technical, social and human development
  • Qualifications are taken where appropriate (e.g. BTEC, OCN, GCSE)
  • Building bridges with local music hubs and other relevant organisations

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