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Music Sequence of Knowledge

Music Substantive Knowledge

Substantive knowledge focuses on developing children’s skills and knowledge required for them to develop as musicians. This is achieved through deliberate practice and allows children to develop and demonstrate fluency of knowledge. It involves learning about music across a range of historical periods, genres, styles and traditions, including the works of the great composers and musicians.

Music Disciplinary Knowledge

Disciplinary knowledge in music is the interpretation on the interrelated dimensions of music and how this knowledge is used when singing, playing instruments, improvising and composing, to develop creative and original pieces and performances. Children work independently and collaboratively to interpret and combine the dimensions of music to create a specific and desired effect.

Music as an offer at OPA

Music is the universal language. It improves children’s listening skills, but also can build self-esteem, confidence, team work, resilience and perseverance. Most importantly, music can be good for a child’s emotional well-being. It’s fun, creative and something a child can enjoy and be part of the whole of their lives. We provide a wide and varied musical opportunity for ALL children including free music taster instrumental lessons (taught in whole classes) in Year 3, 4 & 5.  Our school Choir and Orchestra meet for a full hour after school weekly led by specialists. All children perform in school at concerts and shows throughout the year with opportunities to perform in the wider community (past performances have occurred at The Baribican, York Minster and University of York) and beyond. We’ve even performed a Hull KFC stadium at an international Rugby match! 

We believe we have some of the best music educators in York at OPA who are passionate and committed to bringing musical joy to our students. Music Specialists deliver curriculum music in every class based on the new Model Music Curriculum (March 2021) and Early Years Curriculum.

Do click on our new Parents Music Leaflet here:

Music Parent Booklet Sept 22

Listen to our choir and orchestra at the Barbican, York with songs: Si Si, Mary Mack and I’m still Singing.

Listen to our key stage 2 Christmas Carol Concert with traditional carols and from different cultures. There are solo performances, and The Twelve Days of Christmas and Love Shone Down.


Music Specialist Lead – Karen Marshall

Karen oversees the whole of music activities at OPA from classroom curriculum to running the school choir and supporting the orchestra, Peri lessons and whole school music assemblies. This is supported by a member of SLT Emma Mowat who acts as music co-ordinator. Karen is nationally recognised for her work in Music Education and is a published author – a house author for Faber Music and published by Collins Music and ABRSM. She is special needs trained (a Member of the British Dyslexia Associations Music Committee) and trains other Music Teachers nationally on how to teach music. Karen aims to bring the best methods of teaching music to OPA (including Kodály, Orff and Dalcroze teaching techniques) along with making sure the children have excellent facilities with a wide range of instruments available to play and music to listen to (either recorded or live performers). There’s 7 on our team from two additional specialists in classrooms to 4 peri staff and an SLT voice and co-ordinator. Karen is in school Tuesday afternoons and Wednesdays.

Passionate about music and children, Karen with our whole music team and wider staff celebrates the amazing musical talent of our students at every opportunity. 


Mrs Marshall press article

Music Specialist Lead – Mrs Angali Culley and the music team

Mrs Culley oversees the whole of music activities at OPA, she has a performing arts background and is passionate about the value of music and performing arts in education. She is supported by two specialist music teachers Karen Marshall who covers key stage 1 and runs the school choir and Hannah Crawford who covers EYFS, key stage 2 and runs the school orchestra. Karen is also Ebor Academy Trusts Music Specialist Lead and is also a peri teacher in school (Music Theatre). Hannah also is a peri teacher (violin, viola, cello, drums, ukulele, and guitar) along with Joanna Gibbons (piano and flute) plus Richard Wilton who teaches all Brass, Clarinet and Saxophone. All the peri team are approved tutors for York Music Hub.

The Music Curriculum per year group


As children join our school, they will enjoy a weekly music lesson with a professionally trained community musician as part of our Early Years Curriculum (expressive Arts and Design). Enjoying rhymes and songs (perfect for tiny tots) children also get to experience a range of instruments performed live including guitar, ukulele and violin. Performing themselves too on percussion instruments and enjoying listening to music from all styles, times and cultures, sessions are part of a whole range of enrichment activities we deliver within our nursery. We set the foundation here for successful music learning throughout our school.


Children get the opportunity to learn several simple songs and rhymes through singing and with basic percussion instruments. These songs are particularly selected to improve language development and numeracy skills alongside the child simply enjoying making music. A child’s wonderland of mini beasts, pets, fairy tales, nonsense and funny rhymes are explored in a weekly lesson with a music specialist (Miss Crawford has a Masters in Community Music). Excellent resources are provided to play along including hand drums and other percussion, performed with a wide range of recorded music. We aim to build on the joy of music they’ve already experienced in nursery and provide a foundation for future music making as children transition to the Model Music Curriculum in Year 1.

Year 1

Year 1 Music supports early reading along with building core musical skills as outlined in the Music Model Curriculum. This can be through traditional songs and rhymes but also songs that are particularly linked to story books like ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ to ‘Handa’s Surprise’. This musical exploration complements literacy activities. Classical, traditional music from different cultures, popular music and from film are listened to and explored. Some instruments in the orchestra are introduced. The children continue to explore a range of songs and get the opportunity to perform accompaniments to the music they are performing or listening to with a range of untuned percussion instruments. Songs are packed with actions and include a whole range of characters from fairy tales to Jungle animals. Music performance is continually practiced through solo singing is class, singing as a key stage in the music assembly and performing in the annual Nativity and class assemblies for parents led and organised by Mrs Marshall with Mrs Culley.

Year 2

Children continue to learn a wide range of simple folk songs, rhymes, explore tuned percussion instruments (bells and boomwackers), and can compose simple pieces and improvise (making up their own tunes) on a regular basis. Through a progressive approach to learning, songs and rhymes in reception and Y1 are revisited now to look at their specific ingredients. What are their rhythms, what pitches are included? Sol fa is taught – exploring hand signs to sing different pitches and used as a foundation for notation reading. This year also focuses on rhythm where the children get to play rhythms on sticks and drums using actual notation writing their own on wide boards. A whole range of playground games are introduced in Year 2 through songs including favourites such as: Doggy Doggy where’s your bone and Lucy Locket lost her pocket. Listening work is continued progressively along with performance opportunity given in a variety of settings by Mrs Marshall and Mrs Culley.

Year 3

Miss Crawford teaches in key stage 2 with support from Mrs Culley and Classroom teachers do listening activities and also explore music technology such as google chrome music lab. In Year 3 all children get to learn to play the recorder with funky pop backing tracks, fun action songs, games and musical quizzes. The instrument is learnt as a whole class, each child is able to make their very own recorder book (sheets to stick in their books are provided) which they can keep after the two terms are completed. Music includes popular favourites such as: ‘Hot Cross Buns’ and ‘Rain is Falling Down’. Children become very tuneful after this specially written recorder course for OPA Year 3 children. This music is not unfamiliar to the children as it’s the songs they’ve sung since they arrived in the school. As part of our progressive curriculum now they get to read it in notation and perform it. This instrument can lead onto peri small group or one to one lessons on woodwind or brass instruments. Listening and singing activities continue during music assemblies run by Mrs Marshall supported by Mrs Culley and warm up activities in classroom music lessons.

Year 4

For some children at OPA when arriving in Year 4 they have now received up to 5 years of specialist music teaching. Lessons here build on prior knowledge to ensure progress. As part of this year Miss Crawford teaches Ukulele where the instrument is used to improve musicianship skills previously learnt. Sol fa songs learnt can be easily performed on this instrument whilst incorporating singing and a wide range of music from difficult cultures. Many children go onto have guitar or more advanced ukulele lessons with Miss Crawford. Music such as Carnival of the Animals and Peter and the Wolf are explored through a variety of activities including body percussion activities or listening games with class teachers. Orchestra instrument knowledge is widened. Singing, performance and listening skills continue to be developed in regular Music Assemblies run by Mrs Marshall supported by Mrs Culley and at the Annual School Christmas Carol Concert. The curriculum again is progressive and also includes the model music curriculum.

Year 5

In Year 5 all children get one hour weekly instrumental teaching as part of the Music Hub’s first access Scheme which OPA participates in with Miss Crawford delivering. Violin, Ukulele and Percussion are taught throughout the year with exciting backing tracks, choreographed routines, singing and musical brilliance! Children get to perform inside and outside school at various concerts. Children are able to join the school band after this year’s tuition or go on and study Ukulele or violin with our Peri teacher Miss Crawford. Lessons are progressive, packed with content that will feel familiar (to build confidence) but also new and exciting activities such as improvisation. Singing, performance and listening skills continue to be developed in regular Music Assemblies with Mrs Marshall supported by Mrs Culley and Class teachers in line with the model music curriculum.

Year 6

This is the year where children get to further build their skills but also consolidate their music literacy skills (how to read music – the dots on the page!). Incorporating material from a whole range of resources for classroom workshopping on tuned and un-tuned percussion.  Children also consolidate their skills using musical terminology from dynamics to texture! Music is revisited from even year 1 like ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’. This time notating the theme in rhythm stick notation. Learning music through music, children will get to play African drums, Samba, chime bars, xylophones and glockenspiels as they explore folk, popular and classical music on real instruments forming a class band. This will be achieved through the school music showcase and end of year production or special musical projects. Music technology is also experienced using the Chrome Music Lab particularly melody maker with class teachers along with continued Music Assemblies run by Mrs Marshall supported by Mrs Culley and Listening activities with class teachers.