Music and Choir at Sacred Heart Primary School
Our Approach to the Teaching and Learning of Music at Sacred Heart School
Set in the heart of multicultural London, our school has pupils from all over the world and we try to reflect this in our approach
to the musical curriculum.
Our lessons draw upon the Western Classical tradition, African polyphony, Indian and Middle Eastern monody, South American samba rhythms, and North American blues, gospel and rock’n’roll.
Our curriculum clearly recognises the importance of teaching music as a discrete subject, throughout the year. We encourage children to participate in a variety of musical experiences through which we aim to build up the confidence of all children. Singing lies at the heart of good music teaching. Our teaching focuses on developing the children’s ability to sing in tune and with other people. Through singing songs, children learn about the structure and organisation of music.
As they progress through the school all children will be taught the recorder (Year 2), the violin (Year 3) and the ukulele (Year 4). We teach them to listen to and appreciate different forms of music. As children get older, we expect them to maintain their concentration for longer, and to listen to more extended pieces of music. Children develop descriptive skills in music lessons when learning about how music can represent feelings and emotions, and how it is structured and organised. We teach children to make music together, to understand musical notation, and to compose their own pieces.
In addition to the class lessons, Year 1-6 have a weekly hymn practice in preparation for our regular school masses, and offer
a number of music after-school clubs.
All children are encouraged to study a musical instrument with either our in-house music teachers or our four peripatetic teachers. We offer lessons in both classical and popular music traditions, for flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, violin, ‘cello, classical guitar, rock/pop guitar, percussion and keyboard.
All children have access to the music lessons, regardless of their ability, gender, physical disability or their social, cultural or ethnic background. Provision is made to support individuals or groups of SEND children or those with a disability so that they can participate effectively in music lessons.
Likewise, provision is made for our more able children. We set high expectations for all children and encourage them to
achieve their best. We provide opportunities throughout the year for budding musicians to perform for the school community.
This includes solo and ensemble performances as part of assemblies and termly concerts, alongside functional performances at school masses. This recognises their achievements and celebrates their success.
Music lessons start in nursery years, with informal lessons which aim to give the children an understanding of basic musical concepts such as high and low-pitched sounds, fast and slow, loud and quiet, and lots of singing and dancing.
Music Curriculum Road Map Year 1 – Year 6
Music Curriculum Milestones Year 1 – Year 6
Our general music curriculum covers all the expected musical areas, but with an added emphasis on creative music making and cultural context. Early Years and Year 1 focus mainly on singing and understanding rhythm; Years 2 and 3 learn instruments and note reading (recorder and violin respectively); Year 4 upwards look at music history and culture from the ancient world, through Classical music to modern pop, and work on creative projects such as writing songs and soundtracks.
We offer subsidised instrument lessons from Year 3 upwards in flute, clarinet, saxophone, violin, ‘cello, trumpet, classical guitar and rock/pop guitar. These weekly lessons are 25 minutes long and take place during school hours. Once they have achieved basic but reliable abilities the students are invited to join our Sacred Heart Orchestra, and for those that are more ambitious we have a smaller more challenging Sacred Heart Chamber Ensemble which performs regularly in assembles and school masses. Once a year we have an exam session with Trinity College, where any students that are ready can take their grade exams. We currently have around 120 students learning instruments at Sacred Heart.
Sacred Heart Choir is made up of children from KS2 (Years 3-6). The children practice twice weekly, and sing a wide range of material from musicals, pop, and sacred music. Our philosophy has always been one of inclusivity, commitment and enjoyment. Sacred Heart Choir is a non-audition choir as we believe every child has a voice to contribute to our communal sound. Each term we perform at various venues across the city, whether for the Archbishop at Southwark Cathedral or for local charities in the area. We strive to ensure we are the best we can be. Over the last few years, Sacred Heart has won awards at choir competitions such as the Beckenham Festival, North London Music Festival, Sutton Festival, and the Leith Hill Music Festival.
Rohan Kriwaczek – Head of Music
Rohan Kriwaczek has been a working musician, multi-instrumentalist, teacher and recording artist for nearly 30 year, and has written music for TV, films, radio, other musicians and orchestras, alongside recording over 60 albums of his own music, varying from cheerful songs to “difficult listening” instrumental music. He has also written three books relating to music, one of which has been performed as a play (in Germany). He started teaching instruments at Sacred Heart in 2006, and took on the role of Head of Music in 2017.
John Cronin – Choir Director & Classical Guitar Teacher
John came to formal music relatively late in life and started formally studying music in his late 20s, studying classical guitar under the tutelage of Gerard Cousins and choral direction from Russel du Plessis.
John is also involved in hymn practice for both the KS1 & KS2 which are always a great way to finish the day. He is very passionate about representing the school with the choir, as he was also a student at Sacred Heart as a child.
Nathan Gash – Trumpet Teacher
Nathan Gash studied an undergraduate degree at King’s College London before completing a Masters in performance at the Royal College of Music. As a professional musician he continues to perform all over the world – have a look at Oompah Brass on YouTube – and takes great pride in teaching and educating the next generation of young brass players. He’s been part of the Sacred Heart music department for five years and is constantly impressed and amazed by how many gifted musicians we find and nurture.
Connor Loney – Rock/Pop Guitar Teacher
Connor is a multi-instrumentalist, session guitarist and tutor who continues to perform all across the UK within Rock and Pop groups. – When not performing, Connor is busy tutoring over one-hundred students throughout the week, and has a deep passion for music education and the development of young musicians.
Michelle Taylor-Cohen – Violin Teacher
Michelle has been teaching the violin for nearly 25 years. In addition to teaching at Sacred Heart she also works at schools in Dulwich and Enfield, and is a tutor for South London Youth Orchestra. She has played with many well-known groups and orchestras and recorded music for film and TV.