Key Stage 2 Instrumental pupils, of all abilities, and their instrumental tutors play together to develop an ensemble piece from scratch, away from the 'dots'. They improvise, devise and rehearse an arrangement and then give an informal performance to parents and other classes.


What are the goals of the work?

The goals of the work are:

  • To build on children's musical ideas and interests. In this particular case, three Year 6 pupils had rehearsed 'Wipe Out' independently outside school, had uploaded a recording to YouTube and asked to use the piece in school;
  • To give pupils, of all abilities, learning an orchestral instrument, an opportunity to make music together, to try out musical ideas and make decisions about the final arrangement; and
  • To encourage children to play their instrument without being dependent on notation.

How does it fit into the learning strategy of the school?

  • The Scratch Orchestra session takes place once a term. This brings together instrumental pupils and their instrumental tutors to make music together. The activity encourages children to listen, to play their instrument without depending on notation, to improvise, and to devise, remember and perform their own arrangements.

How does it fit into the curriculum of the school?

  • The work on 12 Bar Blues with Year 6 is part of the school's scheme of work for music.
  • The Scratch Orchestra session forms part of the termly programme for instrumental pupils.

What outcomes are being explicitly targeted?

The outcomes that are being explicitly targeted are

  • To develop ensemble playing skills;
  • To enable children of different ages and abilities to make music together;
  • To develop children's confidence to improvise and arrange musical ideas without being dependent on notation; and
  • To developing teamwork skills, self-discipline and self-esteem—in and through music.

What is the context of the work?

  • Wembury Primary is a small rural school with 7 classes.
  • The case study focus on the Scratch Orchestra is on instrumental pupils in Key Stage 2 (KS2). (Guitarists and drummers were not included in this example.)
  • Half of the pupils in KS2 have instrumental lessons in school, with violin, flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, saxophone, piano, guitar and drum kit lessons on offer.
  • The Scratch Orchestra happens once a term. This particular session was based on some 12 Bar Blues work that the Year 6 class had been working on the week before.

What is the content of the work?

  • There is a fifty-minute music curriculum session with the oldest Primary school class (Year 6). This focuses on exploring and rehearsing the 12 bar Blues chord sequence.
  • There is a one-off, sixty-minute 'Scratch Orchestra' session with the KS2 orchestral instrumental pupils, their instrumental tutors and the Year 6 class. This is focused on developing an ensemble piece based on the 12 bar Blues.

What are the key features of the teaching and learning process?

  • There is whole class teaching, peer teaching, and also independent group work.
  • The activity is differentiated to allow all children to take part and be successful.
  • Children are encouraged to try out musical ideas and to shape the final arrangement.

How is the work being reviewed?

  • The involvement of each of the instrumental teachers allows them to observe their own pupils and evaluate their progress, both individually and as part of the wider ensemble.
Scratch Orchestra case study (Wembury Primary)


What are the positive outcomes for young people?

The positive outcomes for children are as follows:

  • Connections are made between music in and outside class/school (as, in an example, three boys initiating and using 'Wipe Out').
  • Instrumental pupils are observed to be more confident to play ‘by ear’ and to improvise.
  • Some instrumental pupils, in particular, are seen to gain particular confidence and to find greater enjoyment by playing within the group.
  • Children shape the final piece for performance—the music is theirs.
  • Children have a shared sense of achievement and pride.

What are the key features of teacher/leader behaviour enabling positive outcomes?

The key features of teacher behaviour are in the provision of

  • a clear sequence of engaging teaching activities;
  • an enabling environment that supports and includes all children whatever age or developmental phase; and
  • children are encouraged to be leaders and to make decisions about their music.

What are the key features of context, contented activities enabling positive outcomes?

  • The music-coordinator has a supportive senior management, colleagues, parents and governors.
  • The music-coordinator has worked at the school for many years as a class teacher as well as specialist music teacher and so she is well-known and respected within the school community.
  • Children are confident that the music coordinator values their ideas and aims to support them to achieve what they want to do musically.

What other factors in this case are contributing to those positive outcomes?

  • The music coordinator provides a range of opportunities to make and perform music both in school and in the local community.
  • The music coordinator has set up a programme for whole class instrumental and vocal tuition (WCVIT), of which this case study is a part.
  • The music coordinator originally set up an instrumental teaching ‘Music Club’ eight years ago and now 50% of KS2 pupils have instrumental lessons in school – with violin, guitar, electric bass guitar, flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, saxophone, piano, drum kit lessons on offer.
  • Instrumental pupils are actively encouraged to use their instruments in class music curriculum sessions, in assemblies, and in extra and extended curriculum activities.

How replicable or adaptable is it?

  • The 12 Bar Blues activities can be replicated.
  • The Scratch Orchestra format can be replicated.

Content of the case study

  • The case study includes an edited film of a 50 minute Year 6 curriculum music session and a 60 minute Scratch Orchestra session.
  • Written lesson plan and resources are also available.

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