Aurora Orchestra launches second project for schools to widen access to music-making

3 July 2023

Aurora Orchestra has launched a new unit of work for Early Years, Key Stage 1 and SEND settings to enrich music education in primary schools, as well as supporting and empowering teachers with greater confidence and engaging ideas for music lessons.

Created in partnership with Southbank Centre, the 10-week unit of work forms part of Aurora
Orchestra’s digital learning platform, Aurora Classroom – introducing pupils to the elements of music and providing opportunities to play instruments, sing, and compose their own music.

Meet the Instruments introduces children to eleven instruments of the orchestra played by Aurora’s players, plus the djembe and dundun – two West African instruments commonly used in primary settings. Each year group’s scheme of work focuses on two carefully selected elements of music: in EYFS children learn about the most fundamental elements, tempo, dynamics and pitch, moving on to the more complex elements of rhythm and metre in Year 1, and timbre and structure in Year 2 – whilst also consolidating the other elements covered in previous years through a variety of activities, including performance and composition.

Activities offer potential for cross-curricular learning, extending beyond teaching musical skills and knowledge by developing children’s wider literacy, movement and motor skills, and creativity; for example, children are introduced to instruments through specially-commissioned stories and songs by children’s poet Kate Wakeling and internationally-acclaimed composer Iain Farrington. Written specifically for each age group, children will learn about dynamics and meet the violin with Willow the Witch, and the importance of insects with the clarinet in a joyful song, Six Legs Good.

The unit includes activity plans specific to each age range and allows for clear progression across the individual unit and across year groups with fully planned schemes of work. All year groups can also learn their own parts for an ‘altogether song’ to perform in a school concert together. Teachers have the choice to lead activities themselves using written guides and audio tracks, or simply play the fully presented films. Teachers are further supported with free termly online CPD (Continuous Professional Development) sessions, delivered by Aurora Orchestra education professionals.

Jane Mitchell, Creative Director, Aurora Orchestra, said:
“We’re delighted to be launching our second Aurora Classroom unit, Meet the Instruments, which provides a brilliant way for schools to continue embedding high quality music in the classroom. Meet the Instruments is the result of extensive piloting work with over 60 schools for our first unit, the Magical Toy Box, and we’re particularly proud to support more teachers with different experiences of teaching music, access all the learning equally.

At Aurora we believe it is incredibly important for us to be finding new ways of giving schools sustainable routes to accessing professional musicians and to giving primary school teachers the skills, resources and confidence to bring music into the classroom regularly.”

Meet the Instruments has been created in conjunction with teachers, meeting the requirements of the national curriculum, Model Music Curriculum, EYFS statutory framework, and Ofsted’s Education Inspection Framework. The annual subscription costs between £180 and £270 (depending on school size) for 12 months of access from the point of purchase; bespoke packages are available for Music Education Hubs or groups of schools.

Teacher quotes:
‘All of the children were engaged…they really enjoyed meeting a new instrument [the double bass] and were fascinated by its size…The children thoroughly enjoyed it.’ (Maria, Southend on Sea)

‘…Year 7 really started to understand the purpose of steady beat and recognise it by linking what we could hear in the Aurora tracks with songs we already know. They were able to make more of a distinction between steady beat and rhythm. The class really loved the drummers and one of them said ‘my favourite drummer in the world is Aboubacar’ so this showed amazing recall for them!’ (Zoe, SEND school, Isle of Wight)

‘We are all really enjoying the lessons including one of my children who has special educational needs. The children love the songs and remember and sing them better than me! The presenters are great and really appropriate for KS1. I am finding navigating the lesson videos simple and easy to use. The children are really remembering the names of the instruments and are understanding why we play them in particular ways. The graphic scores were very age appropriate and the children enjoyed completing their own on whiteboards.’
(Susannah, Southampton)

Aurora Classroom builds on the success of Aurora’s award-winning live children’s concert series, Far, Far Away, which has delighted young children and their families for over a decade. The concerts are playful, immersive and imaginative, and include performances such as Tchaikovsky and the Magical Toy Box, Beethoven and the Dinosaurs and Mozart in the Garden.