The National Curriculum for Music provides an important, background framework for the Love Music Trust Primary Music Curriculum. For this reason, our Curriculum Overview will spend a few moments considering what it contains.

The National Curriculum for Music starts with a short paragraph that outlines why Music should be part of the school curriculum:

Purpose of study

Music is a universal language that embodies one of the highest forms of creativity. A high-quality music education should engage and inspire pupils to develop a love of music and their talent as musicians, and so increase their self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement. As pupils progress, they should develop a critical engagement with music, allowing them to compose, and to listen with discrimination to the best in the musical canon.

At this point, notice that Music is a creative subject. The key learning processes of performing, composing and listening are all mentioned in this opening paragraph.

The National Curriculum for Music then sets out a set of aims for all pupils.


The National Curriculum for Music aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • Perform, listen to, review and evaluate music across a range of historical periods, genres, styles and traditions, including the works of the great composers and musicians;
  • Learn to sing and to use their voices, to create and compose music on their own and with others, have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, use technology appropriately and have the opportunity to progress to the next level of musical excellence;
  • Understand and explore how music is created, produced and communicated, including through the interrelated dimensions: pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture, structure and appropriate musical notations.

Notice that performing mean learning to play an instrument and sing. Composing involves making music individually and in groups. Listening includes being able to explore and understand how music uses a range of different dimensions. Reviewing and evaluating music includes listening to a wide range of music from different composers, eras and parts of the world.

In terms of assessment, the National Curriculum for Music is very brief:

Attainment targets

By the end of each key stage, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study.

Please note that there are no levels of attainment for Music. This is the same for every foundation subject. Schools have been given autonomy to design their own assessment framework. We will explore this further when we consider development and progression.

The specific subject content of the National Curriculum for Music is then presented in relation to each Key Stage. As you read these, notice how the key learning process of performing, composing, listening, reviewing and evaluating are included in each Key Stage.

Key Stage 1

Pupils should be taught to:

  • Use their voices expressively and creatively by singing songs and speaking chants and rhymes;
  • Play tuned and untuned instruments musically;
  • Listen with concentration and understanding to a range of high-quality live and recorded music;
  • Experiment with, create, select and combine sounds using the interrelated dimensions of music.

Key Stage 2

Pupils should be taught to sing and play musically with increasing confidence and control. They should develop an understanding of musical composition, organising and manipulating ideas within musical structures and reproducing sounds from aural memory.

Pupils should be taught to:

  • Play and perform in solo and ensemble contexts, using their voices and playing musical instruments with increasing accuracy, fluency, control and expression;
  • Improvise and compose music for a range of purposes using the interrelated dimensions of music;
  • Listen with attention to detail and recall sounds with increasing aural memory;
  • Use and understand staff and other musical notations;
  • Appreciate and understand a wide range of high-quality live and recorded music drawn from different traditions and from great composers and musicians;
  • Develop an understanding of the history of music.

The Love Music Trust Primary Music Curriculum provides you with a complete music curriculum to cover the requirements of the National Curriculum for Music. However, although the National Curriculum for Music is important, it is just the starting point for our curriculum. The Love Music Trust Primary Music Curriculum interprets and presents a rich pedagogy for teaching music drawing on the work of highly experienced and successful primary music teachers working in Cheshire East.