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pBuzz Key Stage 1 Music Curriculum and the New Model Music Curriculum

May 12th, 2021 | 6 min read

By Liz Stafford

In 2018, we commissioned leading primary music specialist Dr Elizabeth Stafford and music teacher and composer Kay Charlton to create a free scheme of work that covers the entire National Curriculum for Music at Key Stage 1 and includes a full set of music resources with lesson plans and assessment trackers called pBuzz Resources for Primary Schools.

The resources have been used extensively in primary schools are were awarded the Teach Primary Resource Awards for Best Music Resource (pBuzz KS1 Music Teaching Resource).

With the recent publication of the new Model Music Curriculum, we asked Liz to revisit this scheme of work and assess how it stacks up - we're pleased to report below that her findings are, "Teachers using the pBuzz Key Stage 1 Music Curriculum can be assured that it meets all the requirements of the statutory National Curriculum for Music, and many of the suggested requirements of the non-statutory Model Music Curriculum."

Read on for how these free resources can help you and your school deliver both the national curriculum for music and the new model music curriculum and make music accessible, sustainable, and fun!


Read the pBuzz Resources Scheme Overview


The DfE released a new ‘Model Music Curriculum’ for England on 26th March 2021. This document does not replace the current national curriculum, and there is no requirement for schools to adopt it. Instead, it demonstrates one possible approach to the current national curriculum for music, giving details of what could be taught in each year group in order to meet the end of Key Stage expectations.

The pBuzz Key Stage 1 (KS1) Music Curriculum is completely aligned with the National Curriculum for Music at KS1. Our scheme provides a progressive programme of study for music for Year 1 and Year 2, which covers all aspects of the statutory National Curriculum, and therefore also broadly aligns with the coverage of the Model Music Curriculum. In addition, the pBuzz KS1 Music Curriculum provides not just a framework of expectations for each year group as the MMC does, but a fully resourced scheme with lesson plans, assessment proformas, and multi-media teaching resources and teacher CPD materials. The pBuzz KS1 Music Curriculum ensures primary teachers can deliver music with confidence and expertise, and provides everything that you need to successfully implement the statutory National Curriculum for Music in KS1.

Approach to Curriculum Design

At KS1 The model music curriculum splits the music curriculum into the ‘key areas’ Singing, Listening, Composing, and Musicianship. The pBuzz KS1 Music Curriculum takes a very different approach to curriculum design, where each musical skill is integrated into a holistic approach to musical learning. Each half termly topic within the scheme includes listening, composing and performing (singing and instrumental) activities which develop musicianship and musical knowledge in an approach that is more reflective of the current pedagogical understanding of how children learn in music (Swanwick & Tillman 1986; Durant & Welch 1995; Spruce 2007; Fisher 2008; Kelly 2009; Finney 2017).

Approach to Lesson Duration

The Model Music Curriculum makes the recommendation that primary-aged children should have an hour’s music lesson every week (which can be split into several smaller sessions if necessary). The pBuzz KS1 Music Curriculum has been designed to recognise that all schools are different, and therefore the amount of time allocated to music will vary.

In addition, the amount of time that individual musical activities take will vary depending on teacher confidence, pupils’ prior experience, and practical considerations such as the number of instruments available for pupils to use. (For example: if schools do not have a full ‘class set’ of instruments, then immediately the lesson will take longer while different children ‘take turns.’) For this reason, the pBuzz KS1 Music Curriculum is not prescriptive regarding lesson timings, adopting instead a more flexible approach that allows teachers and pupils room to explore music at their own pace. As a rough guide, we advise that each lesson may take between 30mins to 45mins, depending on all the factors outlined above.

Approach to Content


The Model Music Curriculum adopts the Kodaly Method for singing. While this pedagogy is widely used across the world including the UK, it is not a required approach for teaching in England, and teachers need to undertake specific training in order to deliver this approach. The pBuzz KS1 Music Curriculum is specifically designed to provide all the training that you need to deliver the scheme as a non-specialist teacher, and therefore our approach to singing does not require an understanding of or training in Kodaly pedagogy.

The Model Music Curriculum approach to singing is based on developing pitch-matching over a limited range, gradually expanding the range of notes that are sung over the year groups. The pBuzz KS1 Music Curriculum takes a broader approach to the development of singing, particularly on engendering a love of singing through our specially composed songs which are engaging, fun, and suitable for young voices. (It should be noted that pitch-matching is still covered as a feature of our scheme but in the context of technical work on the instrument.)


The Model Music Curriculum provides suggested ‘foundation’ listening repertoire (and wider listening repertoire in the appendix) for each year group, with some contextual background information on each piece including particular features to listen out for. The repertoire is separated into Western Classical and film, Popular Music, and Musical Traditions.

The pBuzz KS1 Music Curriculum has a comparably wide range of listening repertoire and some crossover of individual pieces. Our specially-written repertoire comes in a range of styles, which give each unit a stylistic focus: rock, Latin, reggae, country, medieval, pop, rock & roll, electro-funk, music hall, and bluegrass. Within each unit we also provide listening materials from other styles where appropriate, linked to the overall cross-curricular topic. For example; the Year 2 ‘Space Mission’ topic has its main style as electro-funk, but children also listen to classical music, pop, film music, and even TV theme tunes linked to space.

In the Model Music Curriculum, there is no indication of how listening could be developed progressively over the Key Stage. Our pBuzz KS1 Music Curriculum draws on the research work of Durant & Welch (1995) to ensure that listening activities are appropriate for the children’s stage of listening development. At the start of KS1, Durant and Welch state “There is an awareness of the expressive gestures in music, moods, and character in a musical passage. Children may easily relate music to story, visual images or other external associations” (Durant & Welch, 1995).

Our Year 1 material, therefore, draws on repertoire with a strong emotional or storytelling quality and provides questions and activities that will help draw out appropriate responses from the children. Towards the end of the Key Stage, children start to be able to recognize musical features and discuss them in musical terms, rather than relating them to stories or emotions (Durant & Welch, 1995). We have therefore chosen music for Year 2 with strong and obvious use of particular musical features and again provided appropriate activities for teachers to draw this understanding out.


At KS1, the composing aspect of the Model Music Curriculum covers similar ground to the pBuzz KS1 Music Curriculum, requiring pupils to create sequences of sounds in response to a wide variety of stimuli, using their voices and tuned and untuned instruments. Where the pBuzz curriculum differs, is our provision of differentiation ideas for composing (and performing) activities, providing a more inclusive approach to composing across the Key Stage.

The one area of difference is that the Model Music Curriculum requires work on staff notation as part of its composing strand. This is not a requirement of the statutory national curriculum at KS1 and therefore is not a feature of the composing activities within the pBuzz KS1 Music Curriculum. However, in Year 2: Unit 2 - Melody Makers, the children explore graphic notation and use letter notation to write their own compositions down.

pBuzz Primary School Teaching Resources


The pBuzz KS1 Music Curriculum covers all the expectations around pulse, rhythm, and pitch indicated in the musicianship key area of the Model Music Curriculum. However, it also goes further than this and covers some aspects of instrumental learning that do not appear in the Model Music Curriculum until Years 3 and 4. By the end of Year 1, pupils will be playing 5 notes on their pBuzz, in contrast to the Model Music Curriculum, where pupils do not achieve this goal until Year 4.

As highlighted above, the Model Music Curriculum transposes work on staff notation from KS2 of the National Curriculum into KS1. There is no statutory requirement for teachers to teach staff notation in KS1. The pBuzz KS1 Music Curriculum uses letter notation in order to facilitate instrumental learning in Years 1 and 2, and also introduces the concept of crotchets and minims (Year 2: Unit 1: Feel the Rhythm), however, teachers who do wish to go further than this have access to the staff notation scores for each piece which can be displayed and discussed with children, and used as an aide memoir for performance work.

“The accompanying lesson plans are pedagogically very sound and are well structured to support children’s musical development.” - Gary Spruce, Music Teacher


Due to the fact that they are both based on the same statutory National Curriculum, the pBuzz KS1 Music Curriculum and the Model Music Curriculum have many areas of commonality, but with different areas of emphasis and focus. The pBuzz KS1 Music Curriculum focuses on a holistic approach to music, with an emphasis on aural development. The Model Music Curriculum places more emphasis on the acquisition of note-reading skills and knowledge of a body of musical works.

The pBuzz KS1 curriculum provides a fully resourced curriculum with integrated teacher CPD, whereas the Model Music Curriculum is a framework that teachers will need to plan and resource themselves. Teachers using the pBuzz KS1 Music Curriculum can be assured that it meets all the requirements of the statutory National Curriculum for Music, and many of the suggested requirements of the non-statutory Model Music Curriculum.



Liz Stafford

Dr Elizabeth Stafford is director of Music Education Solutions® and editor of Primary Music Magazine. She has over 20 years’ experience in the primary music sector, having worked as a specialist music teacher for various local authorities, before moving into teacher development for Trinity College London and the Open University, and then Music Education Solutions, where she is Programme Leader for the Level 4 Certificate for Music Educators. She is a regular contributor to Music Teacher Magazine, and Teach Primary Magazine, a reviewer for the British Journal of Music Education, and in regular demand as a guest lecturer in music education at conservatoires and universities across the UK. She teaches Reception and KS1 music at a local authority primary school in the West Midlands. @DrLizStafford