The children I am working with are responding to positively. They are very keen to learn new music and don’t not feel threatened to play. They enjoy the ‘have a go’ and ‘just play’ strategy.
I work on the JSV Primary campus at the British School in the Netherlands (BSN) which is located in the Hague. It is one of the largest international schools in Europe, composed of 3 primary campuses and 2 Senior campuses. We teach the British National Curriculum (KS1-3), GCSE, A-Level and IBDP. We have a diverse community with over 80 nationalities represented, which makes it a really exciting and interesting place to work.
I started using the Musical Futures approach nearly 10 years ago. I was introduced to it whilst working as a newly qualified Music teacher at a Secondary School in the UK and over the next 5 years we integrated MF into the whole KS3 curriculum. Although somewhat daunting at first, I soon noticed what a huge impact it was having on our students. I saw them become more enthusiastic and motivated from the hands-on approach to Music-making. Our students responded well to the freedom of choosing their own songs and self-directing their learning, once the routine and rehearsal techniques were in place.
We saw our GCSE/BTEC uptake increase substantially, with more and more students forming bands at school (our rehearsal rooms were packed at break and lunch time). In a few years we were putting on annual tours and more formal and informal concerts to showcase the work of our students. It was an exciting place to work and the Music department had a real buzz about it, having become a huge part of school life. A number of our students went on to study Music at degree level – a few now even work in the Music industry as songwriters and producers!
I moved into the international sector five years ago, taking a job as the Head of Performing Arts at a school in Berlin that had just rolled out the PYP, MYP as part of the IB framework. I loved the freedom to create my own curriculum, not worrying about OFSTED walking through the door at any moment. I valued spending longer on projects and having access to some amazing resources in an incredible city.
This was the first time I had ever taught primary and (after getting over the initial shock of teaching the age range for the first time), I realised what they were capable of and found that the Musical Futures approach worked incredibly well. This was the perfect age to instill a lifelong love of making Music, introduce them to band instruments and to teach them key rehearsal techniques. I also loved the opportunities to do more cross-curricular projects, having likeminded teachers keen to team up and integrate Music into other parts of the curriculum.
I took my experiences from Berlin and moved into full-time Primary Music teaching at the BSN three years ago. We have now fully embedded Musical Futures into every year group at JSV from Year 2 up to 6. In three years we have turned Music into one of the key selling points of the school, with very popular lunchtime and after school Music clubs, a whole-school Performing Arts Week, weekly year group choir sessions, concerts, productions and tours. We are very lucky to have access to some brilliant resources and I’ve had the opportunity to do some really exciting Musical projects at the school, including making a whole school Music video, establishing links with the Hague Conservatorium, being involved in tours and gala concerts.
I’ve witnessed first hand the impact of the Musical Futures approach in three schools and have seen what the informal learning approach can do. I am really happy to be on board as a Music Futures Champion Teacher!
Luke Kemmett is the KS2 Music Teacher and CCA Programme Manager at the British School in the Netherlands.
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