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Reports Part of series: Learning for all: BERA Small Grants Fund research reports

Musicianship for key stage 1 teachers

Teaching generalist primary teachers to teach classroom music

Musicianship for KS1 Teachers is a small-scale intervention study training upper foundation stage (FS2) and key stage 1 (KS1) generalist teachers in primary schools in the classroom musicianship skills they need to teach practical music sessions with the children in their classes. Supported by BERA’s 2022/23 Small Grants Fund, the study sought to explore how FS2 and KS1 teachers enact professional training in music teaching. The project had three objectives:

  • Train whole teams of KS1 teachers in classroom musicianship skills so they can lead and direct practical music lessons with confidence.
  • Facilitate local teachers to work together as a KS1 Music Community of Practice.
  • Track and measure the impact of the training on the teachers’ confidence, fluency and resilience as music teachers.

Report summary

Musicianship for KS1 Teachers is a small-scale intervention project training generalist (non-music specialist) foundation stage and key stage 1 (KS1) teachers to teach practical music sessions. This project is a replication of First Thing Music, which offers school-based training using a play-based approach drawn from Kodály pedagogy. Although music is compulsory in KS1, and teachers are advised to teach regular short classroom sessions, music provision is patchy in schools because many teachers feel ill-equipped to teach practical music lessons. A combination of negative experiences in their own schooling, limited training in initial teacher education and few opportunities for mentoring by trained and experienced music teachers results in generalist KS1 teachers avoiding teaching music. Data were collected from observations of school-based training, observations of teaching with peer review, participant questionnaires and feedback from participants. Analysis considers the significance of the teachers’ practical musicianship skills in enabling them to lead musical activity in the classroom. It reviews how positive teaching experiences develop confidence, fluency and self-efficacy for teaching and how this supports teachers’ emerging pedagogical content knowing (PCKg) in music. The project offers recommendations for how intervention research in music teacher training must enable teachers to be autonomous professionals and the importance of embedding the research in the practical logistics of KS1 classrooms in order to gain commitment from participants.


Profile picture of Rebecca Berkley
Rebecca Berkley, Dr

Associate Professor in Music Education at University of Reading

Rebecca Berkley is an Associate Professor in Music Education at the University of Reading. Her areas of interest are classroom musicianship, choral education, musical leadership and musical cognition. She is the co-director of the Postgraduate...