Music Programmes of Study: key stages 1 and 2 – Ocarinas

National Curriculum in England

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.

The Ocarina gives children an instrumental voice at the earliest opportunity so they can participate fluently in the ‘language of music’. They play tunes straight away, progressing more rapidly and easily than with any other tuned musical instrument. Ocarinas can be introduced by general class teachers as well as by specialists, demonstrating that everyone can be ‘musical’ and that music need not be the sole preserve of highly trained experts.


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
    ocarina-playing offers the broadest repertoire for all young musicians to play, sing and evaluate: pupils listen to and make the music themselves with ocarinas. Play your Ocarina – Book 1 ‘Starting off’ has themes by Beethoven and Dvorak for everyone to play, along with music across a range of genres, styles and traditions: the series of six ‘Play your Ocarina’ books have substantial repertoire for ensemble, class and solo performances; CD-Rom software and Audio CDs support both listening and playing.
  • 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
    singing together is key to playing the Ocarina. The Ocarina is at the same pitch as children’s singing voices. Soloists, small groups, whole classes and larger ensembles can perform songs and instrumental pieces to a high standard with voices and ocarinas. Singing each song before playing encourages musicality and music reading.
  • understand and explore how music is created, produced and communicated, including through the inter-related dimensions: pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture, structure and appropriate musical notations.
    ocarina players and their teachers learn to read a variety of musical notations from the very first lesson, including staff notation. They experience all the inter-related dimensions of music through actively performing, and they can communicate fluently and expressively at an early stage with the ocarina. This naturally leads to improvising and composing.

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.

All these targets are attainable through whole-class ocarina playing and performing.


Subject content / Ocarina input

Key stage 1

Pupils should be taught to:

  • use their voices expressively and creatively by singing songs and speaking chants and rhymes
    ocarina materials are designed to sing first. Chanting lyrics rhythmically helps children to internalise rhythms before playing them accurately on the ocarina.
  • play tuned and untuned instruments musically
    ocarinas are the simplest and most versatile of all tuned musical instruments; their simplicity makes high quality musical performance possible at Key stage 1.
  • listen with concentration and understanding to a range of high-quality live and recorded music
    ‘Play your Ocarina’ and ‘1-2-3 Ocarina’ music materials are arranged, performed and recorded to an excellent standard, introducing children to many genres of music, all of which they can eventually play themselves.
  • experiment with, create, select and combine sounds using the inter-related dimensions of music.
    once children have the skills to play the ocarina, they can be encouraged to experiment by asking questions such as “how many parts should a round be played in, and what will it sound like with voices only, ocarinas only, or both together”. They can also make first attempts at individual and group compositions through games, guided choices and their own intuitive experiments on the ocarina. Compositions can be easily notated using ocarina notation.

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.

Rapid progress is possible in well-taught whole class ocarina lessons. This progress results in confident, fluent performing and high levels of motivation. Pupils learn how music is put together and develop an acute aural awareness when playing ocarinas. The more they play, the more they can use this skill to improvise and compose.

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
    ocarinas are simple instruments that lend themselves to fluent, accurate, controlled and expressive musical performance in solo and ensemble playing.
  • improvise and compose music for a range of purposes using the inter-related dimensions of music
    playing a variety of different genres of music on the ocarina opens the way to improvising and composing; the ocarina’s portability makes it readily accessible at all times and in all circumstances. Children can notate their compositions easily and effectively using ocarina and staff notation.
  • listen with attention to detail and recall sounds with increasing aural memory
    this naturally develops in any continuously well-taught ocarina class. Use of the CD-Rom and audio CDs allow children to hear great music, and then play it.
  • use and understand staff and other musical notations
    staff and other musical notations appear side by side in ocarina music books: understanding comes naturally through regular playing, and is accessible to all.
  • appreciate and understand a wide range of high-quality live and recorded music drawn from different traditions and from great composers and musicians
    high quality ocarina recordings underpin all ocarina lessons and introduce pupils to the broadest range of music that can be played on any instrument at Key stage 2.
  • develop an understanding of the history of music.
    playing along with CD backings of harpsichord, orchestra, band, etc. gives pupils first hand experience of the history of music through the wide and diverse sounds and genres explored in ocarina music books, CDs, and in their own performances.