How does St Margaret’s teach girls to read music?

When do girls start to learn to read music? 

Children are shown music notation from nursery age and gradually they learn about note values and note names. We work with different types of graphic notations of music including pictures and symbols, before working up to traditional music notation.

How do we teach children to read music? 

We start by teaching basic rhythms and then use rhymes to help girls learn the names of the lines and spaces in the treble clef.

What tools do you use to aid the teaching process?

Music Express and Jolly Music. Music Express Online is a website which provides everything you need for teaching primary music week by week. Written by leading experts in primary music education, Music Express has quality and engaging music lessons with careful progression built in. Jolly Music is a structured and progressive programme for teaching music skills to children. It is a multi-sensory programme, with all the teaching done through singing. This approach enables children to become instant music makers without the need to learn how to play an instrument.

Can you tell us about theory exams alongside their instrument? 

Usually the instrumental instructors work with the pupils from grades 1-3 and when they are about grade 4 they can join theory club which is a free lunchtime club.

Can girls learn any instrument? 

There are instrumental lessons available for a variety of instruments such as violin, viola, ‘cello, double bass, flute, piccolo, clarinet, bass clarinet, oboe, bassoon, saxophone, drum kit, tuned percussion and piano.  In Nursery, all pupils get the opportunity to play the un-tuned and tuned percussion and as they progress through the school they will learn many other instruments such as glockenspiels, keyboards, guitars, bass guitars and drums.

Why should you learn and understand how to read music? 

Apart from it being fun and a relaxing thing to do, it is scientifically proven that music stimulates your brain and aides concentration and brain development.  It can also be used as a social tool to meet new friends and take part in new activities and opportunities.

When do girls start learning to compose their own music? 

The girls start composing from Nursery in a very elementary way using sound pictures, starting with a rhythm or tune to go alongside a song or poem. This is developed all the way through to Advanced Higher in VI Senior where the girls have a variety of tasks to complete as part of their portfolio. Tasks range from writing a study for a single instrument to a film score for a full orchestra. Many of our girls participate in orchestras and bands both within and out with school and this can really help them with their compositions as they have developed their musical ear and an understanding of texture.


For more information on learning music at St Margaret's, please visit


We have places available in some year groups for an immediate start, so please head to to find out more.

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