Top tips to engage primary pupils in music lessons

Teacher Glenn Carter discusses how the Promethean ActivPanel allows his pupils to get the most out of music lessons

More so than ever, in recent years the focus on attainment and ‘teaching to the test’ has resulted in creative subjects being pushed to the peripheries of the education curriculum. A recent proposal by Ofsted, however, which looks at broadening the curriculum and inspecting the way lessons are delivered, has the potential to introduce these subjects back into the classroom and encourage pupils to embrace their creative flair.

One teacher who has long been an advocate for creativity within lessons, especially with music, is Glenn Carter. Year 5 teacher and history lead at Ingleby Mill Primary School, Glenn shares his experience and expertise on how best to engage students within music lessons by using education technology. Here he shares his personal, tried and tested insights:

Memorable learning experiences

Despite the educational funding crisis and workload pressures that you read about in the headlines, us teachers want to help inspire and educate the future generation. The first thing about engaging students, particularly primary school students, is creating memorable and enjoyable lessons. Teaching music can be a difficult task, and it’s important to find new and exciting ways to inspire the children to think about music on a wider scale and incorporate creativity and imagination into the core subjects. Using a Promethean ActivPanel as a focal point within the classroom, I regularly create songs and melodies with the help of my class to aid the children in remembering important information or difficult topics.

The first thing about engaging students, particularly primary school students, is creating memorable and enjoyable lessons.

Using YouTube for educational purposes

Most children these days are used to using an iPad or tablet device, and almost every child in the technological age has used YouTube and considers it a luxury. Taking this mentality and using it as a lesson tool is an extremely beneficial way to find new ways of teaching and engaging students, without it feeling like a lesson to them. Within lessons, I regularly use YouTube to play music videos and songs to the students in an effort to encourage them to take an interest in music and hopefully spark a passion for performing.

Expand the school’s instrumental provision

Understandably, schools do not necessarily have the budget to purchase a vast array of musical instruments. Fortunately, an investment in education technology can help to bypass this issue. In lessons, we use a synthesizer app on our ActivPanel which allows pupils to layer the sounds of a range of instruments. MusicStudio and MusicStudioLite are great ways to allow the children to manipulate music without being gifted with instruments. This can help to help to introduce students an array of different instruments that would be otherwise unavailable in the school, as well as encourage students to create, layer and ultimately produce a piece of music.

The ActivPanel allows children to engage with different instruments without having to purchase them individually

Collaborating Composition

As the common saying goes, ‘teamwork makes the dream work’, and that is very much the stance I take when engaging music students. Children enjoy working together and a music lesson is the perfect opportunity to encourage classroom collaboration, the sharing of ideas and peer-assessment. Using ActivCast, which comes as standard on the ActivPanel, students can create music on their tablet devices or laptops and cast to the ActivPanel to encourage a class discussion. Alternatively, apps such as the keyboard are readily available and when used on the ActivPanel, its simultaneous touch points enable several children to play the instrument at once.


There are a range of free apps and software available that can allow students to create music using professional studio-standard software. Even students who are not musically gifted in the traditional sense can be involved in music lessons as producers and gain an in-depth understanding of music creation and production. It is important to inspire students to engage with music and to use it as an opportunity to be as creative as they wish.

Children enjoy working together and a music lesson is the perfect opportunity to encourage classroom collaboration.

Education technology has the potential to transform the classroom environment and can help to inspire students to take an interest in subjects that are usually pushed to the edges of the curriculum. By embracing edtech, it can help to make instruments that would be otherwise inaccessible, accessible, as well as helping to engage students to take an interest in music and inspire the next generation of students in the creative arts.

In celebration of teaching and learning, this term, Promethean has launched a competition for teachers to share their stories to encapsulate memorable teaching moments, and be in with the chance of winning one of five ActivPanels.

#ClassroomStory will return in the new academic year. For more information on how to enter the competition next term, please visit

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