Dr Jane Todd is a qualified primary school teacher, who has taught for over 12 years. Her last post was Director of Music at a Prep School in the North East, teaching music from Nursery to Year 6 (3-11) and also Senior Teacher for Curriculum and Assessment. She has Grade 8 piano and Grade 8 violin and graduated from Durham University with a first class honours degree in music education, masters with distinction, and was awarded Doctor of Education in 2012. Jane’s research focused on musical understanding and progression in the primary school. A key aim of Jane’s research and thesis was making the findings relevant for practising teachers and applicable to the classroom situation rather than an academic work which bore no resemblance to daily teaching. This is still high on Jane’s agenda, but now particularly pertaining to Early Years Practitioners.
Jane’s research and twelve years teaching experience have informed her ethos and approach to music teaching. Her primary focus is on the development of children’s musical understanding to ensure progression, and Jane has found that a Kodály informed approach to the curriculum delivered through aural and singing based activities provides a structure in which true progression can take place.
Jane is a member of the British Kodály Academy (BKA) and an active member of the UK Association for Music Education – Music Mark. She has presented her work at their National Symposium and Annual Conference and also published an article in their newsletter. Jane has worked part-time at Durham University leading the Secondary Music PGCE and now lectures at Newcastle University for the Music Department, leading their music education modules.
Jane has recently been involved with a project with One Point Children’s Services. Jane was brought in to run a programme for ten nurseries to support speech and language development with 2 year olds. Jane has trained staff in the use of a musical approach to do this.
Jane’s doctorate explored the issue of musical progression in the primary school; what it is and how teachers realise it. Her research looked at current theories of musical development, the Ofsted triennial music reports, and explored teachers’ knowledge and understanding of the issue through interviews. The data was analysed following the process of template analysis and Todd produced relational models to illustrate the findings, including a practitioner definition of musical progression.
This research suggested that the teacher’s journey is as individual as the child’s and therefore there is not only one way to teach that will ensure progression. What appeared to be important was that practitioners had a clearly thought-out approach to progression which influenced and underpinned their teaching and consequently ensured children’s progressive musical learning. The importance of the teacher’s own musicality and musical understanding in their comprehension of musical progression and their practice was highlighted. Another emergent finding was the necessity of responsive teaching and the need to interrelate all aspects of what it is to be musical in order to lead to a more holistic progression in pupils. Improving teacher knowledge and understanding of holistic progression would help teachers to understand what they were aiming for and consequently improve their curriculum delivery.
The main aim of the research was to gain insight and understanding to assist primary teachers to improve their practice and address Ofsted’s concerns. It also made suggestions for music ITE provision, CPD and Ofsted.
Jane has presented her findings at Durham University, at the UK Association for Music Education (Music Mark) National conference in Birmingham and Symposium in Manchester. She has also published an article ‘What do we mean by musical progression in the primary school’ in a publication by the National Association of Music Educators.
Jane is now applying her research to working specifically with 0-5’s and looking at how musical progression is achieved with this age group, the impact a musical approach can have on speech and language development and how a carefully structured singing-based programme can enable children to sing with the same value as they learn to read and write.
Jane has recently carried out a joint research project with Professor Adam Ockelford of Roehampton Institute exploring children’s emergent musicality in the Early Years. Funded by Newcastle University, Jane and Dr Julia Partington, analysed numerous videos of children ‘musicking’ and presented their findings at a conference at Newcastle University in July 2018.
These online sessions give a flavour, but obviously do not compare to the actual engagement and personal response in an actual Do Re Mi session. They were recorded when we were in lockdown for COVID-19, so that our do re mi music friends did not miss out on their music times!