Head of Service

Katherine Wolfenden is the Interim Head of Hertfordhsire Music Service

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Gifted and Talented

Do you think a child at your school may show signs of being gifted or talented musically?

Have you been approached by families who want to know how they can provide for a child with a strong interest in, or aptitude for music?

How can you tell if a child has an aptitude for
music at a young age?

The Primary music curriculum gives plenty of opportunity for all children to begin to express themselves musically. However, Gifted and Talented children may quickly make themselves known.

In Singing, you may see a greater level of confidence than found in most children. Even young children can be given opportunities to lead part of an activity by ‘conducting’, keeping a pulse or singing solo.

Challenge children like this to listen hard. Ask them questions which allow them to use their vocabulary, express their opinions and respond to music in other ways, e.g. gesture and movement.

In classroom instrumental work, they may demonstrate that they can work naturally with pulse and rhythm, show a greater degree of control or imagination. This may not always be the same as what you want them to do!

Do keep an eye on what they do, and make a very brief note or audio recording of anything exceptional; this way you will be able to tell a one off from a regular pattern of high achievement. A log of small pieces of evidence is always useful if you need to consult a music professional for advice.

Try to make instruments available for choosing sometimes. It will give children a chance to express their own ideas. The Renaissance of the Music corner!

Spotting the signs

  • Consistently confident singing with obvious enjoyment and accuracy.
  • Being able to do naturally some of the things that you would normally teach – keeping a steady pulse, copying patterns consistently well, innate understanding of Pitch.
  • Wanting to talk about their music
  • Engaging in music whilst doing something else – singing, rhythm making
  • Getting sidetacked into music
  • Imaginative responses to music heard – through words or movement
  • Point children who do well in music to any available extra curricular activities such as choir or recorder groups – some schools only start these groups at ks 2 but exceptions can be made to cater for individual needs.

If you have a number of children who you think might be musically gifted, consider running a Gifted and Talented music workshop for them - you could ask neighbouring schools if they would like to do the same and make it a cluster event . Contact your Area Head for specialist staff or ideas.


I have identified a musically Gifted & Talented pupil. What now?

The Music Service keeps a log of young people who have been identified as outstanding.
Learners can be identified by:
  • Their school
    Their Instrumental/vocal teacher
    Their Head of Music Centre
    Their parents/carers
    Their attainment
    Evidence of learning and performance to date 

  • The log is reviewed twice a year, and continued registration is dependent on fulfilment of the criteria and nominations can be made at any time.  The log can be added to at any time to build up a picture of the student’s progress (usually by their teacher). 

    Nominations should be first made to a Head of Centre or Area Head who will arrange a ‘second opinion’ assessment.  

    Catering for children’s needs outside school

    Parents/carers and teachers can call their local music centre for information about groups suitable for very young musicians. This will not always mean learning to play an instrument, - a good grounding in general musicianship will often help the child to become a faster instrumental learner later. A class in a music centre will also cater for their wider developmental needs such as concentration spans and the need for variety better than a half hour of one to one tuition. Music should above all be fun if the talent is to be nurtured.

    Some instruments have downsized version which mean that learning at a young age can take place, but others do not. Always consult your local music centre for advice if unsure.


    CONTACTS here 

    Hertfordshire Music Service
    Gifted & Talented Policy

    This policy sets out Hertfordshire Music Service’s approach to identifying and supporting the progress of young people with exceptionally high levels of musical ability.