Learn 4 Performance Approach

What is Learn 4 Performance?

The Learn4Performance approach is powerful because it is based on the principles of how people learn. The structure is also adaptable to suit the needs and abilities of all pupils. The Learn4Performance approach enables pupils to perform pieces to a high standard whilst developing all-round musicians with a focus on all of the different elements required to be a musician and life-long learner. A key feature is that pupils internalise the musical structures and ingredients needed to perform and compose through a three stage process. 

Learn 4 Performance Approach

The Learn 4 Performance approach enables pupils listen and imitate pieces of music before analysing it and then composing and performing their own version or interpretation of the piece.

Stage One


The process begins with a creative ‘hook’ which engages the pupil, often with a sense of enjoyment, audience and purpose. You could play a concert, a collection of songs by the artist, or show a series of photographs. You may choose a piece of music that the pupil wants to be able to play or a piece that includes key ingredients which the pupil needs to develop. Secondly, we should provide the pupil with a purpose (the why) which will motivate the pupil to participate and engage with the activities. This could be a performance opportunity, online video, or to create a piece for a new advert.


The piece of music should be pitched above the pupil's current level and has built into it the underlying, transferable structures, ingredients and current development areas the pupil will need when they are performing or composing. The model piece is learned using a 'music map' to strengthen memory and help pupils internalise the piece.

Once pupils can memorise the piece and other examples, they will develop their listening, reading, aural and singing skills through a range of activities by reading the piece as a performer. Following this, pupils will read the piece as a composer, analysing the generic structure and identifying the features. 

All of this stage is underpinned by developing musical concepts, technical skills, instrumental skills and theory. Pupil will also develop their understanding of the style and make comparisons and interpretations. As a teacher, you will identify key focus areas (musical concepts or technical/instrumental skills) to develop through activities during this stage. These focus areas should be found within the model piece.

Stage Two


Once your pupils are familiar with the model piece, you can lead them into stage two. This stage is all about working together with you pupil using the selected piece as a model and breaking the learning down into small, achievable activities. 

This stage includes shortbursts - target practise areas with a focus on musical concepts, technical skills and instrumental skills that are taken from the model piece. Together you and your pupil will compare similar pieces to the model through listening, composing, analysing and performing. 

Once all of the elements of the model piece have been explored, as the teacher you model playing the different phrases or sections which your pupil imitates or even innovates. You can then create a shared composition, improvisations or interpretation of the model piece providing your pupils with a depth of understanding.

By the end of this stage, your pupil should be competent in all aspects of the piece's ingredients (the musical concepts, technical skills, instrumental skills, the style and knowledge). Pupils will be able to (without knowing) perform the piece in small chunks and in different ways and be able to compose/improvise a piece related to the model text.

Stage Three


Eventually, your pupil will be ready to move onto stage three which is when they apply independently what has been taught and practised throughout stages one and two. Before you move into stage three, make sure you are confident your pupil understands all of the ingredients and skills covered in the previous stages. Using this approach we are setting pupils up for success not failure and therefore stage three is about providing your pupil with the sheet music for the model piece or providing manuscript paper or digital software for them to perform or compose their own piece/interpretation based on the model piece.

One of the most important aspects of this approach is choosing the right model pieces at the right time in your pupils journey. Therefore, considerations must be made to ensure the model piece includes your pupil's current development areas, is above their current ability and will excite them. The repetition of this process will provide pupils with a clear approach to learn, develop, be creative and curious whilst embedding patterns, structures and technique that will support them to succeed in their music study and musical future journey.

The impact

The Learn 4 Performance approach has had an outstanding impact on music/instrumental teachers. We have found pupils double their rate of progress and where the approach has been applied alongside an online learning platform, there is evidence of outstanding success.

What now?

If you are ready to get started with this approach or would like to see it in action, we have case studies and training inside The Music Circle community - come and join us!
Alternatively, you can visit our resource page for activities designed for each stage of the approach and planning documentation to support you with planning and analysing a model piece series of lessons.
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