Spotlighting best practices

Sistema England’s Youth Music Spotlighting aimed to bring together music teachers from Sistema-inspired programmes in England to learn and share effective practices with each other and subsequently with the wider music education workforce.


Here you will find video clips of differentiation taking place on Sistema-inspired programmes in England, as well as a downloadable Tips & Tools for Differentiation resource from teachers for teachers.

‘Differentiation’ – what is it?

The Training and Development Agency for Schools describes ‘differentiation’ as the process by which differences between pupils are accommodated so that all students have the best possible chance of learning.  There are three categories of differentiation:

  • differentiation by task, which involves setting different tasks for students of different abilities
  • differentiation by support, which means giving more help to certain students within the group
  • differentiation by outcome, which involves setting open-ended tasks and allowing student response at different levels

All good teachers differentiate to meet the needs of their learners, and while differentiation is not unique to Sistema-inspired programmes, teachers on this project have identified it as an area of particular importance and challenge for their work with young people.

‘In the context of Sistema-inspired programmes, the ensemble is central to the methodology. Parts (tasks) are written to provide challenge and/or to build confidence for each child, reinforcing learning as well as stretching the individual. Knowing the capabilities of each child, their strengths and weaknesses, and providing appropriate support is therefore key. The extent to which an individual young musician achieves a particular task is differentiation by outcome. The assessment of the young musician’s level of success feeds in to the nature of the next task – the level of support that is provided and the form of that support.’ Richard Hallam MBE, Chair, Music Education Council and Trustee, Sistema England

Download Tips & Tools for Differentiation.  If you would like more ideas, download the full Sharing Tips & Tools document, which includes teaching ideas for Social Pedagogy & Repertoire.  In whatever context you work with young people, we hope some of the resources here are useful for your practice, and that you can contribute your own ideas below.