How to succeed with no budget for musical instruments

Are you Music Lead at your school?

Maybe you have a cupboard of old musical instruments. Or maybe nothing.

But you certainly don’t have the budget for new musical instruments or maintenance. Never mind a whole class set!

Don’t panic! You don’t actually need musical instruments for a quality, progressive and rich music education. At Doremi Connect, we believe teaching without musical instruments is actually preferable. 

That’s why my curriculum Doremi Teach Music (exclusively for Doremi Members) is a Kodály-inspired singing-based approach.

Let me tell you a story – yes, it’s about me!! So I had a pretty traditional musical education. At least to start with. My mum bought a piano and I taught myself Baa Baa Black Sheep by ear. 

When my mum offered me piano lessons I said no. I remember saying “Why? I can already play!” Oh what confidence!

Anyway, clearly she won, because we bought a “proper” piano and I started lessons and I loved it. 

Fast forward a few years and I wanted to be in the school orchestra. I asked my head of music which musical instrument she needed. She handed me a school viola and I skipped off to my new teacher. Within a few months I was in the orchestra.

I wasn’t a musical genius but I learnt the viola pretty quickly.

Why? Because I had already mastered the fundamentals of music, the concepts, the skills, the notation. All I had to do was apply them to the instrument. All I had to do was deal with the physical.

Master the fundamentals of music first, then success on a musical instrument is easier and faster. And it’s FAR more fun.

Why do kids quit music? It’s because they get frustrated trying to master music and physical challenges all at the same time.

So what’s the solution?

Teach music using a Kodály-inspired, singing-based approach like Doremi Teach Music

Advantages of a Kodály-inspired approach (in no particular order!)

Advantage #1 – It’s FREE! No musical instruments needed

There’s absolutely no need to purchase or maintain class sets of musical instruments. While we will definitely want to apply our newly mastered musical skills to an instrument eventually, there’s no need for anything to get started.

Doremi Members are using the Doremi Teach Music curriculum for EYFS and KS1 without needing any special equipment. Just a few finger puppets and a sheet of lycra!

Advantage #2 – Perfect for all ages, even EYFS

You can start teaching using this musical approach from an early age. Even before children have the fine motor skills needed for an instrument. So that means younger classes get just as high quality music education as the older year groups. I’ve heard of schools that don’t even start “proper music” until Year 3! When in fact getting started from the first year of school is not only possible, it’s desirable.

Get started with your young students with our free Musical Must-Haves for EYFS and KS1 resource – one of the many free resources inside my Free Kodály Treasure Chest

Advantage #3 – Learn music while having fun

Teaching in this way is sooo much fun. Not just for the children, but for the teachers too. I mean who doesn’t want to see their classes engaging, having fun and developing in confidence. The children just think they’re having fun, but the teachers and observant senior management can see there’s so much more learning and development going on!

Read how Playful teaching creates happy and successful students

Advantage #4 – Teaches more than just music

Learning with singing games develops more than just musical skills. The simple lyrics of the rhymes and songs, along with their repetition, develop language skills. Work on developing a sense of steady beat improves reading fluency. Children who regularly participate in good quality music lessons like these demonstrate improved focus, impulse control, self-esteem, confidence, co-operation, patience, memory – not just in music, but in all lessons. Including waiting in line at lunchtime!

Watch Lindsay Ibbotson’s Guest Webinar on the research project First Thing Music – one of the many free resources inside my Free Kodály Treasure Chest

Advantage #5 – Everyone feels musical

We all know adults who feel they are not musical or can’t sing. This feeling can damage self-esteem and result in shame and embarrassment. Imagine a world where our children treat music and singing skills as a given. Before they have the chance to judge themselves, they have already been successful. Music is their birth right.

We support Doremi Members to improve their own musical and singing skills too. Making them happier humans and more confident teachers.

Advantage #6 – Progressive and practical curriculum

I am almost as obsessed with progression as I am with the benefits of singing. We know that school leaders and Ofsted want to see evidence of progression in planning and in practice. That’s why Doremi Teach Music, as a Kodály-inspired, singing-based approach is soooo progressive. Every microstep is carefully chosen to take each student a step further along their musical journey so that they can’t help but succeed. Their journey is practical, musical and skill-based. And terminology and notation added to that to support their skill development and musical literacy.

I could go on, but if I haven’t convinced you yet, please do get in touch. I would love to answer your questions.

Are there any disadvantages?

Only the effort that might be required to convince school leaders that teaching music is practical and skill-based, not knowledge-based.

Sound should always come first, practical music making should always come first.

Ofsted’s former Music Lead Mark Phillips has repeatedly stressed that progressive practical music making should be the priority. And the new Music Lead Christopher Stevens was quoted in Music Teacher Magazine saying “a central purpose of good music education is for pupils to make more music, think more musically and consequently become more musical.”

If people don’t know what quality music education looks like, they might think it needs to involve holding a physical instrument. Or knowing about certain composers. Or being able to name different rhythm symbols or mnemonics for letter names on the stave.

We help Doremi Members reassure their school leaders that the secret to high quality, effective and progressive music education is Kodály-inspired and singing-based. 

How can we help you get started teaching music without musical instruments?

Why not grab our free teaching resources and courses in my Free Kodály Treasure Chest

Or even better, get all our best stuff by becoming a Doremi Member

Related Articles


If you’re a music or piano teacher wanting to use the Kodály approach in your teaching, then my Kodály Treasure Chest is just what you need. 

There’s no need to trawl my website looking for hidden treasure! I’ve put all of my best free teaching mini-courses and resources in one place, and I’ll send directions straight to your inbox!