What does ‘in and between’ mean?

Early in the planning stages of our project, we developed the phrase ‘in and between’ music and English language education.  What, though, does this mean? 

Our first driver for this project was wanting to explore teaching and learning approaches in music, to complement our previous work in visual art and drama.  The staff in our existing partnership, as well as the colleagues who joined us from Sweden, also had expertise in English language teaching.  Regent High School, in particular, had run several spoken word projects with partners including the Roundhouse.  It thus became apparent to us all that we should devise a project that allowed examination of music and English language, and what happens when the elements of these two subjects collide in activities like spoken word writing and performance.  The idea of ‘in and between’ was then born.

Our research has suggested to us that there is a reciprocal relationship between music and English language.  As the table shows, we have identified a number of elements that these subjects share.  These elements support our understanding of the individual disciplines, while also suggesting how these shared features may support engagement and success in the other. 


Shared feature

English language

Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced (see Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music grades 1-8)

Mapping ability

A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2 (see Common European Framework of Reference for Languages)

Cognitive and creative process


Cognitive and creative process




Elements of music



Marks on a score



Hands, lungs, diaphragm

Use of body

Hands, lungs, diaphragm


Rhythmic expression


Listening, performing, reading, composing


Listening, speaking, reading, writing





Allied art form


Each subject area has provided resources and references for the other: a song played in an English lesson as part of a listening exercise; a warm-up activity for focusing students on a topic; a piece of music (Clap Rondo by Orff) triggering a drama scene based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in an English lesson; listening of a piece of classical music (Moldova by Smetana) stimulating an art response; and a poem stimulating a response in a music lesson.  We hope that this exploration prompts greater collaboration between music and English language curriculum designers, teachers and facilitators so that understanding and participation in each subject is reinforced for learners.

Spoken word appears to occupy the potent space between our two disciplines, drawing on language but inflected with the rhythm of music, using voice as the instrument and adopting the conventions of dramatic monologue delivery to lift the words off the page.  We suggest that this provides opportunities for teachers of these disciplines to enliven their lessons in a way that will engage students and provide opportunities for enriching teacher and learner creativity.

Further reading:

ABRSM Office

Council Of Europe