29 January 2020

Get tips for music in the classroom – Skills not Frills video series – Music #1

Music inspires thoughts and emotions. Listening to music is a great way to develop oracy discussions in the classroom, giving your young learners a chance to express their opinions with reasons.

Using specific vocabulary that relates to each aspects of the piece of music gives an opportunity to analyse further how and why the piece is so effective at creating images in the mind and evoking feelings.

Download this blog as a resource sheet.

Music #1: Talking about Music with your class

ACTIVITY 1: No wrong answers

With links to visual art and using oracy for a reason, this activity involves linking images and music with themes and ideas, calling for lateral thinking and the imagination.

  1. Give your pupils a sheet with evocative pictures on it. These can relate to a theme or a selection to get your pupils thinking ’outside the box’. 
  2.  Play them a piece of music, something orchestral or with many interesting musical elements to it, in order to inspire a range of ideas and responses. Give them no background initially as to the history or composer’s life, and see what spring to mind.
  3. As they listen to the music, ask which image makes them think of. The great thing here is that there are no right or wrong answers, what is important is that your pupils are able to explain the decision they have made.
  4. At the end you may feel inclined to share what the composer was experiencing or trying to communicate when composing the piece, but explain that this doesn’t mean their ideas were wrong, as music can be used to communicate and share many different ideas!

ACTIVITY 2: My favourite music 

Listening and describing

A lovely idea for developing your learners’ understanding and confidence in analysing and appreciating music is to allocate 5 minutes a week to listening to music and discussing it- say just after lunch on ‘Funky Friday’ or ‘Musical Monday’. Start with your own favourite piece of music and then invite your learners to bring their favourite piece in to share with the class. Keep a display wall in your class with all the musical elements on it (as below). Listening and discussing gives the opportunity to use this vocabulary in context and discuss why the musical composers have chosen to express their ideas in this way.  Let your positive attitude and enjoyment shine through! 

Understanding vocabulary- the Musical Elements 

Pitch – How high or low the music sounds.

Duration – the length of the sounds that make up the music, are they short and sharp or long and drawn out?

Dynamics – is the music loud or quiet? How does change its volume?

Pace – The speed or tempo of the music- is it slow and relaxed or does it sound like it is in a hurry!

Timbre – The tone of the music, is it twinkling or crashing? This is great to get your pupils using ambitious adjectives.

Texture – Does the music have a single sound, like a violin solo, or lots of sounds together like an orchestra?

Structure – Does the music fit into different sections, like a verse and a chorus in a song? Does the composer use repetition, surprising elements or turning points? Do some different sounds get laid over one another, and if so do they contrast or complement one another? 

Silence – Does the music use silent moments?

What next and where to find more help

LINKS: More activities for you and your pupils






This is a series of 15 ‘Skills not Frills’ resource sheets, each accompanying a short video. 

This is no #1 of 3 music resource sheets and accompanying film. 

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