9 February 2020

Get tips for music in the classroom – Skills not Frills video series – Music #3

Enjoy improvising with instruments and devising music as a group 

Ask your young learners to conduct the rest of the group and watch their confidence grow

Enjoy being creative in collaboration with others and performing something unique and original

Download this blog as a resource sheet.

Music #3: Bring music making into the classroom

ACTIVITY 1:   Making a band

To split learners into groups to make a band without it getting too chaotic, follow these steps.

  1. Place all the instruments in the middle of the room and ask the children to sit in a circle around them. 
  2. Group the instrument into sections. You can do this according to how they make their sound. So is the sound made by the metal, or the skin or the wooden part of the instrument.
  3. Split the class into groups 
  4. You can then ask each group to choose an instrument from one of the instrument groups that you have set.
  5. Once your young learners have all got an instrument you can invite them to start making sounds and devising ways to play together, for example in unison, one on the on-beat one on the off beat, or simply call-and-response, whereby one instrument plays a sound or rhythm, and the others copy.

ACTIVITY 2: Class conductor

Invite one of your pupils to act as a conductor. This gives a focal point and helps keep everyone together. Begin as a class wide activity then encourage them to take a turn as conductor in the band.

Set out clear gestures to tell everyone how loudly or quietly to play their instruments, and importantly a clear gesture that tells the group when to stop. 

This exercise helps pupils develop the skills of listening and of working together.

ACTIVITY 3: Composing with instruments 

A great extension task at this point is to ask each band to compose a piece of music of their own! 

  1. Give them a starting point like a picture or an emotion that they have to evoke using their instruments. 
  2. Break the task down by asking them to consider one of the musical elements at a time, starting with the individual sounds- what duration are the sounds- are they short and sharp or long and drawn out? What pitch are they – high or low?
  3. Next the learners must compose the music by combining the music together as a whole. What is the texture of their musical composition- are there separate individual sounds in turn or lots of sounds and instruments playing together combined? Is there a structure of 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?
  4. When the composition is put together roughly, next ask learners to think of the dynamics e.g. loud, quiet, silence. How does the music change dynamics, slowly building or suddenly and surprisingly?
  5. At any point in this process, return to a class-wide sharing to share progress and allow time to feedback and reflect on the musical choices that the group has made about with regard to each of the musical elements.  Ask learners to reflect on how their music communicates the ideas and feelings they wanted to evoke at the beginning.

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 #3 of 3 music resource sheets and accompanying film. 

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