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Music Teacher magazine is the essential meeting point and resource for music education practitioners.

Whether you teach class music, or are a peripatetic/private instrumental teacher, Music Teacher will provide you with invaluable ideas for your teaching, with substantial online lesson materials and a range of practical features. Packed with reviews, news, comment and debate, as well as the latest jobs, professional development opportunities and fantastic special offers, Music Teacher is all you need to teach music.



Teaching Materials 2015

Music Pages
Music Teacher Guide about Music and Dyslexia

Lesson Materials

Welcome to the Music Teacher online teaching materials. Every month Music Teacher publishes materials for KS3,4 and 5, offering complete units of work, GCSE and A level set-work info and activities, and practical ideas across all levels. All materials are written by experienced teachers and examiners and provide indispensable content for your classroom teaching.

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August 2015

Key Stage 4

Music in the mid-1960s

This resource provides background and analysis of some of the remarkable musical developments that took place in the pop music of the mid-1960s. This is potentially a huge topic, so I have chosen to limit the field of investigation to the music being created, recorded and performed by the most significant British pop and rock bands from this era. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Teaching harmony to Year 12 students: part two

Here, there is advice specific to the harmony requirements of the OCR, AQA and Edexcel specifications. The balance here is somewhat skewed towards OCR, because there are so many variables with this particular unit, which is compulsory for all candidates: centres choose the exercises themselves, and the work is internally marked and externally moderated. Read less...

General

Your first year as head of music

Becoming head of department is a huge achievement and a defining step in the career of any teacher. Most new HoDs will have access to the wealth of experience from other middle leaders in the school in order to smooth the transition into management, and the same is true for a new head of music. Read less...

July 2015

Key Stage 4

Holiday work for KS4

Author: John Kelleher

As they walk out of the school gates with their school shirts covered in signatures, it''s hard to imagine that these young men and women would consider spending their holiday doing work for your subject. Giving them a homework task to do may seem like a futile effort, but such a perspective fails to take into account the amazing ability of adolescents to experience boredom. A bored 16-year-old will quite happily do some work in his/her summer holiday for a subject he or she has chosen, if it alleviates a little tedium.

This resource seeks to identify the features of good-quality holiday work for pupils transitioning from Key Stage 4 to Key Stage 5, and then suggests a few specific projects that meet those criteria. Each project will include:
- an overall aim
- objectives
- a list of activities
- resources that can be given to the pupils Read less...

Key Stage 5

AQA/OCR A2:Classical string quartet completions

Author: Alan Charlton

This resource aims to show how many of the challenges presented by Classical string quartet completions can be solved through applying a rational, problem-solving approach. It is based on a worked example from the AQA A2 MUSC5 paper from 2013-14, guiding students from the initial stages through to completion using a step-by-step approach. This experience should give them a solid framework to use on their own their coursework, give them additional tips and ideas for Classical string quartet completions and hopefully boost their confidence when tackling this task. Read less...

Teaching harmony to Year 12 students: part one

Author: Jane Werry

The necessity for AS music students to work on harmony exercises is one of the things that makes the leap between GCSE and A level seem huge, and a daunting prospect for students and teachers alike. There is a steep learning curve, and in this resource I hope to provide some tools and strategies for getting students going in a short space of time.

Harmonic understanding – knowing how notes fit together – is at the heart of true musicianship. Acquiring this understanding can be an intensely satisfying experience – and also an extremely frustrating one. Helping your students unpick its mysteries, and see that it’s not some arcane art, needs a systematic approach, based not only on what to do, but also on why harmony works the way it does.

In part one, the focus is on getting started with harmony in Year 12 regardless of exam board. In part two, which follows, there will be some more specific guidance for the requirements of each specification. Read less...

June 2015

Key Stage 3

Making musical feedback work (KS3/4)

Author: John Kelleher

Teachers get a lot of feedback on their feedback these days. Senior leaders across the country have looked at blogs from David Didau, Ofsted‘s ‘Making Marking Matter’, the data from the Education Endowment Foundation’s Toolkit and a variety of other resources, leading them to the conclusion that there is a gold standard of feedback in the classroom. In many schools, it’s no longer good enough simply to give feedback to pupils: you now have to prove that you did it. Then you have to prove that the pupil responded to the feedback and find a way to show that you responded to that response. This trail of feedback has been given the moniker ‘triple marking’, based on the premise that the work is marked twice by the teacher and once by the pupil.

In the music classroom, problems with this approach are magnified by the simple fact that the majority of the work our pupils complete is in the medium of musical sound. Equally, the majority of the feedback we give will be in that same medium. Confronted with this, some senior leaders will panic. ‘How can I see the feedback?’ they may cry. This resource is aimed at giving you a few tools to wean them off this obsession with seeing feedback and getting them to start thinking about hearing feedback. Read less...

Transition from Key Stage 3 to Key Stage 4

Author: John Kelleher

For any school teacher, the word ‘transition’ instantly conjures up an image of 11-year-olds looking anxious about their first days of secondary school. This time-honoured rite of passage is, quite correctly, assigned a high priority by schools so as to ensure that the move from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3 is as smooth as possible, and that natural anxieties are at least mixed in with a healthy dose of excitement about new challenges.

There is, however, another transition that has a significant impact on our pupils: the move from Key Stage 3 to Key Stage 4. With the vast majority of pupils staying in the same school, it’s easy for us to overlook the difficulties that teenagers face during these tumultuous few months. At the very least, it’s tempting to see it as a problem for the head of year and his/her team of form tutors who invariably deal with the fallout of young people suddenly having to cope with a set of examinations that have the potential to determine the path they take for the rest of their lives. While the humble music teacher cannot resolve all the issues, there’s a lot we can do to minimise the stress caused by KS3-4 transition in our subject area, and even to make our music departments feel like a ‘safe zone’ during the process.

This resource seeks to explore the ways in which you can best prepare your pupils for the transition, so that you can then guide them through the process in a way that is both beneficial to their well-being and entirely musical in its nature. Read less...

Key Stage 5

AQA A2 Chamber music from Mendelssohn to Debussy

Author: Alan Charlton

AoS3b, Chamber Music from Mendelssohn to Debussy, is one of the three options of Section C: Historical Study of the Unit 4 – Music in Context question paper. In the past, AQA examination questions have typically asked students to compare aspects of two works or movements in detail, or comment on stylistic features of the music’s period, drawing examples from works they have studied. Therefore it is essential for students to be able to refer to examples from specific works.

This article will look at three movements from key chamber music composers from the Romantic period (Mendelssohn, Brahms and Ravel). Each of the three movements has been broken down into the elements of structure, melody, harmony/tonality, instrumental writing and texture, through which the general features of the period can be explored. Read less...

May 2015

Key Stage 3

Building a KS3 curriculum

Author: Jane Werry

Here, I intend to offer some guidance through the pitfalls and opportunities that are involved in devising a KS3 curriculum. I hope it will enable you to consider all angles and arrive at a two- or three-year programme that does all the things you want it to, while fulfilling the needs of your own pedagogical ideals, your school’s ethos, and your students. To start with, there will be many more questions than answers. But gradually I will introduce examples from my own practice that I hope will help inform your decisions, even if yours are ultimately very different from mine. Read less...

Key Stage 4

The Beatles: a legacy for music education

Author: David Ashworth

It never ceases to surprise me how little use we make of one of our richest musical legacies – the music of the Beatles. They are widely acknowledged as being one of the greatest and most significant musical landmarks of the 20th century, so you would think we would constantly dip into this treasure trove for music making. Yet there are virtually no classroom resources that really get under the bonnet and explore ways of working with the Beatles’ musical ideas. We have the occasional singalong to ‘Yellow Submarine’ or ‘Let it Be’, but it does not go much further than that. Yet we all have filing cabinets full of worksheets on reggae, blues, Britpop and so on. Read less...

Key Stage 5

AQA: GCE Music Unit 1, AoS 2a – Choral Music in the Baroque Period

Author: Hugh Benham

AQA’s Choral Music in the Baroque Period area of study requires study of ‘settings for choir and soloists’ as follows: the cantata; the oratorio; anthems and masses.
Composers ‘might include: JS Bach, Charpentier, Handel, Vivaldi’.
The following survey deals with the three categories above, with reference to the composers named above and occasionally a few others. When specific works are referred to, this does not imply that these must be taught: others might well be more appropriate in individual cases. Read less...

April 2015

Key Stage 3

Communication and Working with others

Author: John Kelleher

In this resource, we are going to take a look at two key skills and how they can be explored through the teaching of music. Those two skills are Communication and Working with others.

Any good music teacher will already be including aspects of these key skills in their lessons, but there is always the chance to further enhance the opportunities for your pupils to develop in these areas. In this resource we’ll endeavour to find ways in which your schemes of work can firmly embed these skills into your lessons in such a way that it builds upon the musical learning that is already taking place. Read less...

Key Stage 4

Making the most of your instrument

Author: Jane Werry

This resource has two focuses: ensuring that students achieve the best possible results in their GCSE performing, and tackling OCR’s GCSE AoS1, My Music, which involves composing a piece for the student’s own instrument. The information on performing is relevant to all GCSE boards. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Edexcel AS set instrumental music

Author: David Ashworth

This resource provides some background and a discussion of the main characteristics of three of the set pieces from the Edexcel AS syllabus Developing Musical Understanding Unit 3: instrumental set works for 2015.These are:
- Bach: Brandenburg concerto no. 4, first movement
- Shostakovich: String Quartet no. 8, first movement
- Poulenc: Sonata for horn, trumpet and trombone, first movement

Important musical features covered include structure, texture, tonality, harmony, melody and rhythm and metre. These should complement existing resources, and will provide students with some useful pointers on how to write perceptively about the music. Read less...

March 2015

Key Stage 4

AQA GCSE Unit 1: Listening to and Appraising Music – preparation and practice

Author: Alan Charlton

This article is designed to support students taking the AQA GCSE Music Unit 1 examination paper, Listening to and Appraising Music (42701). It will look at the different types of questions that are typically set, and suggest ways in which they can be prepared for and approached. Practice questions, based on extracts on Spotify, are provided to practise and refine students’ knowledge and aural skills. Read less...

Edexcel GCSE set works: Moby, Miles Davis and Koko

Author: David Ashworth

This resource provides background and a discussion of the main characteristics of three of the set pieces from the current Edexcel GCSE syllabus. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Pre-U Music: Topic A – The Symphony in the Classical Period (c1740–c1802)

Author: Hugh Benham

Page 17 of the Cambridge Pre-U syllabus for 2016–2018 indicates the content for Topic A, including an understanding of the defining features of the Classical style, the development of formal structures, recognising relevant performance practice, and specific musical examples.
This article has the following sections:
- The symphony „
- The Classical period
- Sonata form, rondo form, minuet and trio
- Performance
- Representative works Read less...

February 2015

Key Stage 3

Ensembles, part 2

Author: Jane Werry

This is the second of a two-part resource about ensembles for KS3 and GCSE music. Not ensemble performance necessarily, but ensembles with regard to the way that instruments and voices interact in a range of different musical situations. For KS3, this could form a project that investigates group music, including group performances and covering compositional techniques that could be put into action in students’ own pieces. For GCSE, these ideas are relevant to questions in the listening exam, and there are some ideas for composing too. This part of the resource deals with instrumental ensembles in Western and non-Western music, and covers Indonesian gamelan, Indian classical music and the Classical concerto. Read less...

Key Stage 4

Improvisation

Author: David Ashworth

Improvisation has always played an important part in the creation and performance of music across time and across different cultures. It continues to be fundamental to many contemporary musical styles and genres worldwide.

Even in fully notated music, where improvisation may play little or no part in performance, it may have been an important component in the composition process, where the composer is developing and trying out ideas.

It is therefore a good idea to provide our students with opportunities for working with improvisation in the classroom. In the next section we go into more detail regarding the benefits of incorporating improvisation activities into our schemes of work. We then move onto the improvisation activities that form the core of this resource. These ideas are intended for use at Key Stage 4, but teachers will find they can easily be adapted and extended for use at higher and lower key stages. The resource concludes with some suggestions on assessing classroom improvisation and some recommendations for further study. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Edexcel performance at A level

Author: John Kelleher

Once pupils have made the commitment to study music at A level, it is often the case that they have been performing musicians for many years and have worked their way through a series of graded music examinations with the likes of ABRSM, Trinity or Rockschool. Many schools even set a minimum entry requirement of being at a particular grade on an instrument or being able to perform at an equivalent level. Other pupils, however, will find themselves starting the course with less experience of examination-style performances, and may have a limited repertoire when it comes to solo performance. This is most often the case with pupils who are self-taught rock and pop musicians, who require provision that is very different to those with experience of graded examinations.

This resource will investigate different ways of supporting both types of candidate and how you can adapt your provision to suit the pupils who are in your current classes. We will explore both Unit 1 and Unit 4 so that you can consider the differences in supporting pupils through different stages of the A level. Although this resource focuses on Edexcel, some of the ideas will be relevant to the other examination boards. In all cases, you should consult the current draft of your board’s specification and supporting materials before committing to any of the ideas suggested so that you are confident you are working within the expectations set for the current year. Read less...

January 2015

Key Stage 3

Ensembles, part 1 (KS3/4)

Author: Jane Werry

This is the first of a two-part resource about ensembles for KS3 and GCSE music. Not ensemble performance necessarily, but ensembles with regard to the way that instruments and voices interact in a range of different musical situations. For KS3, this could form a project that investigates group music, including group performances and covering compositional techniques that could be put into action in students’ own pieces. For GCSE, these ideas are relevant to questions in the listening exam, and there are some ideas for composing too. The first part will address ensembles with voices, while part two will cover instrumental ensembles. Read less...

Key Stage 4

Composing to video

Author: John Kelleher

Composing to video is an option often explored at Key Stage 3 and, thanks to the nature of some composition briefs, the concept is at least explored in many of the A level courses. With BTEC courses at Key Stage 5, there are even some units specifically targeted at developing this skill. As a result, a specific option to compose to video often feels conspicuous by its absence at Key Stage 4. That said, none of the specifications forbid candidates from using video as part of their compositional process, even if the final synchronised video can’t be included as part of the submission to the exam board. This resource investigates how teachers can guide pupils to complete a composition task centred around video in such a way that the finished audio will meet the examiner’s needs, whether or not they can see the footage itself. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Edexcel AS vocal set works: the Kinks, Familia Valera Miranda & Van Morrison

Author: David Ashworth

This resource provides background and discussion of the main characteristics of three of the 2015 vocal set works from the Edexcel AS syllabus, Developing Musical Understanding Unit 3. These are:

- ''Waterloo Sunset'' by the Kinks
- ''Se quema la chumbambá'' by Familia Valera Miranda
- ''tupelo Honey'' by Van Morrison

Important musical features covered include structure, texture, tonality, harmony, melody, rhythm and metre.
This resource should complement existing resources, and will provide students with some useful pointers on how to write perceptively about the music. Read less...

December 2014

Key Stage 3

A Day in the Snow

Author: John Kelleher

There is no shortage of options when it comes to Christmas activities at Key Stage 3. Singing carols, using sleigh bells and all manner of festive musical options present themselves. One of my favourite things about the Christmas season has to be the weather, and the snow in particular. In a bid to encourage the forces of nature to bestow us with some snowfall, this unit can be a lot of fun to complete with your pupils during the winter. Not that you want a snow day, of course ... Read less...

Key Stage 4

Making the most of Christmas carols

Author: David Ashworth

Every year we sing carols and Christmas songs, but we don’t always give much thought to how we can make the most of these near-universal resources. Most of our students, regardless of faith or background, will be familiar with the tunes of popular carols. In the run-up to Christmas, we hear them in schools, shopping centres, on TV and radio, in churches, on the streets and in many other places. There’s no way we can avoid becoming very familiar with these tunes … and we can use them as a starting point for exploring a range of musical features in our lessons.
This resource provides suggestions and ideas that the teacher can use, adapt and extend. They can be used as starter activities or as more fully fledged lessons and projects, and they can be reworked to suit a range of ages and abilities. Read less...

General

KS3/4/5: Bach's Christmas Oratorio & Christmas No.1s

Author: Alan Charlton

This article will take a look at two contrasting examples of Christmas music 250 years apart.

In the first section, primarily aimed at KS5 students, we will explore Bach''s Christmas Oratorio, in particular how he and his librettist combined Biblical passages, Lutheran chorales and newly written text to create a varied but highly unified dramatic and musical structure. An associated extension activity will focus on arranging and elaborating chorales for an instrumental ensemble.

In the second part, geared towards KS3 upwards, we turn to the Christmas No. 1, and we will explore what qualities give a song a Christmas feel and look at the different types of song that have dominated the charts in previous years. This will include extension activities of creating a cover of a song for a whole class, using a similar working technique to that of the 1984 Band Aid team, and a tool for assessing how ''Christmassy'' a song or other piece of music is. Read less...

November 2014

Key Stage 3

Setting meaningful homework

Author: Jane Werry

Homework can be organised so that it builds upon what is done in class, and can even have the double benefit of saving time in lessons so that more class time can be spent making music. It can extend students’ musical horizons and develop their research skills. From the point of view of keeping your senior managers happy, it can also be a source of written work that can be marked for spelling, punctuation and grammar, fulfilling literacy policies without having to do lengthy written tasks in lessons.

In this resource I describe the homework projects that have been developed in my department to run alongside the projects we do in lessons. Content, success criteria, administration and marking are covered in detail. Teachers and students alike have found these homeworks worthwhile and enjoyable, but all schools are different, and you may need to adapt these ideas to suit your students. Read less...

Key Stage 4

GCSE composition part 2: exploiting texture, instrumentation, timbre and dynamics

Author: Alan Charlton

The first part of this resource (in August 2014) looked at melodies, phrase structure, simple chord progressions and harmonic rhythm. With the aid of this, students should be able to compose a 16- or 32-bar melody with a simple chordal accompaniment. This second part explores some of the many ways in which an idea like this can be enhanced by the use of instrumentation, texture, timbre and dynamics. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Pre-U Music: Topic C1 Latin Church Music: Victoria's mass and motet O quam gloriosum

Author: Hugh Benham

The Cambridge Pre-U syllabus''s Topic C1 is Latin church music in continental Europe during the late Renaissance (c1530-c1630). The motet O quam gloriosum and the related mass by Victoria are the prescribed works for 2016 to 2018. They form the principal focus of this article: material on the topic generally is easier to come by than detailed information on the prescribed works.

Some comments on the prescribed works will of course assist general study of the topic, for example those on parody mass technique. The article ends with some outline information on different types of mass, and remarks on the four �schools� of composition listed in the syllabus. Read less...

October 2014

Key Stage 3

Musicianship games and activities

Author: Harriet Power

This resource includes a selection of games and activities – some sillier than others – that are designed to improve ensemble, musicianship or listening skills. We all know how easy it can be for students to forget about these aspects of music making in favour of ‘getting the notes right’ or improving technical ability, and how easy it can be to get to Grade 8 without actually being very good at listening or playing musically with others. The music classroom can be a great place to try to address these issues.

Almost all of the ideas that follow use performance in some way, so even the ones that are focused on listening aren’t simply listening tests or passive activities. Where possible, we’ve tried to include an element of competition to provide that extra bit of motivation for students. Read less...

Key Stage 4

Performing at KS4

Author: John Kelleher

This resource focuses on finding ways to fit performing into your KS4 course in a way that provides a useful and meaningful contribution to the musical life of the school. The methods suggested apply to any KS4 music course, be it one from any of the GCSE exam boards, the BTEC or Rockschool. Following some of the suggestions here should also give your pupils a wide choice of recorded repertoire to select from when deciding what to submit for assessment. The details of assessment and the expected quality of work will form the basis of a future resource. Finally, the suggestions here should also prove to be quite fun and, in many respects, take some of the pressure to provide extra-curricular music off your shoulders. Why have a music department and conduct yourself? Read less...

Key Stage 5

AQA AS set work: Haydn Symphony No. 104 in D (London), first and third movements

Author: Alan Charlton

Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 in D (London), movements one and three, is the new AQA set work for AS level for section B of unit 1 MUSC1 Influences on Music, replacing Beethoven’s First Symphony.

This article will first look at the background to the two movements, and will then go on to explore their structure and Haydn’s use of melody, harmony, tonality, rhythm, texture and instrumentation. Read less...

September 2014

Key Stage 3

Teaching notation musically

Author: Jane Werry

In recent months there has been a veritable storm over the ways in which notation is taught in schools. What I aim to do here is outline some practical ideas for teaching notation in a musical way: I do not claim that these are the best ways to teach notation, but they are ways that work for me, and that I consider to have musical integrity. Along the way I will examine the whys and wherefores of teaching notation, and attempt to unpick the thinking processes that are involved for students. Read less...

Key Stage 4

Edexcel GCSE Area of Study 4: Celtic and Indian music – wider contextual learning

Author: Simon Rushby

In an increasing number of schools now, preparatory work for the GCSE course is being done in Year 9. Even though in most cases a lot of students in a Year 9 music class will not be planning to take the subject for GCSE, there is nothing to stop teachers from planning a programme of study that is inspired by the GCSE set works.
The two submitted compositions for Edexcel’s GCSE need to be linked to two different Areas of Study, encouraging students to be influenced by not only the set works but also other music that might be encountered. Area of Study 4, which includes the ‘world music’ set works from Scotland and India as well as Burkina Faso, contains a rich heritage of inspiration for student compositions – if not in the actual styles of the set works themselves, then perhaps taking some of the techniques found in Celtic folk song, Indian raga or African balafon music.
In these teaching materials, I suggest some lesson ideas for Year 9 or 10 students, using the Celtic and Indian set works as a starting point for wider listening or composing work. Read less...

Key Stage 5

Holiday and extra-curricular ideas

Author: Hugh Benham

All teachers and students need the longer school and college breaks for vital relaxation and refreshment, not least in Years 10 to 13. But when the pressure has been off for a while and energy levels revive, well-motivated students may value ideas for things to do.
Some extra activities for for Christmas, Easter or summer holidays can be directly related to exam requirements(harmony exercises, essays, etc). Others may be freer, but perhaps equally beneficial. It is with activities of this second, broader kind that the present article is concerned.
Not all of these will be suitable for every student. Be selective, and adapt everything to individual needs. A few activities might occasionally be used in term time when you, as teacher, can provide more guidance and support than with holiday activities. Read less...

August 2014

Key Stage 3

Samba

Author: Harriet Power

Samba is a fun, energetic and highly rhythmic genre that is closely associated with the Rio carnival in Brazil (dubbed by some the greatest party on earth). It’s primarily a percussive style of music that will very much test your students’ listening and ensemble skills, and the main part of this resource is dedicated to learning some typical samba rhythms and then thinking about how they could be structured into a whole-class piece. We also suggest a couple of composition projects, one of which focuses on creating a percussive piece of samba, and the other that looks at writing a samba song with a harmonic accompaniment. Read less...

Key Stage 4

GCSE Composition: introducing students to harmony and phrase structure

Author: Alan Charlton

One of the many new challenges facing students when they begin GCSE music is that of composing a complete piece of music by themselves. Previous experience, such as group improvisations or experimenting with loops using a sequencer, should already have introduced them to creating and manipulating musical ideas, but the jump from this type of activity to formal composition, which demands the creation of more refined musical material that can be developed into a coherent whole, can be a daunting one.

This resource is aimed at students who have little or no experience of formal composition, but it can also be used as refresher material for more advanced students. It aims to teach the principles of harmony, harmonic progression and phrase structure, which form the basis for creating material in most musical styles. Although all the examples are based on staff notation, equivalents are provided for less confident readers using note names, chords and so on, and the activities are given for those working using pencil and paper, notation software and computer sequencers. (Two projects are suggested, which could be submitted for Edexcel, AQA or OCR GCSE). Read less...

June 2014

Key Stage 5

Edexcel A2 ‘Continuity and Change’ set works 2015: part 1 – Corelli, Haydn and Beethoven

Author: Simon Rushby

Edexcel has, as ever, set seven instrumental set works for Section C of the A2 examination in the summer of 2015, and these include examples from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and 20th-century periods of music. We have examples of chamber music, solo piano music and music for string orchestra, as well as an iconic moment in the history of jazz. We also have to get to grips with the avant-garde work of John Cage and the
prepared piano. Read less...


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