Music Teacher online teaching materials (MT Plus Subscribers)

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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March 2019

KS3/4/5

Mentoring a trainee or newly qualified teacher

Mentoring a trainee music teacher or newly qualified teacher can be hard work and time-consuming. But it is also incredibly rewarding, and is guaranteed to make you reflect on your own practice. With recruitment and retention in a dire state nationwide, creating a new generation of effective and happy music teachers needs to be a priority.

A mentor can play a tremendous part in the success – or otherwise – of a new teacher’s training. It’s not productive to play this fact down: mentoring is crucial at a make-or-break level, and the responsibility cannot be taken lightly.

This resource will give you some ideas as to how to make the whole process as productive and stress-free as possible. Ethos and attitudes will be considered, alongside practical ideas for helping with planning, evidence gathering, classroom management, musical skills and administration.

Author: Jane Werry

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Making revision effective and manageable

KS4/5

Revision can be a word with largely negative connotations. For teachers, it can mean producing ‘packs’ and summary resources, going back over old ground with students, and finding innovative ways to help them remember content and hone exam skills. For students, it can represent a mountain to be climbed, one that’s fraught with insecurities about facts forgotten, questions not clearly understood and huge amounts of content to be digested. For parents, it’s a carpet of broken glass, brought up at home at their peril, with the potential to spark arguments and misunderstandings with their stressed offspring.

Let’s face it, the most talented PR people would struggle to make the concept of revision attractive. There will always be thousands of things that students would prefer to do. It is likely that any attempt to make revision ‘fun’ and ‘positive’ is going to fail, or at the very least be treated with cynicism. But revision is necessary, and it is important to look at ways in which it can be made effective and manageable. ‘Normalising’ revision for GCSE and A Level music exams is essential if students are to feel prepared, engaged and supported during the exam season.

The word ‘revision’ does not strictly mean ‘re-visiting’ in the sense of going over things again. Its root is in the Latin word for seeing, and so ‘revision’ in its literal sense means re-imagining, re-thinking or re-visualising a concept. Revisions of books, plans or even political speeches usually involve updating, changing, adapting and improving them, rather than simply repeating them.

So, the first thing to reject when it comes to revision is that it is a tedious process of going over old ground, re-reading notes and trying to remember things learnt some time ago. The content to be revised – such as the analysis of a set work, for example – remains the same, but the process of revising it needs to be as much of an engaging, interesting learning experience the second time round as it was the first time. To this end, the key piece of kit in a student’s revision armoury has got to be their method: they need to know exactly how they are going to approach each topic, so that their first steps in revising it are positive and active.

In this resource we’ll look at the ‘hows’ of revision, starting more generally and gradually homing in on more specific activities useful in preparing for written music exams. Over the coming months, there will be further, more specific resources where we look at different aspects of the GCSE and A level music exams, and investigate the most effective ways to revise for them.

Author: Simon Rushby

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KS4/5

The story of the symphony, part 2: Beethoven and his legacy

In the second of this three-part resource (for part one, see Music Teacher, February 2019), we will be joining the story of the symphony at its heyday in the 19th century, where the form expanded and evolved at dizzying speed. By the end of the century, symphony orchestras were up to ten times the size of their 18th-century predecessors, playing works of double the length to much larger, more discerning audiences.

As before, the aim of this resource is to use the story of the symphony to give a context for analysing instrumental writing in the wider listening questions at GCSE and beyond. It gives a historical framework for set works and outlines the creative principles of key composers, questioning the choices they made as they crafted their symphonies and, in so doing, giving inspiration for the students’ own compositional thinking. The resources should broaden the vocabulary and analytical thinking required for the higher-scoring evaluative answers in the listening papers in Key Stages 4 and 5. A Spotify playlist accompanies each resource, to use for musical illustrations and listening exercises.

This second part takes us from the symphonic revolutions of Beethoven in the early 1800s through the diverse response to that impressive legacy by some of the main symphonists of the Romantic era, including Berlioz, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Dvořák. It will take into account the massive growth of the orchestra in this time, and the creative potential that that growth unlocked in terms of instrumentation and form. It will show how the symphony became the perfect vehicle for expressing Romantic ideals, and will give an account of the split between abstract and programmatic music as the ‘programme symphony’ and symphonic poem gained popularity under Berlioz and Liszt. Works covered include:

  • Beethoven’s symphonies Nos. 1 to 9 in overview.
  • Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.
  • Brahms’s Symphony No. 4 vs Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 (typifying the ‘war of the Romantics’).
  • Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7.

Author: Jonathan James

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February 2019

KS3

Salsa

Salsa has immediate appeal. Its rhythms and riffs are irresistibly catchy. Its combination of syncopated rhythms with simple harmonies and structures give it just the right level of challenge for KS3 classes. A few simple layers, done well, can create a performance or arrangement that will sound effective, even impressive. This resource starts with a percussion groove and a group performance of ‘Toca bonito’, and from there moves into the creation of salsa-style cover versions, which could be performed live or using ICT. Listening to salsa examples and models of salsa covers is integrated with practical exploration of salsa characteristics along the way. It’s possible, too, just to do the performing part of the project without the cover versions section if you need it to take less time.

Author: Jane Werry

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KS4/5

The story of the symphony, part 1

The symphony has long represented a rite of passage for any composer trying to make their mark. Ask Brahms. He waited 40 years before daring to write his first. Even Beethoven essayed the form in various different guises before he launched what was to be one of the defining canons in the repertoire. A symphony tests the mettle of any composer, demanding stamina, imaginative orchestration and a mastery of the long form. This is the first in a three-part resource that uses the development of the symphony as a guide for charting the evolution of large-ensemble instrumental writing in Western classical music. As such, it covers principles that are essential for answers in any wider listening component, helping to contextualise set works both historically and in terms of the musical ideas they express, with supporting playlists to use as illustration. By looking at ‘symphonic thinking’ in detail, this resource takes the time to ask why the composers settled on different forms and structures, and how they did so with the resources available to them. It therefore adds ballast to any student trying to broaden their vocabulary and referential framework for the higher-scoring evaluative answers, as well as underpinning compositional principles and giving inspiration for composing briefs. Aside from offering historical context and compositional precepts, the story of the symphony carries the sub-plot of the expansion of the orchestra and its instruments, from the goat-skin tambours of Orfeo to the contrabassoons of Beethoven’s Fifth and ophicleides of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique. And with that come the questions of instrumentation, orchestration and how to manipulate the ensemble’s material in ways that will captivate the listener over longer stretches of time. This three-part resource can be used to lay the ground or give a summary view of the evolution of musical thought and practice.

  • Part one tells the less-recounted story of how the symphony rose from its humble beginnings as incidental music and a ragtag dance medley to being one of the most defining forms in Western classical music, tracing its slow rise in the Baroque and pre-Classical periods up to its heyday of the 1750s to 80s under Haydn and Mozart.
  • Part two looks at the revolution of Beethoven’s symphonies and how they influenced the Romantic composers.
  • Part three brings the story up to date with an analysis of the role of the symphony in the 20th and 21st centuries.

A Spotify playlist accompanies each resource, allowing you to demonstrate innovations in instrumental thinking at each stage.

Author: Jonathan James

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KS5

Edexcel AoS6 New directions: John Cage

What is music? What is composition? What is a ‘new direction’ in music? Who is John Cage? These are the topics I’ll cover in this resource on John Cage’s Three Dances for two prepared pianos, one of the AoS6 set works from the Edexcel Anthology of Music. I will not only look at the piece itself, but also suggest some wider listening options, as well as ways of bringing the piece to life for your students. The Edexcel specification and Anthology offers three great examples of music that take the listener in new directions:

  • Cage: Three Dances for two prepared pianos (No. 1)
  • Saariaho: Petals for cello and live electronics (see Music Teacher, August 2018)
  • Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring (Introduction, The Augurs of Spring and Ritual of Abduction) (see Music Teacher, December 2016)

The specification points out a number of skills that students will be required to demonstrate:

  • Formulate critical judgements, achieved through attentive listening (rather than just hearing) and aural perception, and could also be achieved by informed discussion (in writing and/or through speech), analysis, evaluation, contextualisation and reflection.
  • Comment on music heard, showing understanding through the genres, styles and traditions studied.
  • Comment in detail on music heard, showing critical understanding across the genres, styles and traditions studied.
  • Use acute aural perception and discrimination skills.
  • Use appropriate technical musical vocabulary to communicate sophisticated judgements.
  • Show understanding of the complex interdependencies between musical elements.
  • Show understanding of the sophisticated connections between music and its context.

It is crucial that, when beginning their studies of the work, students understand what they are aiming for and why they are studying this piece. But let’s start with that very first question from the top: what is music?

Author: James Manwaring

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January 2019

KS4

Computer gaming music: composition

One of the key emerging genres of music over the last 35 years has been computer game music. Since the first playable version of Tetris in 1984, music in this genre has grown. We now see key orchestral and cinema composers turning their hands to computer game soundtracks. If we’re going to prepare our students for future work in the music industry, it’s crucial for them to embrace all styles and genres. Following an earlier resource on gaming music (AQA AoS2: Computer gaming music, Music Teacher, November 2018), here I’m going to consider ways of teaching computer game music using composition. This will include some compositional ideas that can easily be adapted for other genres.

Author: James Manwaring

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KS3

Introduction: Why teach variations at KS3?

The short answer is that it gives a lot of bang for your buck: you can explore many musical concepts through a unit on variations in a relatively short space of time. These include meaty compositional techniques that can feed into all sorts of projects later on in KS3 and at GCSE. Ultimately, learning how variations work provides an understanding of different ways in which a musical idea can be developed, which has been a preoccupation of composers in all styles since the Renaissance. Here’s a rundown of the ideas covered by this resource:

  • Playing ‘Frère Jacques’ by ear, including exploration of melodic shape and structure.
  • Melodic variation: adding notes, inversion, sequence, retrograde.
  • Harmonic variation: adding chords, major and minor.
  • Rhythmic variation: changing rhythms and metre.
  • Textural variation: parallel motion, contrary motion, countermelody, round, call and response.

Author: Jane Werry

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KS3/4

Graphic scores

From the early decades of the 20th century onwards, many emerging composers found that the established system of standard notation was becoming an increasing constraint on allowing them to fully express their musical ideas. As early as the 1930s, US composer Henry Cowell was experimenting with new notation ideas, but it was during the 1950s that really significant developments were made. Composers such as John Cage, Earle Browne and Morton Feldman experimented with musical forms that included chance procedures and opportunities for improvisation. They were looking for ways to allow creative input from performers, including interpretation of written scores. The use of an extended graphic notation enabled them to realise these aims. During the 1960s in the UK and elsewhere, these approaches were explored and further developed by composers and musicians working in the emerging post-war jazz and experimental music scenes, including Michael Nyman, Howard Skempton, David Bedford and Gavin Bryars. Scores and recordings by these musicians make for fascinating study, but most are probably going to be too demanding for classroom use at KS3/4. Some of our more enlightened music educators, however, such as John Paynter, R Murray Schafer and George Self, realised the potential and musical benefits of bringing these new notation forms into schools. It is well worth seeking out their publications, which can easily be adapted and modified to make them suitable for music making in contemporary classrooms.

Author: David Ashworth

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December 2018

KS3/4

Christmas around the world

It’s that time of year again. The end of a really long term, one often filled with the need for cover work or room changes as concert rehearsals and mock exams take place. But how can you keep classes engaged right to the end of term, linking the festivals and holiday celebrations that take place in December with musical learning, at the same time ensuring that they continue to make some musical progress, especially with exam groups? It’s hard to imagine Christmas without music. Music is an integral part of Christmas celebrations, and has always formed a huge part of the traditions that most will be familiar with, such as carol concerts, nativity plays and endless Christmas songs on the radio and in shops, often for months beforehand. Historically, the place of music as part of festivals – whether religious, cultural or traditional – has been an important one across the world. Whether the music spread through the aural tradition of popular and secular festivals, taking on a local flavour as minstrels travelled, or whether it took a more formal place in religious celebrations, in some cases eventually going on to be notated and reproduced, music remains central to the celebration of festivals and in the UK – none more so than at Christmas. Although the traditional Christmas carols that most of us are familiar with only really date from Victorian times, the singing of carols dates back to pagan celebrations such as the winter solstice or harvest. These songs were then adopted as a tradition by the church as the spread of Christianity replaced the winter solstice celebrations with what we now know as Christmas. Nativity plays that tell the Christmas story were foreshadowed in the 1200s by St Francis of Assisi and his followers, who acted out plays and sang carols to tell the Christmas story. This tradition became popular as a form of entertainment across Europe, with audiences joining in with the carol singing to accompany the acting and storytelling. The integration of singing, dancing, acting, food, games and more into any kind of celebration has added to the preservation of generations of tradition associated with festivals, and has influenced much of the music we hear today. Of course, now we also have a new kind of festival, one where people go specifically to hear music performed live. This resource is a series of ideas and projects designed to be flexible enough to take place in any classroom space. Where possible, cross-curricular links are also suggested. Each of the ideas have been inspired by a Christmas tradition from somewhere around the world, with an extended project to finish that brings it all together. Throughout, there’s an understanding that music at Christmas is more than a fun lesson to end the term. It has its roots in a deeper tradition of celebration associated with festivals both religious and secular.

Author: Anna Gower

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KS3/4/5

A Christmas Miscellany

Christmas-themed Music Teacher resources have become something of an annual tradition, much like advent calendars or leaving out mince pies for Santa. In previous years, there have been some fantastic, in-depth resources. Our resource, however, takes a slightly different tack, and comprises a collection of shorter ideas for the Christmas period. We’ve tried to avoid the obvious, age-old suggestions, focusing instead on parts of a music department that might miss out on the fun that happens over Christmas. Part one of the resource will give you a range of ideas for adding some Christmas cheer to your exam classes, covering ideas for KS4 and KS5 (with a focus on GCSE and/or A level students). Part two moves away from the classroom and into your extra-curricular groups, with tips for managing your public commitments at Christmas (ie your Carol Service/concert/celebration), as well as ideas for your ‘non-flagship’ musical ensembles. We hope you find something useful in this resource.

Author: Hanh Doan and David Guinane

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KS5

A cross-curricular Christmas

If there’s one department at Christmas that doesn’t stop, it’s the music department. Concerts, carol singing and rehearsals dominate most of late November and December. In a number of schools, music teachers will need cover in order to meet the demands of the festive season. When cover is required, a teacher from another department will inevitably end up in your room teaching your class. The least we can do is to leave them a task that they might enjoy, and one that’s linked to the subject they themselves teach. The tasks included in this resource are therefore designed to appeal to other departments. They might be left for cover work, given to other staff to use during the festive season, or even used by you the music teacher at a time of year when you need fresh ideas. Use these ideas as you see fit – and hopefully they will make the festive season just that bit easier.

Author: James Manwaring

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November 2018

KS3

The elements of music

The elements of music. DR P SMITH or MAD T SHIRT; posters on the walls of your classroom; a handy checklist for writing a model answer to a GCSE question; or a guide to development in an A level composition. The elements of music have long been an important component of KS3 music, whether they’re taught as a standalone unit or topic, or threaded through performing, composing or listening activities in a topic-based curriculum. However, the elements of music are really just a set of labels and concepts under which sits a wealth of musical understanding, and a heap of vocabulary and musical language that can help to hone student responses to music that they hear, play, sing or compose from the very start of their music education. It’s that further layer beneath the label and concept that’s much harder to measure, and which weaves through all good music learning and teaching. It’s about crafting an understanding of what makes music a medium through which to be expressive, to make sense of sound, and to arrange it into meaningful musical experiences that allow students to demonstrate their learning in ways other than a listening test or performance assessment. Then there’s the reality of the need to prepare students for the requirements of GCSE or vocational courses while inspiring them to want to opt for the subject in the first place. Regardless of the values that sit behind your KS3 curriculum and at the heart of your music department, the elements of music remain firmly embedded into all aspects of music education. So what does this mean in context? This resource falls into two parts:

  • The first part contains a detailed overview of the many different variations of the elements of music that are designed to help teachers choose the labels and concepts that define the elements in a way that can ensure a continuity of learning between KS3 and KS4. These provide some background on how and where the musical elements appear in documents such as the GCSE specifications or National Curriculum Programmes of Study to help to inform choices over how they can be used at KS3.
  • The second part suggests approaches for threading the elements through the KS3 experience to ensure that students not only know the label and concept, but are able to recognise changes in music that they hear, and apply their understanding of what the elements of music can do to enhance a performance, or form the building blocks and support the development of musical ideas in a composition.

Author: Anna Gower

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KS3-4

Getting the most out of your rehearsals

The roots of the verb ‘to rehearse’ come from the medieval world of farming, and has to do with ‘re-harrowing’ the ground, in other words raking it repeatedly until it’s free of stones and snares, ready for the plough. From time to time, our rehearsals can have a little too much of the ‘harrowing’, or even of the ‘hearse’ to them. This resource is about revitalising our approach within a school context. It looks at the principles of effective rehearsal technique across all stages of learning, whether in a choir, orchestra or band. There are three main aspects covered:

  • Preparation of the rehearsal cycle.
  • The anatomy of the rehearsal.
  • How to lead your musicians.

All three place learning at the centre. How do we conduct a rehearsal that goes beyond ‘re-harrowing’ the piece in hand and improves general musicianship, both in terms of ensemble skills and individual technique? Within the context of teaching, this broader premise for the rehearsal needs to be held in mind throughout each portion of the session. The pressure will always be there just to teach the notes and hone a piece for a concert. This is a learning experience in itself, true, but the constant challenge is somehow to eke out more learning on more levels. That is the main concern of this resource.

Author: Jonathan James

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KS4

AQA AoS2: Computer gaming music

In the AQA GCSE specification, students are asked to study music from four areas of study:

  • Area of Study 1: Western Classical tradition 1650-1910
  • Area of Study 2: popular music
  • Area of Study 3: traditional music
  • Area of Study 4: Western Classical tradition since 1910

This resource looks at AQA’s Area of Study 2, specifically computer gaming music since 1990. It will help with the study of computer gaming music, but will also consider some of the ways in which we study and appraise music. There are some questions related to Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, and also some analysis of the music from Assassin’s Creed. The more students can listen to music from the genre, the more they will understand it. It would be good to find out if they play any games at home, since a key part of understanding any genre of music is to consider its target audience and context. Although it might not be possible to play games in school, there are several videos on YouTube that show games in action. You may like to show one such video to help students picture the music during gameplay.

Author: James Manwaring

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October 2018

KS5

AQA AoS1: The operas of Mozart

The AQA A-level exam requires candidates to have a good understanding of the context and musical features of Mozart’s operas, with special focus on specific numbers from Act 1 of The Marriage of Figaro. The exam questions encompass identification of features in recordings of unfamiliar Mozart operas, some simple dictation using music from the area of study, description of musical features from a score excerpt from Figaro, and describing how a chosen excerpt relates to the opera as a whole. There are excellent bar-by-bar analyses of all of the set numbers from Figaro in both the Rhinegold study guide and the teaching guide published on the AQA website. I do not intend to duplicate these here. Rather, this resource aims to provide resources and strategies for how to approach the area of study with your classes. These will include ideas for where to start with tackling the context of Classical opera, performing excerpts from Figaro in class, and teaching the musical features of the Figaro set numbers.

Author: Jane Werry

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KS5

AQA AoS3: Music for Media part 2 – Michael Giacchino and Nobuo Uematsu

In the first part of this resource (Music Teacher, August 2018) we looked at music by three of the five composers named by AQA in Area of Study 3: Music for Media – Bernard Herrmann, Hans Zimmer and Thomas Newman.   In this second part, we’ll be looking at the other two names on AQA’s list. For both Michael Giacchino and Nobuo Uematsu, we’ll look at their careers and focus on some key music composed by them, mostly in the realms of video game music, though Giacchino is now very prolific in the film genre.

Author: Simon Rushby

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KS5

Edexcel A-level: Wider listening

A key component of the new Edexcel A-level specification is wider listening. In this resource, I will consider what ‘wider listening’ means, and how we can approach it in our teaching.   There are some barriers that can easily be broken down, and some misconceptions that can hopefully be sorted out. Wider listening is here to stay, and when we start to embrace it, we’ll see our students’ love of music increase – and their results following the same path.

Author: James Manwaring

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September 2018

KS3/4/5

Musical creativity in the classroom: part 2

In the first part to this two-part resource (Music Teacher, July 2018), we tried to pin definitions on what it means to be musically creative, finding that the more you try to corner the concept, the more it slips beyond grasp. We discussed the implications of ‘thinking in sound’, alongside multiple expressions of creative musicianship and the theories that underpin them. This second part asks: so what? We’ll look at the application of the theory across the following core areas, with ideas that are relevant to both GCSE and A-level:

  • Listening
  • Analysing set works
  • Performance
  • Composing

Creativity is a very personal subject. The following tips, exercises and suggestions may well have you muttering in dissent at the page or the screen. Good! The aim is not to give fail-proof recipes but to provoke a reaction. Even if the specific ideas don’t quite fit with your current practice, the hope is that you’ll be inspired to adapt them to your own teaching situation.

Author: Jonathan James

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KS4

Performing at KS4

At KS4, students make their choices about which subjects to choose to study further. In the case of music, schools can offer GCSE music with specifications offered by four main exam boards in England, and some variations available elsewhere such as National 5 in Scotland, and IB or iGCSE internationally. There are also various vocational qualifications available to students who opt to take music beyond KS3. As you would expect, most options include performing as a key part of the specification, and a performance forms some part of the expected assessment outcomes from the courses. The key difference between GCSE and equivalent and vocational qualifications is that the focus for GCSE is on the student as performer, whereas the vocational options dig a little deeper into the performance and all the things that come together in the planning and delivery of a performance or event. The aim is to make links to the music and creative industries, and to open up pathways to further study of music for students who may not have followed a more traditional route through music learning, which may have been via instrumental study and knowledge of associated theory and theoretical language, a key part of the GCSE music subject conditions as required by Ofqual.

Author: Anna Gower

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KS5

AQA AoS2: Pop music

This wide-ranging area of study is likely to have massive appeal to teachers and students alike, since it contains a generous range of very accessible and enjoyable music. The featured artists are likely to be a mixture of familiar names and less familiar musicians, providing an easy way in as well as somewhere to go. This resource aims to provide a structure for tackling the AoS, with advice on ways of presenting information to students and some ideas as to where to find useful teaching materials.

Author: Jane Werry

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August 2018

KS3

KS3 as preparation for GCSE music

The KS3 programme of study is an age-related phase of learning that most commonly happens at the start of secondary or high school education in England. The GCSE is a stand-alone qualification governed by a framework laid out by Ofqual that has been used by examination boards to develop their own specifications and assessments against defined learning objectives.

Author: Anna Gower

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KS5

AQA AoS3: Music for Media – Bernard Herrmann, Hans Zimmer and Thomas Newman

In this resource, we will look at music by three of the five composers named by AQA in AoS3: Music for Media. For each composer, I provide an in-depth examination of an example of their music, a little context and some ideas for further study of other music that you can undertake with your students.

Author: Simon Rushby

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KS5

Edexcel AoS6: Saariaho’s Petals

Of all the ‘New Directions’ works in the Edexcel A-level Anthology, Saariaho’s Petals is the only one written by a living composer (at the time of writing). It is, without doubt, one of the most fascinating pieces in the Anthology, but also one of the most challenging to study.

Author: David Guinane

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July 2018

KS3

Hamilton

Hamilton is the hottest ticket in London’s West End and New York’s Broadway at the moment – and probably the biggest musical theatre phenomenon for decades. The mix of hip hop and Broadway, together with a storyline concerning America’s founding fathers, has proved to be explosive. It’s dripping with musical and cultural detail, and its devotees are positively evangelical. It provides a rich seam of great material for the KS3 classroom, and has the added attraction of being particularly appealing to students. What value can you extract out of Hamilton for your KS3 classes? This resource shows you how to put together vocal and instrumental performances from the show, and use this as a springboard for exploring chords, rhythms, structures, American history, the conventions of musical theatre and hip hop, and creating raps and backing tracks.

Author: Jane Werry

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KS3/4/5

Musical creativity in the classroom: part 1

Arguing the case for musical creativity in the classroom is easy. Few, if any, teachers would contest the importance of creative thinking and skills at any stage of the curriculum. And yet, defining what musical creativity means both in theory and practice is notoriously tricky, and has had educationalists and social psychologists dancing in semantic circles since the 1960s. This is the first of two Music Teacher resources bringing you up to date on the latest creativity research, and hopefully helping you consider the subject afresh, encouraging reflection on who you are as a creative musician and what that could mean for the classroom. Part one looks at how creativity has been defined in the broadest sense, before drawing out theoretical implications for music education. Part two then looks at applications of these theories within the KS3 curriculum and beyond. The questions around creative identity are as valid to the teacher as they are to the student. We access our musical creative self in different ways throughout our lives. Whether through attentive listening, playing or composing, we are all expressing ‘creativities’ at every stage of musical learning. These two resources are based on the premise that everybody is creative, and that the pursuit of creativity should be at the core of the music curriculum at every stage.

Author: Jonathan James

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KS5

Edexcel A level AoS3: Music for film, part 3

This is the last of three resources on film music (following part one in Music Teacher, November 2017, and part two in January 2018) based around Edexcel’s Area of Study 3. Here we’ll focus on Batman Returns, and also some further ways into film music composition for A level students.

Author: James Manwaring

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June 2018

KS3

Loop pedals: singing, layering and creating

This article provides teaching ideas and suggestions that focus on the use of a loop pedal or loop station. There are a number of different approaches to looping, and it’s possible to use a pedal or a piece of computer-based software. For the purpose of this article, I’m referring to the use a looping device such as the Roland RC- 30 Loop Station. There are, of course, lots of options out there, and using a computer sequencer can produce similar results. I’ll explain in this article, however, why I’ve particularly enjoyed using the physical pedal. The motivation behind this resource is to consider a new way of approaching a fairly common concept in music. The use of repeating ideas and patterns is not a new concept, but this approach may inject some fresh life into loops. While the use of looping devices at Key Stage 3 is a fun and interactive approach, the scope of loop pedals themselves is far broader. Students may go on to use them to enhance their own practice; create their own GCSE composition; or perform their own music. This article is potentially just the starting point of an exciting musical journey revolving around loops. Another motivation is to provide a whole-class approach to music making. Working with a class of 30, I’ve used a loop pedal to create music and teach students the basics of composition, melody, harmony and rhythm.

Author: James Manwaring

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KS5

Edexcel AoS2: Clara Schumann Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 17 (first movement)

The G minor Piano Trio is undoubtedly one of Clara Schumann’s best-known compositions, and a fine example of Romantic chamber music. This resource covers the essential musical features of the work, as well as important contextual information, and suggestions for wider listening and research. Since this information is available from multiple sources, in order to avoid unnecessary repetition I’ll also present a number of potential approaches to studying this set work with A-level students.

Author: David Guinane

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KS5

AQA AoS1 Strand C: piano music of Chopin, Brahms and Grieg

The piano is an emblem of musical Romanticism. By the 1830s, no bourgeois household would have been complete without at least an upright piano in the sitting room, preferably with ornate candle-holders and freshly polished mahogany inlay. With its updated design and new range of colour, the 19th-century pianoforte inspired performers and composers alike to pioneer new musical frontiers. AQA’s A-level specification celebrates three composers who made the most of the new instrument’s expressive potential, and who were also masters of the short form, another important feature of Romantic thinking. This resource examines the context for the pianism of Chopin, Brahms and Grieg, from the development of the instrument and its position in the Romantic repertoire, through to each composer’s individual performance style and composing approach at the keyboard. Key features for each of the set works are highlighted, with links to recordings for comparative listening.

Author: Jonathan James

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May 2018

KS3-4

Free online resources for music teachers: a guide

There’s no teacher in the world who doesn’t love a free resource. And the good news is that as time goes on, there are more and more of them available on the internet. Whether you’re looking for lesson ideas, resources to use with classes, tutorial videos, playalongs, arrangements, or free software to use for creating music, there’s a real smorgasbord of things on offer that can be used straight away in your classroom at no cost whatsoever. No guide to free resources can ever promise to be absolutely comprehensive, however. This resource is intended to highlight a large selection of useful online things that are tried and tested for use with KS3, 4 and 5.

Author: Jane Werry

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KS5

Edexcel AoS2: Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique

Hector Berlioz was born in 1803, and his use of large instrumental forces in his music led him to become one of the most influential French composers of the 19th century. His compositions include symphonic poems (including the Symphonie fantastique and Harold in Italy), operas and large-scale works, including the opera The Trojans and the ‘dramatic legend’ The Damnation of Faust. Berlioz also wrote extensively about music, including his Treatise on Instrumentation, a technical study on Western musical instruments, which had a huge impact on the development of orchestral music throughout the Romantic period. He did not learn the piano, which was unusual for composers of the time. After realising that he had no interest in his medical studies, Berlioz began studying composition at the Paris Conservatoire in 1826. There he became familiar with the works of Beethoven, including his symphonies, string quartets and piano sonatas. Beethoven’s influence on Berlioz was huge, particularly on his symphonic works. As well as this, Berlioz developed a keen interest in literature. In 1828 Berlioz read Goethe’s Faust for the first time (in French translation) which became the inspiration for his Damnation of Faust (after several revisions). He also began to study English in order to read the works of Shakespeare, which influenced a number of his pieces, including his choral symphony Romeo and Juliet. Berlioz’s Harold in Italy is also inspired by Byron’s Childe Harold.

Author: Hanh Doan

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KS5

AQA AoS4: Music for theatre – part two

Students studying AoS4 of AQA’s music AS and A level qualifications need to understand the style, context and music of musicals by five named composers – Kurt Weill, Richard Rodgers, Stephen Sondheim, Claude- Michel Schönberg and Jason Robert Brown – which roughly span a period from 1925 to the present day. All these composers took inspiration from traditional and contemporary opera and non-musical theatre, and contributed massively to the development of what is very much a 20th- and 21st-century genre, either working alone or in collaboration with other writers and lyricists. In this second part of a two-part resource, we will look at the contributions to the genre of the three living composers of the five named by AQA – Stephen Sondheim, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Jason Robert Brown. In the first part of the resource (Music Teacher, April 2018) there is a recap of the requirements of AQA’s Appraising component, and an overview of the history and development of musical theatre.

Author: Simon Rushby

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April 2018

Key Stage 3/4/5

How to start a gypsy jazz group

In my experience, many secondary music departments are awash with guitarists (usually evidenced by their inability to leave cases in a sensible place). There are, of course, countless ways to get them involved with a school’s music making: rock schools, bands, or the guitar chair in a big band, for example. However, the ‘bedroom guitarist’ still thrives in many schools – the player who learns tunes from the internet, but lacks the experience of playing with others, thus not developing a whole range of essential musical skills. Without a guitar specialist in the department, or at least someone with the patience to watch them struggle to plug their instrument into an amp and tune up, guitarists can often be underused, or even abandoned entirely. Gypsy jazz, best exemplified by the music of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli, has provided a stimulating and challenging environment for guitarists (and many other musicians) in my school. This resource is designed to give all teachers a starting point for creating a gypsy jazz ensemble, a potential club or project that can involve potentially disaffected guitarists in your schools. Once you’ve got the basics down, you can expand the style to include a host of other musicians, developing their ability to improvise and play jazz.

Author: David Guinane

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KS5

Baroque solo concerto

The AQA A level exam requires candidates to have a good understanding of the context and musical features of Baroque solo concertos, with special focus on three set works by Purcell, Vivaldi and JS Bach. The exam questions encompass identification of features in recordings of unfamiliar concertos, some simple dictation using music from the area of study, description of musical features from a score excerpt from a set work, and describing how a chosen excerpt relates to the movement as a whole. There are excellent bar-by-bar analyses of all three set works in both the Rhinegold study guide and the teaching guide published on the AQA website. I do not intend to duplicate these here: rather, this resource aims to provide resources and strategies for how to approach the Area of Study with your classes. These will include ideas for where to start with tackling the context of the Baroque concerto, performing Baroque concertos in class, teaching the musical features of the set works, and ways to approach analysis without necessarily resorting to a bar-by-bar description.

Author: Jane Werry

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KS5

Music for theatre – part one

Students studying AoS4 of AQA’s music AS and A level qualifications need to understand the style, context and music of musicals by five named composers – Kurt Weill, Richard Rodgers, Stephen Sondheim, Claude- Michel Schönberg and Jason Robert Brown – which span a period from roughly 1925 to the present day. All these composers took inspiration from traditional and contemporary opera and non-musical theatre, and contributed massively to the development of what is very much a 20th- and 2st-century genre, either working alone or in collaboration with other writers and lyricists. In this first part of a two-part resource, we’ll look at the contributions to the genre of the two earliest composers named by AQA, and the only two no longer living – Kurt Weill and Richard Rodgers. First, let’s recap the requirements of the AQA Appraising component.

Author: Simon Rushby

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