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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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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March 2018

Key Stage 3/4/5

Sonic Pi for music teachers

Sonic Pi is an easy-to-use, freely downloadable software application. It is aimed at those new to computer programming, but powerful enough to generate really sophisticated music.

Part of the stimulus for its development was to stake a claim for music in the new computing curriculum for schools, with its emphasis on computer programming as an important digital skill. Students are already finding it a very engaging way to make music, and also one that makes strong connections with their musical cultures and helps them develop broader and deeper levels of musical understanding.

The program comes with tutorials and worked examples, which fully demonstrate the application’s possibilities. Users can generate melodic lines, chords and sequences, assign them to different synthesisers, edit the timbral profile of synthesised sounds, add various looping and chance structures, import sampled sounds and process these sounds using a range of effects. The coding makes it clear what is happening musically at each stage, so that students get good insights into how sounds can be organised musically.

In this resource, I provide some pre-programmed templates for musical activities. These can be set up to encourage exploration of a range of musical concepts such as chord progressions, theme and variations, building melodies and so on. Using the ‘live looping’ function allows students to make adjustments to various musical parameters as the music is playing. Using ‘what if’-type questions engages learners to try out ideas, make musical decisions and develop programming skills.

Although this is a relatively new approach to making music, the fundamentals of good music making still apply. We still need to think about how good melodies develop organically, and how rhythm patterns are structured and fit together in ways that listeners can appreciate and recognise. The priority still has to be making music that sounds good – this is not just about clever coding. So always ask the question – is it musical? Will a listener find in this music some musical reference points they can connect with?

This resource has been written specifically to support the classroom music teacher in exploring new, innovative ways of delivering the music curriculum. The activities are aimed at older students, but teachers will find that they can easily be adapted to suit a wide range of ages, abilities, levels and teaching contexts.

Author: David Ashworth

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Key Stage 5

OCR AoS2: Popular song – Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra

One of the attractive features of the OCR A-level syllabus is the thoroughly enjoyable repertoire covered by this particular Area of Study. However, while the songs themselves have instant appeal, it can be difficult to know where to start in giving students a thorough understanding of the musical style and its historical context.

For Section A of the A-level exam, students will listen to an unfamiliar song from the Area of Study, and are asked to comment on its musical features and how it fits into its context. In Section B, they will be asked to compare one of their set works with another recording of the same song, and also answer a more general question about the set works.

These questions require a thorough knowledge of the history of vocal jazz, as well as the ability to identify musical features aurally and describe them accurately using correct terminology. There is a quantity of factual information that students will need readily to hand, and frequent retrieval of that information will be required in order to embed it in the long term memory. Practical experience of performing the works and manipulating their features through creative work will help with aural identification of stylistic fingerprints.

Author: Jane Werry

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Key Stage 5

Edexcel AoS 2: Vivaldi’s Concerto in D minor, Op. 3 No. 11

Aside from two years in Mantua (1718-20) and his final months in Vienna, Antonio Vivaldi spent his life in Venice, from where his reputation and fame emanated. Venice had a unique atmosphere that had grown out of the interaction of many different factors: its social and general history, landscape and climate, culture and arts.

By 1700 the Republic of St Mark was no longer a leading economic or political power. It had lost its dominant position for trading with Asia due to the shift of international trade to the oceans and the colonial expansions of other European states. It also lost its political authority, losing its possessions in the eastern Mediterranean and to Austria. But having been known for its trade, Venice’s identity refocused around culture. The arts and entertainment flourished, and the Venetian carnival attracted tens of thousands of foreigners every year. As well as being a city of amusement for tourists, it was also enjoyed by the Venetian nobility.

By the 18th century, Venice had become a city of music. A wealth of vocal and instrumental music was performed in the city’s churches, opera houses and palazzi, and in the open air.

Author: Hanh Doan

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February 2018

Key Stage 5

AQA AoS6: Contemporary traditional music

In this resource we will look at music by the artists and composers prescribed by AQA in Area of Study 6: Contemporary Traditional Music. The focus will be on providing background on these artists and exploring selected music, with suggested listening and essay questions that you can use with your AS and A-level students.

Author: Simon Rushby

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Key Stage 5

Edexcel AoS1: Vaughan Williams’s On Wenlock Edge

On Wenlock Edge is a song cycle by Ralph Vaughan Williams that sets some of AE Housman’s poems from his collection A Shropshire Lad. Published in 1896, the 63 poems in A Shropshire Lad reflect a variety of different themes (including the simple pleasures of rural life and a longing for lost innocence). They are written in different voices, including conversations from beyond the grave. As well as Vaughan Williams’s settings of six of these poems, other composers to set extracts from A Shropshire Lad include George Butterworth, Arthur Somervell and Ivor Gurney.

Vaughan Williams set the following poems from the collection (the Roman numeral indicating the poem’s place in A Shropshire Lad):
1. XXXI ‘On Wenlock Edge’
2. XXXII ‘From Far, from Eve and Morning’
3. XXVII ‘Is My Team Ploughing’
4. XVIII ‘Oh, When I Was in Love with You’
5. XXI ‘Bredon Hill’
6. L ‘Clun’

On Wenlock Edge is set for tenor and the unusual accompaniment of string quartet and piano. (Vaughan Williams also provided an alternative solo piano accompaniment.)

Edexcel has chosen numbers 1, 3 and 5 for study at A-level, but it is of course essential that students get to know the whole work.

Features of Vaughan Williams’s writing found in On Wenlock Edge include:

  • English folksong: this composition followed a period in which Vaughan Williams was committed to folksong and ensuring its survival.
  • Use of modes: this is something found not only in folksong, but also in early choral music, particularly that of Tallis and Byrd, some of which was modal in character.
  • French influences: Vaughan Williams studied briefly with Ravel around the time of composing this piece, and some of Debussy’s ‘La cathédrale engloutie’ can be heard in ‘Bredon Hill’, though this work was published shortly after On Wenlock Edge.
  • Parallel movement between parts, especially 4ths and 5ths: this is typical of Vaughan Williams’s writing, which also bears similarities to the parallel chords of Ravel and Debussy.

Author: Hanh Doan

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Key Stage 5

OCR AoS1: Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, first movement

Right from its opening canon-shot chords, Beethoven’s Third Symphony, the Eroica, signals a musical revolution. The composer’s student Ferdinand Ries predicted that ‘heaven and earth’ would ‘tremble at its performance’. Certainly, the world of the symphony would never be the same again.

It’s an exciting choice by OCR for their ‘prescribed piece’ in the orchestral section of the A-level AoS1,  Instrumental music of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. The first movement of the Eroica is of epic length, built on a nexus of closely related themes, with rebellious touches that merit inspection in every paragraph.

This resource is about how to navigate through that complexity, and present Beethoven’s revolutionary genius in ways that connect with the learner. The approach is to start wide with a look at broad themes and historical context, and then narrow down to specific musical elements in each section of the movement.

Author: Jonathan James

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January 2018

Key Stage 4

Composing to a brief

All the GCSE boards stipulate that one of the two submitted compositions must be composed to a brief set by the board. The good thing about this is that choosing from a range of options is almost always easier than having a free choice, and students tend to find freedom within the constraints of the brief.

There are certain similarities between the briefs set by the various boards. All have a film/TV music option, and a pop song is a possible response to briefs from all four boards. Two have a solo-plus accompaniment, concerto-inspired option; two have a piece intended for a formal occasion; and there are also various options for using a melody, rhythm or chords as a starting point.

It’s not possible to cover every brief in lots of detail here. The film music and pop song briefs are likely to be the most popular with students, so we’ll investigate those in more depth in this resource. Many of the ideas here, though, can be transferred to other briefs, as they are concerned with the basics of composing melodies and harmonies, and developing ideas within a structure.

Author: Jane Werry

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Key Stage 5

Edexcel A-level AoS3: Music for film, part 2

In the previous resource on Edexcel’s film music Area of Study (Music Teacher, November 2017), we looked in detail at music from the film Psycho. In this second resource, we’re going to consider the next film score in the Edexcel Anthology – The Duchess by Rachel Portman.

Before embarking on a similar analysis of the music, we’ll first consider some routes into using film music with composition: it’s a useful way for students to learn how to understand both atmosphere and storytelling in music.

Author: James Manwaring

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Key Stage 5

Edexcel AoS5: Anoushka Shankar’s Breathing Under Water

Sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar’s fifth album, Breathing Under Water, was recorded in numerous locations over the course of ten months, and released in August 2007. It was a collaboration with the percussionist, producer and songwriter Karsh Kale. The album presents a fusion of Indian classical and folk music (from Shankar) with Indo-Western electronica (from Kale), and includes further collaborations with singer-songwriters Sting (formerly of 1970s/80s band the Police) and Norah Jones (Shankar’s half-sister), and with legendary sitar player Ravi Shankar (her father). It was not a particularly big mainstream success, but reached number six in the US Billboard world music charts.

Three tracks from Breathing Under Water comprise one of the set works from Edexcel’s Area of Study 5: Fusions. However, this set work is only studied by students taking A-level music, and not those taking AS level.

Author: Simon Rushby

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December 2017

Key Stage 3/4/5

Nine Lessons of Christmas

At Christmas time, the life of a music teacher and a music department is usually rather full. Carol concerts, local events, rehearsals and Christmas functions all crowd our calendars. But of course, we still need to teach, and it’s a great time of year to try something different – and, naturally, to link lessons with the festive season.

This resource will therefore not only give some Christmas-themed lesson ideas, but also suggest some one-off lessons that you might like to try. It might be that you’re at the end of a scheme of work, or just want to do something different. Whatever you do, enjoy Christmas – because music at Christmas really can be full of joy!

Author: James Manwaring

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Key Stage 5

Edexcel A level AoS4: Revolver by the Beatles

The Beatles’ seventh album Revolver was released in August 1966. Following Rubber Soul and preceding Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (discussed in its own Music Teacher resource, February 2017), it was a huge success, occupying the number one spot in the album charts for seven weeks in the UK, and six in the USA.

Four songs from Revolver comprise one of the set works from Edexcel’s Area of Study 4: Popular Music and Jazz. However, this set work is only studied by students taking A-level Music, not those taking AS-level.

It’s worth recapping the requirements for component 3 set out by Edexcel in the specification for A-level music (covered in detail in the Music Teacher resource Edexcel AS- and A-level Music: Appraising – an introduction, January 2017). Put briefly, in the summer exam at the end of Year 13, students will be asked to answer three listening questions on extracts from three of the set works in Section A, along with a short melody or rhythm completion exercise. In Section B they will have to write two ‘extended responses’, one of which will draw links from the set works to a piece of unfamiliar music presented to them on CD in the exam. The other essay, worth more marks, will be about the musical elements, context and language of one of the set works (from a choice of three).

Author: Simon Rushby

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Key Stage 5

OCR AoS5: Programme music, 1820‑1910

Programme music of the Romantic period covers some of the most dramatic and appealing works in Western art music. Choosing this Area of Study will not only give you a great contrast with your compulsory classical and jazz set works, but will also provide your students with an inspiring and hugely enjoyable listening experience.

For each of the main pieces covered by this resource, there will be information about its context, background and programme (story). Details regarding each of the musical areas likely to come up in exam questions will also be given: harmony and tonality, melody, texture and timbre, and use of instruments. There will also be a link to a subsidiary work for the purposes of comparison.

Author: Jane Werry

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November 2017

Key Stage 3/4/5

Women composers

This resource follows on from one of Britain’s biggest exam boards changing its A-level music syllabus to include female composers, after a student launched an online campaign calling for better female representation on the course. In 2015, Jessy McCabe noticed that Edexcel’s A-level music syllabus featured 63 male composers and no female ones. Since her intervention, the syllabus now refers to a range of composers including Clara Schumann, Rachel Portman, Kate Bush, Anoushka Shankar and Kaija Saariaho. Women musicians included elsewhere across the specifications include Joni Mitchell and Beyoncé (AQA A-level), Esperanza Spalding (Edexcel GCSE), Bette Midler, Kylie Minogue and Adele (OCR GCSE), Ella Fitzgerald (OCR A-level), and Sally Beamish (Eduqas A-level).

It’s important that we now build on this initial momentum by showcasing the work of even more women composers. The ones included by Edexcel and the other boards are only the tip of a very large iceberg.

However, in this resource I want to go beyond just raising awareness. I want to help teachers and students get ‘under the bonnet’ by looking at some of the rich and diverse composing approaches and strategies used by some these women composers, not only to understand these ideas but also to guide students into trying some of them out for themselves.

Our selected composers all work within what can loosely be referred to as a contemporary classical idiom, often drawing their influences from a much wider range of musical styles and genres. For each featured composer, a brief background biography is followed by some key works with links to online listening where possible. We find out about their approaches to composition, which include ideas about harmony, structure, instrumentation, styles and genre.

We then provide some suggestions for composing activities that students can work on, based on strategies used by these composers. For teachers or students who wish to explore music by women composers further, there are some links at the end of the resource. All pieces referred to in the activities are available on CD, or from the usual online streaming and download services.

Author: David Ashworth

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Key Stage 4

AQA GCSE AoS1: Haydn’s Symphony No. 101 in D, Clock

The slow movement to Haydn’s Clock Symphony ticks happily away in a very genteel 18th-century fashion. You could easily leave it there, as an ornate timepiece in a stately home from centuries past. And yet, once you prise open the back to reveal the cogs and wheels that make up this intricate movement, it becomes immediately apparent why AQA have used it to represent the quintessence of the Classical style in their GCSE Area of Study 1 (Western classical tradition 1650-1910).

Aside from identifying the standard musical elements, the AQA specification also requires students to comment on:

  • the effect of audience, time and place on how the study pieces were created, developed and performed;
  • how and why the music across the selected areas of study has changed over time;
  • how the composer’s purpose and intention for the study pieces is reflected in their use of musical elements.

This resource takes students into the 18th-century world of a jobbing Kapellmeister and his hectic life in an illustrious Austro-Hungarian court. It takes a deeper look at why Haydn ended up as ‘Papa’ of the symphony and at his travails along the way, before appreciating the final creative chapter of his ‘London’ symphonies in more detail, including their purpose, reception and how they build on earlier elements of Classical style.

The resource concludes with a bar-by-bar analysis of the slow movement from the Clock, highlighting the elements and musical vocabulary expected from students at this stage, as well as considering what might lie behind Haydn’s musical choices.

Author: Jonathan James

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Key Stage 5

Edexcel A level AoS3: Music for film, part 1

I’m passionate about film music, and I just love listening to it. Whether enjoying it within a movie, or listening to a new film score at home, I really enjoy the whole world of cinematic music.

Using film music to teach, and also teaching about film music, are two things that I therefore always look forward to. When choosing the A-level specification for my school, I was excited by the selection that Edexcel have chosen for the New Anthology.

This resource will begin to unpack film music and also consider ways in which students can approach the study of film music. I will touch on techniques for studying the set works, approaches to wider listening, and links to composition for A-level students. I will then consider the first set work from Area of Study 3 – Psycho.

Author: James Manwaring

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October 2017

Key Stage 3/4/5

Identifying and presenting eras of classical music

More emphasis is being given to wider listening in the new GCSE specifications, making the task of discerning between different musical periods and styles more relevant. To be effective, the practice of ‘style-spotting’ needs to start early, from KS3 onwards. Those preparing for ABRSM exams Grades 5 to 8 will be used to a similar challenge in their aural test, when spotting key features in a piece played by the examiner.

This resource is more about the ‘how’ than the ‘what’. How do you present the differences and evolution in styles in a way that works for new, young listeners, so that they can pick them apart with confidence? How do you capture their imagination so that they feel like exploring the styles for themselves? How do you describe the experience of listening to those different styles?

We’ll revisit the well-known key features of styles from new angles, considering presentation tactics for making style-spotting fun, starting with the principles of attentive listening, and the pitfalls to avoid. There is also a Spotify playlist to accompany this resource.

Author: Jonathan James

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Key Stage 4

OCR AoS3 Rhythms of the World, part 2: Africa, and Central and South America

In the last resource on OCR’s Rhythms of the World area of study (September 2017), we looked at the Indian Subcontinent the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

In this resource, we’ll look at the remaining styles and traditions included in the area of study:

  • African drumming
  • Calypso from Trinidad and Tobago
  • Brazilian samba

Once again, this resource contains required knowledge as well as details of musical activities that will deepen students’ understanding of the traditions.

Author: David Guinane

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Key Stage 5

Edexcel AoS 1: Mozart’s The Magic Flute

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born and raised in Salzburg, where he and his father, Leopold Mozart, were on the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg’s music staff. On discovering and nurturing his children’s musical talents, however, Leopold decided to tour the courts and cities of Europe to show them off.

The young Wolfgang loved the years of travelling, and was exposed to a huge range of music and styles in the main musical centres of Western Europe, which included Munich, Mannheim, Mainz, Frankfurt, Brussels, London and Paris – in the latter two cities the Mozarts had longer stays. He thrived abroad, with a tour of Italy in his teenage years inspiring a huge output of operas, symphonies and chamber music. His return to Salzburg was always disappointing, since commissions there were confined to masses and anthems. Mozart was desperate to leave Salzburg, and it was Vienna that had captured his imagination.

In the 1700s, Vienna was the heart of the Habsburg Empire and also the seat of the Holy Roman Emperor. The city was rich in culture, with opera, churches and plenty of potential patrons. In 1773 Mozart attempted to find employment there but was unsuccessful, and therefore forced to return to Salzburg. Over the next years, Mozart redoubled his efforts to look for employment outside Salzburg and away from the Prince Archbishop.

In 1781, Mozart seized his chance. The Archbishop and his entourage had been travelling across Europe and were due to visit Vienna. Mozart caught up with the tour there, having been in Munich for the premiere of his opera Idomeneo. During this visit to Vienna, Mozart made a number of new contacts, as well as getting back in touch with the Weber family (whom he had met in Mannheim, and who had since moved to Vienna). After disagreements with the Archbishop, Mozart’s contract was terminated and he did not return to Salzburg.

Author: Hanh Doan

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September 2017

Key Stage 3

Year 7 Can: the what, why and how of getting Year 7 off to a musical start

The focus of this article is on the Year 6 to Year 7 transfer point. But the material is relevant for any period of transition – we’ll look at how to capture accurate baseline information, ways to think about and plan for progression, and ideas for how to get those first few lessons off to a really musical start.

Engaging students from the very first lesson, setting up musical expectations and creating an ethos of what it means to be part of the musical life of your department – these are all important parts of ensuring that you get to know the needs and aspirations of your new intake, and respond to these in ways that embed the idea that ‘Year 7 Can’.

Author: Anna Gower

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Key Stage 4

OCR AoS3 Rhythms of the World, part 1: the Indian Subcontinent, the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East

OCR’s Area of Study 3, Rhythms of the World, covers a huge variety of what we often call ‘world music’. This term usually refers to any music that isn’t part of the Western classical tradition. It’s a huge area, with hundreds of years of history, and vast amounts of social context.

To bundle it all as ‘world music’ isn’t actually a very helpful term. ‘World music’ is really just ‘music’. This resource covers around half of the styles specified in the OCR AoS, and contains required knowledge as well as details of musical activities that will deepen students’ understanding of the traditions. It will be followed by a second resource covering the remaining styles in the specification.

Author: David Guinane

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Key Stages 4-5

Effective mentoring for young musicians

You’ve probably already been a mentor – either formally, or without naming it as such. In many ways, mentoring is an extension of good pastoral practice, and the skills involved are those we use in any ‘big-picture’ conversation.

This resource is about examining those skills and how we might adapt them when giving advice to young musicians. Although mentoring has been introduced as early as primary school age, the following guidance is best suited to older students – typically when they are considering longer-term goals such as A-level choices, university courses or career direction.

Mentoring has been proven to have a positive impact beyond just the personal level, affecting organisational mentality as well. Research in the workplace has shown a mentoring system can lead to increased productivity, better change management and a more collaborative, supportive workforce. Despite these benefits, the busyness of classroom teaching often means that mentoring gets put into the ‘desirable’ rather than the ‘essential’ column. This resource is about reaffirming why mentoring is a must.

Author: Jonathan James

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August 2017

Key Stage 3

Formative assessment and differentiation

It’s essential that we make every effort to cater for the needs of every student in our classes, and plan for maximum progress to be made. However, sometimes it becomes difficult to see the wood for the trees.

Here I present some ideas about how best to organise formative feedback and differentiation for maximum efficiency – that is, the greatest return for the least teacher faff.

Author: Jane Werry

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Key Stage 4

Edexcel GCSE AoS2: Unpacking Purcell’s ‘Music for a While’

This article provides teaching ideas and suggestions for Area of Study 2 of the Appraising component of the new Edexcel GCSE music course, which we have now started teaching to Year 10 students (see also a previous Music Teacher resource, November 2016). Here I offer two approaches: one is practical, and the other is more of a written approach that may also aid with the study of other set works.

The motivation behind this article is to consider how we can approach the study of set works, and how this can help students to unpack music from the ground up.

In the exam, students will be expected to answer a range of questions, some short and closed, others more broad and analytical. In order to prepare students for the exam, we need to make sure that they are prepared for these differing question styles.

As well as questions on the set works themselves, students will also have to answer questions on unfamiliar pieces of music. This article will also look at ways in which we can embed this approach into our teaching and the learning process of our students.

Author: James Manwaring

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Key Stage 5

Edexcel AoS1: Bach’s Cantata ‘Ein feste Burg’ BWV80

Students will study Bach’s Cantata ‘Ein feste Burg’ in preparation for AS or A-level. A previous Music Teacher resource (January 2017) gives a comprehensive overview of what’s required. It’s worth remembering, however, how each work may appear at both levels:

  • Section A: extracts from the Bach Cantata may appear in one of the three listening questions.
  • Section B: the ‘extended response’. In the first essay, students may be asked to draw links from ‘Ein feste Burg’ to a piece of unfamiliar music they will hear on the CD. In the second essay, students may choose to write about the musical elements, context and language of ‘Ein feste Burg’.

As well as including essential information, this resource will suggest strategies for approaching this set work, particularly since the work contextualises a Bach chorale and two-part counterpoint.

Author: Hanh Doan

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