Music ideas

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The Garden

Frogs Chorus
This is a fun piece without words. Could be used with other animals to create simple songs or replace the words of known songs with the appropriate animal interpretations.
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The Bears CD-ROM is full of really good examples of solo instruments. This could be used as an introduction to individual musical instruments. Children can gain understanding of the role of each instrument as they listen and compare the sound and types of music those instruments fit best with. The Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra is a good follow up activity..
Wind Chimes
Randomly generated sounds can be incorporated into composition. Students can make their own wind chimes out of bamboo. This is also a powerful way of defining music with children. Are all random sounds music? Do we need to repeat and organise sound to make music?


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The Hall

Opening sound effects from the pendulum clock. How can we recreate the sound effect. Try using a two tone tulip block. Add a melodic line and some lyrics. The children will appreciate the component parts of a song from a simple rhythmic beginning.
Bag Piper
Obviously a way of looking at cultural differences in music. The history and construction of the bagpipes are other ways of developing children's interest. Bagpipes have a remarkable emotional effect. There are good examples of how this instrument has inspired troops going into battle. A link could be made to the bugle, military drums and army bands. This could lead to an examination of the importance of  music in warfare and the whole connotation of music being used to stir desired emotions. Children listening to a range of short pieces of music could write down or discuss images of feelings they experience.
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Like the Bagpipes the harp has a significant cultural history. Used extensively in Celtic music. Look at current examples in Irish music being performed. The sound stringed instruments make and the way this sound is produced are so vastly different to the bagpipes. It is good to make the contrasts. Children can make a type of rudimentary harp with nails, a piece of wood and rubber bands. Children can be challenged into thinking about what sorts of music the harp would be best suited for.


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The Study

There are so many possibilities with this room we cannot possibly list them all.
Listening Activities
  • Listen to all the various musical styles represented listen for the different musical instruments and compare how they are organised e.g. bass provides rhythm and bass notes, trumpet is playing the melody or tune, drums reinforce beat.
  • Listen to the different guitars, what makes them different - musical styles and playing techniques.
  • Listen and watch how many instruments are playing at the same time - can you work out which one is playing which part.
  • Collect other examples of well known jazz, rock, blues and folk music so children can listen and make their own identification rules.
  • Children can bring their own favourite piece of music and classify. Later they can develop the "critical" factorsin why a piece appeals to them or not.

Use a piece of music children know well and look at how it could be modified to become rock, jazz or blues. Using their own instruments try playing and performing in that style. Let children develop the criteria and critical analysis to see their music is the same. It would help to record it to enable them to listen reflectively.

Computer programmes like Band in the Box and Cubasis will allow students to experiment with their own compositions in different music styles. Children can compose a simple melodic line and record it using a sequencer. Other ways of recording the composition such as writing, tape recording can also be explored.


  • How have these different styles come about?
  • How is music changing today?
  • What things influence musical choices? Why would most people not listen to "supermarket" music in their own home?
  • Modern musical instruments are different to 100 years ago, how has technology influenced how people make music today?
  • Students can build an audio file to illustrate their own investigation of musical development over a particular period in time.

The Lounge

More musical instruments and more styles. This room uses nursery rhymes as a theme and so is particularly suited to younger students. Older students will still enjoy this room particularly if they have the opportunity to recreate the rhymes themselves using different musical styles.
  • How many different nursery rhymes can you recognise?
  • How is each played... what sort of band or orchestra?
  • Compare the trumpet playing the "Grand old Duke of York" with the trumpet in the playroom - you will need to record these to play them one after each other. How is it different? Why do composers get instruments to play in different ways?
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Discussion & Investigation
  • What is a nursery rhyme?
  • Where did they come from?


  • Sing along with the words.
  • Make up your own backing group for a nursery rhyme.


  • Write new "modern" lyrics.
  • Devise a new ending.
  • Combine more than one rhyme.
  • Compose a completely new rhyme.


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Make your own music

Use the music maker function on the Bears CD-ROM to explore sounds and rhythm composition. This could be used as an introduction to other forms of composition. Children enjoy the opportunity to play, record and share their compositions. Developing critical listening skills is an important element in encouraging students to modify their own creations.


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The Playroom

  • Listen to the didgeridoo - what instrument might it sound like - how is the sound produced? How do you know?
  • Why does the gramophone make a scratchy noise?
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P2988.gif (5376 bytes) Discussion
Gramophones aren't very common in homes anymore, what do we use today instead of gramophones?Who invented the gramophone? What are some of the different ways that can be used to record and play back sounds.

Make your own didgeridoo out of bamboo.


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