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Music for Key Stage 3

by John Webb

KS3 Drama; Twins

us, innit
KS3 Music: Conducting

Introduction

This pack aims to give teachers some easy to use resources for Key Stage 3 music
classes. They consist of a set of short warm-ups that can be used at the start of
lessons, and three longer activities that are covered in more depth.
These resources give step-by-step detail about carrying out the activities as well
as ideas for expansion. Teachers may need to modify them depending on what
instruments they have available and students abilities. Naturally, teachers will
need to decide the time-span allowed for each of the activities.
Each longer activity also includes a student worksheet which contains the basics
that students need to know, and which can be photocopied and given out.
This pack contains the following activities:
Warm-Ups
Conducting
Samba
Gamelan
The conducting and samba activities include some level of compositional work,
so students can take more creative control of the skills outlined. There is less
compositional opportunity in the Gamelan activity, as the ensemble skills in this
are more demanding.

Design: Studio EMMI


Illustration: Spencer Wilson

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Music for Key Stage 3
01

Warm-Ups

Warm-up games can be used with all ages to hone musical, vocal and ensemble
skills, to encourage creativity and working together as a group. Theyre often
great fun as well, which means participants lose their inhibitions and are able
to develop key skills more quickly than they might otherwise do.
When warm-ups are used well, they enable a class to access their musicality
and to focus on the skills they need in order to think musically in preparation for
the more demanding class activities youll use later in the lesson. The warm-ups
should be relevant to the main body of the lesson, for instance dont use a vocal
warm-up if the lesson isnt singing based. However, some warm-ups improve
skills pertinent to a variety of areas, so use your judgement when choosing them.
Choose from the selection of warm-ups given, using one or two at the start of a
lesson. For best effect, the warm-ups need to be used regularly, so that students
have a chance to hone skills. There are also some suggestions to develop the
warm-ups further, as students grasp the skills more fully, but feel free to adapt
them to suit the needs and abilities of your group. By the same token, also be
prepared to move on from a warm-up if students seem have to mastered it
very quickly.
Warm-ups in this section are grouped into:
Working Together & Ensemble Skills
Listening & Following
Creating & Improvising
Vocal Warm-Ups

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Warm-Ups

Working Together & Ensemble Skills


These activities help students to understand the control needed to work together
in an ensemble. Watching carefully, honing movements to match the rest of the
group, being focussed and aware even when silent, are all vital skills for the
musician and are developed by these warm-ups.
Passing a clap round the circle
4 minutes
The group form a circle, around which a clap is passed, from one person to the next. The
result should be a regular pulse, no speeding up, slowing down, or irregularity. For this to
happen, participants need to keep an internal pulse and be ready and focussed for their turn.
Variation 1
The clap is passed round whilst a pulse is played on an instrument which can gradually
change tempo. Participants should always clap on the pulse.
Variation 2
The clap is passed in one direction, whilst a stamp is passed in the opposite direction
simultaneously. As in Variation 1 the tempo can be changed.
Hi-ya
2 minutes
See Conducting section elsewhere in this pack.

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Music for Key Stage 3
03

Warm-Ups

Minimalist clap
5 minutes
This warm up serves as a good introduction to minimalist techniques, and pieces such as
Steve Reichs Clapping Music and Piano Phase. Everyone claps the well known rhythm,
repeating it a few times:

Then everyone claps a slight variation, again repeating it a few times:

The variation adds an extra beat to the original: this could either be silence, or a stamp to
make sure everyone is in time.
The group is split into two halves and both patterns are performed simultaneously, starting
at the same moment, and repeating the patterns several times. The two rhythms cycle
round until eventually they are again synchronised, which can create a real sense of
resolution. The group may be interested to work out how many repeats are needed before
the two patterns are once more in sync.
Extension
Ask smaller groups to create their own versions of the exercise with body percussion
or on instruments: they need to create two almost identical rhythms, very slightly different
in length. Words could also be included in students versions. The best could be taught to
the whole class.

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Music for Key Stage 3
04

Warm-Ups

Listening & Following


These games are for pairs of students, and help to build awareness of the nonverbal cues so often used by musicians when matching each others playing.
The second activity (Musical Mirroring) can easily encourage simple improvisation,
as the focus of the activity is on the quality of the copying, not on the quality of
the improvised musical idea being copied.
Mirroring
5 minutes (10 minutes with Musical Mirroring)
In pairs, students stand facing each other. One is A, the other B. A performs a series of
actions, which are mirrored as closely as possible by B. The aim is to work together as a
unit, with the outside observer unable to detect who is following and who is leading (in a
variation, a third person could be observing and trying to work out who is copying and
who is leading).
Students explore the limits of what they can do:
How fast can the movements be?
How large?
How many actions can be made simultaneously whilst still allowing the other person
to follow?
A and B then swap over: A follows B.
Then, in the final variation, neither person is leading the whole time: the pair work together,
leadership may spontaneously pass from one to another.

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Music for Key Stage 3
05

eading header

Warm-Ups
KS1 - reading header

Musical mirroring
5 minutes
A pair of students sit either side of a xylophone. A is the leader and creates a short melody
on the xylophone. B plays it back. This is repeated with A changing and extending the
melodic material they improvise. The roles are swapped, A copying B.
In the final version, no one leads and the musical initiative can pass between the players.
In this version the emphasis is no longer on copying, it is simply on playing sympathetically
together, at any point one person or another may be playing melodic or accompanimental
musical material.
Variation 1
A starts off playing 1 note, then 2, 3 and so on, each time B copies back. How many notes
can B remember and play back?
Variation 2
Instead of a copying activity, B plays at the same time as A, the game more closely
resembles the mirroring activity above.
Extension
Try the game on instruments the students are learning guitars, violins, etc. Often it will
not be as obvious from watching what notes the leader of each pair is playing and so
students will be forced to use their ears.

Twins

KS3 Drama; LEMONS

onducting

KS3 Music: Musical Mirroring

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Music for Key Stage 3
06

Warm-Ups

Creating & Improvising


These warm-ups encourage students to improvise on their instruments.
Successful improvisation involves fast response within certain rules (Clap-click
encourages this) and to feel where/how their music should fit within a larger
context (encouraged by Mama Dont Allow).
Clap-click
5 minutes
A call and response with a difference. The leader starts with a clap the group responds
with a click. Or vice versa. Its important that the words clap and click are said at the
same time as doing the actions. Other pairings are volunteered by the students: for
instance one offers a stomp, and, as a response another suggests a jump. The leader
(which could be a student) then has four to choose from: clap, click, stomp, jump. The
group has to give the correct response.
The game can be extended by adding further pairs of actions the sillier the better and
also by leading short sequences of actions. For instance: clap, click, jump is answered with:
click, clap, stomp.
Mama Dont Allow
5 minutes
An improvisation activity playing along to a song available on the Vocal Union website.
The sheet music is at:
http://www.vocalunion.org.uk/vocalunionpdfs/mama_dont_allow-1.pdf

The teacher sings the songs, encouraging students to improvise in the gaps (as indicated
on the recording also on the website
http://www.vocalunion.org.uk/vocalunionmp3s/mama%20dont%20allow.mp3).
The words for each verse can be changed to indicate which instruments are going to
improvise that time round. The improvisations can be really complicated or as simple as
one note encourage students to try both extremes.

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Music for Key Stage 3
07

Warm-Ups

Vocal Warm-Ups
Singing does not happen from just the neck up. The whole body is involved: we
need to feel relaxed, alert and confident to produce the best sounds. Silly games
are therefore an important tool for releasing a singing voice if were having fun,
we relax, and can sing better. If were nervous, tense and worried, it is far harder
to sing well. These activities require concentration, and develop specific skills,
but can also create a convivial atmosphere for the group.
Tongue twisters
3 minutes
These are really good for diction as they exercise the various ways in which tongues, lips
and palate move to enunciate different words, for instance:
Dentals: d, t, n
Sibilants: sss, sh, zzz
Dorsals: g, c
Labial: m, p, b
Try and encourage a spoken sound which is higher and projected when practising these.
Many an anemone sees an enemy anemone
Freshly fried flying fish
Which wristwatches are Swiss wristwatches?
Six sleek swans swam swiftly southwards
Gobbling gargoyles gobbled gobbling goblins
I saw Susie sitting in a shoe shine shop
Where she sits she shines, and where she shines she sits
(think hard before using this one)
One-one was a race horse
Two-two was one too
One-one won one race and
Two-two won one too

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Music for Key Stage 3
08

Warm-Ups

1, 121
7 minutes
This song is also available on the Sing Up website:
http://www.singup.org/songbank/voice-box/warm-up-detail/view/41-1-121/

It is great for practising pitching the whole scale, concentration and part singing. Once
learnt, students can decide on 2 numbers which will be silent in the next sing through
this takes a surprising amount of concentration to get right. Performing it as a round at
2 beats distance is also a challenge, but provides the opportunity for more able students
to lead a group.
The Grand Old Duke of York
2 minutes
The traditional song, but first time miss out all the ups, second time miss out all the
downs and the ups. Third time - swap over the downs and ups.

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Music for Key Stage 3
09

Conducting

This section aims to develop:


An understanding of the conductors role
Some basic conducting skills using body language to communicate
musical control
Ensemble skills being able to interpret a conductors body language
The activities lead students through basic ideas about conducting and should
therefore be approached in the order given. You will need to be flexible with the
space you have, moving tables and chairs as necessary, as the activities require a
variety of formations: small group work, whole class working together in a circle,
group discussion, etc.
For Hi-ya with instruments you will need a variety of instruments available. A mix
of pitched and unpitched percussion would be suitable, and even some melodic
instruments played by the students.
For Drone, Ostinato, Melody melodic instruments are required be they pitched
percussion or students own instruments.
Introductory discussion
Start off with a discussion about the role of the conductor. Teachers may feel it useful to
show students a clip of a conductor at work (lots available on YouTube, or similar) to focus
on what their role and skills are.
Here are some prompts:
What does a conductor do?
What control does he have over the musicians?
How does he use his hands, arms, facial expressions, etc, to communicate with them?
These are some of the points which may be discussed the list is not comprehensive and
students may well suggest other possibilities.
Solely through their movements conductors can:
Show how fast the music should go
Speed up or slow down during the music
Change the dynamic (volume)
Show when to begin
Affect the articulation of a note
Cue individuals or groups of players to play their next passage
They also rehearse the ensemble, making sure everyone knows their part, when to come in
and how each passage should be played. However, this is not rigid conductors may make
subtle changes during the performance.

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Music for Key Stage 3
10

Conducting

Hi-ya: a game developing ensemble skills


This can also be used as a warm up, perhaps over several sessions to ease students into
thinking about conducting.
The whole class stands in a circle making sure that everyone can see everyone else. The
leader shows a hi-ya action (a karate chop) with their arm, saying the words hi-ya at the
same time. Everyone else must do their hi-ya at the same time as the leader. The leader
does several, they can be:
Regularly spaced
Irregular, trying to catch people out
Different dynamics (loud or quiet)
Different energies (eg calm or energetic)
The aim of the game is for everyone to be exactly together, matching the conductors
movements and energy. The group has to be with the conductor, but also the conductor
has to be really clear with their signals and not trick the group so much that he/she is
impossible to follow.
Discussion
Which leader was easiest to follow? Why?
What sort of actions does the conductor need to make to be clear?
Extension
Once the group has played the game a few times, perhaps as a brief warm-up over
several sessions, try a version where no one is leading, but anyone can. Participants have
to be much more aware of the group as a whole for this to work. Everyone must use their
KS3
Drama;
peripheral vision to see where the next hi-ya is coming from. And everyone
has
to be Twins
really
aware of timing so that their hi-yas dont overlap.

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11

Conducting

Hi-ya with instruments


Whole group. A mixture of instruments is needed. These can be unpitched percussion
or melodic, but if the former, there needs to be a mix of potential sounds, with some
instruments being able to play long sustained notes as well as short ones.
Everyone in the group chooses an instrument to play.
A conductor is chosen, who shows a hi-ya but without making any verbal sounds. Everyone
plays on the downbeat (the ya part of hi-ya). As with the previous game, the conductor
can use hi-yas of different speeds, dynamics and energies. The groups role is to follow as
best they can.
Discussion
When is it easiest to play together on the downbeat?
Extension
Explore the movements needed to create:
A short sound from the ensemble
Sustained sounds
Sustained sounds with some movement (eg trills)
High sounds
Low sounds
Fast and rhythmic sounds
Slow and calm sounds
Keeping one sort of sound going in one part of the ensemble and using a different type
of sound elsewhere.
Stopping the sound
Discussion
How can the conductor create different sorts of sounds simultaneously in the orchestra?

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Music for Key Stage 3
12

Conducting

Drone, Ostinato, Melody


Full class demonstration followed by smaller group exploration. Melodic instruments are
required for everyone, either pitched percussion or instruments students are learning.
Everyone sits in a circle with their instrument.
Everyone needs to learn a scale. Any scale will do, but pentatonic is probably the easiest
initial choice:
C D E G A
(for Bb instruments: D
E
F#
A
B)
Individually everyone should practice the scale getting a feel for it, and being able to play
it without looking at their fingers. They can try going up and down it in step at different
speeds or going up/down using alternating notes. They should also try to improvise an
ostinato (a 3 or 4 note repeated pattern) and a melody.
The teacher should demonstrate the activity with the whole class as an orchestra, all sitting
in a circle, using gestures to indicate to individuals whether they should play a drone, an
ostinato or a melody. A texture is built up from these various elements, with the conductor
starting and stopping them as and when he/she wishes. Possible hand gestures are
indicated below, though you and the class may want to explore other possibilities.
Drone: Conductors hand shows a flat line. This is a long held note, chosen by the
player from the scale until the conductor indicates stopping.
Ostinato: Conductor makes a circle with a finger of one hand. The player plays a short,
repeated pattern of 3 or 4 pitches over and over again until the conductor shows when
to stop.
Melody: Conductor wiggles fingers at the player. Player improvises a melody using the
notes from the chosen scale until the conductor shows when to stop.
Having demonstrated the activity, students can explore it further in small groups (7-8
people), each taking it in turns to be the conductor.
Conductors: Should be prepared to stop the players as well as starting them, but giving
players enough time to get into the section theyre playing before they do.
They can also attempt to shape the music in other ways:
Dynamics (volume)
Articulation, for instance staccato (spiky), legato (smooth)
Tempo (speed)
Ensemble: Should follow the conductor as closely as possible, though sometimes it might
not be clear whats required. They should interpret conductors signals as best they can
(ie. without stopping to ask questions) as this forces the conductor to be clearer next time.

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Music for Key Stage 3
13

Conducting

Discussion
Which conductors were clearest and why?
How can the ensemble improve its responses to the conductor?
(eg making sure eye contact is made before playing)
Extension
Though these activities have focussed on conducting, they also explore some of the basic
musical building blocks melody, accompaniment and sustained harmonies. A further
extension would involve small groups moving from experimentation to creating a piece of
music with a beginning, middle and end. The conductor will still cue material, but the group
will have decided upon what material is heard when and how the piece grows. To help start
this process, the following prompts could be helpful:
Discussion
Which combinations of sounds worked best, and why?
Did everyone use very similar musical ideas or were they very different?
How could you create a piece of music from this?
What would be the beginning, middle and end?

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Music for Key Stage 3
14

Student worksheet:
Conducting

Introduction
What does a conductor do?
What control does he have over the musicians?
How does he use his hands, arms, facial expressions, etc, to communicate
with them?
The Hi-ya game
Everyone stands in a circle. Someone is chosen as a conductor, they show a hi-ya (karate
chop) with their arm saying the words as well. Everyone has to do the hi-ya at the same
time. The conductor has several goes before another takes over.
Discussion
Which leader was easiest to follow? Why?
What sort of actions does the conductor need to make to be clear?
The Hi-ya game with instruments
Everyone chooses an instrument to play. These should be a mixture of sounds, and if using
percussion make sure some have instruments which make a long sounds, others have ones
making short sounds.
The conductor shows another hi-ya and everyone plays on the ya the down beat.
Try this several times and with several conductors.
Discussion
When is it easiest to play together on the downbeat?
Extension
The conductors should try exploring using their movements to get different sounds from the
group. What sort of movements would get:
Sustained sounds
Sustained sounds with some movement (eg trills)
High sounds
Low sounds
Fast and rhythmic sounds
Slow and calm sounds
Discussion
How can the conductor create different sorts of sounds simultaneously in the orchestra?

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Music for Key Stage 3
15

Student worksheet:
Conducting

Drone, Ostinato, Melody


Everyone in the class chooses a pitched instrument to play a mixture of pitched
percussion and melodic instruments are fine. Individually practice playing the following
notes
C D E G A
(for Bb instruments: D
E
F#
A
B)
These are the notes youll use in this activity no others! When individually practicing
the notes, have a go at improvising a repeated pattern (ostinato) of 3 or 4 pitches, and
a melody.
In groups of 7 or 8 people, choose a conductor. They must point to individuals and show
them whether they need to play:
A drone a held note
An ostinato a short repeated pattern of 3 or 4 notes
An improvised melody
Conductors: What actions will you use to clearly indicate drone, ostinato or melody?
Be prepared to stop the players as well as starting them, but give players enough time
to get into the section theyre playing before you do stop them.
Can you also create these changes using just your hand signals?
Dynamic (volume)
Articulation - staccato (spiky), legato (smooth)
Tempo (speed)
Ensemble: Follow the conductor as closely as you can, though sometimes it might not be
clear what they want just interpret their signals as best you can, without stopping to ask
questions (this forces them to be clearer next time).
Make sure everyone takes a turn at conducting.

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Music for Key Stage 3
16

Student worksheet:
Conducting

Discussion
Which conductors were clearest and why?
How can the ensemble improve their responses to the conductor?
Extension
Though these activities have focussed on conducting, they also explore some of the basic
musical building blocks melody, accompaniment patterns and sustained notes.
Can you create a piece of music from these conducting experiments? Something which
has a beginning, middle and end?
The conductor will still cue material, but the group needs to decide what material is heard
when and how the piece grows. To help start this process, the questions below may help:
Discussion
Which combinations of sounds worked best, and why?
Did everyone use very similar musical ideas or were they very different?
How could you create a piece of music from this?
What would be the beginning, middle and end?

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Music for Key Stage 3
17

Samba

Samba is a popular Brazilian musical form. Although the style is used for
instrumental music, song and dance, were going to explore the percussive
samba.
The percussive samba is a series of rhythmic patterns layered on top of each
other. As with much music, people adapt and change it according to whatever is
available, so use whatever instruments you have to hand. This Samba will work
as a small group or a larger one.
You might hear the percussive samba played by Brazilian Samba Schools. These
are clubs which, during the Carneval celebration, will parade through the streets
performing. The parades can be massive, involving thousands of people.
If the class is quite self-motivated they may be able to work quite independently
in small groups, otherwise start with everyone sitting in a circle, with the four
groups of instruments given out roughly equally. The rhythms can then be learnt
together, before breaking off to work in smaller groups.
Teaching aims:
For students to play rhythmically together
To follow a leaders musical signals, and directions for dynamics
What youll need
Youll need four groups of unpitched percussion instruments as detailed below
Its possible to use body percussion instead of instruments, but make sure that the
four sounds used are quite distinctive if all the rhythms are clapped in the same way,
the piece loses textural interest.
Group 1
Shakers/maracas.
Group 2
Instruments which make a short, loud sound. Traditionally claves (pronounced clah-vay),
are used, but wood blocks are fine. Dont use instruments which ring on, like triangles.
Group 3
Instruments which can make two short sounds. Traditionally agogo bells (two metal bells on
a wire frame, with the hand holding them damping the bells). Wooden agogos are fine, or
even triangles when the player can quickly move between open to damped sounds.
Group 4
Low drums for keeping the pulse. These can be played with hands or a soft stick.
If you dont have enough of the same type of instrument for each group, include other
instruments but try and keep the sound of each group unified. For instance rather than
using triangles in both groups 2 & 3, only use them in one of the groups.

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Music for Key Stage 3
18

Samba

Learning the patterns


The patterns can be learnt in any order, but its easiest to start with group 4 and add the
other parts on top of it.
The words are given only to help players remember the pattern and should be dropped
when the rhythms are confidently established.

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Music for Key Stage 3
19

Samba

Leading and breaks


A key element of samba is the break, when most of the ensemble stops, allowing
one instrument or group of instruments a solo (which can be improvised or just a solo
continuation of what they were already playing). A leader, initially the teacher, needs to
cue this break. The suggested cue below can be played and spoken, or just spoken.
Do this a few times, cueing different groups for their solo.
Ready, steady. Lets go shakers could be used to cue the shaker group.
Ready, steady, off we go could be used to cue the full band back in:

The leader can also show when the band plays loud (arms wide apart) and quiet (hands
close together).
Students may want to take turns leading the whole class, cueing in different instruments.

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Music for Key Stage 3
20

Samba

Extensions
Having learnt the basic samba as a whole class, students can break off into smaller groups,
with one person in each group being the leader, and then work on some of these more
creative elements.
Create an introduction
This could be a call and response, using different rhythms from those in the main samba.
Heres a good one play the rhythms of the words on the instruments:
Leader: I want a cup of tea.
Everyone: Me too!
Leader: I want a cup of tea.
Everyone: Me too!
Leader: I want a cup of, I want a cup of, I want a cup of tea. Everyone: Me too!
Cueing breaks
Instead of using verbal cues for the breaks, students devise a series of different rhythmic
patterns which can be played by the leader, each one signalling a different instrumental
break. Initially words could be used to help, but the aim would be for everyone to learn the
instrumental cue alone and to know to which instrument it refers.
Create a new samba
A samba is a series of rhythmic patterns layered on top of each other. The basic pulse isnt
too fast, but the patterns can be made of quite short notes, and can be quite syncopated
(ie including off-beats).
Importantly, make sure the rhythms of each layer are quite different. Students could use
their own names as a starting point, but really try to make sure the rhythms used are
interesting.
Instead of:

use:

Have a look at the Potter Puppets The Mysterious Ticking Noise on YouTube, which is a
simple samba using the characters names.
Conclusion
Share the small group work with the whole class. Can each groups ideas be incorporated
into a large-scale samba for everyone? This could become a performance piece for an
assembly or school concert.
Ideas for combining the small group work:
Vote on the best introduction to use.
Incorporate a variety of rhythmic cues to indicate breaks students can vote on which
they think are the easiest to follow, having listened to all the possibilities.
If students have created their own samba patterns (eg using names), these can be
played consecutively, perhaps alternating with the full class samba. Can rhythmic cues
be developed to start and stop these?

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Music for Key Stage 3
21

Student worksheet:
Samba

Instruments
Gather your unpitched percussion instruments, and break into 4 groups.
Group 1
Shakers/maracas
Group 2
Instruments which make one short sound (eg wood blocks, claves)
Group 3
Instruments which make 2 short sounds (eg agogo bells)
Group 4
Drums the lower the better. Play with hands or a soft stick
Learn the patterns
Learn the patterns starting with Group 4, and gradually adding the others. Words are given
as a help to remember the rhythm say them out loud without instruments at first, then say
them and play the instruments. Finally, just play the instruments.

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Music for Key Stage 3
22

Student worksheet:
Samba

Leading and breaks


A leader for the samba can show when to play loudly or quietly. They can also cue breaks:
when most of the group stops, but one instrument or group continues either playing their
samba rhythm or improvising. Heres an example you can use, or make up your own:

KS3 - reading header

KS1 - reading header


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Music for Key Stage 3
23

Student worksheet:
Samba

Create an introduction
Create your own call and response introduction to the samba between the leader and the
rest of the group.
Heres a suggestion. Words are given to help learn the rhythm, but these are only to help
remember it. Can you make up your own?
Leader: I want a cup of tea.
Everyone: Me too!
Leader: I want a cup of tea.
Everyone: Me too!
Leader: I want a cup of, I want a cup of, I want a cup of tea. Everyone: Me too!
Be creative
Make your own samba using peoples names. Try and use interesting rhythms for instance,
instead of:

use:

The second rhythm above is syncopated it doesnt fit regularly with the pulse, but
includes emphasised off-beats.
Bringing it all together
If youve been working in different groups, how can your ideas be combined into one whole
class samba?
Vote on the best introduction to use.
Incorporate a variety of rhythmic cues to indicate breaks vote on which you think are
the easiest to follow, having listened to all the possibilities.
If you have created your own samba patterns (eg using names), these can be played
consecutively, perhaps alternating with the full class samba. Can rhythmic cues be
developed to start and stop these?

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Music for Key Stage 3
24

Gamelan

The Gamelan orchestra is a percussion ensemble originating in Indonesia. This


worksheet is based on Javanese Gamelan, and some of the principals behind
it. The Javanese have two scales open to them pelog (7 notes) and slendro
(5 notes). The tunings are unique to each individual Gamelan ensemble, and
do not generally match western tuning. The melody were learning is composed
for workshop use and uses a pentatonic (5 note) scale.
The activity is quite a long one involving everyone learning a simple melody,
developing faster-moving melodic patterns which decorate this, and also a
pattern of unpitched percussive punctuation. To bring all this together may
require teachers to work over several lessons. Briefly, the stages you will need
to work through are:
1. Skeleton Melody
Everyone learning the skeleton melody (balungan). Those playing it on pitched percussion
instruments will need to learn it on those instruments. Others need know it to understand
how their parts co-ordinate with it, so can learn it through singing.
2. Pitched Percussion
Pitched percussion work on damping techniques and decorative patterns to add to the
balungan.
3. Unpitched Percussion
Punctuation patterns learnt, adding one at a time, whilst balungan is played by pitched
percussion.
4. The Drummer
Drummers role identified and practised
The balungan is reapeated as many times as required to create the full piece.
What youll need
Pitched percussion instruments xylophones, glockenspiels and chime bars organised
by pitch into high, middle and low groups.
A drum for keeping a steady beat and leading the ensemble
Other unpitched instruments: a mixture of instruments which make sustained sounds, such
as triangles, gongs and cymbals; and ones which make short sounds, such as wood blocks
and claves.
Organising the instruments
The pitched instruments need to be organised into three groups according to their pitch.
Highest: Decorative patterns
Middle: Decoration and melody
Lowest: Melody
The unpitched instruments are divided into groups according to the length of their sustain.
You can experiment with these groupings when you work through section three.

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Music for Key Stage 3
25

Gamelan

1. The Skeleton Melody (Balungan)


Everyone must learn the melody, preferably on instruments, but if there arent enough, those
playing unpitched percussion should sing (some words are given below which can be used
if required). Often Javanese balungan are quite simple to allow for extensive decoration.

The melody is repeated as many times as required. If using the words, the last bar
(the word dead) is also the point where the melody repeats.

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Gamelan

2. Pitched Percussion
The lowest and some of the middle instruments play the skeleton melody (balungan). To
avoid every note in the melody resonating after playing it, the non-beater hand needs to
damp each note when the next is played. This can take some practice the damping hand
follows the playing hand at one beats distance.
Middle instrument decoration
This is the simplest form of decoration: the entire melody is played in quavers, each note
repeated twice. The first line becomes:

It is still important to dampen the notes when pitches change so that previous pitches do
not continue to resonate.
High instrument decoration
These instruments play more elaborate patterns based on the notes used in each bar. In
gamelan theory there are rules for this, but I suggest that this decoration is worked out fairly
freely. But make sure:
Its in quavers
2 or 4 note patterns repeat for at least a bar before changing
Base the pattern on the balungan (skeleton melody) notes in that bar (i.e. in the
melody on the previous page, the note A should be avoided in the first 8 bars, until it is
introduced to the melody in bar 9)
Decoration for the tune in bars 1 and 2 could be something like this:

Extension
To extend this activity further, this pattern is often split between 2 players, one on the beat,
the other off a real challenge! The result looks like:

Again damping notes when the next is played is important in this part to make the line
sound melodic.

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Gamelan

3. Unpitched Percussion
See the percussion pattern on the next page (also included in the student notes).
The unpitched instruments are used to punctuate the repeated melody, marking the
beginning of each repeat, start of each phrase, mid-way point through each phrase, etc.
These instruments can be organised according to the length of sustain they have. The
longer they sustain, the less they play (but in Gamelan, the more important they are).
So, a large cymbal or gong is suitable for group 1 below, whilst a wood block would be
good for group 6. One instrument plays in each of the following places:
Group 1
1st note bar 1 marking the repeat of each cycle. In Java this would be the largest gong
Group 2
1st note bar 5, 1st note bar 9 marking the beginning of each phrase
Group 3
1st note bars 3, 7 and 11 marking half way through each phrase
Group 4
1st note bar 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 & 12 marking quarter-way through each phrase
Group 5
3rd beat every bar
Group 6
2nd & 4th beat every bar
This whole group forms an interlocking texture in which someone is playing on every beat.
4. The Drummer
The drummer leads the ensemble. They can develop a simple introduction which cues the
whole band. They play along with the piece, quietly improvising and keeping a steady pulse.
To end, the drummer slows down the tempo in bars 11 and 12. At the end of bar 12, there
is a pause, during which the big gong plays (the instrument in group 1). After this everyone
plays their final note, which doesnt have to be together.
The Drummer can also change the tempo during the piece. It is worth experimenting with
the group to see how the drummer can affect the piece.
Extension
Once you and your students have worked through this activity together, students can then
carry out the same process in smaller groups of 10 students: 1 person on each instrument
(3 pitched percussion, 6 unpitched, 1 drummer).
Once they have mastered it in smaller groups, they could create their own balungan melody
and accompaniment.

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Music for Key Stage 3
28

Gamelan

Gamelan unpitched punctuation patterns

When choosing instruments for these 6 parts, the instrument with the longest sustain
should play the first part; the one with the shortest (eg a wood block or clave) should play
parts 5 & 6.
Grade the other groups accordingly, but try and make sure each part has a distinctive
sound one type of instrument per part.

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Music for Key Stage 3
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Student worksheet:
Gamelan

The Gamelan orchestra is a percussion ensemble originating in Indonesia. This


worksheet is based on Javanese Gamelan, and some of the principals behind it.
The Javanese use two scales: pelog (7 notes) and slendro (5 notes). The tunings
are unique to each individual Gamelan ensemble, and do not generally match
western tuning. The melody were learning is composed for workshop use and
uses a pentatonic (5 note) scale.
Gather your instruments
Youll need:
Pitched percussion: xylophones, glockenspiels, chime bars
Unpitched percussion: cymbals, gongs, wood blocks, triangles, etc
A drum
Organising the instruments
The pitched instruments need to be organised into three groups according to their pitch.
Highest: Decorative patterns
Middle: Decoration and melody
Lowest: Melody
The unpitched instruments are divided into groups according to the length of their sustain.
You can experiment with these groupings when you work through the appropriate section.
The Skeleton Melody (Balungan)
If there are enough pitched percussion instruments available for everyone, everyone should
learn the balungan (skeleton melody). If there arent, the people who will play pitched
instruments must learn to play it on them, and those who will play unpitched ones should
learn to sing it. Everyone needs to know the tune to be able to feel its structure.

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Student work sheet:


Gamelan

Pitched Percussion
Low group and some of the middle group: learn to play the melody as written, but the hand
without the beater should damp each note as the next is struck.
Rest of middle group: play melody in quavers (as bars 1-4 below show)

Highest group: develop decorative patterns around the music in each bar. These should be
in quavers, be short repeated patterns 2 or 4 note patterns, and be based on the balungan
for that bar. For instance, bars 1 & 2 could be:

KS3 - writing header

KS1 - writing header


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31

Student worksheet:
Gamelan

Unpitched Percussion
Organise the instruments according to the length of the notes they play. The longest play
least (1 below), the shortest play most (6 below). In Gamelan, the instrument which plays at
the beginning of each repeat is the most important, as from it everyone knows where they
are. One instrument/type of instrument plays in each of the following places:
Group 1
1st note bar 1 marking the repeat of each cycle. In Java this would be the largest gong
Group 2
1st note bar 5, 1st note bar 9 marking the beginning of each phrase
Group 3
1st note bars 3, 7 and 11 marking half way through each phrase
Group 4
1st note bar 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 & 12 marking quarter-way through each phrase
Group 5
3rd beat every bar
Group 6
2nd & 4th beat every bar
This whole group forms an interlocking texture in which someone is playing on every beat.
There is a score of this pattern on the next page.
The piece is repeated as many times as you want.
The Drummer
The drummer leads the ensemble. They can develop a simple introduction which cues in
the whole band. They play along with the piece, quietly improvising and keeping a steady
pulse. To end, the drummer slows down the tempo in bars 11 and 12. At the end of bar 12,
there is a pause, during which the big gong plays. After this everyone plays their final note,
which doesnt have to be together.
The Drummer can also change the tempo during the piece. Practice with your drummer
to perfect this.
Extension
Can you create your own skeleton melody, and surround it with decorative patterning?

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Music for Key Stage 3
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Student worksheet:
Gamelan

Gamelan unpitched punctuation patterns

When choosing instruments for these 6 parts, the instrument with the longest sustain
should play the first part; the one with the shortest (eg a wood block or clave) should play
parts 5 & 6.
Grade the other groups accordingly, but try and make sure each part has a distinctive
sound one type of instrument per part.

The Princes Foundation for Children & the Arts


Music for Key Stage 3
33