Curriculum Special needs - Lesson Plan - Nifty notations

9th July 2010 at 01:00
Exploring a range of graphic scores can help boost children's confidence in musical interpretation and performance

What the lesson is about

This is a music task on graphic scores for pupils with autistic spectrum disorders, emotional and behavioural difficulties and moderate learning difficulties. The slides are available on the link below. The lesson can be used with children in key stages 2 and 3.

Aims: pupils will:

- interpret and perform songs from graphic scores.


Print out the graphic scores from the website below and put them onto cards.

Getting started

Present pupils with a graphic score in which the music is represented by symbols and illustrations. Play the music and ask the pupils, in groups, to discuss why the picture matches the music.

Explain how different instruments are represented in different ways on a graphic score. For example, a drum might be represented by a circle, a rectangle represents a keyboard, diagonal lines represent a glockenspiel and a cartoon "bang" symbol stands for a cymbal.

Next, show the pupils the cards you have prepared containing five graphic scores. Ask them to study them and identify the music represented. Can they recognise the different musical elements? Can they choose appropriate instruments for the symbols? Play a series of music clips and ask the pupils to draw a graphic score for each one.

Taking it further

Show the pupils the main graphic score from the link below. This matches with 'Every Day I Love You Less and Less' by the Kaiser Chiefs, but you can choose not to tell the pupils this until later on.

Ask the class to compose a group performance using the graphic score and incorporating several layers. Get them to choose the right number of instruments, according to the number of layers shown, and appropriate instruments. Ask them to work in groups to prepare a performance.

Invite each group to perform their version of the score. Tell them that the score came from a piece of pop music and play the excerpt from the song. How did their composition compare? Explain that there is no right way to interpret a graphic score and that everyone has a different idea of how it should sound.

For homework, ask the pupils to draw a graphic score for an excerpt of between 20 and 30 seconds for a piece of music of their choice.

Where to find it

The original presentation, including examples of graphic scores and the main graphic score, was uploaded by dancinhan and can be found at

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