Highly trained ears

4th January 2008 at 00:00

Music

14 to 16

Part of the challenge of music teaching is enabling young ears to listen, rather than just to hear. So try these three "listening focus" tasks:

1. Play "Volksliedchen" by Schumann (New Edexcel GCSE Anthology of Music, CD 1, track 4), then ask the pupils to describe the differences throughout the piece, for example minormajor or fastslow.

2. Play "Dance of the Reed Pipes" from The Nutcracker (pictured) by Tchaikovsky (Edexcel GCSE Anthology of Music, CD 1, track 26). Get them to describe the way the instruments and rhythms create contrast.

This can serve as a simple introduction to the orchestra as pupils often have difficulties identifying instruments, but it remains an important skill right up to A2-level.

3. Play "The Girls so Fair: Romanian Folk Dance" from Fortissimo (CD 1 track 29). This allows a good opportunity to observe differentiation, as it contains changes of mood and a variety of musical elements.

Some of the areas you might expect comments on include style, tempo, dynamics and instruments, including percussion.

Anthony Anderson is head of music and an Advanced Skills Teacher at Beauchamp College in Leicestershire.

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