Music - Take note of then and now

2nd December 2011 at 00:00

What the lesson is about

Music is a language that is universal, modern and ancient, writes Helen Brant. Through the teaching of music notation, pupils are able to understand Italian terminology, the use of symbols to create meaning and the relevance of older music in today's society.

Music encourages pupils to sing in other languages, and it's an excellent aid to revision - most of us learnt the alphabet by singing it.

History students are taught about conflict and cultural changes. What signifies cultural change more than music? Play a piece of big-band music and pupils are transported back to the Second World War.

Teaching world music allows pupils to develop understanding of ideas taught in geography, such as apartheid and slavery, as well as other countries and their cultures. Many pupils cite Ramp;B and hip-hop as their favourite music - linking them to geography allows them to assimilate their own culture with that of others.

Physics and music go hand in hand. Teach a group of Year 7s (P7s) about sound waves and suddenly cries of "This is science!" are heard. Students link the two subjects and start to question how sound works, why they can hear it and what happens to their hearing as they get older, which links nicely into biology.

Finally, look at maths and English. Music uses these subjects constantly - in writing lyrics, using a time signature, presenting a composer or a piece of music to the class.

What else?

The Renaissance was a period of enormous cultural change. Try randomoboeplayer's listing unit for an investigation. Watch a video on world music from Teachers TV, filmed at the Brit School. Or visit the TES Collection on World Music.

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