Water Music - Composition Activity Resources

Children will discover how Debussy was inspired by water before using the pentatonic scale to compose and perform their own compositions that portray a journey of water in the impressionistic style of Debussy on keyboards or tuned percussion.

11 Slides include:

  • An opening quote based around depicting our everyday lives in music
  • Lesson objective
  • An introduction to Debussy, impressionism and the pentatonic scale
  • Appraising task (4 short excerpts of Debussy’s piano music)
  • Composition task steps to success
  • Images of the ‘calm’ and ‘rapid’ water motifs
  • Examples of children’s graphic scores which represent a journey of water


  • ‘Calm’ and ‘rapid’ water motifs sheet music
  • Supplementary writing sheet for the appraising task

Audio files (MP3):

4 short excerpts of Debussy’s piano music that portray the flow of water:

  • The Sunken Cathedral
  • Goldfish
  • Reflections in the Water
  • Gardens in the Rain

Starter/appraising task:

After a brief introduction to Debussy, his compositional style and the pentatonic scale, the children will get the opportunity to listen to four excerpts of Debussy’s piano music. Depending on the children’s age, they can either use the supplementary worksheet to write about how Debussy has used the elements of music to portray either calm or rapid water or this can simply be a discussion.

Composition activity:

The children will use the ‘Calm’ and ‘rapid’ pentatonic motifs sheet and incorporate these, as well as their own, into a composition for keyboard or tuned percussion that portrays the journey of water. Children can work alone or as a duet, which can then be turned into a whole class performance where one group’s composition blends into another.

Plenary/next steps

The children will be given the opportunity to perform, listen to other group’s performances and appraise each other’s performances. They can also be given the opportunity to create a graphic score to represent the journey of water depicted in their compositions.

This is an extremely easy resource to use and has produced some beautiful compositions and outstanding performances from the children in my classes. It can be used in a single lesson or for introducing a full unit on Debussy, impressionism and the pentatonic scale.

Save for later
  • Appraising-Task-Worksheet.docx
  • Motifs-Sheet-Music.pdf
  • Water-Music---Lesson-Plan.doc
  • Water-Music-(slides).pptx
  • Gardens-in-the-Rain.mp3
  • Goldfish.mp3
  • Reflections-in-the-Water.mp3
  • The-Sunken-Cathedral.mp3

About this resource


Created: May 13, 2018


docx, 250 KB



pdf, 354 KB


Lesson plan

doc, 51 KB


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