KS3 Music Education Hub

The KS3 Music Education Hub is a free music curriculum and online resource for 11-14 year olds. A musical taxonomy of cognitive steps supercharges creativity, ownership, identity, and independence while students create and manage an online portfolio that showcases their unique musical journey. The curricular aims are as follows:

  • To promote confidence and identity; preparing students for GCSE, A-Level and IB courses.

  • To enable seamless transition between classwork and any eventuality where students need to work from home.

  • To develop independence and decision making.

  • To assess how students access music cognitively, in order to remove the subjective or limiting nature of standardised music assessment.

How does the KS3 Music Education Hub Work?

  • All of the resources that the students need can be found within the Student Portal. I always create a link to the portal on Google Classroom, so that students may access it from any location, with any device.

  • All students from year 7 to 9 create a professional online portfolio. The portfolio showcases student identity in it's design, and home page content. It is also used to upload video evidence of musical progress.

  • Following this, each student (or group of students) selects a piece of music to explore, based on their own preferences, ability level and goals. Students may use any of the instruments that are readily available in the classroom.

  • An exemplar project page is consistently monitored by the students as they develop during each step. It contains a preferred layout, course expectations, tutorial videos for all six steps (think of these as lesson objectives), and clear success criteria for each year group.

  • Students are then assessed using steps that reveal how deeply they have interacted with their own musical starting points. The steps are based on a musical taxonomy.

  • Assessment is based on the evidence provided in the portfolio. Each completed step represents a mark which can be tailored to suit your reporting system. For example, step 6 could be an A* grade and you can then work backwards from there. The automated tracker featured in the above video can be downloaded below.

  • Students that attain highly and are passionate about music can be encouraged to form groups and ensembles during break times in order to facilitate performance demands.

Tracker Download

The Student Portal

The Sample Project Page

Basic Skills

Planning

Lessons are not planned for in a traditional sense because each student chooses their own piece of music to study and they may progress through the steps at their own pace; maximising differentiation opportunities. Students may also change their song choice as frequently as they desire and can repeat the process once finished, with a new musical selection. We are measuring how deeply each student accesses their chosen material which grants insights as to how deeply they can theoretically access any piece of music.

Preliminary Step - Research

Can you present important information about your chosen piece of music in a professional manner? Try finding the release date, structure, genre, band members or interesting stories behind the music. Can you reference reliable resources that suit how you learn? Look for scores, YouTube videos or tablature that have strong reviews.

  • All year groups - Insert enough material to help you on your journey!

Step 1 - Recall

Can you remember the basic information relating to your chosen instrument? You can find the instrument basics by clicking on this link.

  • All year groups - Insert the slides from the link above that relate to your instrument then demonstrate your understanding in class.

Step 2 - Deconstruct

  • Can you explain and demonstrate how you have broken down and practised the music? Did you slow down the tempo, focus on a difficult part, split your left and right hands, focus on a difficult section or practise the rhythm only?

  • Year 7 - Insert 1 video in which you explain and demonstrate this step.

  • Year 8 - Insert 2 videos in which you explain and demonstrate 2 different approaches to this step.

  • Year 9 - Insert 3 videos in which you explain and demonstrate 3 different approaches to this step.

Step 3 - Perform

  • Can you perform your chosen piece of music to a level that challenges your musical ability? Don't worry about making mistakes! If your piece is too short you can repeat it.

  • Year 7 - Insert 1 video of your performance that is at least 01:00 long.

  • Year 8 - Insert 1 video of your performance that is at least 01:30 long.

  • Year 9 - Insert 1 video of your performance that is at least 02:00 long.

Step 4 - Analyse

  • Can you research, discuss and demonstrate how musical elements are used in your chosen piece of music? Musical elements are the building blocks of music, research some of the vocabulary below before talking about and demonstrating your chosen elements.

  • Year 7 - Insert 2 videos in which you analyse 2 of the elements below.

  • Year 8 - Insert 3 videos in which you analyse 3 of the elements below.

  • Year 9 - Insert 4 videos in which you analyse 4 of the elements below.

Dynamic refers to how loud the music is. Research: Loud, soft, powerful, crescendo, diminuendo, dynamic range, forte, piano, sforzando.

Structure refers to how the music is put together. Research: Section, verse, chorus, bridge, ternary form, binary form, ABA, rondo, canon, sonata form.

Melody refers to a progression of single notes that form the tune. Research: Pitch, step, leap, range, chromatic, interval, imitation, sequence, riff, ostinato.

Instrumentation refers to the instruments/voices you can hear. Research: Strings, brass, percussion, woodwind, band, synthesiser, acoustic, electric, tuned.

Timbre refers to sound quality and emotion. Research: Bright, dark, compressed, mastering, reverb, harsh, resonant, clear, saturated, distorted, metallic.

Beat/Tempo/Rhythm refer to how time is organised. Research: Accent, stress, waltz, 4/4, 6/8, time signature, quavers, crotchets, pulse, triplets, BPM, syncopated.

Harmony refers to notes that are being heard at the same time. Research: Chords, arpeggios, 7th chords, major, minor, power chords, counterpoint, Pedal.

Tonality refers to the collection of notes that the music uses. Research: Scale, major, minor, modal, modulation, key, key change, pentatonic, diatonic.

Texture refers to the density/layers of sound. Research: Unison, monophonic, homophonic, polyphonic, thick, thin, accompaniment, solo, duet, ensemble.

Step 5 - Evolve

  • Can you alter your chosen music in a way that highlights your personal identity? You may alter any number of the elements from step 4. Maybe you will write down chords, tabs or a full score too. Remember that when you create music, you need to improvise and make a lot of mistakes before you discover something you like. Try using composition techniques from YouTube tutorials. You may embed them on your site as references.

  • Year 7 - Insert 1 video of your evolution that is at least 01:00 long.

  • Year 8 - Insert 1 video of your evolution that is at least 01:30 long.

  • Year 9 - Insert 1 video of your evolution that is at least 02:00 long.

Step 6 - Compose

  • Can you create an original piece of music drawing upon everything you have explored so far? Create melodies, chords or rhythms and save your favourite ones. Maybe you will write down chords, tabs or a full score too. Remember that when you create music, you need to improvise and make a lot of mistakes before you discover something you like. Try using composition techniques from YouTube tutorials. You may embed them on your site as references.

  • Year 7 - Insert 2 videos that are both 01:00 long. 1 discussing/showing your ideas and 1 of your final composition.

  • Year 8 - Insert 2 videos that are both 01:30 long. 1 discussing/showing your ideas and 1 of your final composition.

  • Year 9 - Insert 2 videos that are both 02:00 long. 1 discussing/showing your ideas and 1 of your final composition.

Further Important Notes

  • Students must ensure that the challenge level of their chosen material is appropriate. Students who have been studying guitar for 8 years will select more difficult pieces than those who are new to the instrument for example. This does not effect the cognitive level at which students access their chosen piece; preventing moderation difficulties that sometimes arise from prescriptive curricula.

  • The teacher must model how they would approach each step in order to support the interactive material found on the Sample Project Page. I generally do this when the majority of the class is about to progress. The teacher must also support students by direct intervention related to their specific song choices. Use the tracker to help you identify who is most in need!

Notes on Limitations

  • Great freedom comes at the cost of chaos within the classroom.

  • The curriculum demands that students are motivated and self-disciplined.

  • Many students do not refer to the sample project page in order to inform their own work.

  • The curriculum makes larger performances difficult to plan for since all students are working on their own projects.