Issue 9: Graphic Scores for KeyStage 1

I have just spent an enjoyable hour teaching a lively year 1 and 2 class. The children were very happy to see two crates of percussion instruments being carried over to the hall for their lesson, but mystified by a crate of “multi-link” cubes which we also brought with us.

Our musical topic for this half term is “long and short sounds”.

So far we have used our voices to make long and short sounds, used dots and dashes to represent notation for long and short sounds, and learned about crotchet and semibreve notation.  The more able children have appreciated that you can write much longer pieces of music on your mini-whiteboard if you use crotchets and semibreves, than if you use dots and dashes which take up more room.

We have also explored how to make long and short sounds on a variety of percussion instruments in previous lessons.

Now, using the multi-link cubes, we were all set to work in pairs to compose musical duets!  I had previously sorted the multi-link into “sticks” of about nine or ten cubes of just two colours.  A long sound is represented by several cubes of the same colour stuck together, and a short sound by a single cube.  The “stick” becomes your score; each child has one colour, and together they perform the patterns they have created in their stick.  So, if they put all the cubes of one colour together, and then add all the cubes of the other colour on top, they each, in turn, play one long sound.  If they alternate the colours, then they each take turns in playing short sounds.

It worked brilliantly.  The children were absorbed in creating and performing a whole series of patterns of long and short sounds.  They really enjoyed using the multi-link cubes in a new context.  Evidence of creativity on music teaching was simple to achieve; we just went round with a camera and photographed the children as they worked.

As an added bonus, the lesson tied in neatly with their maths topic of “patterns”.

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