Issue 24: Journey into Space – Composition

Several schools that I work in as a class music teacher are doing “space” as their Keystage 2 topic for the term. This is a great topic for linking all sorts of different subject areas together.

Linking into Literacy:

I found that the children had written a “logbook” or “diary” of the mission to land men on the moon. In boxes on the page with headings such as “getting ready”, “blast off”, “travelling through space” etc, they had written about six or seven short entries. I photocopied their logbooks to use as a starting point for creating soundscapes of the space mission. We have spent several lessons exploring, using, choosing, and describing various sounds. I have been concentrating on vocal and “found” sounds, such as rubber bands streched over boxes, containers with different types of contents, paper tearing and scrunching and anything else that comes to hand in the classroom, Now, working in groups and using their logbooks as a structure, we shall be creating, performing, recording and assessing the compositions.

I was really pleased to find the ready-made classwork sitting in a pile waiting for me to come along; otherwise I would have allocated different parts of the journey to different groups, encouraged them to choose and write down words and ideas to describe their bit,and then linked the separate episodes into a complete class composition.

Linking in to Numeracy;

One easy way is to use measurement as a structure for composition. Using a ruler, create a composition based on length; count off the centimetres at a steady pace and organise who plays what and for how “long”; three centimetres of shakers, two centrimetres of triangles, a click of the claves every half centimtre for five centimetres….

The same principles would apply to composing using a stopwatch; 5 seconds of one set of sounds, 10 seconds of another set of sounds….

Pattern-making; decide upon a structure; for example “going out, arriving, returning”. To add complexity, the “return” section could be a mirror image of the “going out” section.

Linking in to Science;

Allocate a planet to each group, talk about the nature, size, distance away from Earth of the planet and create a solar system in sound.

A couple of favourite songs;

Battle Song of the Zartians (Asspukidu, AC Black);  Spaceship Jam (Singup);  Greetings from the Martian People (Music Express Extra, Pitch Builders, AC Black); Green Grow the Rushes Oh (The Singing School Year 6 – the link is slight; “7 for the seven stars in te sky”!)

Listening Music

Obviously The Planets Suite by Holst; the downside of this is that the movements are quite long and not exactly “easy-listening”. When I have used them I have tended to listen to small sections to start with, and talk about the mood, and the different sounds you can hear.

“Also Sprach Zarathustra” Richard Strauss

Any music from the “Star Wars” films, composer John Williams

“Aquarium” from Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens – the mood is suggestive of travelling among the stars.


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