KS3 Curriculum Guide - Year 8 Music
Term 1Blues and Jazz   
This unit develops pupils’ understanding of bass lines and chords as a harmonic foundation upon which a melody can be constructed upon and as a foundation for improvisation. Pupils begin by learning about the history, origin and development of the Blues and its characteristic 12-bar Blues structure exploring how a walking bass line is developed from a chord progression. Pupils also explore the effect of adding a melodic improvisation using the Blues scale and the effect on which “swung” rhythms have as used in jazz and blues music. Pupils are introduced to seventh chords and how these are formed and their characteristic sound used in jazz and blues music.
Assessment: Students perform a 12 bar blues chord sequence and blues scale improvisation. If completed students move on to composing their own Blues style compositon. Key Words and Terms
 
Term 2Musicals   
This unit explores songs and music from the stage, beginning with an exploration into “What makes up a musical?” Pupils explore the history and developments of elements of a musical, from their origins in opera, before exploring the impact of an “opening number” (‘All That Jazz’) in terms of chords and vamps, putting together a group performance. Pupils move onto rehearse a full class performance of ‘Cellblock Tango’ (also from “Chicago”), with some great accompanying pupil audio tracks! The unit ends with a choice of pathways - teachers can select whether pupils compose their own scene from a musical based on visual stimuli or whether to continue the performance focus of the unit and allow pupils to work on a group performance of a song from a musical.
Assessment: Students are assessed on their listening and performing skills. They are introduced to a variety of musical styles and study the history of the musical. They learn a variety of short musical excerpts from given songs. Key Words and Terms
 
Term 3Theme and Variations   
This unit develops pupils’ ability to recognise, explore and make creative use of the elements of music found in variation form. Pupils begin this unit by working with a famous theme and exploring different musical ways in which this can be varied and developed, using the elements of music and exploring changes in tonality and rhythm. Pupils explore how composers have used variation form in a selection of music from different times and places. Finally, pupils learn about the concept of Ground Bass, as a type of Variation Form, performing Pachelbel’s “Canon” and composing their own Ground Bass Variations before looking at how Ground Bass has been used in popular songs.
Assessment: Students are to perform as many variations as possible on a given theme. If completed students may continue to compose their own variant on the given theme. Key Words and Terms
 
Term 4Reggae (off beat)

Create a supportive community:
Students learn to rehearse and perform together and ultimately compose together.

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Create a supportive community:
Students learn to rehearse and perform together and ultimately compose together.

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Create a supportive community:
Students learn to rehearse and perform together and ultimately compose together.

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Create a supportive community:
Students learn to rehearse and perform together and ultimately compose together.

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This unit explores reggae music and the culture it comes from. Pupils learn about the importance of bass lines in reggae music and how offbeat chords are a key feature of music from this genre. Pupils explore the strong and weak beats of the bar, syncopation and the effect that this has on reggae music, before looking at how “fragmented” melodic parts can be used as bass line riffs and melodic hooks. Pupils look at the famous reggae musician, Bob Marley and his influence on Rastafarianism to a worldwide audience through the lyrics of reggae songs and explore the different textural layers, which make up reggae music.
Assessment: Students perform a rendition of 'Yellow Bird' and other chosen Reggae pieces. Then students move on to composing their own group Reggae pieces. Key Words and Terms
 
Term 5Recycled Rhythms   
This unit begins by looking at how “junk” and “recyclable” objects can be used as percussion instruments and explores the different timbres available from these non-conventional sound sources. Pupils watch and listen to a number of performances by percussion groups such as STOMP and Weapons of Sound, to see how they have used “junk” objects to create percussive pieces using elements of music such as rhythm, ostinato, beat/pulse, how a piece is structured and how different “junk” percussion timbres have been selected and combined to create an intended effect. Pupils create their own “junk” percussion piece - here, the stimulus is “The Kitchen”, but this can be adapted to other musical or non-musical starting points.
Assessment: Students to produce their own recycled instrument, made from materials found at home. They are then to use this within a group composition. Key Words and Terms
 
Term 6Hip Hop, Pop and Dance   
This unit aims to explore the cultural heritage of Hip-Hop music, how it grew from the Bronx in New York in the 1960’s to becoming what it is today. The music was often used to break down racial barriers and was one of the starting points for many musicians and rappers today. Students will explore the structure and harmony of Hip-Hop, its use of bass lines and often political lyrics and how technology was used to loop rhythms and borrow backings from other songs. This study will continue into Dance music and Pop and bring us up to date with where we are today. Pupils will gain an understanding of where these musical styles develop from, and why; pupils will learn the typical structures for these musical styles. Pupils will have an opportunity to use music technology software to compose a piece of music in one of these styles.
Assessment: Students study the history of Hip Hop and Rap, perform given pieces and compose their own rap! Key Words and Terms
 

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