Making music relevent

This scheme of work explores how learners can become engaged with a piece of unfamiliar repertoire through working with its “elements” to create group compositions.

The scheme of work was originally created for pupils in Year 9 who have opted for GCSE Music.

The scheme of work was created by composer Fraser Trainer with teacher Lizzie Hastings from Sir John Lawes School, Harpenden.

Scheme of Work

Key Question

How do we introduce music to young people that they don’t already know and make it relevant to their learning with reference to both musical and extra-musical contexts?

Aims of this project/scheme?

  • To develop an understanding of the language, techniques and working methods of a composer.
  • Increase the learners’ skill levels in composition and performance.
  • To develop the learners’ awareness, understanding, and appreciation of compositional elements contained in new music.
  • Develop creative approaches to composition through group collaborative processes.

Key outcomes

  • Use creative starting points to develop original compositions.
  • Explore ideas through a variety of creative music processes including improvisation, whole class ensemble, and small group work, in order to develop musical ideas, skills and knowledge.
  • Refine and assess progress through questioning and reflection.
  • Develop a deeper understanding of music.

Lesson 1

To assimilate new experiences into learners’ musical schemas.

How to listen to and construct the architecture of a new piece.

Gain an insight into the compositional process.

Learn to become a composer.

How music involves the whole person – the intellect, the emotion and the body to think conceptually.


Topic and Purpose

The Shock of the New!
This session introduces the project and the piece ‘Worm Gear (Gadget III)’ by composer Fraser Trainer to the group.

It explores how you can encounter music through imagery and metaphor.


To explore the musical language of a new piece of music: Worm Gear (Gadget III) by Fraser Trainer.

Gadget: A mechanical device or tool designed to make life or a machine function in a more satisfactory way!


The learners shall develop new musical terminology and explore new musical worlds.


In order to prepare for active listening the learners shall be involved in class discussions about; the music, it’s character, make-up and context.

Alongside this they shall also explore its building blocks with reference to other music and their own musical worlds.

Lesson 2

For learners to experience a clear compositional technique process by doing it themselves.

To internalise processes to help make learners fluent; how to apply this to new compositional scenarios.

To understand how large structures in music can grow from simple ideas and small cells of material.

To consolidate and apply key performance skills and a sense of ensemble and experimentation.


Topic and Purpose

Musical Machines.


To use compositional ideas from Worm Gear (Gadget III) as a starting point for developing compositional processes and new musical material.

To develop confidence in using composing ideas and confidence in musical performance with attention to rhythmic awareness, ensemble and structures.


Learners will develop their skill levels in composition and performance.

They will also expand their collaborative skills through sharing and discussing ideas.


Idea generation and experimentation with ideas is central to this lesson and has an impact on future work.

Lesson 3

For learners to work collaboratively.

That editing and refining are significant and important steps in the process.

A way of expanding cells of material as well as how to transform an idea into something new.

To trust and gain confidence in perceptions and feelings about the music.


Topic and Purpose

This session takes a step towards a much more familiar and recognisable musical world for the students. It also focuses on the music’s inner workings and encourages the learners to think inside the musical processes. It less to do with learning “about” the music of others but real and personal responses.


Learners shall create musical material within a closed structure.

To explore refining, edit and develop material.

To encourage learners to make a connection with the musical or compositional aspirations of the group through the development of creative learning approaches.


To work together as a large group, and be able to listen and make space for each other.


To demonstrate that the class group can be a band or orchestra regardless of instrumental make-up.

Lesson 4

To layer different strands of material.

To look more deeply into different ways of handling the compositional tools.

To take existing material into new contexts and re-shape or re-work it.


Topic and Purpose

This session is about getting right to the heart of the composing process. The learners are using the very same materials or building blocks from which Worm Gear is constructed, but are reinventing them for themselves, their instruments, their group and their own musical environment.


To build on previous learning experiences.

The importance of continuing to revise, rehearse and refine compositions.

To respond flexibly to the new structure, the new set of instruments or the new set of people the group etc.


Explore, reflect, and analyse creative thinking processes.

Refine the structure of the composition.


The development of reflective processes both of learning and how to refine ideas.

Lesson 5

Learners will understand how to make their own forms and structures.

To listen critically and to make decisions based on learners’ musical instincts.

To take risks and try things beyond the norm and beyond stereotypes.

That composing is a multilayered and sometimes a slow process that only ends with the performance of a new piece.

That rehearsal is an important part of communicating a new piece of music.

To work collaboratively to achieve these things.


Topic and Purpose

To make learning relevant by encouraging reflection on personal and creative musical ideas.


To construct a satisfying form and structure for all the musical material made during the project so far.


Group discussion and decision making processes will be important for engagement within the lesson.


How to develop a creative idea, refine, rehearse and perform it for others.

Lesson 6

To listen to the newly created work of the students.

To compare the pieces with Worm Gear (Gadget III), noting similarities and differences.


Topic and Purpose

To develop the learners’ awareness, understanding, and appreciation of compositional elements contained in their own compositions and compare it to ‘Worm Gear (Gadget III)’.


To compare, contrast and draw conclusions from the group, reflecting on the impact of the project on the students.


Group performances and evaluation will example the learners’ ability to work collaboratively, reflect on learning and perform


Increase the learners’ skill levels in composition and musical understanding