Primary & middle
Repeated visits/Residencies
GCSE/'A' Level
'A' Level only

Primary & Middle
A one day, first time visit. Typically involves:

9:15 Encounter with a jazz musician (me), with assembly of all pupils and teachers.

Begins with introduction to my double bass. (Rarely fails to entertain when finding out what the pupils think it is.....)

I also perform a piece, and then involve everyone in a practical demonstration of the piece's rhythmic and improvisational elements.

(9:45 or so, in primary schools, we may have had the best of KS1's concentration span at this point, and so they return to their classrooms.)

Extend the initial materials to create an improvised 'school song', generally a lot of fun and laughter involved. Sometimes brave (foolish?) pupils come out the front and attempt my part!

After mid-morning break, continue to develop ideas from the first session with one KS2 (or 3) class.

After lunch, work with another KS2 (or 3) class, but using a different activity. This way the Music Co-ordinator has the benefit of experiencing a variety of materials/ideas.

Alternatives: In some schools they prefer me to work with the school's band/orchestra instead of a mixed ability year group.

Also, a half-day visit is sometimes possible.

Repeated visits/Residencies. A selection of examples that might be used:

Stepping Spiders

An ambitious music and movement activity, linking up a variety of skills and resulting in a performable item. Includes:

Percussion ensemble

Improvising ensemble

Movement/dance element

Integrated ‘spidery’ song (& simple songwriting class)

Usually done with one Key Stage 2/3 class, over a series of visits. Resulting performance given at end of final session, to an audience of peers/parents able to come in.

Be advised that a good amount of floor space needed, and it includes the laying down of a masking tape ‘spider’s web’ design (which forms basis of piece), usually in region of 4 to 6 metres in diam

Chair Whacking

Is what it says it is! I bring a stock of low budget (therefore non-precious) sticks, deployed upon the ubiquitous plastic stacking chairs. Can be informal call & response fun session, and subsequently a way into learning to manipulate rhythmic notation, or to learn detailed components of Brazilian, Cuban or African rhythms.


Over a steady 8-beat pulse, students move from improvising bizarre ensemble passages (which owe as much to Buster Keaton as they do to Stravinsky or Zappa....), on into improvised and/or composed small group sections. Elements routinely covered with this activity include:

Listening-while-playing, rhythmic stability and coherence, texture, ‘feel’, space. In fact, anything and everything relevant to creating musical pieces.

GCSE/’A’ Level

Relevant activities, (complimenting any and all materials already listed above).

Bali Hoo

Tutti 4/4 rhythmic canon, then transposes onto instruments.

Starts out as a bit of musical fun and mullarky, soon developing into compositional and improvisational framework. This can be approached atonally, or just as easily used as a way into dealing with the specifics of Functional Harmony, particularly chord-scale relationships.

Exploring Functional Harmony (chords & related scales/modes)

On a practical, playing basis, students learn to identify and use the chordal possibilities that extend from a variety of scales, typically the Major and the Harmonic Minor. In some situations this can progress to include the Melodic Minor and the Harmonic Major.


A natural extension of the previous item, and once again approached on instruments/voices, basic four-note chords are explored as a means to accessing the fundamental ‘bluesy’ sound that underpins so much of Blues, Jazz, Rock, Soul and a vast swathe of Pop music.

'A’ Level & beyond only (usually...)


Initially vocal, we improvise chordal textures which in turn can be the backdrop for bravura solo improvisation.. Also very effective as a vehicle for spontaneous ‘two-part inventions’ when used in duet form. Progresses onto instruments, remaining ‘free’ harmonically, or following nominated keys/tonalities. Thence proceeds into any number of compositional and improvisational contexts.

Primary & middle
Repeated visits/Residencies
GCSE/'A' Level
'A' Level only
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