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Rhinegold Education Key Stage 3: Lesson 9

From Rhinegold Education, Key Stage 3: Lesson 9 (ages 11-14) that takes a look at the art of improvisation.

Learning Objective: to improvise and compose. To develop musical ideas by drawing on a range of musical structures, styles, genres and traditions. To use staff and other relevant notations appropriately and accurately.

Length: 45 minutes
 

1. Listen to the first verse of “Trapped by Love” by Manu Chao.

Follow the lyrics (below) and, when you know the verse reasonably well, listen again and sing along with the lyrics:

When you come I’m feeling better,
Sky is blue, you said forever,
Ooh ooh, I’ve been trapped by love.
Then you go so change the weather,
Sky is grey but more than ever,
Ooh ooh, I’ve been trapped by love.


 

2. Listen to this explanation of “Trapped by Love.”

3. Listen again and sing (or play) along with the bass line.

Before you do this, listen to this explanation.

4. Listen once more.

At 0:18 (just before the lyrics start) you will hear a high trumpet, apparently improvising over the top of the singing. Focus on this trumpet. Can you describe how it plays?
 

4b. Listen here to check your answers.

5. Try improvising like this trumpet player. Listen to this explanation of how to do this.

When you are ready to improvise, use this backing track:

Use these notes and listen to check that the notes you play fit well with the backing:

Scale 1

6. Now try improvising over a different track.

Use these notes and listen to check that the notes you play fit well with the backing:

Scale 2

7. Each of the backing tracks you have used contains only 2 chords.

Step 5 contains chords of D major (the 1st, 3rd, and 5th note of the D major scale) and A major (the 1st, 3rd, and 5th note of the A major scale):

Scale 3

Step 6 contains chords of D minor (the 1st, 3rd, and 5th note of the D minor scale) and C major (the 1st, 3rd, and 5th note of the C major scale)

Scale 4

8. Construct any 2 chords – major or minor.

If you have a guitar or keyboard instrument, use these chords to compose a backing track. (If not, you can use this virtual keyboard. Play it using your computer keyboard.) 

9. Now listen to “Something in The Way” by Nirvana.

Although the style and mood of this song is completely different from “Trapped by Love,” it is also based entirely on 2 chords – F minor and Db major.

10. Watch the following video of Key Stage 3 pupils on an improvisation task, from Rhinegold Education’s new book Teaching Music: Practical Strategies for KS3.

Notice how the musicians are trying to listen and respond to one another.

You can read more about improvisation, and other musical skills in Rhinegold Education’s Teaching Music: Practical Strategies for KS3.

By Tim Cain for Rhinegold Education

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