Year 9 Remix Finalists

Following the year 8’s was the year 9 remix brief:

To reimagine and recreate Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You as if it had been written by Steve Reich.

In class we began by learning Clapping Music. A piece written by Steve Reich in 1972 which consisted of 2 performers clapping a pattern ad then one of the 2 performers would then shift their pattern to create a polyrhythmic effect. A technique that became known as Phasing. Here’s a visual example:

After listening and discussing it, the students had a go! warning: Performed by kids!


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Year 8 Remix Finalists

Every year we spend half a term exploring music technology. This year the themes of the Remix competition where: Ed Sheeran, Gustav Holst and Steve Reich.

This year our expert is Benjamin James  who is a professional music producer working in Saigon @ Inspiral Records. He will decide which is the best Remix from an expert’s perspective. The popular prize will go to the remix with most plays. Our winners will also get to visit the recording facilities at Inspiral Records and see how music producers work.


The brief for year 8  was: to create an atmospheric remix of Ed Sheeran’s  ‘Shape of you’ but re imagine it as if it was part of “The Planets suite” by Gustav Holst. They explore Delay effects as well as sampling of sounds related to space travel. Students explored Gustav Holst, orchestral instruments and the orchestra, major and minor chords, riffs and ostinati, and how to make a coherent musical arrangement.

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Remix Competition 2017 – Celebrating Music Technology

Every year at Renaissance the music department dedicates a term to celebrating music technology. We consider it an important part of 21st century music making and it also opens the door for our pupils to work on music that they are familiar with.

Remixing Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of you’ is the theme chosen by KS3 pupils in year 8 and 9 to work on music technology.

We will be using Soundtrap and each class has a different focus depending on their current topic in music class.

Year 8 is studying Gustav Holst’s ‘The planets and therefore their remix should include elements of Holst such as ostinato and use of programmatic elements to make their remix sound ‘spacey’.

Year 9 is studying Minimalism and thus their remix should follow the question: What would Shape of You sound like if Steve Reich had written it?

Here’s the original video:

Here’s an imaginative take on the same music using classroom instruments:

And here’s an even more imaginative take by Walk of the Earth:


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Piano Recital

It was a real pleasure to be part of the organizing team for the first Piano recital at Renaissance. Almost one out of three of our pupils plays the piano. It only made sense to give the piano such a highlight.

My Anh is in year 9 and along with her piano teacher they planned a 20 minute recital. Prior to the recital I had a little chat with My Anh and she was looking and sounding very nervous. My Anh is no stranger to performing in front of an audience but this time she had to whip out a whole 20 minutes of music that is technically and emotionally very challenging. These challenges are many fold. One the one hand, she was alone on the stage. On the other hand, some composers write their pieces in terrible circumstances and often these pieces are a reflection of that circumstance or that period of time. For My Anh this meant getting into the composers heads and trying to interpret the intentions of the piece. At the same time there is an audience to please! Her program was varied and it featured pieces by Bach, Mozart, Liszt and Prokofiev. The latter 2 requiring considerably more  interpretative insight than the first 2.

The personal and musical growth that this experience brings to a  musician is very valuable. A big congratulations to My Anh and her teacher Nguyen Nhat Quỳ at Saigon Piano School.



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Year 8, term 3. Music and Space.

Given the recent NASA findings of the solar system Trapist-1 it felt appropriate to look at how Space has influenced composers in the past. This unit begins by exploring Holst’s The Planets in order to explore the connection between Music and Space and to provide a stimulus for creative composition work.  Pupils explore how Holst uses musical elements and features, including the use of an ostinato, in “Mars”, and then using these features to compose their own Mars, The Bringer of War programmatic pieces.  Pupils learn about the use and manipulation of dynamics including gradations of dynamics and the use of crescendo, performing a theme from “Jupiter” and listening to other movements from Holst’s suite.

Here’s the class singing I Vow To Thee which is Hymn created in 1921 by Sir Cecil Spring and the music composed by Gustav Holst. Gustav included this hymn in the ‘Jupiter Movement‘ of The Planets. (video)

Here is an example of a groups’ version of Mars-The Bringer of War.  The task was to use elements learned from listening activities. (Audio)

Currently the pupils are learning about music technology and they will be creating a soundscape which describes a planet of their choice. Pupils will learn how to sequence music using Digital Audio Workstations. Watch this space!

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Year 10 explore Melody.

What are the characteristics of a melody? why are some melodies better than others? Year 10 started the year looking at melodic shapes and analyzing melodies.

We have also been studying Timbre which is the colour of sound. Here is a recording we did of an improvisation using the acoustic piano. The idea was to get as many colours as possible from the piano.

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Blog Post #5 for year 10.

You can either create 4 separate posts or you can include all the posts into one.

Rhythm 1

Demonstrate your understanding through performing/composing or podcasting.

The concepts are:

  1. Beat, pulse
  2. Grouping of beats to make a repeating pattern
  3. Time/metre
  4. bars and bar lines
  5. accent and non-accent
  6. duple, triple and quadruple meters
  7. time signature 2/4, 3/4, 4/4
  8. Notes and rests (chart)
  9. Time values of notes in relation to semibreve.
  10. Simple time signatures.

Refer to (and include in your posts) music from the ‘linked listening’  on page 16.

Rhythm 2

Demonstrate your understanding through performing/composing or podcasting.

  1. Binary form
  2. 2/4 time and 6/8 time
  3. simple time
  4. compound time
  5. syncopation
  6. ways of creating syncopation
  7. irregular times/meters
  8. 5/4, 5/8, 7/4, 7/8 and 11/8
  9. Polyrhythms and rhythm counterpoint.

Refer to (and include in your posts) music from the ‘linked listening’  on page 155

Major, Minor and Pentatonic.

Demonstrate your understanding through performing/composing or podcasting.

  1. Repeat signs
  2. major key
  3. minor key
  4. major scale
  5. tones and semitones
  6. pattern of tones and semitones in the major scale
  7. minor scale
  8. key signature
  9. naming the notes/degrees of the scale
  10. key signatures
  11. intervals
  12. major into minor
  13. pentatonic scales.

Refer to (and include in your posts) music from the ‘linked listening’  on page 47

Graphic Notation

This post should be a reflection of your performance of the graphic score on page 68. It should include the following (but not limited to these)

  1. notation
  2. various ways in which sounds may be notated
  3. graphic notation
  4. explanatory key; verbal instructions
  5. turning graphics into sound
  6. creating graphic for sounds
  7. graphic score (with key explanation) to be interpreted.
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