Key Stage 4

Lesson one

Lesson one

Share the Glyndebourne website for Agreed. Then ask the students to read the synopsis and identify some of the key themes.

Teacher notes:

  • Casting out - outcasts, bible stories (casting out demons), exile, division.
  • Forbidden boundary - prohibited barrier, border and frontier. Ask children to name as many boundaries as possible: physical, emotional/psychological and geographical.
  • Unrest spirals – disturbance, agitation, name any public demonstrations. How might they escalate?
  • Conscience – sense of right and wrong, moral compass.

A key theme to be explored in these teacher resources is conflict.

Starter Activity

Divide the students into small groups and ask them to discuss the nature of pieces associated with conflict – What might have inspired their composition? What musical styles are they?

Play an excerpt of the following piece, Shostakovich Symphony No. 7 "Leningrad". Does this piece express conflict? Bring ideas together into a class discussion.

Main Activity (computer lesson)

  • Ask the students to use computers in pairs. 
  • Ask them to research famous pieces of music inspired by conflict (except Shostakovich Symphony No. 7 "Leningrad"). Encourage them to think laterally, i.e not simply military marches, but perhaps a lament for a fallen soldier, the Last Post etc.
  • Make a list of five such pieces and choose one to present to the class including an extract of a recording, placing the piece in its musical and historical context.


Lesson two

Lesson two

Starter Activity

Initiate a class discussion on aural music traditions: Gregorian chant, African drumming, Indian raga, folk music. Explaining that this is music from before a recording tradition.

  • Split the students into groups. Ask each group to come up with a list that describes what makes music effective if it is part of an aural tradition.
  • Establishing that the most important elements are likely to be repetitiveness, simplicity of melody, uncomplicated rhythm and catchy lyrics, prepare the class for a group folk song composition exercise.

Main Activity

First play the class extracts from these three famous examples to set them in the right sound world.

Molly Malone

The Oak and the Ash

The Sally Gardens

After a brief discussion about their musical characters,  divide the class into groups and ask each to write a single four-line verse of a folk song, starting with lyrics and then adding a simple melody (and, of course, adding any available instruments).

Lesson three

Lesson three

Starter Activity

Play the class two contrasting pieces of music about water, with no prior explanation: the beginning of La Mer by Debussy and an extract from Britten’s Four Sea Interludes. What do the pieces have in common? How are they different?

Main Activity

Split the class into groups and ask them to list ideas of what people associate with the sea. Discuss that the sea is often a place of battle and war, and then play the theme to the Pirates of the Caribbean, asking the groups to list what musical methods the composer uses to create the feeling of battle.

In groups, set the task of writing their own piece of music to represent conflict at sea, incorporating the ideas gathered from the preceding discussion.

Teacher note: This should include a strong military ostinato pulse, a lively uplifting rhythm and a striking but simple melody. If possible, encourage accurate notation of the composition.



Homework one

Ask the students to research Shostakovich Symphony No. 7 "Leningrad". Write a short essay (500 words) on the historical context of its composition as well as personal observations about the music, using appropriate analytical terms.

Homework two

Ask the students to research a famous folk singer. Write a short piece of prose including details of their most popular songs and pertinent biographical information.

Homework three

Ask the students to research Peter Grimes by Britten. Write a short piece of prose about the context of its composition and the function and importance of the Four Sea Interludes as heard in class.