GCSE A-Level Key Stage 3 Composition

Paper Plates & Masking Tape!

Another week lies ahead of us and I thought I would therefore share with you one of my favourite lesson ideas. This is a simple idea with minimal setup or resources and so many application!

Who is this for?
Key Stage 3, GCSE or A-Level

What do you need?
Paper Plates, Masking Tape, a floor, Ideas for application

Potential Outcomes?
Grasp notes on a stave, Understand how to harmonise a melody, understand how notes can fit with chords, understand scale patterns & arpeggios – there are so many applications.

So I guess this is more of a method and you can apply this to a number of different topics and ideas. All I will say is that it works really well and gets students out of their seats.

  1. Buy some paper plates
  2. Write note names on the back of them – you can include sharps and flats etc.
  3. Create 2 staves on the floor of your classroom using Masking Tape
  4. Hand plates out to a class – they could start creating different scales as a starter task.

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So what could you do with this masking tape stave and a load of paper plates?

You could get students to create a melody – but you might need a longer stave than the one in my photos. By placing the plates on the stave they start to think about intervals and melodic shape – all very visual.

You could get students to create chords using the paper plates and then discuss inversions – so if they have the chords on the treble staff you could then ask them to create different inversions.

Why not get them to harmonise a melody or add a melody to a series of chords? You could get one group writing a melody and the other harmonising it.

You could create a bass-line and look at how chords might fit – a descending scale bass-line a bit like Canon in D is always a good place to start.

Four examples of what you can do with this method.

Why Does it Work?  

It works because it is different, visual, physical and active. You can easily make it into a quick fire timed game, or challenge them to create stuff. Students really enjoy the physical aspect to it – not on a screen or in a book. I think it is also helpful to visualise say an inversion and what that looks like on a big scale.

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When students walk in to this kind of lesson their imagination will immediately be sparked and they are much more likely to leave with some knowledge that they didn’t arrive at the lesson with.

So give it a try and see what you think. Let me know if you come up with any additions or changes or great applications.


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