Key Stage 3

20 Key Stage 3 Tips

I am loving teaching Key Stage 3 music this year and I feel like this half term has gone really well! I am in a school that starts in year 9, so my experience is potentially very different to a majority of you! But none the less I have a few tips and ideas that I wanted to share.

20 Key Stage 3 Tips

  1. If you haven’t already, then have a look at your schemes of work and add something new. This year we are trying – Cubase, Cajon & more singing.
  2. Start lessons with a Do It Now task or a Flying Start approach. If you are not sure what this means then see my previous blog DO IT NOW!
  3. Keep your door open during lessons. I have been doing this recently and it has made a real difference to the environment. Also I quite like people popping their head in as they walk past to see what is going on.
  4. Whateaver you do don’t shy away from traidianl notation as students actually really enjoy engaging with it.
  5. Sing as much as possible and as often as possible.
  6. Get yourself a department Cajon – a box drum. I have found it a really useful tool when I am teaching rhythm, but also a good accompaniment for classroom singing. They start fairly cheap, but you may like to go for a more durable one.
  7. Listen to lots of music in class. This could be as students enter and if so then link it to a Do It Now task. Try and vary what you play them so they are intrigued, surprised or comfortable when they enter the classroom.
  8. Chat to other subjects and see if there are ways of linking up and undertaking some cross-curricular work.
  9. Think about the summer term now and make sure that you save some of your “best” topics for then. I teach Year 9 and so by the summer they have taken their options and are starting to think about the future. Music therefore needs to be exciting and engaging for them so that they don’t switch off.
  10. Lessons in the lead up to options Evening should showcase a little bit of GCSE. Try unpacking a set-work or doing a Brief based composition to ensure that they are aware of what GCSE is all about.
  11. Smile more! Key Stage 3 music can be hard at times, especially when students aren’t engaged. Don’t pretend that it is something it is not and ensure that you smile and make the lessons enjoyable.
  12. Do you use enough technology in your lessons? Students love music technology and it isn’t all expensive and complicated. Try using a loop pedal with your singing & song-writing schemes of work, this is a winner for us and a great tool in lessons.
  13. Using computer to create music is fantastic and there are a number of great websites out there. Check out to start with!
  14. Sonic Pi is something that we introduced last year and it has worked really well. It is free and has so much scope for Key Stage 3 students – Sonic Pi Diaries – Pt. 1
  15. If you don’t have access to computers in your classroom then make sure you book a computer room in advance! Getting students making music on computers is really important.
  16. Get rid of tables in your classroom and make the space more exciting and useable. I have blogged about this on another platform and I believe that desks get in the way of a music lesson particularly at Key Stage 3 – Who Needs Tables?
  17. We all find ourselves taken away from the classroom at some point so it’s a good idea to prepare cover work in advance. Depending on the time of year it might be possible to leave something that they have previously worked on. They can build on this previous skill easily, especially if it is something on computers. Technology is great and there are fantastic websites that they can use to work on their music theory skills –
  18. Use senior students to help support lessons. It is great for the class as you have another pair of hands, and good experience for the senior student. I have in the past asked A-Level students to support cover teachers when I have not been in school.
  19. Make sure you get on the Key Stage 3 Facebook group and any other relevant groups. There are loads of ideas out there and lots of communities that will support you.
  20. Don’t suffer in silence or do it on your own. Key Stage 3 can be though and it is important that we enjoy it and deliver it to the best of our ability. Students need to enjoy music and make enough progress to ensure that GCSE Music is within reach.

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