Key Stage 3

Composing at Home 8

In this Composing at Home blog, we are going to be learning about a style of music called Minimalism. This blog will incorporate some Listening, Reading & Composition. I will be bringing together a range of resources, videos and ideas including the wonderful resources on the BBC Ten Pieces website.

This work is aimed at Key Stage 3 students and all of the work can be completed at home without the need for any formal instruments or expensive music technology. You will need:

  • Computer, Laptop, Phone or Tablet
  • Internet Connection
  • Pen & Pencil for taking notes
  • A brain ready to think about listening & creating music.

Stage 1 – Listening to Minimalism

Minimalism is a style of music that brings together short ideas, patterns & motifs. Minimalism is where composers use, repeat and layer these ideas together in order to create an interesting piece of music. A musical idea could be as simple as a short clapping pattern, or a little melody that you start humming and keep repeating. Each layer will have its own sound, colour or shape. This means that each layer will bring something unique to the piece.

For this first stage you need start by visiting the BBC Ten Pieces Website. This webpage focusses on a famous Minimalist Composer called Steve Reich. In order to learn about this style of music you will watch two videos that explain one of his famous minimalist pieces “Music for 18 Musicians”. Here is the Link you need:

BBC Ten Pieces: Music for 18 Musicians

  • When you listened to Music for 18 Musicians, what stood out to you the most? 
  • What different Layers can you identify in the music?
  • What did you enjoy about the music?

Key Terms

There are a number of Key Terms that are linked to this piece of music and it would be good for you to get to know them. Understanding key terms will mean that you start to spot them in the music that you listen to. You might like to listen back to “Music for 18 Musicians” and try to spot these features:

  • Rhythm – The Horizontal organisation of beats/note values
  • Melody – The Horizontal organisation of pitch
  • Crescendo – gradually getting louder
  • Diminuendo – gradually getting softer
  • Dynamics – the term used for louds and softs/volume
  • Ostinato – a repeating (often rhythmic) pattern
  • Pitched percussion – percussion instruments that can play different pitches – xylophones, glockenspiels, chime bars, etc.
  • Tempo – Speed
  • Unpitched percussion – percussion instruments that can only make a limited number of sounds – drums, shakers, woodblocks, tambourines, etc.

Move on to Page 2 for the next stage in this project


  1. That was really informative, for both me as a teacher, & my students. Thank you for opening up Bandlab to us!

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