GCSE A-Level Key Stage 3

Dictionary Corner

This is the second part in my new series that is looking at Focus on Sound Pro. Last week I gave you a quick introduction, but this week I want to look at the dictionary and how it can be used for “Dictionary Corner”.


It won’t take you long to realise where this term Dictionary Corner comes from. It is of course from the popular tv show Countdown. If you have ever watched the show you will know that Susie Dent along with a celebrity, sits in Dictionary Corner. Their job is to verify the words of the contestants. This got me thinking about how we appoprach Key Terms in music lessons and how FoS Pro can help with this.

FoS Dictionary

Growing up in school I remember lugging a music dictionary to and from school. I miss those days, but I am so glad that I have access to the dictionary in FoS Pro. If you don’t know much about it, then think of a dictionary that is online. But it has images and also sound files to bring to life the key terms.

Focus on Sound Pro - Dictionary Corner
Focus on Sound Pro Dictionary

The dictionary has a vast array of key terminology and students are able to quickly and easily look up words. I love it that they can hear the words in context and see what they are reading about. This can be really helpful for students who are struggling to hear key terms in the set works or wider listening.

It is split into two different sections – Instruments & Sound Words. Instruments is fairly obvious I would hope, a library of instruments with audio and visual material alongside. Sound Words is more focussed on musical knowledge and music theory. But there is a tab on both these areas that simply says Dictionary. This is where they can search for key terms easily.

But how can we use this effectively in our teaching? How can we ensure that students use this facility and get the best out of it?

Using the Dictionary effectively

Dictionary Corner as a concept is all about getting students to proactively look up and research key terms. In a lesson it is good for them to be logged in to FoS so that they can look things up.

But it is also about discovery and encouraging students to discover new musical terms. I always like it when a student asks for a more musical way of describing something.

And so as teachers we need to encourage our students to do this. Start by having the dictionary always open on the screen at the front. This shows them what it is all about and how it can be used. You could also give them a list of words to look up during a lesson or for homework. This sounds a bit dull on the face of it, but you can easily link it to a theme or topic.

A good approach is to make a game out of searching for words. Give the student the definitions and they have to find the word to match. Anything that will get them actively discovering new words is going to pay off in the long run. Use the countdown timer to make any dictionary corner game more fun


During the writing of this blog the composer of the Countdown theme tune Alan Hawkshaw sadly died at the age of 84. I thought I would mention this because he composed a number of iconic theme tunes. Whilst it isn’t related to the dictionary corner concept, my links with Countdown in this blog made me feel it was worth including. He composed a number of iconic theme tunes and has an interesting musical history. It is always nice to introduce students to composers and give them an insight into their career.

Dictionary Corner

The FoS dictionary is a fantastic resource and one I encourage you to use. The more you can get students engaging with it, the more progress they will make. It brings to life the key terms and allows them to actively take responsibility for their own musical knowledge. Making games out of key terms is always fun, but at the heart of it there is some excellent learning taking place.

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