School Band

School Band

A WCET music course featuring ensemble playing and music reading easily led by non-musically trained teachers using simple smartboard technology.

There are thirty-three lessons in the course, typically ten for each term.

When you learn a new note you see where it is written on the stave and how to play it. Here the children are playing glockenspiels and ukuleles.

The children can play different combinations of instruments – glockenspiels and ukuleles, glockenspiels and recorders, ukuleles and recorders, and any one of those three instruments on their own.

Once the instruments are selected the children must stay with them throughout the course – the acquisition of new notes is progressive and previously learned notes are constantly recycled.

The first exercise in each lesson is to practice the new note…

…with the notes you have already learned.

Now you are ready to play a duet…

…half the class plays one part and the other half plays the other part.
And then you swap and repeat.

Now you all learn the percussion part…

… in this case a simple bass drum and cymbal beat.

Now you put the duet together with the percussion to play a trio.

Groups take turns to play each part.

Sometimes we sing the lyrics too with four groups taking turns.

There are clear and simple graphic and spoken instructions…

…which explain all you need to know to make a successful start.

Music Theory Primer

School Band assumes that you the teacher have no musical training or experience. This section explains all the music theory your pupils will learn during the course so you can become familiar with it before presenting it to your class. 

The stave

Musical notation is written on a stave with five lines.

The stave is divided into bars separated by bar-lines.

The last bar has two bar-lines.

Recorder music is written on the treble clef stave.

The symbol is called the treble clef.

A lot of other instruments are written on the treble clef including guitar, violin and flute.

These are the notes your pupils will learn to read in this course.

They will learn them one at a time, alongside notes they have already learned.



Accidentals include sharps and flats.

Sharps and flats are the black notes on a piano keyboard.

Your pupils will learn these two notes with accidentals.


Key signatures

Your pupils will learn to play in three key signatures.

The key signature of C major has no sharps or flats as none of the notes in this key is sharpened or flattened.

Your pupils will start off in the key of C major.

The notes in G major include one sharp note.

This sharp note is written as the key signature, right after the treble clef symbol.

Instead of sharpening every example of this note throughout the piece the sharp appears only once – as the key signature.

Whenever this note appears you sharpen it automatically.

The same convention applies to this note in the key of F major.


Time signatures

Your pupils will play in two time signatures – 24 and 34.

24 is sometimes called ‘square time’ and 34 ‘waltz time’.

In 24 there are two beats in each bar.

In 34 there are three beats in each bar.



These notes are called quarter-notes.

They each last for one beat.

This note is called a half-note.

It lasts for two beats.

Two quarter-notes equal one half-note.

Quarter-notes are also called crotchets.

Half-notes are also called minims.

Different rhythms are possible with different notes.

In 34 quarter-notes still last for one beat and half-notes still last for two beats.

Two eighth-notes equal one quarter-note.

Eighth-notes can be written separately or joined.

Eighth-notes are also called quavers.


A dot increases a note’s length by half.

A dotted half-note lasts for three beats.

A dotted quarter-note equals three eighth-notes.

A dotted quarter-note lasts for one-and-a-half beats.

All notes can be written with tails going up or down. The choice is typographical only and makes no difference to the pitch or rhythm of the notes.


Percussion notation

Percussion parts are also written on a five-line stave.

With recorder parts the higher the pitch of the sounds the higher up they are written on the stave.

This is not the case with percussion – instead, each percussion instrument has a place on the stave where it is ALWAYS written.

However, its horizontal position is very important – where it appears in each bar shows which beats it is played on.

Percussion parts begin with the percussion clef symbol instead of the treble clef.

The pecussion clef symbol is followed by the time signature.

The ride cymbal has the most distinctive look. Your pupils will learn this first.

It always appears on top of the stave.

The other three percussion parts in this course are written as quarter-notes.

The tom-tom always appears in the top space of the stave.

The snare drum always appears in the space above the middle line.

The bass drum always appears in the bottom space.



Sometimes a part falls silent for a moment.

This is represented by a rest or tacit (pron: tassit).

This is a quarter-note rest and lasts for one beat.

This a is a half-note rest.

It lasts for two beats.

This a is a dotted half-note rest.

It lasts for three beats.

The same rests are used in percussion parts.



A tie joins two notes together to make a continuous sound, often across a bar-line.

In this example you sound the first note and continue to play it until you play the second note of the next bar.

Counting the beats helps you to time ties and is useful in many other instances.

In this case the first note lasts 1 + 2 + 1.

Course Material


‘Perform, listen to, review and evaluate music’

  • The course contains 26 well-known pieces – played in ensemble – from the folk, classical and children’s-song canons, drawn from a variety of countries and cultures.

See Song List.

‘Sing, create, compose, and learn a musical instrument’

  • During each lesson pupils take turns in playing their chosen instrument and percussion and singing. They create vocal and chosen instrument parts for their peers to perform at sight.

‘Understand and explore music’

  • Pitch, duration, dynamics, tempo, timbre, texture, structure and appropriate musical notations are all taught.

Learning outcomes

The overall objectives of the 33-lesson course

  • I can play eleven notes on my chosen instrument reading from standard notation
  • I can play simple percussion from standard drum notation
  • I am familiar with other musical elements such as time and key signatures, and rests and accidentals
  • I have learned the essential skill of reading ahead
  • I can sing to a chosen instrument + percussion + given piano accompaniment
  • I am aware of unacceptable behaviour such as playing at inappropriate moments and over-blowing
  • I can appraise the music with verbal descriptions of its emotional effect on me
  • I have improved control of left and right hand fingers as they make each note
  • I can happily take part in a short public concert of chosen instruments, percussion and song at the end of each third of the course

Music Input

  • Treble clef
  • Drum clef
  • Chosen instrument notes C4, D4, E4, F4, Fsharp4, G4, A4, Bflat4, B4, C5, D5
  • Drum notation symbols for ride cymbal, tom-tom, snare drum and bass drum
  • 24 time signature
  • 34 time signature
  • Key signature of C major/A minor
  • Key signature of G major/E minor
  • Key signature of F major/D minor
  • F sharp accidental
  • B flat accidental
  • Minims
  • Crotchets
  • Quavers
  • Dotted minims
  • Dotted crotchets
  • Crotchet rest
  • Dotted crotchet rest
  • Minim rest
  • Ties
  • Anacrusis

Song List

From the USA

  • Yankee Doodle
  • Home on the Range
  • Oh Susanna
  • Streets of Laredo
  • Red River Valley
  • Campdown Races
  • Banks of the Ohio
  • Clementine
  • When the Saints
  • Old Man River
  • Morning Has Broken

From England and Scotland

  • My Grandfather’s Clock
  • London’s Burning
  • Man’s Life’s a Vapour
  • The Water Is Wide
  • For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow
  • The Mingulay Boatsong

From Ireland

  • Molly Malone
  • The Wild Rover
  • The Spanish Lady

From France

  • L’Apres Midi d’une Faune
  • La Claire de la Lune

Children’s Songs

  • Old MacDonald
  • Knick Knack Paddiwhack

From Catalonia

  • El Noi de la Mare

From Australia

  • Waltzing Matilda

A pre-Christmas recital could include Old MacDonald, Man’s Life’s a Vapour and a selection of the previous trios.

A pre-Easter recital could also include Yankee Doodle, Home on the Range, O Susanna, Streets of Laredo, Spanish Lady and Red River Valley.