An "Upstairs, Downstairs" Tune

A composing project for KS1
This is a composing activity for Key Stage 1. It incorporates several of the QCA learning objectives, with particular emphasis on exploring pitch.


Tuned percussion or keyboard(s)
Sufficient copies of the ‘My Tune’ sheet (included with this resource)

Activity 1

learn to control pitch

Play ‘Upstairs & Downstairs’, where "the children climb up and downstairs by making their voices rise and fall in pitch. Help the children move up and down in steps to match the notes of the scale". Our scale is C major, i.e. the notes C D E F G A B C, from middle C to the C above.

Activity 2

learn to combine pulse and rhythm
learn to recall and copy a rhythmic pattern

Set up a slow pulse, suitable for climbing stairs. Have the children clap or tap this pulse, while you play this rhythm on one pitched note:

1 2 3 4
Walk Walk Slow------------

Explain that they are going to create a longer rhythm by playing the pattern three times and following it with a long (4-beat ) note. If you are using un-pitched instruments for this part of the lesson, ask three children to play the 1-bar pattern, consecutively, on three different instruments. A fourth child plays the long note in the fourth bar.

Activity 3

create musical patterns
relate sounds to symbols

Tell the children that they are going to combine the rhythm with pitched notes going up and down, by step, to create a tune. Ask a child to play the rhythmic pattern (on tuned percussion or keyboard) on three notes, moving up by step (the note A will be the highest possible starting pitch.) In the first empty column of the ‘My Tune’ sheet, record the notes the child plays. A second, child then plays the rhythm on a different set of three notes. After a third child has played the rhythm on his/her chosen notes, a fourth child adds a long note (any pitch other than C). Each child’s pitches are recorded in the appropriate column of the ‘My Tune’ sheet.

The second half of the tune will created in a similar fashion, except that the little phrases will move down by step. The final note should be C. (The note E will be the lowest possible starting pitch)

Activity 4

learn how to control the pitch of the voice
play tuned instruments

The children should practise singing and playing the tune.

Activity 5

create musical patterns
relate sound to symbol
make improvements to own work

The children can work individually, in pairs, or in groups of 4 to create tunes and record them on copies of the ‘My Tune’ sheet.

The sheets can be filled in by writing the letter names of the notes, colouring in the cells or placing counters on them.

If preferred, the sheet can be turned through 90E, showing the notes in music keyboard layout.

© Audrey Podmore, 2003

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