What is Musical Contexts?​

Musical Contexts is a website providing teachers with a bank of quality, "ready to use", tried and tested and professionally presented resources for use in the Primary and Secondary music classroom.

​The Primary/Key Stage 2 Musical Contexts resources aim to combine music with established popular Primary class Topics/Themes adding a cross-curricular approach to learning.  ​Each of the Primary/Key Stage 2 Musical Contexts units draws inspiration from either History-themed topics/units e.g. Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, The Victorians or Science, Geography, Technology & Nature-themed topics/units e.g. Machine Music, Water Music, Weather & Seasons.


The Secondary/Key Stage 3 Musical Contexts resources aim to build on traditionally popular units frequently taught by secondary music specialists and to prepare pupils for GCSE Music specifications e.g. Building Bricks (Exploring the Elements of Music), I’ve Got Rhythm (Exploring Rhythm and Pulse), Sonority City (Exploring Instruments of the Orchestra) and include a range and variety of resources, together with Schemes of Work and a range of “Lesson Pathways”. 

At GCSE Music level, Musical Contexts offers Study & Revision Guides, Knowledge Organisers, sample GCSE-style Listening Questions to support the OCR GCSE (9-1) Music Areas of Study.

What kind of resources does Musical Contexts offer?

Musical Contexts contains a wide variety of different teaching and learning resources.  At Primary/Key Stage 2 and Secondary/Key Stage 3, these include Teacher Schemes of Work with Lesson Overviews, Knowledge Organisers, Learning, Listening, Composing and Evaluating Worksheets, Performing Activities including Songs and Scores, 5-Minute Reading Tasks, supporting Cover and Homework activities  and Audio and MIDI files .

























An example of “Lesson Pathways” from the Secondary/Key Stage 3 - Hooks and Riffs - Scheme of Work

An example of a Knowledge Organiser from the Secondary/Key Stage 3 Building Bricks unit.

An example of a Performing Task from the Secondary/Key Stage 3 Soundtracks unit.

An example of a Listening Task from the Primary/Key Stage 2 Ancient Egypt unit.

An example page from the Rhythms of the World GCSE Music Study & Revision Guide

An example page from the Conventions of Pop GCSE Music Knowledge Organiser

An example GCSE-style Listening Question from the Film Music Area of Study

Examples from the Musical Contexts Year 7 Baseline Assessment Listening Test

Examples from the Musical Contexts Cover Bank

From time to time, Musical Contexts will also add Seasonal Topic Packs covering areas such as Christmas, Halloween, Bonfire Night, Microsoft and Google Forms Quiz Bundles and End of Term Music Quizzes.  These are not included within the “full-site subscription” due to costs in obtaining copyright permissions to use songs, scores and audio materials contained within them.  These can be purchase as “add-on” items (normally at £12.50 per pack) via the Musical Contexts Shop.

The ever-popular Musical Contexts Music Cover Bank, provides teachers with a wealth of ready to use music resources for cover, many of which do not require ICT for those last-minute moments!

At GCSE level, Musical Contexts offers Study and Revision Guides, Knowledge Organisers and sample GCSE-style Listening Questions to support the new 2016 OCR GCSE (9-1) Music Areas of Study. ​

The Musical Contexts Baseline Assessment Listening Test  provides a vital way of measuring pupil's understanding in music at the start of Year 7.

As part of Musical Contexts’ drive to cut down on printables and reduce copying costs, all “Starter and Plenary Activities” within the Primary/Key Stage 2 and Secondary/Key Stage 3 units are being combined into a “DOITNOW” and “Plenary” PowerPoint Presentations, complete with embedded audio and video files.  The range and content of each presentation varies according to the topic/unit, but DOITNOW activities include: What do you see? Key Word Definitions, Sort them out!, Mix and Match, Silent Debate, Musical Anagrams, Connect Fours, Connections, Compare and Contrast and What do you hear? 

The Musical Contexts Plenary Review presentations focus on a brief review of learning from the lesson.


Examples of DOITNOW activities from the Musical Contexts Secondary/Key Stage 3 units

Examples of Plenary Review Activities from the Musical Contexts Secondary/Key Stage 3 units

I have been teaching for over ten years and as a director of music in a large school, this resource is refreshing and inspiring - thank you for allowing musicians to utilise such fantastic materials. 

I’ve had the pleasure of using the site since October but I just wanted to reiterate how valuable this site is to a non-music teacher teaching music at KS3. Thanks so much!

As a music educator who has taught around the world I was so impressed with this site that I joined immediately. I found the educational aids very helpful and very well written. I would suggest that all music teachers who teach Key stage 3 and 4 consider becoming a member and having lifetime access to it. Absolutely fantastic and awesome site!

This is one of my best finds on the internet! I think the site is brilliant. Thank you!

My year 4’s are singing the Harmonic Minor and recognising the difference from the natural.  We are singing Camel Driver and my after school GAT’s are playing it on recorder.  It is challenging but they are rising to it!  They loved the pyramid composing too

Musical Contexts landed me my first permanent teaching post in the UK. Ironically the form and structure of the form and structure

observed lesson was what made me so successful at my interview.

I highly recommend all lessons provided by Musical Contexts! 


Mark Harding

I’ve had great success with many
of the schemes! The lesson plans
on Musical Contexts have proved
an invaluable timesaver so far.


Just to say THANK YOU for the amazing units you provide us on Musical Contexts.  They are so well put together, easy to follow, the children love them and there's always something different for them to do and see and react to!   So, thanks for the masterful job.  The units are priceless.  

Kate Casper Head of Music St. Catherine's School Twickenham

Musical Contexts Feedback and Testimonials

Warm-ups, including vocal warm-ups, tongue twisters, body percussion and rhythm games, are a popular way to start music lessons or as an introduction to practical activities.  The Musical Contexts Complete “Warm-Ups Compendiums” contains a wealth of short activities - old and new - supported by teaching notes, scores and audio and video files all contained within two  (very large!) Presentations and suitable for the Primary and Secondary music classrooms.

Examples from the Musical Contexts Complete “Warm-Ups Compendiums” Volumes 1 & 2

AS & A-Level Music Resources Shop


About Musical Contexts

Subscribe to Musical Contexts

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)/Help

Musical Contexts Year 7 Baseline Assessment

2016 GCSE (9-1) Music

Resources Index

Musical Contexts Music Cover Bank

Musical Contexts Shop &

Seasonal Topic Packs

Musical Contexts Topic Exploration Packs

Musical Contexts “Warm-Ups” Compendiums

Musical Contexts World Music Resources

Musical Contexts Music History & Theory Resources

Primary/Key Stage 2 Music Resources Index

Secondary/Key Stage 3

Music Resources Index

Musical Contexts


The Musical Contexts SQUILT Listening Exercises  provide a bank of general listening tasks on a variety of music from different times and places - great for homework or home learning!

I used some of the GCSE material yesterday with a low ability student who has had difficulty accessing the curriculum.  The lesson proved very successful with the student who enjoyed the wide selection of musical excerpts.

Your site - is bloody brilliant.  I am the director of music at a private preparatory school and am currently in the summer holiday's after my first year there. The music department (one teacher) had been following 'Music Express' - not my favourite scheme of work, it dumbs down rather a lot so I reinvented the wheel and replanned the lot. How I WISH I had discovered your site earlier!  I am going to implement about half of your units of work, and can't wait!! Granted your units are for secondary age, and we go from years 2 - 8, but with a little tweaking they are PERFECT units of work. Great to see some proper notation in there too.

Chris Andrews

We have been trialling various units of work from the site and are very pleased with the way they are running.  These are going well and the students are gaining a lot from the resources.  To make life easier we have downloaded the worksheets and formed a booklet from them so that all students have access to the worksheets immediately and this seems to be working very well.  The lesson plans are very helpful also and are a good starting point for the staff.  We have amended some worksheets slightly to suit our needs and we have added some other sheets into our booklets to make it slightly more flexible.  We think that the site is very good particularly for KS3 and the team here felt we should let you know how much we have enjoyed using the resources this year. 


Jonathan Haslett, Head of Music, St John’s Catholic School and Sixth Form Centre, Bishop Auckland

Rob replies : “One of the main aims of the site, was to allow teachers the flexibility to adapt and refine, supplement and support existing resources and schemes of work and it seems that St. John’s RC School & SFC has done just this!  There is the opportunity to teach the lesson plans exactly as written for those who wish, but it’s great to see schools such as this using the resources in a more flexible way.”

I just wanted to write to you at Musical Contexts to say how exciting and excellent the course is proving to be. The children I teach from KS2-4 are really enjoying it and getting so much from it too. I have delivered many schemes before in the different schools I have worked but this is proving to be so enjoyable and so well researched. It actually allows a music teacher to be a music teacher and is just as enjoyable for me to teach as it is for the students to learn. So thank you very much.


Sian Canning, Dhahran British Grammar School , Saudi Arabia