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Journey Into Space from Musical Contexts provides a range of fun and exciting music activities and learning opportunities combining singing, performing, composing and listening and appraising with all of the resources you’ll need in one place!  Ideal for non-specialist music teachers (with a wealth of supporting media files to model tasks and a detailed scheme of work and lesson plans) and a wealth of fresh inspiration for music specialists.  This unit has cross-curricular links with the popular primary topics of The Solar System, The Planets, Space Exploration and Space Travel.

​This unit takes, as its starting point, Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” as a basis for creative composition tasks leading to a class musical performance of a “Journey Into Space”.  It’s based on the Musical Contexts Key Stage 3 Secondary unit “Music and Space”, with various modifications for Key Stage 2 and Primary pupils.  Pupils listen to different extracts from Holst’s “The Planets” at various points throughout the unit, beginning with “Mars, The Bringer of War”, exploring how Holst basis this movement on an ostinato pattern.  After performing and creating their own ostinato patterns and adding dynamic contrasts in the form of crescendos and diminuendos, pupils create their own descriptive “Mars” pieces incorporating an ostinato and other musical features which Holst uses in his movement.  Central to the unit are the concepts of mood, tempo, dynamics and instrumentation (or timbre) and these are explored through Richard Strauss’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra” which pupils explore in terms of a piece of descriptive music used to describe a “Rocket Launch”.  Finally, pupils create musical soundscapes for the other planets, structuring these with the opening “Rocket Launch” theme for a class musical performance of their Journey Into Space.  There’s an optional improvisation task which can be used in the final performance where selected pupils create a spontaneous soundscape to describe the final planet in their journey – Pluto.

Getting Started - First Music Lesson Ideas

“DOITNOW”, “Plenary” & “5-min Reading” Bank

OCR AS-Level Music

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Scheme of Work

Lesson Plan (PDF)

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Lesson Bundles (ZIP)

Download all the resources you need for each lesson (excluding video files) in a ZIP file.

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Lesson 1

Exploring Holst and ‘The Planets’

Lesson Plan 1

Lesson Plan 1

Lesson 1

Resource Bundle

Lesson 2

Exploring “Mars” and “The Mars Ostinato”

Lesson Plan 2

Lesson Plan 2

Lesson 2

Resource Bundle

Lesson 3

Exploring “Lift Off” Music & Dynamics

Lesson Plan 3

Lesson Plan 3

Lesson 3

Resource Bundle

Lessons 4 & 5

Exploring a class “Planets” Suite


Lesson Plans

4 & 5

Lesson Plans

4 & 5

Lessons 4 & 5

Resource Bundle

Lesson 6

A Class “Journey Into Space”

Lesson Plan 6

Lesson Plan 6

Lesson 6

Resource Bundle








Worksheet 1

Learning about Holst and “The Planets”

Worksheet 2

“Mars, the Bringer of War” Composing Sheet

Worksheet 3

“Mars, The Bringer of War” Evaluation Sheet

Worksheet 4

Listening to “Jupiter” from ‘The Planets’


(uses Audio 4)

Worksheet 5

Listening to Moon Music


(uses Audio 6)

Worksheet 6

Listening to “Saturn”, “Uranus” and “Neptune” from ‘The Planets’

(uses Audio 7)

Worksheet 7

The Planets

Composing Cards







Worksheet 8

“Journey Into Space”

Evaluation Sheet

Worksheet 9

Pluto - The Missing Planet Improvisation Sheet

Worksheet 10 - Listening to

“Also Sprach Zarathustra”


(uses Audios 8 & 9)











Video 1

Space Exploration
Collection of images from NASA accompanied by “Also Sprach Zarathustra” - Richard Strauss (taken from BBC)


(01:01    9.38MB)

Video 2

Apollo 11 Lift Off
Collection of images from NASA accompanied by “Also Sprach Zarathustra” - Richard Strauss (taken from BBC)


(01:03    10.6MB)

Video 3

Earth from Space
Neil Armstrong describes the view from Space

 (taken from BBC)



(00:26    5.88MB)

Video 4

Eagle has Landed

Apollo 11 lands on the surface of the Moon

 (taken from BBC)



(01:47    21.8MB)

Video 5
One Small Step for Man

Neil Armstrong describes the landing of Apollo 11 on the Moon  (taken from BBC)


(00:26    5.88MB)

Starter/Plenary 1

Listening to “Mars” and “Venus” from ‘The Planets’


(uses Audio 1)

Starter/Plenary 2

Listening to “Mercury” from ‘The Planets’


(uses Audio 3)








Starter/Plenary 3

Themes from “Jupiter” from ‘The Planets’


(uses Audio 4)

Starter/Plenary 4

Planning the Class

“Journey Into Space”


(best enlarged to A3)

Starter/Plenary 5

The Planets

Card Sort Activity


(uses Audio 5)

Starter/Plenary 6

My Journey Into Space Learning










Score 1 - The “Mars” Ostinato


(Example on Audio 2 & MIDI 1)

Score 2 - “Also Sprach Zarathustra”


(best enlarged to A3)












Cover/Homework 1

Journey into Space Key Words Word Search

Cover/Homework 2

Journey into Space Kriss Kross

Cover/Homework 3

Gustav Holst and The Planets