Hooks and Riffs explores music based on repeated musical patterns through the genres of Popular Music (Hooks and Riffs) and Music from the Western Classical Tradition (Ostinatos).

There are a number of “routes”, given in the “Scheme of Work and Lesson Pathways” allowing teachers to use and sequence the resources in whatever order best suits their school, classes and pupils. 


The unit aims to combine the inter-related musical strands of Performing: Playing and Singing; Creating - Composing and Improvising and Critical Engagement: Listening and Appraising. 

The music theory focus of this unit is on treble and bass clef symbols as an indication of pitch and musical repeat markings and symbols.  Simple rhythmic and melodic dictation exercises are provided in both graphic and staff notations based on repeated musical patterns.  The DOITNOW and Plenary Presentations contain a wealth of activities based on repeated musical patterns which allow pupils to consolidate their skills, knowledge and understanding of the unit. 

Hooks and Riffs - Scheme of Work and Lesson Pathways

Exploring Repeated Musical Patterns

Hooks and Riffs - DOITNOW (Starters) and Plenary Activities

Hooks and Riffs - “DOITNOW” Presentation

Cutting down on printables, file storage and media files, the “new look” Musical Contexts “DOITNOW” Hooks and Riffs lesson openers Presentation contains  a wealth (only two samples shown here), of effective “DOITNOW’s” when delivering the Hooks and Riffs unit in just one place - all audio and video files are embedded and there’s accompanying Teacher’s Notes in the “slide comments” section.  Some of the “DOITNOW’s” lend themselves to development into (optional) longer, more structured activities -suggestions in the “slide comments.”

Hooks and Riffs - 5 Minutes Silent Reading

For teachers who prefer to begin their lessons with quiet, focused openers.  All contain “Questions to Think About” which can also be used as Cover or Homework tasks.

Hooks and Riffs - Music Theory and Rhythmic and Melodic Dictation

Hooks and Riffs Music Theory - Clefs and Repeat Symbols

Introduces pupils to the musical symbols for repeat markings and their use and also the treble and bass clef symbols encouraging pupils to draw both these symbols and understand their use to indicate high or low pitch.

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1. Repeated Musical Patterns

2. Ostinatos

3.  Riffs

4. Hooks

5. The Habanera and Carmen

6. Bolero

Hooks and Riffs Rhythmic and Melodic Dictation Exercises

Introduces pupils to some basic rhythmic and melodic dictation based on simple ostinatos and riffs, starting with graphic notation and moving onto single line rhythm notation and finally using staff notation.   All of the audio examples are given on the accompanying audio file. 

Score 6 - Performing “Sweet Dreams”


(The original song structure to the song “Sweet Dreams” for class or ensemble performance)

Hooks and Riffs - “Sweet Dreams” - The Eurythmics

Hooks and Riffs - “We Will Rock You” - Queen

Hooks and Riffs - “Bolero” - Ravel

Hooks and Riffs - “Habanera” from ‘Carmen’ - Bizet

Hooks and Riffs - 2nd Movement from Symphony No.101 - Haydn

Hooks and Riffs - Creating and Evaluating “Chocolate Machine” Ostinatos

Hooks and Riffs - “Word Up” - Cameo

Hooks and Riffs - “The Knight’s Farewell”

Hooks and Riffs - Creating and Improvising with Ostinatos and Riffs


(Permission kindly given from resource creator to share)

Hooks and Riffs - Cover and Homework Activities

Hooks and Riffs - Scheme of Work and Lesson Pathways

Includes Scheme of Work Overview, Unit Learning Objectives, Learning Outcomes and Lesson Pathways.

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Hooks and Riffs - Plenary Review Activities

A series of lesson reviews where pupils review their learning and understanding.






Hooks and Riffs in Popular Music

Pupils research, listen and analyse to pieces of popular music or songs in terms of Hooks and Riffs and the Elements of Music.

Can be done with ICT or access to popular music websites or set as homework.

Ostinato Word Search

Pupils find the word OSTINATO which is hidden in a word search grid 20 times.

Can be done without using ICT.

Creating Verbal Hooks

Pupils create a simple Verbal Hook choosing from a selection of lyrics with the option of teaching this to other members of the class. 

Can be done without using ICT.

Hooks and Riffs Key Words Crossword

Pupils solve the answers to crossword clues covering the key words given in the Musical Contexts Hooks and Riffs unit.

Can be done without using ICT.

Hooks and Riffs Cover and Homework Pack MS-Word Format

Key Words, Concepts and Musical Knowledge

Repeat, Repetition, Repeat Symbol :||, Hook, Melodic Hook, Rhythmic Hook, Verbal Hook, Riff, Ostinato, Treble Clef, Bass Clef, Bass Line, Melody, Chords

Music Theory

Treble and Bass Clef Symbols

Musical Repeat Markings and Symbols

Links to GCSE Music

Western Classical Tradition 1650-1910

Popular Music

Instrumental Music 1700-1820

Vocal Music

Music for Ensemble


Riffs in Contemporary Music

(582 MB)