KS3 Scheme of Work 'Pachelbel - Canon'

by Liz, Tim and Ian @HuntSchoolMusic

Admit it - you've got one. We've all got a Pachelbel scheme of work tucked away somewhere. There's got to be a good reason for that.  

Could it be that we keep coming back to it because it's a great vehicle for the teaching of so many fundamentals?

The harmonic framework is a great starting point for the exploration of how major and minor triads can be used to form a balanced functional chordal progression that loops back on itself. You might use it to explore the impact chord inversions have on harmony or how melodies can be derived from grounds and chord progressions. It could be the starting point for a first lesson on arranging, discussion on voicings, or why composers commonly turn block chords into broken chords.

You might explore chord relationships - primary and secondary triads in major keys taking students further with exercises in transposition and modulation. You could ask students why they think artists come back to this chord sequence time and time again.

Explore its use of sequence, repetition and variation. Improvise, rework, vary. Play what if? by using substitution chords, or mixing up the existing order of the chords to see what difference it makes. It might be the start of a conversation on how melodies move, how to write a melody, how to develop or transform a melody, how to turn melody into an ostinato and vice versa.

You might simply provide a start note or triad and ask students to work the whole thing out by ear (like the Happy Birthday scheme).

This unit isn't about 'playing the dots'. It's about using something familiar as the basis for improvising, composing and arranging, alongside analysing some of the ways in which a range of composers and artists have taken material from c.340 years ago, and made it their own.

The following resources are aimed at second term year 7, or thereabouts:

  • KS3 progression map details
  • Musicianship training ideas
  • A student/assessment/progress ladder for the hands-on-making-stuff-in-sound (transp. to C)
  • Listening questions (for teaching/ discussing/ testing/ homework)