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Assessment Resource Centre (ARC)

  1. Stage 3
  2. Creative Arts
  3. Activities
  4. Music: Composing for percussion
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Music: Composing for percussion

Grade Work Samples
End of Stage 3 (end of Year 6)
Grade B Dale  
Grade C Reese   Drew  
Grade D Kendall  

Foundation Statement strands

The following strands are covered in this activity:


Description of activity

Students work in small groups to create a composition for percussion (tuned and/or untuned) or percussion and tuned instruments.


  1. Each group member writes a bar of music in 4/4 time. One of these will be chosen as an ostinato for the djembe drum.
  2. Each group member writes two bars of music to be played on the glockenspiel using the notes E, G, A, C and D.
  3. Students then perform their two patterns for the other members of their group.
  4. They combine their ideas to write a composition using one of the djembe ostinatos and one of the glockenspiel riffs, starting in canon form if possible and ending with one instrument playing ostinato. (Students may choose to incorporate other instruments at this point.)
  5. Students add an ostinato for other percussion instruments to be played by the group.
  6. They write out their own instrument part.
  7. Students rehearse their composition and perform it for the class.

Suggested materials

Djembe drum, glockenspiel, percussion, other instruments if desired

Prior learning

Students have experimented with different rhythms using percussion (tuned and untuned), including the djembe drum and the glockenspiel. They have used notation to record and communicate ideas in the process of organising sound.


Performing (MUS3.1)
Sings, plays and moves to a range of music, individually and in groups, demonstrating a knowledge of musical concepts.
Organising Sound (MUS3.2)
Improvises, experiments, selects, combines and orders sound using musical concepts.
Organising Sound (MUS3.3)
Notates and discusses own work and the work of others.

Criteria for assessing learning

Students will be assessed on their:

  • organisation of musical ideas into a composition
  • use of notation to represent sound and communicate their own musical ideas
  • use of musical concepts in performance.
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