This list supports the teaching of science through the topic of Musicians. Providing ideas and resources for linking aspects around Musicians to science topics, which are predominantly based around the sound area of the curriculum. Other areas are included such as materials, sustainable sources (environmental issues) and to a lesser extent the use of nature and fruits as musical instruments.
Visit the primary resources for cross curricular topics webpage to access all resource lists:
Links and Resources
In this resource, children learn about how sound is made through vibration by making an unusual instrument. The activity is introduced by a historical story in which the scientist and inventor, Benjamin Franklin was inspired by a concert to make a new instrument, the glass harmonica. Using glasses filled with different volumes of water children then create their instrument on which the pitch may be changed.
Although this resource is aimed at KS3 the lesson ideas and practical aspects can easily be used in LKS2 without using some of the technical vocabulary. Pupils are inspired by visits from a physicist, a botanist, and a musician. The lesson begins with an exploration of the physics of sound through drama. Next, the pupils get the chance to make music with a range of unfamiliar percussion instruments.
Finally they focus on the science of plants before being set the challenge of making their own musical instruments out of fruit and vegetables.
Sound / pitch
This short video creatively demonstrates changes in pitch by playing the same piece of music on a range of stringed instruments. A musician tries to mimic the sound of a bear's footsteps. The pitch of a small guitar is too high, but Key Stage Two students can learn how the longer strings of a bass guitar make a lower, more bear-like sound. The clip is designed to be used as a starter and ends with a question designed to promote a primary classroom discussion on sound and pitch.
This resource contains twenty activities which explore the links between science and music. Linked to the topic of sound, the activities investigate: how vibrations travel through different materials, making instrument on which the notes may be changed, creating animal noises using voices and instruments, muffling sound, amplifying sound, investigating rhythm and making a speaker.Teachers' notes are provided within the pack and include ideas for extension work.
This video shows a noisy, amusing demonstration of the physics of music. Using a drinking straw, it is possible to make a vibrating 'reed' similar to ones found in wind instruments. It can take a bit of practice to get exactly right, but it is well worth the effort. The instrument can be used to illustrate sound and vibrations.
The teachers' notes include the equipment needed, tips and contain a full explanation of the physics involved.
This resource contains ideas for creating musical instruments using materials that may either be re-used or found in nature. It provides instructions for making the instruments and photographs of the finished products. The instruments are:
• Tin can cow bells and guiros
• Glass bottle xylophone
• Glass bottle shakers
• Plastic cup/bottle maracas
This set colourful postcards provides hands on activities which link to the topics of electricity, sound, forces, and changes of state. Ideal for use in the classroom, the mini-investigations are fun to do and get children thinking about the concepts involved. Two cartoon characters, Marvin and Milo demonstrate the fun experiments, which are designed to appeal to primary age children. The musical coat hanger is a suitable one to set up as a full investigation with the children where they can create their own questions related to the length/type of string, type/material of the coat hanger etc compared to the pitch / volume of the sound created.
In this resource pupils identify the different types and materials of classroom-tuned percussion instruments. They explore vibration, pitch and volume, explore amplification and think about the responsible use of tropical timber.
Classroom instruments offer many opportunities for making links between science and music. Depending on the range of instruments available, this unit could enrich the multi-cultural dimension of the pupils' experiences. Examining the origins of the woods that make the body of a tuned percussion instrument could lead to a discussion, or consideration, of responsible use of rainforest resources.
A range of tuned percussion instruments with wood or metal sound bars is required, for example, a xylophone and a selection of beaters.
Feeling adventurous ?
In this STEMNET activity case study, STEM Ambassador Chris Robbins describes how he works with children and teachers on projects such as building a musical dinosaur crest out of plumbing materials. This gave pupils hands-on engineering experience and an understanding of acoustics.
"You have to learn to relate things to other people’s worlds and abilities. It’s a challenge but it’s really satisfying when you get it right. Kids are really good fun to work with. You’ll laugh together, get great feedback, and walk out with a really warm feeling!”