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Creating a soundscape

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Motivation | Contents | Who could use this resource?

In a balanced, high-quality music programme, students will experience the elements of music – beat, rhythm, pitch, tempo, dynamics, and tone colour – and the structures of music – form and texture – through the skills and understanding they gain during the programme. These skills and understanding are:

  • listening and responding;
  • singing;
  • playing;
  • creating;
  • reading and recording;
  • analysing and appreciating.

Students experience all of this through rich learning in each of the four music strands of The Arts in the New Zealand Curriculum. To support the planning and implementation of high-quality music programmes for years 0–10 students, the resources Into Music 1, 2 and 3 have been issued free to all schools in New Zealand by the Ministry of Education.


The following question motivated the writing of this 'Creating a soundscape' unit:

  • How can we use the teaching examples in the Into Music series to ensure the suggested learning outcomes are being met by students, and that there is rich learning through all of the curriculum strands?

As a result, this unit is based around the first teaching example – entitled 'A Soundscape' – in the 'Creating and Representing' chapter of Into Music 2, page 53. The learning outcomes of this unit are based around those presented at the beginning of the chapter. The lesson sequence is written to ensure the students develop the skills, knowledge and understanding required to ensure the learning outcomes are met in a sequential manner.

Exemplar link

This unit is also based on one of the music exemplars – Create a Soundscape, Level 3 (Ministry of Education, 2003) – and should be used in association with it. You can view the exemplar here .

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This unit is provided in four parts:

  • unit plan includes intended learning outcomes matched with learning experiences, and includes a student self-assessment form.
  • lesson sequence providing a choice of activities that can be selected from for a 45–50 minute session.
  • extension activities more ideas for developing soundscapes.
  • reflection questions for students to consider after their first performance, which will encourage them to reflect on, and refine, their compositions. This action/reflection cycle is an important aspect of The Arts in the New Zealand Curriculum.

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Who could use this resource?

This unit was written for classroom teachers of years 4–6 students. However, it could easily be adapted for years 7–8 by increasing the complexity of the tasks and expecting a higher level of work in the soundscape and score.

Prior knowledge and experience

In order to achieve maximum learning in this unit, the students should already have the following:

  • knowledge and understanding of the elements of music, and how they can be manipulated;
  • ability to identify (and possibly play) a range of untuned and tuned percussion instruments;
  • opportunities to explore found sounds, body percussion, voice sounds, and tuned and untuned percussion instruments.
Range of needs and abilities

Creating soundscapes is a very effective way of meeting a range of needs and abilities in a class. For example:

  • students who learn music outside of school can use their instruments and knowledge to create and record their own motifs and melodies to support the soundscape;
  • students without this experience can get great satisfaction from exploring how they can create mood and atmosphere using their voices, found sounds, body percussion or untuned percussion.

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