The Future of Music Education

Here is a clearly laid out, colour coded representation of Pachelbel's Canon. Its a great piece for teaching about ground bass or ostinato, or as a simple group performance exercise. Its a classic hit that kids seem to enjoy across the board, perhaps helped by modern pop references from Black Eyed Peas, Coolio (back in may day) and Green Day.
Although it has a simple harmonic structure and rhythmically aint too tricky neither, it can be tough to get a classroom of kids playing this piece as a group, and without performing it they will have to rely on listening and theory to understand how it works.

Using conventional notation will probably require:

  • transposing into a key that will suit the instruments available.
  • re-writing the individual parts for players or teaching each individual section by rote.
  • writing out parts for other instruments (inc. percussion)
  • teacher will have to conduct performance.
These are all worthwhile steps to creating a group performance but there are many primary level teachers who would feel out of their depth trying to achieve all this in the small amount of time available to them for arts and music.


Using animated notation a group performance can be achieved, in four separate parts using the following steps:

  • Find a tuned instrument that can play the scale of C for the bassline. (C,G,A,E,F,C,F,G)(Repeat)
  • Divide the class into four colour groups.
  • Give each section a different instrument or sound to make.
  • Follow the movements on screen, use you ears, decide what sounds good and what sounds rubbish. Try different performances, learn from your mistakes, get involved!


From teaching using both forms of notation, i find that the most vital difference is that conventional notation implies their is a correct way to do things and that the goal of the exercise is to create a performance as close to the written score as possible. This is often a barrier to creativity and learning for students and teachers.

Animated notation is a more open form that invites creative input from students and teachers, allowing them to explore aspects of the music in a more informal and hands on way. It offers more scope for experimenting with different pitches, timbres and instrumentation. It also places responsibility on the students themselves requiring them to listen more critically to the sounds they are making and how the represent the original piece.

Please feel free to try it out in your class and send any feedback to

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