Year 7 use musical language to think about King John

Teaching History article

By Alison Meikle, published 5th December 2008

Billy plays the drums but Lizzy cannot play: will music help them both anyway anyway?

Please note: this article pre-dates the 2014 National Curriculum and some content may be outdated.

As an enthusiastic musician, Alison Meikle is always looking for ways to use music in the history classroom. While Teaching History has seen plenty of articles on using musical sources as evidence (e.g. Mastin in Teaching History 108 and Butler in Teaching History 111), we have seen fewer examples of encouraging pupils to compose and write their own songs as an alternative way of constructing and presenting their own accounts based on evidence. In this article,  Meikle's focus is using sources as evidence but she is not using music as source. Rather, she is interested in using musical  language as a tool for thinking, talking and constructing an evidence-based account. Meikle leads into this with an initial focus on historical interpretations by getting pupils to deconstruct the musical language of a modern popular song first. Pupils then move into evidential thinking, proceeding to re-interrogate the contemporary sources about King John, and writing a song to convey their conclusions. As they prepare for this, Meikle makes them articulate their choices and judgements through the language of music...

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