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Music in Leeds

Teachers Notes

Resource created by: Leeds Museums and Galleries, Artforms Leeds and the Leeds International Piano Competition

Leeds has, and continues to have, a rich and vibrant music scene.  Find out about some of the bands, both big and small, and the orchestras that call the city of Leeds home, along with the international pianists who flock to the city every year for the incredibly popular piano competition.


A Global View

This resource discusses music in Leeds as far back as the 1930s, when school children began annual performances in Leeds Town Hall. Sadly, the wider context of this decade is far less pleasant. The 1930s saw the rise of Adolf Hitler, civil war in Spain, military revolution in Brazil, global economic depression prompted by the Wall Street Crash of 1929, which caused mass poverty and unemployment, and the steady progression towards another catastrophic World War.


Curriculum Links

KS2&3 Music:  Appreciate and understand a wide range of high-quality live and recorded music drawn from different traditions and from great composers and musicians


Activity Ideas

  • Start a rock band.
    • Behind every band there are a lot of people, organisations and supporters. Try setting up a school band and have a monthly lunchtime gig. Other members of the class could work as managers (co-ordination), promoters (marketing and social media), technicians (manning sound and set up/close down), roadies (moving stuff), stylists (costumes to make and look cohesive, but individuals), stage design (mini Stonehenge anyone?), band design (logos), chorographer (for dance moves), ticket sales and press officers. Or, have a fictional band that the manager’s never met (quite typical in some areas of the music business), and the management company (your class) have to organise the fictional band.
  • If you have a few bands in schools, have a mini summer music festival. What will you need to make it work? Give small groups a job title and task to complete. Sell tickets to parents and the community. Count it for your Artsmark.
  • If you want to play, or a pupil wants to take things further, contact the Leeds Music Education Partnership 
  • Take inspiration from Rock Against Racism and write a protest song or performance poem. Use music to discuss and debate lived experience of different people.
    • Why was Rock Against Racism necessary?
    • What, if anything, has changed now?
    • What do we need to do for the future?
  • Write performance poetry and have a slam. Lyrics can be poems set to music.
  • Have a musician in residence in school, or ask parents is anyone can play and help pupils more informally than in lessons.
  • Many arts organisations in the city run music workshops, try Opera North  or the Piano Competition 
  • Try music as a 5 minute lesson starter – do pencil case percussion for 5  minutess. It will focus your pupils on concentrating on rhythms and get them ready to learn.
  • Have themed or linked music on in the background in lessons – it’s a multi-sensory approach and can help pupils to concentrate.