Film music is a popular topic in the secondary classroom with great scores to listen to, clever techniques to analyse and brilliant composers to learn from. However, it is a vast topic and teaching it effectively can be a challenge. Here I’ve compiled a list of 10 film music resources (in no particular order) that are well worth checking out…

1. The Musicologist

Dr Matt Lawson is a Senior Lecturer in Music and Subject Coordinator for BA Music at Oxford Brookes University and specialises in film, TV and video game music.  Matt has created some fantastic videos on his YouTube channel: The Musicologist.  From his “60 second guide to film music” series to the “Same scene, different music” and “Film music analysis” videos, there’s a wealth of material that you and your students will love. 

2. Musical Contexts

This popular website has recently been revamped and there are some brilliant film music resources to explore.  A one-off payment (£99) gives you access to everything on the site. KS3: Soundtracks includes a Leitmotifs pack and James Bong project as well as short video clips to download and use with your students. Other useful resources include GCSE Film Music Study Pack and GCSE Film Music Question Pack.

3. Composing music for a chase scene with Steven Berryman

In conjunction with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Steven Berryman shares ideas and exemplar listening for creating the music for a chase scene in a spy film.

3. How to Compose Heroic Film Music online student course

The most popular course on the I can compose website is currently How to Compose Heroic Film Music and takes students through the whole composing process from creating a strong heroic theme and choosing suitable instruments to adding chords, a percussion part and developing the main theme using various techniques. 

Every I Can Compose course includes a model composition which is broken down lesson by lesson so that the student can watch the compositional process and see how a piece is put together.

The course can be purchased individually or via one of the 12 month access plans.

5. Bristol Plays Music:  Wallace and Gromit Film Music Unit

Bristol Plays Music presents a KS3 film music unit of work which includes lesson plans, worksheets and PowerPoints slides.  If you teach in a Bristol school you can also request access to the licensed video materials.

Image credit: Bristol Plays Music

6. Midnight Music: Creating Film Music – step by step manual

A handy step-by-step guide for creating film music with audio clips, useful web links and screenshots to get students started on their own film scores.  There are plenty of other useful film music resources to look through on this site so grab a cuppa and get reading!

7. James Manwaring Music Blog

James has several posts focussing on teaching film music on his blog – have a look at this one which is for a Year 9 Film music lesson and includes key words, video clips and handy tips. This brilliant Mary Poppins video at the end of the post, illustrates perfectly how music can completely change the atmosphere of a film!

8. BBC Ten Pieces: Hans Zimmer

Hans Zimmer composed ‘Earth’ especially for BBC Ten Pieces and invites students to take what he has started and create something new from it.  As with all the BBC Ten Pieces there are excellent resources such as PowerPoint slides, score arrangements and lesson plans all available completely free.

9. I Can Compose Film Music Listening Packs

The I Can Compose film music listening packs present a wide variety of composers and listening material. The original Film Music Pack includes questions on Danny Elfman, Ennio Morricone, John Williams, Howard Shore, John Barry and Hans Zimmer. You can download a free John Williams taster sheet.

The Female Film and TV Composers Listening Pack includes questions on music by Isobel Waller-Bridge, Delia Derbyshire, Anne Dudley, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Debbie Wiseman, Carly Paradis and Yoko Kanno so if you’re looking to diversify the listening examples you play in class, this pack is a great starting point.

10. Open University free course: Using Film Music in the Classroom

This free short course (8 hours) might be helpful if you’re new to teaching film music or looking for some fresh ideas.  It includes exemplar listening, tasks and activities to complete.

Explore our other film music blogs…

I hope you have found this post helpful – do check out our other film music-themed posts.

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