Launch a lesson plan for audio-visual support

Hey There!

This is one of the most accessible songs for students of all abilities to enjoy, both because everyone plays on any instrument at the prescribed time (‘let’s make lots of noise’) and because it is full of predictable and catchy rhythmic motives which students will instinctively perform. The group will enjoy letting loose on the extended improvised sections and will feel the sensation of loud music played by lots of people at once. This may be a moment when some autistic students will require their ear defenders.

Instruments required:  Anything available

High, Low, Middle

This song is fun and simple to learn. It is enjoyed by children and adults alike and is a great way to get everyone energised by music.

Enjoy watching carers and support staff get the fourth repeat wrong as the music changes to ‘high, low, low’ to conclude the chorus (a great way of introducing home or ‘tonic’ key). The students will also do the actions for ‘strum our guitars’, ‘blow our trumpets’ and ‘shake our maracas’.

Given the correct encouragement, they will enter the spirit of the song and, in the process, learn about pitch, instrumentation and style. The second half covers a complete range of musical genres, including Reggae, Ragtime, Tango and even the Can-Can at the end! They will sing, do the actions and dance their way to the very end!

Instruments required:  None

It’s Animals I Adore

With lyrics by Music Man Project student, Rebecca Ling, this song was premiered in a concert with real animals from a local farm. It explores herbivores and carnivores, and has plenty of opportunities for staging (with or without the live animals!). This version has been written for guest instrumentalists to play along dressed as an animal. Each has a unique motif and at the climax the students will feel like they are part of a musical jungle! They will hear a violinist dressed as a cat, trumpeter dressed as a flamingo, double-bass player dressed a hippo, clarinettist dressed as a monkey, saxophonist dressed as a penguin and a trombonist dressed as an elephant!

Instruments Required: Glockenspiels

Music is Magic

One of the most expressive songs in the volume, ‘Music is Magic’ was originally written to commemorate the sudden passing of a child from one of the Music Man Project’s special schools. The song soon became our theme tune and was released as a charity single in 2015 to mark our West End debut at the London Palladium, and it is still available on iTunes and Amazon. The song has meaningful words about the power of music and is a favourite amongst students wherever it is performed. For a few days, it topped Amazon’s Broadway song chart, beating the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack! At the London Palladium, the last line was performed by a student who was previously mute, such is the power and magic of music.

Instruments Required:  None

Note by Note

‘Note by Note’ is a catchy and upbeat pop song in which students sing, dance and rap. The song teaches syncopation and the distinct repeating sections will help students understand form and structure.

Instruments Required:  None

Peace and Hope

Peace and Hope is an expressive song with a very simple repeating chorus which is sung, signed and played on the hand bells. The more complex verses require two groups of singers repeating phrases in turn and always with a slight overlap. The students will take longer to master these sections and so teaching should begin with the simpler chorus sections.

Instruments Required:  Hand bells

We Are The Future Now

We Are the Future Now is a simple pop song with signs and actions.  It was written in collaboration with producer Jason Perry for METAL’s 2019 Village Green Festival. Students strike fitness postures in the introduction.  The song is short, easy to learn and, with driving bass and drum kit accompaniment, it is sure to get the heart rate going! The Music Man Project meets Rocky!

Instruments Required:  Tambourines

Concerto for Trumpet, Trombone and Triangles

This piece was played by The Music Man Project at the London Palladium in 2017. The performance smashed the Guinness World Record for the largest triangle ensemble. A total of 1521 triangles were played on stage and in the audience. Students play crotchet and minim beats plus trills, but most importantly they must follow a conductor for an extended period to know when to play at the correct time in the music, whilst the piano, trumpet and trombone parts are busy weaving around them. The students will enjoy the Mexican wave of triangles as they stand up and play their triangles in turn.

Instruments Required:  Triangles (as many as you can find!)

Join Together

Join Together is a useful song with which to close a performance as it includes two opportunities for the students to take a bow. They will generally join in on the more memorable ‘join together’ part of the refrain although, with support, the more able can sing the opening lines as well. The song teaches basic counting: one by one, two by two, three by three and so on. The students can show this with their fingers and when they touch their two index fingers together they make a sign for ‘join together’. They also hold hands with the people either side of them for the lyric ‘hand in hand’. Finally, they will physically represent the key change by standing up and singing ‘all together’ loudly whilst gesturing to everyone in front of them. The bows occur during the instrumental section and at the very end.

The song is even more effective when the audience joins in with the students, mirroring their actions and standing with them on the key change. This makes for a moving climax to any concert and guarantees a standing ovation!

Instruments Required:  None

Have You Ever Stopped to Think

People born with disabilities all have a unique story to tell. This song celebrates the journey of the amazing students from The Music Man Project UK who overcame extraordinary obstacles to be the musicians they are today.

Instruments Required:  Voice, Glockenspiels

Sabre Dance

Students learn to play the glockenspiel with two sticks at the same time in this exciting arrangement of Khachaturian’s famous Sabre Dance. The first pair of notes are F# and B and the second pair of notes are A and D. The remaining music is more straightforward but special attention needs to be paid to the final bars: after 8 beats on the woodblock, the cymbal comes in on the next beat with a loud crash, followed immediately by an upward glissando on the glockenspiel to finish with a flourish!

Instruments Required:  Glockenspiels, Hand bells, Triangles, Tambourines, Woodblocks, Cymbal

Kitten on the Keys

Kitten on the Keys requires students to maintain different parts at the same time. After the introduction, the woodblock keeps the steady crotchet pulse, the triangle plays off-beats and the more challenging glockenspiel music includes the A flat note (labelled as G# on most glockenspiels). Bell and cymbal parts complete the musical line-up in this fun and intricate arrangement which will challenge concentration throughout.

Instruments Required:  Glockenspiels, Woodblocks, Triangles, Cymbal, Hand bells

United We Stand

United We Stand was written during the COVID-19 global pandemic. People with learning disabilities found the lockdown very difficult to understand. They were confused and anxious, and they missed their regular activities and friends. The Music Man Project continued to produce new music, new videos and a wide range of online services called “MMP Wired” to keep the nations learning disabled community engaged and entertained throughout this extraordinary time in our history.

Instruments Required:  None

English Rose

“English Rose” is a love song and can be used as music to calm down to or an opportunity for solos. Although the words are challenging at first glance, with repetition, encouragement and perseverance many students will grasp them and deliver them with great feeling. Other students will enjoy holding hands and swaying to the melody. Everyone stands and looks up to heaven on the key change. The purpose here is for everyone to experience raw emotion through music and to express that spontaneously in any shape or form.

The song is very special to everyone at The Music Man Project. It was premiered at the London Palladium in 2015 in a new work called “From the Asylum to the Palladium”. The musical told the story of Joe Dorado, the late president of our founding charity, Southend Mencap. In this central song, Joe sings about his love for Rosemary – his ‘English Rose’.

Instruments required:  None


In ‘The Ukularmy!’ the students sing, play and march as an army of ukulele players! Near the beginning, they demonstrate an understanding of the different strings by plucking them separately in turn and shouting the note names. The song is a great starting point for students to try these instruments for the first time because they are only required to strum open strings, but importantly at the right time in the music so the harmony fits! During the middle instrumental section, they salute between their strums, a sequence which halves in length each time so that by the end, the students are strumming and saluting in quick succession. A cause of great hilarity for performers and audience alike.

Instruments required:  Ukuleles

The Music Man Marches

In the following arrangements for drums and hand percussion, students must play different instruments at different times. Maintaining their individual parts and resisting the temptation to just play along with everyone else is a real challenge for many learners with special needs. Careful explanations that stimulate and prompt memory will be fundamental to the teaching of these arrangements. They are to be spoken in the rhythm they are played. For example: ‘drum, drum, drum, drum, shake the tambourine’, ‘shake……. HIT!’, ‘ting, ting, ting, stop’ and ‘wood, wood, wood, woodblock’.  After much rehearsal, a student will be able take on the role of conductor of the ensemble.

Liberty Bell

Instruments Required:  Snare drum, Cymbal, African Drums, Tambourines, Woodblocks, Triangles

Blaze Away

Instruments Required:  Snare drum, Cymbal, African Drums, Tambourines, Woodblocks, Triangles

Washington Post

Instruments Required:  Cymbal, Djembe Drum, Wood Block, Tambourine, Glockenspiel

The Stars and Stripes Forever

Instruments Required:  Voice, Wood Block, Triangle, Tambourine