Arranging Music for Primary School Ensembles

Jim Coyle
Inspiring Music Educator
Improve your skills in arranging music for your primary school instrumental, vocal and mixed ensembles.
Target Audience
Teachers of stage 2 and 3 music. May be relevant to stage 4 music teachers.

Learning Areas

Teaching Standards

General Description

This course will develop music arranging skills for primary school vocal and instrumental ensembles. It will be grounded in early stage instrumental and vocal pedagogy and sound composition skills. The course will always be grounded in the realities of primary school ensemble music and focussed on the art of the possible.


Teachers of stage 2 and 3 music. May be relevant to stage 4 music teachers.

Available Delivery Formats

Format Description

This course will involve hands on, collaborative music arranging and performing of our arrangements.

This course contributes to 5.0 professional development hours.


There are no occurrences of Face to Face in Australia (NSW) at this time.


Arranging for voices

1 hour

In this session, we will arrange a well-known song for 2 equal voices, possibly add and third part and discuss the best deployment for changing boys' voices. We will examine and implement techniques used to make harmony singing easy and effective for children.

Arranging for strings

1 hour

We will examine the strengths and weaknesses of string instruments in the early stages of learning them (violin, viola, cello, double bass) and investigate the best way to arrange music for these instruments. We will arrange a well-known song for string ensemble and hope to play it.

Arranging for woodwind and brass instruments

2 hours

We will explore issues of band and instrumental pedagogy, looking at early stage learning in the most popular woodwind and brass instruments (particularly flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, euphonium and trombone). We will examine issues such as instrumental registers, transposing instruments and balancing an ensemble. We will arrange and hope to perform a well-known song.

Mixed ensembles

1 hour

This session will examine the situation often found in primary schools where and arrangement needs to be made for unconventional instrumental combinations. This session will also look at writing for percussion and keyboard instruments, guitars and ukuleles. We will write and arrangement of a well-known song and perform it.

What To Bring

An instrument (woodwind, brass or strings) that you can play slightly or hardly at all.
A laptop or device with music notation software installed.

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About the team

Jim Coyle


Jim Coyle is a music educator with over twenty years teaching experience. His aim is to engage and inspire students from kindergarten through HSC and into tertiary studies.

Jim is a well-known figure in New South Wales music education; he is a regular keynote presenter at Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s Meet the Music seminars. Jim is also the author of a large number of published classroom resources for students from primary school to year twelve and in 2015 began doctoral research at Sydney Conservatorium of Music.