If you’re bringing children to The Bridgewater Hall, either as a family or school party, there are some brilliant free resources available to help you explore music and sound. The list below includes some of our own resources and many more which we’ve come across during our work. Most of them are free, and we’ve loosely grouped them by age range and theme.

Our partners across Greater Manchester also offer some brilliant opportunities for people of all ages to explore music. Take a look at the partners’ activities page to see what else is on offer.

Resources from The Bridgewater Hall

Download our resources using the links below, or pick them up from the Information Desk in Stalls Foyer when you arrive.

The Treasure Trail introduces children to some of the building’s secrets – from the Touchstone on the piazza, to the springs beneath the floor and the view from the Gallery. The upper foyer levels are opened one hour before each concert – if you’re visiting at other times, it is possible to find everything from Stalls level.

The Treasure Trail will take up to 30 minutes to complete – please arrive in good time if you’re due to attend a performance!

The Guide to the Orchestra will help young concert-goers to spot some of the most common orchestral instruments on the stage and to learn a little about how they are manufactured and played.

Remember that if you’re watching a concert, the people sitting next to you won’t appreciate you rustling paper – you can borrow a laminated copy from the Information Desk to keep everybody happy.

Resources to Download   Treasure Trail| Guide to the Orchestra

External Resources

We’re not responsible for the following sites, but we found them and liked them and thought that they might be useful to you as well. If you host one of the sites listed below, thank you!  If you’d like us to acknowledge you with a different title or description, please get in touch.

All Ages

Manchester Libraries provide free access to an extensive online library of Naxos classical music recordings, available via your library account.  Sign up at your local library and log in from any computer – your account number and pin is your card number and the first four digits of your date of birth (ie 16 December 1981 = 1612). You’ll need Flash Player to play the tracks, they’re not available to download.

The Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts has some great resources for KS2 and 3 from the Catalyst and Quest programmes – they look at music as well as poetry, dance, visual art and storytelling.  You can buy hard copies for low prices, or download them free of charge as PDFs.

Toby Rush from the University of Dayton, USA, has collected resources relating to Braille music including a tool for translating scores.

Primary School

Growing Sound – a series of worksheets and practical activities exploring the physics of sound, and for creating an orchestra out of vegetables.

BBC Music activities – a range of games and activities for children aged 4-11 – archived in 2014, but still useful.

BBC Ten Pieces – a film, web resources and project with the aim of inspiring a generation of children to get creative with classical music. Resources include an interactive e-book, simple musical arrangements for the classroom, lesson plans and the chance to order a free DVD for your school.

The DSO Kids website is a really simple and useful introduction to classical instruments and composers. Learn basic facts about each instrument of the orchestra, hear them play ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’, listen to extracts of works by famous composers and pick up a basic introduction to how hearing works. You can play games such as ‘Beethoven’s Baseball’ and pick up instructions for making simple instruments at home or in the classroom. It’s hosted by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and you can also take a virtual tour of their home, the Meyerson Centre – if you’re coming on a visit to The Bridgewater Hall, why not explore the similarities and differences between the two buildings?
NOTE: Some of the clues and musical terms used in the games section are American, and may make them more challenging or confusing for UK children new to musical terminology.

Creating Music is another useful resource, especially for KS1; it includes ‘match the melody’ games, lessons on pitch and scales, and a great activity to create and listen back to your own music by adding patterns to a scribble pad. The site may be a little awkward to navigate, but once the games are up and running children should be able to work independently.

Primary Games Arena has some lovely music games, suited to very young children (the Gruffalo game) right up to year 6 (Musical Notes). Others, like Isle of Tune and Sembeo, could be adapted for any age group and developed into composition projects based on children’s own names or environments.

The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra is a free iPad app created by the Britten Pears Foundation with the Royal Northern College of Music and Sir Mark Elder for Benjamin Britten’s centenary in 2013. Children can listen to Britten’s famous music, follow the score (great with the addition of notation to the curriculum), learn to identify instruments’ sounds and create their own variations and fugues.

Secondary School (and adult learners)

BBC Music activities – a range of games and activities for young people aged 11-16

BBC Radio 3 Discovering Music also offers an in-depth exploration of musical terms and styles, with the opportunity to listen to explore a glossary of terms and hear examples of chromatic scales, motifs and textures. You can listen to an ever-changing range of recordings on iPlayer with detailed exploration, watch video clips exploring famous compositions, and sign up to a free newsletter.

Showtime – an interactive programme including up to 90 hours of English, Maths, ICT and functional skills, developed by the Royal Albert Hall around their work and staff roles; designed to engage and motivate learners and proven to be successful with disaffected learners. Requires email registration.

Violinist Tasmin Little – who’s played often at the Hall – has recorded three pieces by JS Bach, Paul Patterson and Eugène Ysaÿe and made them available for free downloads under her ‘Naked Violin’ initiative. She has also recorded a short spoken introduction to each piece, with suggestions for conversations and listening exercises to try with students. These ideas are at a fairly high level, probably best suited to KS4, but could be adapted for younger age groups; the recordings are a great starting point for any class.

LSO Play from the London Symphony Orchestra explores Ravel’s Bolero.  Discover different sections and players of the orchestra, watch close ups of up to four different instruments playing together, and watch video masterclasses from leading players.  This is a very modern, interactive online app for any student (or adult) interested in learning more about the orchestra.  It may not work on all internet browsers.

We found these music theory infographics from Toby Rush from the University of Dayton, USA, via Classic FM.  They use some American terminology, but are a useful visual introduction to concepts all the way from basic notation to contemporary counterpoint.


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