The Large Scale Project
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The Large Scale Project in schooL - a review by Angi Turnbull

I am head of music at a small 11-16 Academy based in North Devon in the UK. I have used The Large Scale Project successfully with my school band, and in KS3 and KS4 classes. I initially used the project with my school band, made up of a number of players of a huge range of ability, from grade 1 to grade 8, and with concert, Bb, and Eb instruments as well as French Horn. With the LSP you have ready made parts for the transposing instruments. I suggest starting with the Dorian Latin Groove in C, the transposing instrumentalists using the appropriate pages in D, in A and in G. All your players should also have the 'intermediate tunes' which are really pretty simple, and which you will have downloaded from the website. Warm up with the scales and warm up tracks. Let your band hear the demo track of the Dorian Latin Groove. On your first play through, maybe let the more advanced players play the tune along with the backing track first. Then have them all play the intermediate tune altogether with the backing track. Then they are ready to put the main groove and intermediate tunes together, along with the backing track. Once you have some players ready to try improvising, the other players can continue playing their intermediate tunes as these form useful guide tones. Other bonuses are that your players with a good ear can have a go at emulating the bass riffs, your guitarists can really get into the groove and work up their rhythm skills with the given chords. The guitar and bass tabs are a fantastic asset and great to have them as they are something you rarely find with other orchestral music. The way the tab lies under the notation means that tab reading students can gradually pick up the notation equivalent. Also the notation stave makes the rhythm crystal clear.

The LSP is adaptable and versatile to use in class. Here are just some ideas for ways it can be used.

Rhythm: The backing tracks are so rhythmically interesting that they can be used in class rhythm work. I would recommend especially the Mixolydian groove, for some very easy call and response rhythm work, then Dorian and Phrygian as you increase the element of syncopation. These are all in common time. The Lydian groove is useful for triple time work.

Chords: Students could develop their aural perception skills by comparing tunes with 1, 2 or 3 chords. Use Aeolian and Locrian for single chord work, Ionian Cmaj7 and Fmaj7, Dorian Dm7, Em7 and Am7. They could then develop their performing skills by learning the appropriate chords and playing along with the backing track, while others take solos.

Additionally for your Gifted and Talented at KS3, or for KS4 or KS5 when you wish to extend your students’ knowledge of decorated chords, the same tracks are handy: the Major triads with a major 7th  in the Ionian groove, the Minor triads with a minor 7th in the Dorian and Aeolian grooves, Minor triad with minor 7th  flat 5 (half diminished) in the Locrian groove. Augmented chords occur in the Phrygian groove. Once your students have attained proficiency on these chords in easy keys then they can be challenged in the harder keys.

Gamelan: use the Locrian groove backing track for KS3 classes playing on Gamelan instruments. In my classes we found the mode fitted with the Gamelan tuning, though we had only 5 notes available on the instruments, and the atmospheric backing track suited the Oriental style. Students’ improvising was enhanced by the rhythm and mood ideas inherent in the backing track.

Modes: The LSP’s main function is to give players experience with the modes. Hence the whole book is useful when teaching modes at KS4; the mixolydian mode of course you can use to support students' understanding of Miles Davis's playing in one of the Edexcel set works, All Blues. The Latin rhythms are useful to support students' learning in AQA's Caribbean music and popular music.

Simple improvising ideas: Keeping things simple for year 7 however, you can use the minor pentatonic (DFGAC) with the Dorian groove. With the Phrygian groove younger players can try making tunes with just 2 notes, say E and F, and gradually add one more note at a time as they gain confidence. Players love using these tracks as they provide so much support and carry them through, so that anything they play will sound good.

Performing: The grooves, intermediate tunes and backing tracks can form a basis for your students' GCSE performances, especially useful for the guitarists, self taught or not – they can learn a tune by ear and/or using the tab. You and the examiner, who may not be great tab readers, can read the traditionally notated tune in order to assess the student. You and the student are in a win win situation, because you can both hear exactly how the tune should go and the backing track helps the student achieve style and expression, resulting in great marks. Additionally, you can use the scales and warm ups to teach students about the modes, work on some improvising, then ask students to compose their own tune to fit with the backing track.

Suffice it to say then, the LSP is easy to use and can fulfil many functions in the secondary school music department, whether you are using the printed version or downloaded tracks and PDFs.