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Exploring Rhythms and Performing as an Ensemble

This unit introduces the polyrhythmic style of Latin-American Samba and revises and revisits may key concepts concerning rhythm, beat and pulse from pupil’s learning including features such as polyrhythms, cyclic rhythms, syncopation, ostinato and call and response as well as introducing the characteristic 2:3 and 3:2 son clave rhythms of Samba. 

Pupils learn about the timbres and sonorities of Samba music and instruments and explore the roles of different Latin-American instruments within a Samba ensemble. 

The experience of performing together as a class or larger group ensemble aims to give pupils the exhilaration and physical impact of ensemble percussion music. 

The unit is based around a flexible class Samba piece - an arrangement of Bellini’s “Samba de Janiero” where original melodic parts have been adapted and Samba percussion rhythms added to form various sub-sections which can be learned over a series of lessons and “added to” as the unit progresses. 

There is an optional lesson pathway at the end of the unit for pupils to create their own piece of Samba, notating this using either rhythm grid notation or their knowledge of dotted and tied notes from the unit, in terms of recording syncopated rhythms.  

Samba - Scheme of Work and Lesson Pathways

Samba - Scheme of Work and Lesson Pathways

Includes Scheme of Work Overview, Unit Learning Objectives, Learning Outcomes and Lesson Pathways.

Samba - DOITNOW (Starters) and Plenary Activities

Samba - “DOITNOW” Presentation

Cutting down on printables, file storage and media files, the “new look” Musical Contexts “DOITNOW” Samba lesson openers Presentation contains  a wealth (only two samples shown here), of effective “DOITNOW’s” when delivering the Samba unit in just one place - all audio and video files are embedded and there’s accompanying Teacher’s Notes in the “slide comments” section. 

Samba - Plenary Review Activities

A series of lesson reviews where pupils review their learning and understanding.

Samba - 5 Minutes Silent Reading

For teachers who prefer to begin their lessons with quiet, focused openers.  All contain “Questions to Think About” which can also be used as Cover or Homework tasks.

1. Introducing Samba

Samba - “Samba de Janeiro” Performing Resources

Samba - General Resources

Key Words, Concepts and Musical Knowledge

Improvisation, Polyrhythms, Cyclic Rhythms, Pulse, Beat & Rhythm, Latin-American Percussion: Surdo, Repinique, Tamborim, Chocolo, Reco-Reco, Apito, Agogo Bells, Caixa du Guerro, Guiro, Timbales, Cuica, Congas, Claves, Cowbel;  Syncopation, Ostinato, Q&A/Call and Response, Groove, Break, Mid-Section, Son Clave, 2;3 and 3:2 rhythms.

Music Theory

Dotted and Tied Notes

Links to GCSE Music

Rhythms of the World










Samba Score 1

“Samba de Janeiro”

Percussion Parts

Samba MIDI 1

“Samba de Janeiro”


Samba MIDI 2

“Samba de Janeiro”

Section A

Samba MIDI 3

“Samba de Janeiro”

Section B

Samba MIDI 4

“Samba de Janeiro”


Samba Score 2 “Samba de Janeiro”

Melodic Parts


“Samba de Janeiro”

Melodic Parts over Percussion Section B


“Samba de Janeiro”

Melodic Parts

Samba Presentation 1 - “Samba de Janeiro”

Samba de Janeiro Scores 1 & 2 with .wav  embedded files for class display







Group 1-4 Samba Instrument Posters

Useful for class display to group pupils into “Samba Instrument Groups”