Quick finder: recommended for S1 upwardsS3 upwardsS4 upwards

Recommended for S1 upwards

Note: some S1–2 pupils may also enjoy things recommended for S3.


DSO (Dallas Symphony Orchestra) KIDS has brief descriptions, pictures and playable sounds suitable for starters or quick reminders.

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales has some nice introductory YouTube videos with the four sections of the orchestra wearing colour-coded tops:
Strings, Woodwind, Brass, Percussion
The Conductor
William Tell, Sugar Plum Fairy, Soul Bossa Nova, Doctor Who, Radetsky March

Web Apps

Surprisingly nifty free online drum machine with save and .wav export capabilities. Some obvious restrictions are ‘swing’ capability being applied to 16th notes rather than 8ths and ’12’ grid (for 3/4 or 12/8) requiring the Chrome App ‘Plus’ version, but there’s still plenty to play with as found.

The Infinite Drum Machine
Perhaps less immediately ‘useful’, but intriguing fun! This app lets you create beats from a huge range of everyday sounds, but has no save or export capability.

Song Maker
Another interesting free app with some save and export capability. This one lets you create short looped pieces of up to 16 bars with both pitched notes (lengths determined by your chosen grid divisions) and backing rhythm. Be sure to check the ‘Settings’ page to see what grids and scales are available!

Recursive Arts Virtual Piano
There are numerous online keyboard apps including several called ‘Virtual Piano’, but most are lumbered with awkward keyboard layouts making ‘white’ and ‘black’ keys frustrating to use together. Switch this one to ‘real’ keyboard mapping for a usable three-octave layout and enjoy its other superior qualities too!

Recursive Arts Online Guitar
This looks and sounds as well thought out as the piano app above.

Recommended for S3 upwards

Note: some things listed for S1 upwards (especially the Web Apps) may still be of interest.

Performing Materials and Reference
A really nicely thought out and useful site for the guitarists.

N and K Drum Sheets
Useful SQA-approved, graded material for drummers arranged by Neil Sommerville, whose Edinburgh Schools Rock Ensemble (ESRE) have been regular and popular summer term visitors to KHS.

TED Videos

How playing an instrument benefits your brain
How to practice effectively… for just about anything
These are both great!


The Philharmonia Orchestra’s YouTube Instrument Guides are great for those wanting/needing to explore the instruments in depth, and are also available with additional static content at

For those interested in the development of the instruments through the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightment’s Instruments playlist on YouTube is the place to go!

Scottish Music

Learning and Teaching Scotland ‘Music of Scotland’ at Archive-It
Archived but still very useful Learning and Teaching Scotland resource with information, MIDI files, MP3s and PDFs to illustrate Scottish Music concepts at Standard Grade, Access 3 and Intermediate 1/2 levels.

Web Apps

A useful score writing/playing app that works straight from your browser (nothing to install) on devices including PCs and Chromebooks. It saves to cloud and has an intuitive interface with some procedures shared with Sibelius. But it’s not as powerful (still good enough to be useful), requires a Noteflight account (for which you can sign up with your school Google login), and the free version only permits creation of 10 different scores.

[Note, 5 May 2020: we’re currently trialling Noteflight Learn with Google Classroom integration for S3–6 Music and have a tutorial at]


Our DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) of choice for Music Technology courses, chosen for its combination of intuitive operation, portability (you can even run it from a USB drive!), power and value for money. Wholeheartedly recommended!

Recommended for S4 upwards

Note: everything listed for S3 upwards is still appropriate for the Senior Phase.

SQA Courses

The former Education Scotland site for Nat 3/4/5 and New Higher Music has sadly been replaced by a more limited version accessible only through Glow login. While the previous site containing listening examples, tests, composing ideas, links and more is listed as available at Archive-It (officially till mid-March 2017, but still there at May 2020), the new Glow version currently appears to have retained just the concept definitions and related audio examples from that. (Music) and (Music Technology)
The essential ‘home’ pages for the new SQA Music and Music Technology qualifications, placed last (rather than first) here simply because much of their content’s aimed more at teachers and some of our other links may be of more immediate relevance to pupils looking for interactive/audio-visual help.

Public Domain Sheet Music

With both musical works and typography remaining copyright for 50 or 70 years (depending on country) beyond the death of their last surviving author, you won’t find the following sites full of recent rock music. But they’re very useful for the historical musical periods we study (eg Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and the earlier Twentieth Century) and, the higher the level of your music course, the more useful you’re likely to find them:
The IMSLP / Petrucci Music Library has been online since February 2006 and already contains more then 35,000 scores.
While the Choral Public Domain Library has been going longer (since December 1998), it’s not quite so big. But it’s still the obvious place to go for those Madrigals, Masses and Motets!


The Circle of Thirds and Fifths
An interesting and useful take on the conventional ‘cycle of fifths’ and key relationships by Findhorn whistle maker Hans Bracker.