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Musical micro:bit

Unit of work

5 lessons


7-11 yrs

This series of five lessons is written for primary school students aged 9-10 years. Students compose musical phrases and write algorithms to play their phrases on pitched instruments (e.g. glockenspiels).

They then program the micro:bit to play their phrases when events are triggered and experiment with using the accelerometer.

Finally, they consider whether the micro:bit can be used as a music-making device, especially for those who might not have access to instruments.

Computational thinking:


Computer systems:








Overall key learning

  • can analyse problems in computational terms, and have repeated practical experience of writing computer programs in order to solve such problems
  • can evaluate and apply information technology, including new or unfamiliar technologies, analytically to solve problems
  • are responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology

Additional skills

Creative thinking, collaboration, problem-solving, critical thinking, evaluation, researching, presenting.

Lesson 1: Musical algorithms

In this ‘unplugged’ lesson, pupils use a musical theme to extend their understanding of algorithms. They evaluate algorithms, create a short musical composition and write an algorithm for someone who cannot read music to follow. 

Key learning:

  • To read and interpret a range of algorithms
  • To evaluate algorithms
  • To write algorithms for a given audience
Lesson 1 details

Lesson 2: Programming & debugging music

Pupils explore using the BBC micro:bit to play musical phrases. They write programs using the MakeCode editor, extending their understanding of repetition and inputs from previous unit and connect speakers/headphones to their micro:bit to play their music.

Key learning:

  • To use existing knowledge to improve programs
  • To write and debug musical programs
  • To experiment (tinker) with the micro:bit to make music
Lesson 2 details

Lesson 3: Musical gestures

Pupils extend their understanding of selection from previous units by following and modifying algorithms. They then consider how gestures are used by a conductor in an orchestra and write algorithms to instruct others which notes to play on a pitched instrument (i.e. glockenspiel) when certain gestures are made.

Key learning:

  • To analyse and modify algorithms
  • To identify patterns in algorithms
  • To write algorithms using repetition and selection
Lesson 3 details

Lesson 4: Controlling music with inputs

Pupils develop their understanding of using the inputs and outputs on the BBC micro:bit and write, test and debug programs to experiment with using selection and the accelerometer to play different notes. They also consider how the micro:bit could be used to help people who find playing instruments difficult. 

Key learning:

  • To identify how inputs are used in programs
  • To write programs that use inputs and selection
  • To write and evaluate algorithms
Lesson 4 details

Lesson 5: Evaluating micro:bit music

Pupils recap and apply their learning from this unit by undertaking programming challenges. They then consider the information someone would need to make music using a BBC micro:bit, create slides for an explainer presentation and evaluate using the micro:bit for making music.

Key learning:

  • To modify programs to meet given criteria
  • To decompose learning from the unit
  • To evaluate the micro:bit as a music-making device
Lesson 5 details

These lessons are mapped to the following learning objectives and standards for computing and music: