Musical Futures: Just Play

What is Just Play?

Just Play is our Musical Futures ‘first access’ programme for both teachers and students. Designed to build holistic musical skills and an understanding of how to play as a whole class band​, the differentiation opportunities within the resource mean that it is ideally suited to students at both primary and secondary stages of education from ages 8 to 14.

The approach is designed to engage students in whole class music making by providing a simple step by step resource that supports the development of instrumental skills on drums, guitar, bass, keyboard and ukulele, using music that students like, enjoy and identify with.  Students rotate regularly so that they all play each instrument which ensures a level of challenge and breadth of experience.

Our Premium Just Play Resource is included FREE as part of our Just Play training offer OR for immediate purchase and download for £110

New Just Play playalong tracks are available to download at an additional cost so there are always new and up-to-date resources to use with your students.

About Just Play

Implementation: A practical workshop where teachers experience Just Play from the position of their learners, build confidence with leading music activities, develop musical skills that they can can model with classes and explore the resource with others, unpicking how they might lift and apply it to their own contexts

Innovation: A resource that can be taken and used straight away, carefully scaffolded for use by anyone who wants to make music with their classes regardless of musical experience, yet flexible enough to be adapted to a variety of individual situations, whilst staying close to the key pedagogy that underpins Just play

Sustainability: Access to a large international network of practice to share experiences, resources and ideas with others.

Just Play and the Musical Futures pedagogy

Musical Futures pedagogy is based on the real-life learning practices of popular and community musicians.

We believe that in order to achieve the independent and self-directed informal learning that is the aspiration of Musical Futures, it is necessary for students and teachers to develop sufficient skills, both musical and instrumental, to explore and unpick these as a class as well as in groups. In Just Play, we have extracted and embedded as many of our core values and pedagogy as possible and have embedded and scaffolded these into the training and resources.

We recognise that generalist teachers and younger students will require a little more direction at the start before they move onto some of our more tried and tested models that build on Just Play.

The Just Play methodology

The methodology of Just Play has been designed to incorporate these values in ways that can be led by teachers regardless of their musical experiences. The key principles have been simplified and are modelled throughout to ensure that they can be understood and replicated by generalist teachers in the practice that they adopt as they lead the sessions. We continue to refine and adapt the materials in response to feedback from teachers as they use them with their classes.

The five key principles of Just Play are:

1.    Explain later

2.    We get better as we play

3.    Learn by listening

4.    Sound before symbol

5.    Show don’t tell

Classroom practice involves teachers working their way through a set of resources that are scaffolded to support the building of essential musical concepts and skills by teachers as musical leaders as well as students as music learners in a large group of musicians. All learning takes place through playing first then unpicking the outcomes and process together.

Students play as a class, by ear, supported by relevant visual tools and led in the first instance by the teachers as musical leader. Through this they develop the ability to play as a group, listen to each other, follow a leader, take it in turns, help each other, work at their own pace, as well as build and develop key musical skills and understanding. The content moves from one to two chord patterns and quickly onto playing full songs and medleys chosen from music that many students will recognise or in a style that they may find familiar, chosen from contemporary popular music repertoire.

The content builds and increases in challenge from basic instrumental and rhythmic skills on a range of instruments throughout the Just Play approach although differentiation for the range of skills found in a large group of learners is implicit throughout. Students rotate regularly so that they all play each instrument which ensures a level of challenge and breadth of experience that is essential in musical development and keeping repertoire fresh, contemporary and engaging ensures a level of engagement that we see throughout Musical Futures wherever it is used and applied.

Throughout our work in pilot schools in Scotland, England and Australia we recognise that good teachers can teach music well regardless of musical experience. Teachers know their classes and the students, therefore we encourage them to use the resources in a flexible way, adapting to the pace set by the class and applying the usual planning, diagnosing, challenge, support and expectations we would expect to see in any lesson. Built into the approach and resource is the potential for teachers to apply and adapt or create their own materials which are shared with others through our network and via our website.


Musical Futures is working in partnership with UCan Play to offer equipment packages and fundraising advice to schools looking to invest in instruments for their schools.

Where next?

As well as the initial skills building process, the methodology supports composing, improvising, singing and songwriting and starts to allow students to draw on their existing musical skills and knowledge and apply this to creating their own music.

For more information about Just Play please contact