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KS3 music – Deconstruct & perform Despacito

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PDF lesson plan

Key Stage



Years 7-9


Develop students’ musical confidence as they put together a performance with minimal teacher input in this KS3 music lesson plan…

12-bar blues and the walking bass are the go-to for keyboard lessons up and down the country – but I have encountered problems when asking students to take that knowledge and the skill set acquired, and apply them to learning a song of their choice.

If you are going to promote the musical understanding of chord structure and basic keyboard skills, it’s essential students are not scared to attempt chords that use those scary black notes.

This lesson focuses on constructing chords and developing a performance from the ground up.

Why teach this KS3 music lesson?

With curriculum time at a premium, it is vital that lessons inspire and promote the love of music. Students learn so much through performance. I, for one, want the learners to be hooked and coming back for more. What better way than using the song Despacito?

Starter activity

Supply students with a basic printout of the lyrics for Despacito by Luis Fonsi. Use this as the basis for an analysis of the song structure. By presenting the chord sequence in a standard pop format on the board, you can then discuss the chord placement in relation to specific key lyrics that trigger the changes, as well as relevant information about the timing of the changes, in terms of the modelled performance.

This slight tweak in approach means students will produce their own learning resource appropriate to their ability.

Key curriculum links

  • Ideal for KS3 performance unit. Tweak it by instrument, solo/ensemble or by introducing sequencing elements
  • Covers the construction of chords, the chord sequence, inversions, lead melody, and ensemble performance

Daniel Austin is co-director of vocational and fitness, and head of music, at Clacton County High School.

KS3 music lesson plan
KS3 music – Deconstruct & perform Despacito

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