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Educational Resources

Linda May Han Oh:

Ephemeral Echoes

MotherTongue, MotherLand by Sunny Kim (lead artist, vocals, percussion), with Mindy Meng Wang (guzheng, vocals), Gelareh Pour (kamancheh, qeychak, vocals), Aviva Endean (clarinets, vocals).
Linda May Han Oh in front of a white background holding her bass in one hand and brushing her hair with the other looking at the camera

Linda May Han Oh

Image: Shervin Lainez

Written by
Rosie Pentreath
Published on
13th April 2023

Begin by watching this excerpt of the live performance of Ephemeral Echoes

  • Watch 0:36 - do you think this music sounds "structured" or "ordered" in a particular way? Discuss with your class any musical patterns or ideas you can pick up on.
  • What does "improvise" mean? Search up and discuss this term, and reflect on whether "improvising" sounds easy or difficult. If difficult, is there anything that might make it an easier process?

Let’s get creative!

Activities can be done individually or in a group.

Creative Activity 1 - Introducing D Dorian

Have a listen to the D Dorian mode and take a look at how it is notated. On a DAW keyboard or classroom instrument, play through the D Dorian mode several times to familiarise yourself with its notes and sounds.

Then, try to play the notes of the D Dorian mode in a different order, ordering the notes however you like. How does your version of the mode sound? Try several different combinations, arranging the notes however you like, listening to how each sounds.

D Dorian on Keyboard

Traditional D Dorian Notation

Once you’re comfortable, try improvising over this track.

Download WAV

Creative Activity 2 - Words to Music

Look at the word bank below and pick a word. Using the notes of the D Dorian mode from Activity 1, come up with a short melody/musical idea on your DAW keyboard/classroom instrument which captures the "mood" or "meaning" of your chosen word. You are allowed to repeat notes! Repeat this process several times, to experiment with different words and musical ideas.

Word Bank Brainstorm Example

You may like to jot down reminders on how your melody/musical idea goes so you can play it in front of your teacher, or record into a DAW/your phone voice recorder app.


You may use notes outside of the D Dorian mode if you’re comfortable. If you’ve studied music for a while already, and know another tonality/mode/key that you’d like to work in, you can do that.

Creative Activity 3 - Planning a Jam Session

Follow the notation examples below to plan out your music-making. Especially when improvising in a group, you need to make sure you are thinking along the same lines as your ensemble members, so that the sounds you produce as a group "work" or "mesh" well. Creating a simple plan means you will all be on the same page, which makes room for more creativity in your jam session! 

Here are some examples of how you can notate improvised passages: 

Playing through a set of notes in the performer’s own time (stemless notes)

Improv Notation 1

Repeating a note/ group of notes for a set amount of time (box notation)

Improv Notation 2

Having notes “ring” indefinitely (slur after a semibreve)

Improv Notation 3

If in doubt, use descriptive, but concise language to convey your intentions

Improv Notation 4

Here is an example of what this improvised notation may look and sound like in a small ensemble setting. Here, the clarinet and violin are following the lead of the piano.

Metamorphosis P1

Presentation of Learning

Using your notated plan from Activity 3, improvise a new jam session in your groups, as a live performance in front of the class. 

Project your notated plan on an interactive whiteboard or similar and briefly explain how your notation works. How helpful was the written plan in this performance? Was improvisation made easier, or were there still challenges? Speak about these points in front of the class.  

If a live performance is not possible, students can record their improvisation through a DAW or voice recorder app. MP3 recordings and notation plans can be published privately via the school LMS, or on music/visual sharing sites such as Soundcloud, Google Drive or Dropbox. 


Australian Curriculum Mapped Outcomes

Year 7 and 8 Music

Developing practices and skills - AC9AMU8D01

Develop and practise listening/aural skills and vocal and/or instrumental skills/techniques for manipulating elements of music to achieve expressive effects.

Developing practices and skills - AC9AMU8D02

Reflect on their own and others’ music to inform choices they make as composers and performers about how they will manipulate elements of music and/or compositional devices.

Creating and making - AC9AMU8C02

Compose using the elements of music and compositional devices to communicate ideas, perspectives and/or meaning, and notate, document and/or record the music.

Reference: View here

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we meet and create, and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

Low view of Australian Outback landscape with red dirt texture heavily feature and dry grassy hill in the distant background