Activity Introduction

PK Hero Image 3Quick summary: Through the documentary Paul Kelly – Stories of Me, students explore concepts such as artist and image, songs and instruments, understanding and applying musical concepts, patterns and repetition in music, and the melody of music. This lesson could be delivered as a set of activities, or each part could be delivered separately.

This lesson uses sections of Shark Island Production’s Paul Kelly – Stories of Me as learning stimuli. Teachers are required to create an account to view the film and use the supplied code to enable students to access the film.

Key points to explore:

  • Paul Kelly’s compositions.
  • Various musical devices.
  • Musical techniques and approaches.

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 9 & 10 Music

  • Manipulate combinations of the elements of music in a range of styles, using technology and notation (ACAMUM100)
  • Practise and rehearse to refine a variety of performance repertoire with increasing technical and interpretative skill (ACAMUM101)
  • Plan and organise compositions with an understanding of style and convention, including drawing upon Australian music by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists (ACAMUM102)
  • Evaluate a range of music and compositions to inform and refine their own compositions and performances (ACAMUR104)
  • Analyse a range of music from contemporary and past times to explore differing viewpoints and enrich their music making, starting with Australian music,including music of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and consider music in international contexts (ACAMUR105) 

The activities in this lesson align with most state senior music courses. Most closely aligned are the Music 1 Course in the NSW Stage 6 syllabus and the VCE Music Study Design.

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking.

Topic: Social issues.


Time required: 1 x 60 mins, 3 x 45 mins, 1 x 10 mins

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate student discussion, coordinate student movement around classroom.

Resources required: Student Worksheet – one copy per student OR computers/tablets to access the online worksheet. Device capable of accessing the internet. Copy of Paul Kelly – Stories of Me (teachers are required to create an account to view and invite students to view the film). Musical instruments.

Digital technology opportunities: Digital sharing capabilities, using ICT to visualise thinking, web search.

Keywords: Music, Paul Kelly, artist, image, songs, instruments, musical concepts, patterns, repetition, melody. 

Acknowledgements: This resource has been adapted from ‘Paul Kelly: Portrait of an Artist’ written by Eva Gold, Mel Dixon, Ann Small, Bradley Merrick with Appendix from Victorian teachers by Monika Wagner.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum. 


Teacher Worksheet

PK Hero Image 4Teacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: Students will understand a number of new musical concepts, and apply them to the the film Paul Kelly - Stories of Me and songs composed by Paul Kelly.

Teacher content information: This lesson is based on the film Paul Kelly - Stories of Me, which charts the many lives, loves and losses of Paul Kelly, one of Australia’s most gifted singer-songwriters. His songs have been marking out the Australian landscape and its people through words and music for almost 40 years. The stories and the music of Paul Kelly explore and reflect the Australian experience, life and culture.

The film is a contemporary music documentary that allows students to explore popular culture, storytelling and how people are represented in texts. It highlights different aspects of the Australian experience and showcases how art reflects and celebrates life. The film's portrayal of Kelly's life and music covers themes such as relationships, family, culture, love, identi

- or - to view worksheets

Student Worksheet

Thought starter: "Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent" - Victor Hugo

Part A: Artist and Image

1. Start by watching Paul Kelly - Stories of Me from 13:23 – 16.40.

Music Lesson Artist and Image placeholder

2. Briefly outline how Paul Kelly represents himself as a musician, and discuss how his image is portrayed:

3. Research some other Australian artists that were around in the early eighties and find some recordings and, if possible, footage of them. You could even find some pictures of them performing.

4. Choose one other artist and look at the image they presented to accompany their music. Compare Paul Kelly’s image to this artist you have selected and discuss how this representation is typical of that era in Australian Rock Music:

5. Once your initial ideas have been noted, you could use an audio visual presentation tool such as Adobe Slate to present your comparison with more detail, such as pictures and examples of the artist's music.

Part B: Songs and Instruments

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