Music Time: Peter and the Wolf

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started23rd Sep 1970
ended2nd Dec 1970
last rptDec 1976
7 school years
duration20 mins
subject 🎶MusicMusic
age rangeAge 7-9
languageenIn English
Music TimeNext unit: Travel and Transport HierarchyNext.gif

Peter and the Wolf is a unit of the BBC schools TV series Music Time from the 1970s, covering Music for primary school pupils.

The first term in the original one-year Music Time course begins simply, with children asked to join in with one-note refrains in songs performed by the presenters. Mari Griffith and Ian Humphris both play the guitar and, joined by a few dozen 8 year-olds in the studio, sing all the songs.

They introduce some basic circle singing games that children can reproduce in the classroom, starting with I'm on the King's land and Wallflower, Wallflower, and demonstrate how to make some improvised musical instruments such as maracas made from dried peas in a bleach bottle and a lagerphone made from old metal bottle tops stuck to a broom handle.

The musical story of Peter and the Wolf is the common theme for listening music throughout the term.

Peter and the Wolf

“We make no apologies for this. It comes fresh to every generation of children, and we illustrate the story with some specially designed puppets.”

Music Time teacher's notes, 1972[1]
Peter and the Wolf animated by Bura and Hardwick

The first 8 episodes of this unit include a specific excerpt from Peter and the Wolf by Serge Prokofiev, in which a young boy encounters the animals in the forest near his home including a fearsome wolf. Each animal is introduced in turn alongside the instrument which represents it. The entire story is shown in the 9th episode.

The story is accompanied by a 15-minute stop-frame animation made by Bura and Hardwick, the team also responsible for Music Time's renditions of Coppélia, The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, as well as Crow and Alice from You and Me and many stories from Words and Pictures.


SongO John the Rabbit

O John the rabbit, yes ma'am,
Got a mighty habbit, yes ma'am.

From American Folk Songs for Children by Ruth Seeger, Doubleday.

This song was only featured in the first episode, with children asked to join in with "yes ma'am" at the end of each line, and it was not printed in the pupils' pamphlet.

SongSweet Potatoes

Soon as we all bake sweet potatoes, sweet potatoes, sweet potatoes.
Soon as we all bake sweet potatoes, eat them up right quick.

Countermelody by Hector Spaulding, from Twice 55 The New Brown Book, Sunny-Birchard Company, Illinois.

SongWhat Shall I Do?

What shall I do when a button pops? What shall I do when a button pops?
Sew it on again sew it on, sew it on again sew it on.

From Songs for the Elementary Classroom by Paul Brodsky, Follett Educational Corporation.

SongFrog Went A-Courting

A frog went a courting he did ride, um-hum (um-hum)
A frog went a courting he did ride, sword and pistol by his side, um-hum (um-hum)

SongGreen Grow the Rushes

Green grow the rushes, O, green grow the rushes, O.
Kiss her quick and let her go! Never mind the weather if the wind don't blow.

SongA Round of Bells

Christmas bells sounding so loud and so clear,
Ringing their message for all men to hear.

SongThe Birds' Carol

A cuckoo flew down from a Christmas tree, "Cuckoo!"
Then perch'd on the manger and thus he sang, "Cuckoo!"

English words from Czech Folk Songs by C.K. Offer, H. Freeman & Co.

SongA Russian Carol

Gloria in excelsus Deo! Paxper aedes hominum!
Adoremus! Adoremus! Adoreus Dominum!

English words by Canon John Catterick (Ashwell Carol).

SongMary Had a Baby

Mary had a baby, Mary had a baby, Amen, Amen.
She nam'd him Jesus, she nam'd him Jesus, Amen, Amen.

This song was performed as a surprise item in the end-of-term concert and it was not printed in the pupils' pamphlet. Children were only asked to join in with Amen, Amen.


The episodes do not have titles, but most introduce a character from Peter and the Wolf and the instrument which played that character's tune. Several episodes also include a suggestion for a musical instrument which children could make themselves.

Programme 9 includes a few minutes of studio work followed by a full 15 minute presentation of the Peter and the Wolf animated film by Bura and Hardwick.

Programme 10 is an end-of-term concert in which all of the songs from the term are sung again. The folk band The Spinners join the presenters in the studio to sing the Music Time songs, plus Fried Bred and Brandy-o, De Virgin Had a Baby Boy and the singing game De Play Begin.

# Title Peter & the Wolf Instrument Instrument making Broadcast Archive
1. Programme 1 The bird The flute Sandpaper blocks and scrapers 1970/09/2323 Sep 1970 BBC
2. Programme 2 The cat The clarinet Claves 1970/09/3030 Sep 1970 BBC
3. Programme 3 The duck The oboe Maracas 1970/10/077 Oct 1970 BBC
4. Programme 4 Grandfather The bassoon Lagerphone 1970/10/1414 Oct 1970 BBC
5. Programme 5 Peter & the bird The string quartet - 1970/10/2121 Oct 1970 BBC
6. Programme 6 The wolf The horn - 1970/11/044 Nov 1970 BBC
7. Programme 7 The huntsmen Timpani, cymbal & tubular bells Drums 1970/11/1111 Nov 1970 BBC
8. Programme 8 The main characters - - 1970/11/1818 Nov 1970 BBC
9. Peter and the Wolf - - - 1970/11/2525 Nov 1970 BBC
10. End-of-Term Concert - - - 1970/12/022 Dec 1970 BBC


Watch Online Watch on YouTube. A lengthy clip from the end-of-term concert in Programme 10 of this unit, featuring The Spinners in the studio singing many of the term's songs. I don't think the BBC have a full recording of this episode.


Presented by Mari Griffith
Ian Humphris
With Children from Hermitage Primary School, Uxbridge
Peter and the Wolf animation Bura and Hardwick
Producer John Hosier
Moyra Gambleton


Pupils' pamphlet
Teacher's notes

Pupils' pamphlet

A 24-page pamphlet containing most of the songs from the term's programmes, plus words for the singing games and illustrations supporting the pitch and rhythm work from the TV programmes.

The centre spread shows all of the puppet characters from Peter and the Wolf and the musicians who play their tunes.

Illustrations by Carol Jones.

Teacher's notes

A 24-page black & white booklet of notes for the teacher, including a double-page about the content & suggested follow-up work for each episode.

The notes were rewritten to accompany the repeats from autumn 1972.


LP cover

A mono LP containing selected songs from the first two years of Music Time was released by BBC Records in 1972. The songs were arranged by John Hosier and sung by Mari Griffith and Ian Humphris with children from Hermitage Junior School.

From this term, the record includes Frog Went A-Courting, What Shall I Do?, Sweet Potatoes and Russian Carol.

The record was released by BBC Records with catalogue number Roundabout 14, originally costing 99p.


  • Autumn 1970: Wednesdays 10:00am, repeated Fridays 11:35am on BBC1.
  • Autumn 1972: Wednesdays 10:00am, repeated Fridays 11:00am on BBC1.
  • Autumn 1974: Mondays 11:22am, repeated Tuesdays 2:02pm on BBC1.
  • Autumn 1976: Mondays 11:22am, repeated Thursdays 11:30am on BBC1.

Sources & References

  • BBC (1972a) Music Time pupils' pamphlet, Autumn Term 1972. ISBN 0 563 09545 8
  • BBC (1972b) Music Time teacher's notes, Autumn Term 1972. ISBN 0 563 19601 7
  • BBC (1972c) Music Time LP, BBC Records Roundabout No. 14.
  • BBC (1974) Music Time pupils' pamphlet, Autumn Term 1974. ISBN 0 563 13180 2
  • BBC (1976) BBC Radio and Television Annual Programme for Schools and Colleges 1976-7. ISBN 0 563 16031 4. p.51.
  • Radio Times television listings, 1970-1974
  1. "We make no apologies..." introduction to Peter and the Wolf from BBC (1972b) Autumn 1972 teacher's notes p.20.

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