Gustav Holst's The Planets
Time 2 hrs

Difficulty Beginner
Prerequisites Deconstructing Texts
Departments English
Authors Jon Rees
Groupings Individual
Minimum Year Group None


You will practise the skill of analysing a text through using the Point-Evidence-Analysis method while listening to some of the best classical suites ever written!


What is needed to run this unit?
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Cross-Curricular Links
Do not try and force this. What areas of other subjects might this reflect and/discuss language. For IB, links with ToK.
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Teacher Reflection
What was successful? What needs changing? Alternative Assessments and Lesson Ideas? What other Differentiation Ideas/Plans could be used?
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Any CC attribution, thanks, credit, etc.
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10 mins
How to analyse a text
Point, Evidence, Analysis

In English we might think of a text as a book whether it be a novel, or play. But a text is anything from which we can draw meaning. So, a letter/a collection of letters, poems, essays and non-fiction texts, such as encyclopedias, memoirs or diaries could also be included. 

Of course, as humans, we don’t just seek meaning from words that we read. We watch movies, listen to music, view performances in plays or dance on the stage…

Meaning can be drawn from the relationship between the reader, the text, and the world.

I would like to show you a framework for how we are able to make insightful comments on texts, called Point - Evidence - Analysis (PEA)

We will use Gustav Holst’s symphonic suite, The Planets, to help us.

20 mins
Holst's "The Planets"
A guide

Written between 1914-1916 by British composer Gustav Holst, ‘The Planets’ represents all the known planets of the Solar System seen from Earth at the time, and their corresponding astrological character.

You will listen to three different pieces which are all very different. I would like you to listen carefully to each of them and then see if you can write about how they make you feel/what was the composer’s intention. The three pieces we will look at are:

  1. Mars:
  2. Venus:
  3. Jupiter:

When your analyse (look at, explore) writing you must use the PEA rule. Here’s an example:

  • POINT: The first piece of music is very dramatic
  • EVIDENCE: There are lots of drums banging and the orchestra plays very loud
  • ANALYSIS: (look at explore the artist’s/author’s choices. What are the effects on you as the audience?): This sounds like it could be an army marching to war. 
10 mins
Adjective Bank

Choose two or three of the most suitable adjectives for each piece of music and/or art. Please feel free to use any other descriptive words of your own.

·       Dramatic

·       Inspiring

·       Bright

·       Peaceful

·       Joyful

·       Aggressive

·       Angry

·       Relaxing

·       Uplifting

·       Melancholic

·       Sad

·       Quiet


·       Dark

·       Brooding

·       Atmospheric

·       Depressing

·       Wonderful

·       Strange

·       Mesmerising

·       Graceful

·       Poetic

·       Intense

·       Haunting


20 mins
Step One: Point

Point: Step one of making meaning from a text is to very simply say something about it! You can use the scaffolding devices to help you.


·       “I think that the text (painting, piece of music, dialogue, description of setting, character etc.) is .....”

·       “The writer/artist/composer has created a piece of art which is….”

·       “A reader/listener/audience would feel _____ when reading/listening/viewing this piece….”




20 mins
Step Two: Evidence

EVIDENCE: Like a lawyer in a courtroom, you need to provide some evidence to justify what you believe. So, what is it about the music that you have heard that allows you to make your previous point?


·       You can hear the drums thumping

·       You can hear the strings are being played in a very relaxing manner…

·       The evidence which shows this is…

·       At a certain moment that piano/drums/strings goes….

·       The strings/drums/brass section are/ become…

20 mins
Step Three: Analysis

ANALYSIS (look at explore the artist’s/author’s choices. What are the effects on you as the audience/ how does it make you feel? Can you connect emotionally to the text? What other connotations does the text have? 


·       “The music has an (uplifting, depressing, inspiring, terrifying, etc.) effect on me…”

·       “When I listen to this section of the music I feel…

·       “The orchestra makes the listener think of….

·       “It reminds me of/how…..”

·       “The piece of music creates a vivid image in my mind of….. and makes me want to….”

20 mins

Now that you have completed your analysis, record a short video of yourself talking about the piece and what you thought of it. It doesn't have to be a verbatim reading of your points - condense them into an easily digestible speech. Submit this video to Gibbon, and you will have completed this unit!



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