Look and Think activities should take 5 -10 minutes.

Do activities might take longer depending on the task and how creative you are feeling!

The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, London, early 17th century, MU.MS.168

Bequeathed by Viscount Fitzwilliam in 1816

Contains nearly 300 pieces for song and dance


Look carefully at this piece of music which can be played on a keyboard instrument called a virginal.

The patterns, shapes and marks make a musical score.


Can you follow the notes up and down? Where are the fast notes? And the slow notes?

Imagine how the music might sound.


You can listen to music from this book in this video.

Can you make up a dance to this music? Perhaps you could clap or stamp along with the beat? Or use an instrument you’ve made – instructions are below.

A book of medieval shet music open at two pages tat show a complicated musical score.
Do: Make a musical instrument

You will need: dry beans or pasta, elastic bands, a balloon, sellotape, a clean empty tin and an empty container – maybe a clean old yoghurt pot or empty bottle.

For the drum:

  1. Stretch your balloon over the top of your clean tin and secure in place with elastic. Take care with the tin, they are sometimes sharp at the top.
  2. Try different things as drumsticks – your fingers, or lollypop sticks

For the shaker:

  1. Fill your container with pasta, beans or lentils.
  2. Put the lid back on and sellotape it into place.
  3. Give it a shake and experiment with different sounds!

More information

According to Suzanne Reynolds, Assistant Keeper in the Department of Manuscripts and Printed Books, this was once known as Queen Elizabeth I’s Virginal Book. This volume is one of the most important treasures in the music collection bequeathed by Viscount Fitzwilliam (1745-1816), and is the richest anthology of sixteeth- and early seventeenth century English Keyboard music in existence. The Fitzwilliam Virginal contains nearly three hundred works dating between 1562 and 1612. It represents thirty of the greatest composers of the time, including John Bull, Orlando Gibbons, and Wiliam Byrd. It was copied out by hand onto beautiful handmade paper, and the manuscript is still in its original binding of leather with gold decoration.

Downloadable Resource

Download this Look Think Do as a PDF or a Word document.