Main content

Learning to... Play a musical instrument

Assembly series for children aged 5 - 7.

Available now

15 minutes


  • Opening and welcome

    Duration: 01:14

  • Visit to Webster Primary School, Manchester to hear their school band

    Duration: 02:36

  • All Together As A Family, no 15, All About Our School

    Duration: 01:58

  • The Four Musicians of Bremen, adapted by Sue Reid, read by Sue Brodie

    Duration: 07:23

  • Reflection and prayer

    Duration: 01:48

The Four Musicians of Bremen

Adapted by Sue Reid; Read by Sue Brodie

The old donkey wheezed and puffed as he lumbered up the hill.  “This hill is so steep, and these bags of corn are so heavy,” he grumbled.  “Hurry up!” said his master, “or you’ll go without supper.”

That night, as the donkey munched his oats, he heard his master grumble to his wife.  “He’s too old. In the morning we’ll get rid of him.”  “Brrrr,” snorted the donkey, “all these years I’ve worked for him.  In the morning I’ll make a run for it.”

Next morning, when the farmer opened the stable door, the donkey bit his leg.  “Ow!  Come back here, ungrateful creature!” bawled the farmer.  But the donkey was already galloping down the road.  “Yippee! Free at last!” he brayed. “Now I’ll take the road to Bremen, and become a musician.”  He was so excited that he didn’t see the hound panting by the roadside.

“Mind where you put your hoofs!” yelped the hound.  “Sorry, old fellow, didn’t see you,” apologised the donkey.  “Why are you here?”  “I’ve  run away from my master,”  the hound replied.  “I was his best hunting dog.  But now I’m old he wants to get rid of me.”  “Join me!” said the donkey, “I’m off to  Bremen to be a musician.  I will play the lute and you shall beat the kettle drum.”  “You’re on!” said the hound.

They hadn’t gone far when they saw a pitiful sight.  A cat, whiskers drooping, crawling slowly along the roadside.  “What’s up, puss?” said the hound.  The cat drew herself up.  “I am not Puss. I am the best mouser this side of Bremen.  But I’m old and I don’t want to catch mice any more, so my mistress says she doesn’t want me around.”  “Then join us!” said the donkey, “we’re off to Bremen to be musicians.”  “I’ll join you with pleasure”, purred the cat, “mind if I ride on your back?”

They hadn’t gone far when they heard a cock crow from a fence in a farmyard.  “Why are you crowing?” the donkey asked.  “My master wants to put me in his pot for dinner.  So I’m crowing while I still can!” the cock replied.  “Join us!” said the donkey, “you have a fine voice.  And we’re off to Bremen to be  musicians. We can all make music together.”  “Be pleased to,” said the cock, and hopped down from the fence.  And all four went on together.

By now it was growing dark and the animals were tired.  They couldn’t reach the city of Bremen in one day.  “Let’s rest here till morning,” said the donkey.  So the hound and the donkey lay down by a tree, the cat climbed up on to a branch while the cock flew up to the highest branch of all.  He was about to shut his eyes when he saw a light shining through the trees.  “I can see a house,” he called excitedly.

The donkey’s stomach was rumbling.  “Let’s go!” he said, “there’ll be food there.”  “A nice meaty bone,” said the hound, smacking his lips.  “And a lovely fire to lie beside,” purred the cat.

The animals crept up to the house and peered through the window.  Round a table sprawled a group of men, eating and drinking.  “They’re robbers,” growled the hound.  “We must frighten them away,” hissed the cat.  “Climb up on my back,” said the donkey.  “You first, hound, then cat, then cock.  Up you go!  Now, let’s make the biggest noise anyone ever heard.   One … two … three ...”

“There’s a monster trying to break in!” shouted one of the robbers.  “It’s got the head of a cock and the hoofs of a donkey,” another cried, “I’m off!”

When they had gone, the animals climbed down.  The cat settled herself by the fire, the hound seized a bone off the table and took it away to chew, the donkey wandered into the shed for hay, and the cock flew up to the rafters.

In the wood, the robbers were watching. “The light’s gone out,” said their leader. “You!” he told one of his men, “go and see if it’s safe to go back.”  The man didn’t dare refuse.  He crept quietly up to the house and opened the door.  “Ha!” he thought, seeing something glow on the hearth, “I’ll light a match at those embers.”  He held a match to the cat’s eyes.  The cat screeched and lashed out with her claws.  The man yelled and ran to the door, where the hound bit him.  “Take that!” said the donkey, putting out a leg to trip him up.  “Cock a doodle doo!” yodelled the cock from the rafters.

The man stumbled back to his companions.  “A witch scratched me, something stabbed me leg and a monster tripped me up! Then someone shouted from the roof that he’d get us if we didn’t scarper,” he gabbled.  “That’s it, we’re off!” said the robbers.

The animals settled down to sleep again.  It was so comfortable there that when morning came they decided they’d rather stay than trudge on to Bremen.  And, as the cat pointed out, the robbers had run away when they heard them sing. So perhaps it was after all the best thing to do.



Teacher's Notes - Spring 2017

Teacher's Notes - Spring 2017

Complete Teacher's Notes for Spring 2017 programmes