Featured Music Lesson Plans

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A Beginning of the School Year 2nd Grade Lesson                                                                              All references in this lesson refer to the materials by John Feierabend. CS refers to Conversational Solfege, Level 1. After words of welcome and introductions of new students, I start write in the way I plan to start all of their classes, with call and response and/or echo songs. I like to set the tone of the class right away, and establish the routine for future classes. In the first third of the class, students will sing, move, respond, and improvise. A second grade class learning this lesson has had music class since PK3, and is comfortable with call and response, rhythm syllables, and Dalcroze type movement.

Doing

  • Song Fragments: Green Green Rocky (The book of call & response, p. 5). 
  • Simple Songs: Ickle Ockle (The book of beginning circle games, p. 51). Students learn the song and keep a steady pulse. Follow the directions in the text to play the game. The circle will walk to the pulse of the music.
  • Students walk to “Turtles” from Carnival of the Animals.” If ready, students sing the melody on a neutral syllable while they walk. 

Students learn patterns by rote before singing or reading those patterns in a song during the literacy segment of lessons.

Literacy

  • CS, p. TM89, Patterns Set 1B
  • Teach “See a Pin” (CS, p. TM 93). 
  • After teaching “See a Pin,” have children make up new lyrics. At first make them find words that have the same rhythm as the original. Later, let them find words with different rhythms, and have them figure out the new rhythms that must go with their words. Do this with the first line of the rhyme only; the rest stays as is.
    1. See a _____________, _________ _________ ___________
  • Students read the classroom rules aloud in unison, then compose rhythms to which they chant the rules. 

About

In this lesson, the “About” section focuses on beat and rhythm–performing a steady beat to music the children hear, and identifying a targeted rhythm, in this case as pair of eighth notes. I like to combine Kodaly and Dalcroze for deeper understanding. 

Sing “Old Obidiah” (The book of children’s songtales, p. 60).

  1. Have students keep a pulse with the heels of their feet while you sing. 
  2. Have students chant the words of the first verse while they keep a steady beat with their feet. Have them stand if they are sitting or sit if they are standing, each time they chant ti-ti. 
  3. Student walk to the pulse while chanting the first verse.
  4. Students walk to the pulse while they chant and clap the first verse. 
  5. Students return to their seats and improvise rhythms one at a time to the same pulse. When not improvising they continue to keep the beat.

A Beginning of the School Year Middle School Lesson

  1. About

    • Vocabulary
    • Writing about music, responding
      • performing original work created during literacy segment
      • responding to recorded music
      • responding to other music performed by class mates.
    1. As students come in, have them pick up a blank sheet of paper. Tell them to write down three things on the paper: Their favorite song, their favorite musical artist or band, and their favorite musical thing to do. Students have 3 minutes to complete this.
    2. Give students another 3 minutes to find  one person who has the same answer to the first question, then the second, then the third. When a match is found, both students with matching answers write each other’s names down next to the question they answered the same.  (Each student will have 1-3 names written down.)
    3. Have students sit next to their matches. Have individual students give one reason why they gave one of their answers. 
  2. Doing

    • Singing or playing instruments
    • Dancing/movement to music played by students or recorded music
    • Singing game, circle or line dance.
    • Any music-making activity the students enjoy
    1. To each group (formed of students who matched answers from the first segment) give an index card with three musical terms on it that have sounds associated with them. For example, fast, soft, staccato. The group has 3 minutes to create wordless music using body percussion, beat boxing, and/or voice on neutral syllables which demonstrates the 3 words on the card.
    2. Each group chooses a teacher. That teacher teaches the rest of the group to do something musical. It can be a rhythm pattern, sing part of a song, or anything involving making music. 3 minutes to teach, then 3 minutes to share with the class. 
    3. Have the students read the posted classroom rules aloud in unison. After the rules have been read, select students to act out what breaking the rule looks like, and then what following the rule looks like. 5 minutes
    4. Practice quieting when your hand is raised. Time how long it takes. Have students come to the front of the class and be the one who raises the hand. 

     

    Literacy

    • Conversational Solfege activities, including patterns, songs, reading, writing, and composing
      • Rote
      • Decoding
    1. Discuss the value of music, using the posters in the room as a basis for the discussion. 8 minutes
    2. Play Younger by Ruel. Ask students
      1. with what in the song they relate to. 
      2. what genre is the song? Is that genre a good fit with what the song is about? Why or why not?
      3. describe or demonstrate one musical element you heard in the song (rhythm, timbre, melody, beat, etc.) 8 minutes
      4. How did the last steps add value to your experience of music today?

A Fourth Grade Lesson Anticipating St. Patrick’s Day: Irish Folk Music and Story Telling

Doing

  1. Singing or playing instruments
  2. Dancing/movement to music played by students or recorded music
  3. Singing game, circle or line dance.
  4. Any music-making activity the students enjoy

 

  1. Play Irish Reel and have students do beat motions while they listen.
  2. Teach the class how to do the Irish Reel. Use the video link below as a resource.
  3. Give students time to practice the reel steps, then have them dance the reel to the same music played for step 1.

Dancing an Irish Reel

 

4. Mention that much of traditional Irish music is storytelling through song. The next song in this lesson is an example of an American song using Irish folk tradition to tell a story. Sing for the class “Charlie On The MTA” and teach them to sing the chorus. Accompany you and them on the guitar and enlist a student or two to play a hand drum and/or tambourine. 

Charlie On The MTA

Literacy

 

Conversational Solfege activities, including patterns, songs, reading, writing, and composing

  • Rote
  • Decoding

Play the third strain of “The High Road to Linton”  several times. Tell the class to learn where all of the “la’s” are. After they have become familiar with the melody, begin leaving out each la and have them sing it in tune. Begin by leaving out the quarter note la’s then progress to the more difficult eighth note ones. Help students learn the rhythm of the occurrences, so it begins to form a rhythmic pattern for them to follow. 

About

  • Vocabulary
  • Writing about music, responding
    • performing original work created during literacy segment
    • responding to recorded music

5. Sing “Mrs. Murphy’s Chowder” for the class and teach them to sing the chorus. Mention that generations have found fellowship and entertainment singing songs as families or gatherings of friends. 

 

Who Threw The Overalls In Mrs. Murphy’s Chowder (printed out)

 

Sing “MacNamara’s Band” as a Song Tale. For each chorus, have small groups of students improvise/create movement/dance.

 

My name is McNamara, I’m the Leader of the Band,
And tho’ we’re small in number we’re the best in all the land.
Oh! I am the Conductor, and we often have to play
With all the best musicianers you hear about to-day.

(Chorus)
When the drums go bang, the cymbals clang, the horns will blaze away,
MacCarthy puffs the ould bassoon while Doyle the pipes will play;
Oh! Hennessy Tennessy tootles the flute, my word ’tis something grand,
Oh! a credit to Ould Ireland, boys, is McNamara’s Band!

Whenever an election’s on, we play on either side-
The way we play our fine ould airs fills Irish hearts with pride.
Oh! if poor Tom Moore was living now, he’d make yez understand
That none could do him justice like ould McNamara’s Band.

(Chorus)

We play at wakes and weddings, and at every county ball,
And at any great man’s funeral we play the “Dead March in Saul,”
When the Prince of Wales to Ireland came, he shook me by the hand,
And said he’d never heard the like of “McNamara’s Band.”

 

An Assessment Lesson Based on Conversational Solfege

This is an example of a mid-year assessment I have used. It provides me with useful data that informs instruction, and generates data suitable for teacher evaluation requirements or student assessment requirements demanded by administrators. I use this assessment for fourth grade classes, but it is suitable for other grades, depending on when Conversational Solfege was begun, and what step your class is on. This lesson begins with a warm-up for the assessment tasks that will follow. Use material that is familiar to the students, but different from what will be used for the actual assessment. Spend no more than 10 minutes doing a few of each of the following:

  • Class rhythm patterns–familiar, decoding
  • Class tonal patterns–familiar, decoding
  • Class Familiar rhyme, decoding rhythm
  • Class Familiar song, decoding tones

Students will do each of these individually for the assessment, but for the warm-up, they do them together as a class. The purpose is to make sure they know how the assessment will work, and to heighten their readiness to audiate.

Once the warm-up is completed, assess the following using Step 3 Conversational Solfege Assessment tool. Go around the room hearing each child, one at a time do rhythm patterns, then go around the room again and assess tonal patterns, then rhyme, then song. The assessment may be broken up with another activity if the class becomes restless doing all assessments at once. For the first item, use rhythm patterns that you have already taught the class on a neutral syllable and with rhythm syllables. For decoding, you sing the pattern on a neutral syllable, and they repeat it back to you using rhythm syllables. Use the same procedure for tonal patterns: you sing the familiar pattern on a neutral syllable, the student sings it back using solfege. For the third item, you speak the familiar rhyme, the student responds with the rhythm of the rhyme in rhythm syllables. Finally, for the fourth item, you sing a familiar song, or excerpt from a familiar song, on a neutral syllable, and the student sings it back using solfege.

  1. Individual rhythm patterns–familiar, decoding
  2. Individual tonal patterns–familiar, decoding
  3. Individual Familiar rhyme, decoding rhythm
  4. Individual Familiar song, decoding tones

Because the assessment procedure above can become mundane for students, the following activities can be interspersed with assessment tasks. In that case, the assessment will take more class meetings to complete, but the data collected will be more accurate.

An Activity to Start a Sixth Grade Class

Give each student a sheet of paper. In big letters and on the top half of the paper, have each student write down one musical thing they would like to learn or be able to do. On the bottom half of the paper, have each student write down one musical thing they would like to teach someone else. Students will then walk around the room holding their papers up, looking for someone they can teach or someone they can learn from. Every student must find at least one other classmate to teach or learn from. Students then sit in groups according to who they have chosen, and learn from each other. Allow 10-15 minutes. After this time is up, students may choose to share with the entire class what they learned. Collect the sheets of paper, and keep for your reference in planning future lessons. This will inform you how to include student interests (what they want to learn) and abilities (what they want to teach) in lessons you will teach. I have used this activity with 6th graders, but it certainly can be used at others levels as well.

Fifth Grade Lesson Using Conversational Solfege, Beginning of the Year

Doing

  1. Show video of student singing. Have students give 1. positive feedback on the singing 2. suggestions for improvement of the singing 3. a second positive feedback on the singing. Tell the class that this is the model for how we will give each other feedback in the classroom.
  2. Practice getting quiet with the raising of the hand and model raising hand before speaking or leaving seat.
  3. Sing Me Another (CS, p. TM145)–teach by singing it to the class then having the class sing in unison.Divide the class into two equal groups. One group will sing the song, the other will give feedback as modelled in the previous segment.
    Teach the Hand Pattern #2 (CS, p. TM150). After the students have done the pattern in unison, group students in threes. One student performs the hand pattern another sings “Sing Me Another,” and the third observes and then gives the other two feedback. Rotate rolls.
    Have each student assume a number–1, 2, or 3, within each group of 3 students.
    Reconvene the whole class, and have students sing “Sing Me Another” as a 3-part round. 1s will start, 2s will go second, and 3s will come in third.

Literacy

  1. Write Patterns Set 2A, numbers 3, 4, and 5 on the board (from C, p. TM 135).
    • Have students identify the pattern used for most of “Sing Me Another.” 
    • Have students work in their groups of 3s to decide how patterns 3 and 4 go, and practice chanting or clapping them. Have each group clap both rhythms without feedback, and then reveal the correct solution.
    • Have each group use 4 patterns (at least 2 different ones) to compose a rhythmic work. Each group rehearses and refines their composition, preparing it for presentation.
    • Optional: students use barred instruments to put pitches with their composed rhythms.

About

Each group performs their composition for the class. Students write feedback on each composition and on the performance of it. Written feedback will be in the form and of the kind modeled and used in the first two segments of this lesson. Written feedback is kept anonymous by students not putting their name on their work. Instead, students write down the names of the performers about whom they are writing. You collect the work and write each student’s rank book number on their paper, so you will know who wrote the feedback but the performers about whom the feed back is written will not.

Redistribute the feedback papers to the groups to which they are addressed, and give each group time to read their feedback and discuss how they might further refine their composition and/or performance based on the feedback.

 

Middle school general music, beginning of the year

Doing

  • As students come in, have them pick up a blank sheet of paper. Tell them to write down three things on the paper: Their favorite song, their favorite musical artist or band, and their favorite musical thing to do. Students have 3 minutes to complete this.
  • Give students another 3 minutes to find  one person who has the same answer to the first question, then the second, then the third. When a match is found, both students with matching answers write each other’s names down next to the question they answered the same.  (Each student will have 1-3 names written down.)
  • Have students sit next to their matches. Have individual students give one reason why they gave one of their answers. 

Literacy

  • To each group (formed of students who matched answers from the first segment) give an index card with three musical terms on it that have sounds associated with them. For example, fast, soft, staccato. The group has 3 minutes to create wordless music using body percussion, beat boxing, and/or voice on neutral syllables which demonstrates the 3 words on the card.
    Students within each group generate musical ideas according to the musical terms they are working with. The group selects those that it will use, and the one who generated each idea teaches it to the rest of the group. It can be a rhythm pattern, sing part of a song, or anything involving making music. After 3 minutes, each group takes 3 minutes to share their composition with the class.
  • Have the students read the posted classroom rules aloud in unison. After the rules have been read, select students to act out what breaking the rule looks like, and then what following the rule looks like. 5 minutes
    Practice quieting when your hand is raised. Time how long it takes. Have students come to the front of the class and be the one who raises the hand. 

About

  • Discuss the value of music, using the posters in the room as a basis for the discussion. 8 minutes
  • Play Youngerby Ruel. Ask students with what in the song they relate. What is the value of relating to a musical work?
  • What genre is the song? Is that genre a good fit with what the song is about? Why or why not?
  • Describe or demonstrate one musical element you heard in the song (rhythm, timbre, melody, beat, etc.) 8 minutes
  • Exit ticket: How did following our classroom rules allow us to create value in our music today?

A general music lesson for 4th grade

Doing

  1. Sing “Above the Plain” for the class several times so that they begin to learn it.
  2. Write the last line of “Above the Plain” on the board, and sing it several times with solfege while the students follow along. 
  3. Sing the last line of “Above the Plain,” but leave one measure out and have the class sing it instead of you, with solfege. Do this four times, each time leaving out a different measure until the class has sung each measure with solfege.
  4. Transfer to barred instruments or keyboards, and have students practice in small groups playing the last line of “Above the Plain.”
  5. Have students play the last line of “Above the Plain” as an accompaniment while you and/or the class sings the entire song.
  6. Have the class sing “Above the Plain” in canon in up to 8 parts.  

Literacy

  1. Spell This–Play or sing on a neutral syllable a familiar two- or three-note tonal pattern for which the children have learned the solfege and have the class or individual students repeat the pattern, singing it with solfege. 
  2. Rapid Fire–play one note at a time (in the same key as the previous game) and have the class or individual students repeat the note with the correct solfege syllable. 

About

  1. Play Robert Russell Bennet’s Selections from The Sound of Music through “The Sound of Music” and have students fill out the listening template (instruments heard, mood, genre–omit the lyrics section because the music is instrumental). 
  2. After students have completed the template, discuss their answers, and have them give one reason to support their answers. 

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