Sample Lesson Plans


Sample Lesson Plan for a Second Grade General Music Class


Concept: A musical whole may be made up of same, varied, or contrasting segments - theme and variations

Students will be able to recognize a familiar melody when heard in a piece of music even when varied.

Prior Knowledge: Previous discussion about theme and variation.

National Standard: VI. Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.

Materials: CD with Appalachian Spring (excerpt) by Aaron Copland, CD player, sheet music for “Simple Gifts”, flute, pictures of instruments.

Teaching Procedure:

1.      “Good morning students. Who can tell me what new form we talked about during our last music class? It was theme and variation, right? Remember how we listened to Charles Ives Variations on America? The theme, you will remember, is the first time you hear a certain melody, and the variation is each time you hear the melody after that. Today we have a new piece that uses theme and variation. The piece is called Appalachian Spring by a composer named Aaron Copland.”

2.      “I am going to play a short piece for you on my flute. Please raise your hand if you recognize the melody.” Play Simple Gifts on the flute. “I see many of your recognize this melody. Can any of you tell me the name of this piece?” Anticipated response: Simple Gifts, Shaker Hymn, ‘Tis a Gift to be Simple. “As some of you may know, there are a few different names for this melody. We are going to call it Simple Gifts. I will play it for you once more so you can identify it easily.” Play Simple Gifts again on flute.

3.       “Now that you know the theme, let’s listen to the piece. After each variation, we will stop and talk about what instruments we heard playing, and how each variation is different. Remember, the first time you hear the melody we will call it the theme.”

4.      Listen to the excerpt. **Begins with track 7 on the CD. Stop after each variation, and make a list on the board of what instruments were playing, tempo, volume, and anything else the students come up with for differences. Use pictures of instruments to help students identify them. Leave pictures on chalk ledge with list (in order).

5.      Answer key:

·        Theme: clarinet (one alone, then two) with flute. Fast, light, happy.

·        First Variation: oboe and bassoon. (slightly faster) then clarinets join.

·        Second Variation: cellos start, followed by violins and basses that join in canon (round). Slower, long and stretched, legato.

·        Third variation: trumpets and trombone (very fast), with violins playing runs in the background.

·        Fourth variation: oboes, slower, not much accompaniment

·        Fifth Variation: full orchestra, very slow.

6.      “So, what are some of the things that change with each variation?” Anticipated responses: instruments, speed/tempo, volume. “Great! Now we are going to listen again, and this time, we get to be the orchestra!” Assign small groups of students different instruments, showing how to “play” each instrument, and giving them a chance to “practice.” Then, as excerpt is playing, point to groups as they enter, and “conduct” and remind them how to “play” their instrument. Everyone gets to play on the last variation.

Assessment: Students are able to hear the beginning of each of the variations. They will also be able to identify basic differences between variations, and the different instruments that play each time. Students also sit quietly and attentively while the music is playing.


Sample Lesson Plan for a Middle School Level Mixed Strings Class

Concept: A series of sounds may move from one to the next in either a smoothly connected or a detached manner; hooked bowing.

Students will be able to utilize hooked bowing with an up-bow or down-bow.

Prior Knowledge: DM scale, quarter notes, half notes, ties, symbols for up-bow and down-bow, breath marks.

National Standard: II. Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

Materials: Copies of “The Merry Widow Waltz” for each student, violin for modeling.

Teaching Procedure:

  1. “We are going to learn a new concept today. I want you to watch me play two short phrases and tell me what I do differently in the second phrase.” Play first two phrases of The Birch Tree, located on the same page as The Merry Widow Waltz. In the first phrase, play using detache. In the second, play hooks as written. Anticipated response(s): hooked bowing, two notes to a bow, etc. It may be necessary to ask more questions to get the students to differential between hooks and slurs, i.e. hooks have a break/re-articulation between the notes.
  2. “Good. This time be my echo.” Play the first phrase and second phrase as written.
  3. “Ok, now we are going to look at our piece for today, The Merry Widow Waltz. As you can see, there are many hooks in this piece. Before we start, who can remind the class what the breath marks mean?” Anticipated response: Reset bow. “Ok. Make sure you reset the bow at the breathe marks and follow the bowing as written. Please also pay attention to the fingerings the piece gives you.” Echo first phrase (7 bars), third phrase (also 7) and last phrase. Walk around room for help while students play the whole piece. Don’t forget about counting off.
  4. Assessment: Students are using hooked bowing and following all the bowing and articulation in the piece. They are resetting the bow at the breath mark, and using the fingerings written in the piece.