Facebook Twitter Blog Mailing List

Featured Member

Jessika Richter
Jessika Richter
(Lund - Sweden)

The short and sweet: I have been a passionate teacher since 2001.  I first worked with the National Park Service in Washington (state), then moved to Australia where I completed my DipEd at the University of Melbourne and then taught at Hailebury  ...

Music Lesson Plans

music appreciation

Lesson Plan:
Have your students create a listening log while listening to each musical excerpt.

Discuss how the mode, tempo, style, etc. of the music impact how listeners react to music, and how culture influence musical interpretations.

  • Each student will need paper & pencils ready to take notes or draw during the listening exercise
  • Musical excerpt recordings & sound equipment
  • Classroom note-taking method, i.e. blackboard, overhead projector, etc.
Prepare & play 5-10 excerpts of music of different styles. Do not give away any information about the excerpt ahead of time, students should listen to each one ‘blind’.

For each excerpt of music, the students should take notes on the following questions:
  1. What emotions do you feel when listening to this piece?
  2. What visual images come to mind? Feel free to draw these images.
  3. Does this make you think of any specific memories?
  4. Take notes on the style of the music; is it fast or slow? Harmonic or dissonant? Are the notes clipped or smooth?
  5. Does the music make you think of any particular geographical area, culture, or time period?
  6. How would you classify the style of music?
After each presentation, lead a class discussion about the questions above.

After all presentations are complete, lead a class discussion to answer the following questions:
  1. What, if any, common characteristics of music evoke particular emotions?
  2. Are there differences in how music is interpreted by culture?
  3. Do you think that music is interpreted in the same way now as it was when it was originally composed?

Lead in to the next discussion:

How specific modes of the scale and specific types of chords have been perceived throughout history, and why.

Suggested Excerpts:

Gr. 4 Elementary String Curriculum

This guide represents a step-by-step approach to the key concepts of teaching beginning (grade 4) violin, viola, cello and bass. It is a curriculum based on the method of Shinichi Suzuki, adapted for use in a public school setting. This approach utilizes teaching strategies that will appeal to every type of learning style including:

• Developing the ear through listening • Memorization • Concentration on posture and tone • Breaking down tasks into smaller increments

We also address the following National Standards for Music Education:

  1. null
  2. null
  3. Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
  4. null null
2. Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music. 5. Reading and notating music. 6. Listening to, analyzing, and describing music. 7. Evaluating music and music performances. 9. Understanding music in relation to history and culture.

Open or Download This File:


Musical Storytelling

In this unit, we will look at the ancient art of oral storytelling through the lens of contemporary music. Dylan and Bono, blues and rap, character development and conflict resolution, voice and mood…We’ll listen to, discuss, analyze, and review songs, as well as write and perform our own. We’ll learn and practice techniques that will help us become better storytellers. In the process, we’ll also improve our listening, speaking, writing, and critical thinking skills. So open your ears and lift up your voices, sing me a story and tell me a song!

Open or Download This File:


3rd Grade Merengue Introduction

Introduction to Merengue unit- includes background on origins and instruments of Merengue Music.

Open or Download This File:


Fourth Grade Salsa Introduction

Two day introduction for the month long Salsa Unit. Includes origins, instruments, and other basic facts about Salsa music and dance.

Open or Download This File:


Mix n' Match Tenor Sax

Mix n' Match Tenor Sax

A unit on Arrangement in two parts, using Apple's GarageBand and the Internet

Lesson plan © M.J. Etherington 2007


  • Middle School/High School


  • The students will arrange segments of a tenor saxophone solo to create one continuous solo in GarageBand.
  • The students will create four varied arrangements to accompany the tenor saxophone by choosing appropriate loops in GarageBand
  • The students and teacher will appraise their arrangements in relation to given genres.

Prior Knowledge:

  • Students should know how to find, audition, and select loops in GarageBand.


  • Website: The Freesound Project (http://freesound.iua.upf.edu)
  • Apple GarageBand (free on new Macs) or a version of ACID (PC)
  • Broadband internet connection and web browser


MENC Standards Addressed:

  • MENC 2: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
  • MENC 3: Improvising melodies, harmonies, and accompaniments.
  • MENC 4: Composing and Arranging Music within specified guidelines.
  • MENC 5: Reading and notating music.
  • MENC 6: Listening to, analyzing and describing music.
  • MENC 7: Evaluating music and music performances.
  • MENC 9: Understanding Music in Relation to History and Culture


Teacher preparation: Download the sample pack Tenor Sax D major 110bpm by simondsouza from The Freesound Project website: http://freesound.iua.upf.edu/packsViewSingle.php?id=84 

  • Part 1 (15-20 mins): Students will drag the samples into the GarageBand window and then arrange them onto one track in a preferred order.

  • Part 2 (40-60 mins): Create backing tracks from loops that transform the feel of the arrangement. Leave the Tenor Sax part alone and only use instrumental loops to effect this change. Students should produce four separate arrangements in the following styles:
    1. Jazzy/Laid Back
    2. Heavy Rock
    3. Percussion only
    4. Abstract


  • The students will appraise their own and each others work in relation to given musical genres.
  • The teacher will provide formative assessment during the class so that the student can edit their work.
  • The teacher can assess the finished recordings at a later time.

Extension Activity:

A similar project using the Mastertrack to adjust the pitch would be a more advanced activity. In this way, the students can approximate chord changes within the arrangement.

Enrichment: Jazz Studies

The Electric Guitar: Then and Now

This lesson was created using the Nortel LearniT 6E + S template for integrating technology within the curriculum.


Students may work individually or in groups to research the history of the electric guitar. They will present their findings through either a summary paper complete with references and images or a PowerPoint presentation with digital photos, audio and or video clips. This assignment can be used as a culminating assignment for a performance guitar class or a term assignment for general music.

Technology Integration:

Discovering the Internet, PowerPoint, Digital Imaging

Prerequisite Experience:

Students must have some experience with Internet research, PowerPoint and Digital imaging (stills and video).

Teacher Prep Time:

1 or 2 Hours

Teachers will want to familiarize themselves with tutorials and videos dealing with PowerPoint, Digital Images, and Discovering the Internet at www.NortelLearniT.org. Students will be expected to work through these materials as needed. Teachers should also review the websites in the explore section.

Estimated Time for Completion:

8 weeks (one class per week)


Internet-ready computer with Powerpoint, word processor, and digital imagery/video and audio processing software.


Students will submit either a summary of their findings (individuals only) or a PowerPoint presentation complete with images, titles, audio clips and video or digital images.

Time Management Tips:

Students might prefer to research the history of one brand of electric, the electric bass or a specific period in the history of guitar. Teachers may want to begin by showing The Crossroads DVD or having a brief concert using vintage guitars.


A rubric for assessing presentations will be provided. The teacher will grade student papers.


Technology has impacted every part of our lives and the world we live in.   The world of music is no different.  Imagine going to a rock concert with 50 thousand eager fans (you only paid for the cheap seats) and the band shows up with acoustic guitars and no microphones or sound system.  How great would that Jimi Hendrix version of The Star Spangled Banner have been at Woodstock played on a lute or an un-amplified acoustic guitar?  There is no question that the invention of the electric guitar and amplification has had a dramatic impact on popular music. 

When did the electric guitar first make its appearance?  Why was it developed?   Most of you will be familiar with the names Fender, Gibson, and Les Paul.   Where did the names come from?  What role did those names play in the history of the electric guitar?

You will find the answers to these questions and others as you trace the history of the electric guitar from its inception to modern day.   You may work alone or in groups as you discover who invented the electric guitar and trace the development of the instrument with particular reference to the individuals credited with the most significant improvements.   You may also want to include a brief section on a favorite electric guitar player or one who has made a particular model guitar famous.

Those who chose to work individually will write a summary paper of the history of the electric guitar while students working in groups will produce a PowerPoint presentation to share their findings with the class.  

Rock on!


As you consider the questions posed in the Engage section, use the Internet to research the history of the electric guitar.  Some sites have been provided but it is expected that you will find a few more on your own.   Refer to the Discovering the Internet videos found at www.nortellearnit.org? if you need to review Internet research techniques. 

You should document your sources as you find those that contain quality information.   Make particular note of sound clips, video clips or stills that you may want to use in your presentation or paper.       

An excellent overview and good starting point for your research. 

The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation has several good features on guitar history.

This is another excellent overview with some good images and graphics.

The sites of major manufacturers often include a history of the company and its namesake.  Be sure to check out Gibson, Fender and other brands you are familiar with.

Who are your favorite guitar players or bands?  What instruments do they use?


You should organize your information whether you are doing the essay or the PowerPoint assignment. 

Think about each of the following questions as you put some order to your information.

  • Who is credited with developing the first electric guitar?
  • What prompted the development?
  • What major developments followed?
  • Who are the key individuals in the history of the electric guitar?  What companies are they associated with?
  • Can you name several models of guitar made famous by Gibson, Fender, and Rickenbacker?

You will have to provide a summary of the key stages of development and the bio of at least one famous guitar player, preferably one who has become known for his/her use of a guitar with historical significance. 

If you are working in teams on the PowerPoint assignment you will want to review the PowerPoint videos found at www.nortellearnit.org? and to download the storyboard example in reference documents.

Organize your information prior to creating your storyboard.  If you are working on a summary paper, provide a first draft to a colleague or family member for editing.  For both assignments it is important to organize your images, photos and sound/video clips (primarily for the PowerPoint groups).


Essay:  Be sure to have your draft proofed by several individuals (including the teacher) and that you have properly referenced your sources.  Organize your photos, images and graphics.   Hand in your completed summary paper for evaluation.    

PowerPoint:  Review the next section of the PowerPoint training videos found at www.nortellearnit.org?.   Make sure that you are able to insert animations, images, audio/video clips.  Try and include at least one of each in your presentation.  

You will present your information to the class by showing your PowerPoint presentation and discussing your findings.


An evaluation rubric has been attached as a Word document.


Share your information with other classes (i.e. other sections or grade levels of guitar).

In every city or town there is usually at least one individual that has a vintage guitar or two.  You might want to interview that person or have him/her come in to the school and show and demonstrate their guitar/s.  Check with local music stores as well. 

Every school has that whiz player that owns a guitar built by a quality manufacturer.  Students might want videotape a couple of those students and compare the sounds of the different types of guitars (refer to the videos on digital video production found at www.nortellearnit.org?.)  What do you like or not like about the sound?  How important are guitar effects to the sound?

You might be fortunate enough to have a famous rocker or two in your community.  Have them come in to the class and discuss what gear they use and why.

Arrange with your teacher or principal to organize your own Crossroads festival.  Have guitar players audition and work together as Clapton did in the PBS production.

Required Attachments:


Music Composition


The educator must understand the base knowledge of composition of his/her students. The students' creations do not have to be masterpieces, but it is important to know how much instruction will be needed on composition. If the student cannot read music, then this lesson will be extremely difficult.

The educator must also be very familiar with the software being used so that s/he can answer all questions directed at him/her by the students.

Group Size: Any

Learning Objectives:

After a week of instruction and immersion into composition, students will be able to understand how to operate composition software by creating 2 minute long song.

Upon creating their own music, students will articulate the differences between manual and digital composition.

Guiding Question:

Do you think modern-day composers compose by paper and pencil or with digital software? If you were a composer which would you use?


Pencils Staff paper Finale or Sibelius Computers capable of running the above programs


  1. Begin class with sample of created song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEaDc0GX4zs&feature=related
  2. Use pencil and staff paper to create a song
  3. Discuss process of manually writing a song
  4. Transition to computers
  5. Get to know software by taking the manually composed song and creating it in the software
  6. Create new song that is 2 minutes long using the software
  7. Transition to seats
  8. Discuss the process of digitally composing a song
  9. Complete a page paper evaluating the differences between the two methods of composition weighing the pros and cons of each

The digital composition and page paper (double spaced). Digital copy must have substantial content: not just one repeated note, and shows variety of notes and rhythms. Paper reflects on differences, evaluates the pros and cons and forms a synthesis for why one style is better than the other and how they would use it in the future.

Answer Key or Rubric:

For full credit the student must have a 2 minute long digital composition consisting of more than just one note. Also, the student must have demonstrated critical thinking in his/her comparison of the two modes of composition while using the whole page. Student supports reasoning for which method is better with their personal experiences with the assignment.

Benchmark or Standards:

Benchmark Number:
MU.68.F.1.1Benchmark Description:Create a composition and/or performance, using visual, kinesthetic, digital, and/or acoustic means to manipulate musical elements.
Subject Area:MusicGrade Level:68Big Idea:Innovation, Technology, and the FutureEnduring Understanding:?

World Cultures and Music

Group Size: Any

Prior knowledge:

Students have already learned about how to classify instruments.

Learning Objectives:

1. Students will be able to identify name and type (classify) of at least 3 instruments from around the world.

2. Students will be able to explain at least 2 aspects of a culture's music.

3. Students will be able to explain at least 1 way in which the music of a culture reflects that culture's traditions.

Guiding Questions:

How do cultures use music to reflect their traditions? What instruments do you associate with different cultures? What different kinds of instruments are played around the world? How are they different? How are they similar?


As students come into class, the song "Soobax" by K'Nann will be playing. Once the song is over and the students have taken their seats, there will be a brief whole class lesson about the song, it's meaning, the characteristics that make it world music, and how it reflects traditions and events going on in K'Nann's native country. This will serve as an example for their centers and guided practice worksheets. Then, I will ask the students if they know any world music, either from their own culture or someone else's, and how it reflects something about that culture. This will be a brief discussion before they go into different centers.

Students will then be able to choose from a few stations to learn about world instruments and the cultures they are connected with.

Station 1: Students will be able to look at and play world instruments. At each instrument, there will be an reading excerpt that goes along with it. It will tell you a little bit about the instrument, its classification, and its use in the culture and music.

Station 2: Students will watch a few selected videos online about the world instruments and a demonstration of how they are used, as well as some insight into the culture in which they are used.

Station 3: Students can read selected excerpts about world instruments, their classifications, and how their are used in the music and culture. 

Each student will complete a guided practice worksheet at whichever station they choose.

After the stations are completed, students will choose 1 culture or instrument that particularly interested them. Then, they will complete independent or group (up to 3 students) research to learn more about that culture and the instrument associated with it. To research, they can: go to the library, go online, use the books and textbooks provided in the classroom. Students may also practice an instrument to perform, but additional reading must be done. The research conducted will allow them to complete a project for assessment.

Assessment: The first assessment will be a guided practice worksheet that each student must complete individually. The next assessment will be an informal assessment while the students are researching for their project. The teacher will make sure that their research will help the student meet the goals of the objective, and make sure they are on the right track. The final assessment will be the project.

Benchmark or Standards:

MU.912.C.1.3 Analyze instruments of the world and classify them by common traits.

MU.912.H.1.1 Investigate and discuss how a culture’s traditions are reflected through its music.


To give to students:


Musical Styles and Major Composers

Students will learn about 3 different musical styles in the lesson: Classical, Romantic, and jazz. Along with learning styles through listening and reviewing musical characteristics, they will also be able to identify some major composers related to each style.

Open or Download This File: