Main Body

Chapter 6: Creative Activity and Lesson Planning

Chapter Summary: This chapter looks at creative ideas for approaching and planning a successful music lesson, including a guided outline, models of full lessons, and classroom management tips.

I. Lesson Plans as a Creative Activity

At some point or other, students in education programs are required to write lesson plans.Often, however, the meaning of writing a lesson plan becomes lost in the academic process, and the lesson’s grade becomes the goal rather than the meaningful construction of the lesson and learning the technique of organizing your thoughts. Often students believe that writing a lesson plan is only used in a classroom setting. The reality is, however, that all professions require the organization of a plan of action to be carried out, including an articulation of goals and objectives to reach them, followed by a reflection or assessment of the effectiveness. In other professions, you might be asked for a plan of action composed of three inherent questions: 1) What are you going to do? 2) How are you going to do it? and 3) How will you assess what you’ve done? In education, a lesson plan is nothing more than a plan of action with the same three questions: 1) What are you going to teach? 2) How are you going to teach it? and 3) How will you assess what you have taught?

Lesson Plan Preparation: Start With (Musical) Inspiration!

Much of the time as a teacher, you will be required to teach a certain set curriculum in the classroom that conforms to the Common Core State Standards (see Chapter 3). However, this doesn’t mean that the lesson has to be devoid of inspiration. Whatever your content area, there is probably an arts-related activity that can be applied or integrated (see Chapter 12 for Arts Integration information). It is much easier to create a good lesson plan if you are inspired. Your inspiration for a music or integrated lesson plan can be a song, an instrument, timbre, vocal sound, poem, story, rhythm, speech pattern, etc.

Creative problem solving requires that you be able to see and manipulate your lesson material in unique ways to reach all types of student learners. The music education methods of Orff, Dalcroze, Kodály, etc., offer easily implemented solutions to add layers of cognitively challenging musical activities to something as simple as a song. When developing your lesson, start by thinking outside of the box.

Activity 6A

Try this

How can I make the lesson interesting? Challenging? What might I be able to add to a lesson to increase its effectiveness for the learner—e.g., movement? rhythm? instruments?

Below are a few ways to challenge students physically, cognitively, and multi-modally just with a simple song. The first rule is not to be afraid of experimenting with sound, using either your own voice, various instruments, or maybe even the walls, doors, floors, chairs, and surroundings, all of which have their own unique timbres to explore!

Musically creative lesson planning

Musically Creative Lesson Planning

Begin with the list of music elements and vocabulary from Chapter 2. Select a song, then brainstorm different ways of performing the song using what you’ve learned. For example:

Vocal

  • Sing the song a capella (without instrumental accompaniment)
  • Add a speech rhythm ostinato
  • Add a melodic ostinato using voices
  • Add a drone using voices

Dynamics, Tempo, Form

  • Sing the song changing tempos on different sections, phrases, or measures
  • Sing the song changing dynamics on different sections, phrases, or measures
  • Sing the song alternating phrases or sections between two groups of singers

Body Percussion

  • Add a beat or ostinato by clapping
  • Add a beat or ostinato by patsching
  • Add a beat or ostinato by tapping

Instruments

  • Add a beat or ostinato on an unpitched percussion instrument
  • Add a bordun ostinato or drone on a pitched percussion instrument
  • Add more than one bordun on multiple instruments
  • Play only metal instruments, or wood instruments, etc.

Conclusion

  • Do endless combinations of all of the above

Creative Exploration of Classroom Instruments

Inspiration can come from anywhere, including the arsenal of classroom and children’s instruments available. Classroom instruments are much more than noisemakers to accompany songs. There are many creative ways to use these inexpensive instruments to help and inspire you, and which will fire up a child’s imagination. Here are a few instruments typically found in classrooms, or that can be purchased inexpensively at a music store or online. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does provide a wide range of commonly used instruments from Western and world cultures.

Typical classroom instruments

Xylophones

Metallophones

Glockenspiels

Boomwhackers

Recorders

Slide whistles

Jingle bells

Kokoriko

Castanets

Bells

Agogo bells (African double bell)

Shekere (African gourd shaker)

Maracas

Triangle

Cymbals (finger, crash, suspended)

Tambourines

Timpani

Gongs

Bongos

Temple blocks

Steel drum

Hand drum

Conga drums

Claves

Cowbell

Djembe

Rainmaker

Rhythm blocks

Sand blocks

Panpipes

Ocarina

Piano

Mbira (thumb piano)

Guiro

Tick tock

Tone block

Vibra slap

Wood block

Guitar

Violin

Chimes

Thinking about the source of sound production and materials will lead you to the field of organology, or the classification of musical instruments. Instruments all over the world can be grouped into five categories based on the Sachs-Hornbostel instrument classification system. This system groups the instruments by the way in which sound is produced. They are:

Aerophones: Instruments that produce sound by using air as the primary vibrating means. (e.g., flutes, horns, whistles).

Membranophones: Instruments that produce sound by means of vibrating a stretched membrane (e.g., drums)

Chordophones: A term used for stringed instruments. Refers to an instrument sounded by bowing, plucking, or striking a string that is stretched between two fixed points. (e.g., violins)

Idiophones: Instruments that produce sound from the material of the instrument itself. Idiophones produce sounds from the following methods and represent the largest category of classroom instruments.

  • Percussion: instrument caused to vibrate by striking it with a non-vibrating object such as a mallet or stick
  • Shaken: sound produced by small particles contained within the instrument
  • Scraped: sound produced by scraping the instrument with a stick
  • Plucked: instruments with a flexible tongue that is plucked to vibrate
  • Concussion: two similar objects struck together to create sound
  • Stamping: striking the object on a hard surface to vibrate the object

Electrophones: Refers to electronic instruments that either have their sound generated electronically or acoustic instruments that have their sounds amplified

The Sachs-Hornbostel list, however, is only one way to think about instruments. Children often come up with very imaginative ways to group instruments based on characteristics other than sound production. Children can explore the timbre, production, and material of the instruments to come up with their own ways of categorizing them. After students explore and group instruments, they can develop their own instrumentation for a piece, then vary it. Below is a list of other ways to think about instruments besides the way the sound is produced, such as its timbre or similar sound; physical attributes, etc.

Examples of different ways children can categorize instruments.

Terminology

Explanation

By Physical Attributes:

e.g. Color, size, shape

round, tube, big, medium, small, rectangular, long, short, hollow, solid, jingles, ridges, skin/membrane, brown, silver, red, low pitch, high pitch

For younger children, one of the most obvious types of recognition belongs to color, shape, and size—attributes they are identifying in other subjects. They may want to group instruments by their color, how big or small, and their shape. Musically, the shape of the instrument is important since the shape is directly related to sound and sound production. The smaller the instrument, the higher the pitch, for example.

By Material

Metal, wood, metal and wood, plastic, wire, string, skin

This type of grouping brings students to another level of understanding in terms of discussing the sound of the instruments. What an instrument is made of has a direct effect on its timbre. The challenge here is that some instruments, such as the tambourine, contain more than one type of material. Ask students how they might label such instruments.

By Timbre

Rattly-sounding, woody, metallic, jingly, high, thin, low, loud, soft, hollow, smooth, rough

An instrument’s timbre is directly related to its size, material, and even shape. All of the above properties affect the sound production of an instrument

Melody-Making Ability

plays a song, doesn’t play a song; pitched, unpitched

Children may find other unique ways of classifying instruments such as whether the instrument can play a melody. This classification concerns Pitched instruments or Unpitched instruments.

Culture of Origin

Sub-Saharan Africa, North America, South America

Another way of classifying is to know the country or culture of origin for the instruments. This related to musical instruments and their community

Multi-Purpose Use

Used for activities other than music making

While most classroom instruments only have one use, there are many instruments that serve other purposes such as for cooking. The cowbell, for example, is an instrument that has another purpose besides its musical one.

Activity 6B

Try this

The instruments on the Typical Classroom Instrument list above are random, and not categorized purposefully in any way. See if you can develop other ways of classifying these instruments in addition to the ways listed. How could you use this classification to create a lesson on science? Physics? Math? History? Social science? World history?

Start thinking scientifically and creatively about this list. How might you approach or use these instruments when creating a lesson plan? Here are a few questions that might help in thinking about the instruments.

Suggested Questions
  • What do the instruments have in common?
  • Where do the instruments come from (culture of origin)?
  • What materials are they made of? (wood, metal, plastic)
  • How are they played? (shaken, hit, struck with mallet, scraped, blown, pulled, etc.)
  • What special sounds can they make? (jingles, shakes, thumps, scrapes)
  • Where is the sound coming from (how is the sound produced)? (a hollow tube, the instrument itself vibrates, a vibrating string)
  • What do the instruments sound like? (harsh, metallic, hollow, soft, smooth, mellow, high, low, etc.)

II. Lesson Planning

Below are some guidelines for creating a lesson plan. Regardless of subject, method, and additional requirements, all lesson plans contain the same basic structure and four core components:

  1. Goals and objectives: What will students be able to do when I’ve finished teaching my lesson?
  2. Standards: Common Core or National Standards: Which state content and developmental standards are addressed in my lesson?
  3. Procedure: A step-by-step listing of your actions—core lesson in which you creatively assemble and format the material to present to your students in order to achieve your goals and objectives.

    a. What types of instructional input will I use (e.g., lecture, demonstration, modeling, guided practice, independent practice)?

    b. Which educational theories will I include (e.g., Bloom, Gardner, different types of learners)?

    c. How will I capture learners’ attention and engage them?

    d. What critical thinking will I implement?

    e. Close the procedure section with a wrap-up and find ways to extend the lesson concepts in future activities

  4. Assessment: How will I know my students learned the material? How might I modify the material if I did not reach my goals or if students need accommodation?

Preparing for the Lesson

Gather your thoughts and materials on the following before beginning your lesson:

  • Prerequisites: What do the students already know?
  • Concept(s), vocabulary, experiences: What new concepts am I going to teach? Where do I want to take them?
  • Materials: What materials will I need?

Parts of a Lesson

General Information

  • Lesson plan title
  • Grade level
  • Length of class (time)
  • Type of class: Regular, inclusive

Materials and Resources

  • List the materials you will need to teach the lesson or cite the location of any resources.

Goals and Objectives

  • What will the students be able to do as a result of this lesson that they couldn’t do before?
  • What concepts and vocabulary will be taught?
  • What processes will you use to teach those concepts and vocabulary?

Common Core Standards

  • Which Common Core standards are addressed in the lesson?

Core Lesson Procedures

  • Opening activity/Energizer/Warm-up
    • Sometimes called an “energizer,” the opening statement provides an attention-grabbing focus and an invitation to the lesson.
  • Main lesson
    • Includes instructional input such as a lecture, demo, modeling, guided practice, etc.
    • Outline all of the steps that the teacher will do to get the students to achieve the goals (use action words).
  • Closure and extension
    • Wrap up the lesson with a summary or question.
    • Think of ways to extend your lesson.

Assessment

  • How will you know if the lesson was effective?
    • Observe students as they work or perform. Ask questions, get feedback, check for facial expressions and body language, etc.
  • Did your lesson meet your goals and objectives above?
  • Modifications/accommodations
    • Adjust for any special needs students in the class.

Lesson Plan Example #1: Teaching a Song

General Information

Title: Teaching “Oats, Peas, Beans, and Barley Grow” Using Rote

Grade level: Kindergarten–first grade

Length of class: 40 minutes

Type of class: Regular

Materials

  • Game song: “Oats, Peas, Beans, and Barley Grow”

Learning/Behavioral Objectives

Students will be able to:
  • Sing the folk song “Oats, Peas, Beans, and Barley Grow”
  • Recognize the long-short, long-short q e q e “horse trot” rhythmic patterns in the song
  • Patsch the rhythm q e q e on their legs while saying long-short long short
  • Gallop/move to the long-short rhythm q e q e

National Common Core Arts Standards in Music

  • With (limited) guidance, perform music with expression. MU: Pr6.1.Ka/1a
  • With guidance, explore and demonstrate awareness of musical contrasts (such as high/low, loud/soft, same/different) in a variety of music selected for performance. MU:Pr4.2.Ka/1a

Oats, Peas, Beans and Barley Grow

Warm-up Rhythms

Procedures: Opening Activity (Note: T = Teacher; S = Student)

  • T claps various measures of warm-up rhythms to establish 6/8 meter. Students echo.
  • T claps the long-short, long-short pattern q e q e and chants “long-short-long-short-long” etc. Students echo.
  • T: “What type of animal does this remind you of when it’s moving? What animal move like this?” Students reply with horse or pony.
  • T plays this rhythm on an instrument, piano, drum, or recording, or claps it while students gallop around the room.
  • T asks students to sit down, and claps the rhythm q e q e again, adding the words “oats, peas, beans, and barley grow.” Students echo.
  • T goes back to warm-up rhythms, playing them on a drum or other instrument, and asks students to identify the long-short-long-short rhythm by raising their hands when they hear it.

Oats, Peas, Beans and Barley Grow (with additional verses)

Procedures: Teaching the Song

Song: “Oats, Peas, Beans, and Barley Grow”
  • T: “Okay, now we’re going to learn a song to go with this rhythm. This song is about oats, peas, and beans. Does anyone know what those are? Has anyone ever eaten them?” (T may want to bring in different kinds of oats, peas, beans, and barley to show the class or bring in pictures if foods are not available. If foods are available, have students touch them and answer questions about them (e.g., do they eat any of these for breakfast? dinner?).
  • T: “This song goes along with the rhythm we were just moving and clapping to. Echo after me.”
  • T claps, sings lyrics, or uses solfege and hand signs to teach the song in a phrase-by-phrase approach as follows: A single phrase equals six beats. T may repeat each line a few times until students get the rhythm.
Phrase 1
Phrase 2
Phrase 3
Phrase 4
  • T: “Now I’m going to put two lines together.” T then doubles the phrases (12 beats for each phrase).
Phrases 1 and 2
Phrases 3 and 4
  • T: “Now can we put this much of the song together?” T and students sing Verse 1. Repeat until students are singing confidently.
  • T then selects one child to be the farmer, and has children hold hands and walk in a circle around the farmer while singing Verse 1.
  • T: “Now let’s learn how to change farmers.” T then teaches the refrain “Waiting for a partner,” line by line. After students have learned this, the old farmer selects a new farmer to be in the middle.
  • T: “There are a few more words to the song, and they show the kinds of activities a farmer does to grow food.” T then teaches Verse 2, “Here’s the farmer…,” line by line. T then adds the motions to go along with the lyrics (e.g., stamping, turning, viewing). T explains what a “hoe” is and the motions to pull up weeds, etc.
  • T: “Now let’s sing the whole song and do the movements that we’re singing about.”
  • Students play game until everyone has had a chance to be the farmer.

Closure and Extension

  • Review what it was that the farmer was doing. Ask students to think about what other kinds of foods come from seeds that we eat.
  • Ask students to think about what other songs they know that have the long-short-long-short rhythm.

Assessing Your Lesson Plan

Assessing the execution of the lesson:

Observe students as they are performing by themselves and their ability to move to the rhythms successfully and sing the song successfully.

  • Are only a few students able to perform? Are most students able to? Do students look puzzled or confused?
Assessing the content of the lesson:

Did the lesson address different types of learning? Multiple intelligences? Common Core Standards? Learning objectives? Did it contain various modes of instructional input and modalities (e.g., lecture, demonstration, etc.)?

“Oats, Peas, Beans” Lesson

  1. Addresses different types of learning—Visual, aural, tactile/kinesthetic
  2. Addresses multiple intelligences—Bodily/kinesthetic, musical/rhythmic, etc.
  3. Contains appropriate Common Core or National Standards—Musical analysis
  4. Contains clear and age-appropriate learning objectives—Circle game with rhythm
  5. Uses a variety of music methods/techniques—Singing, rhythm, movement
  6. Incorporates a variety of instructional modalities—Question/answer, kinetic, and linguistic activities

Lesson Plan Example #2: Teaching a Song and Musical Concept(s)

General Information

Title: Teaching the Song “Li’l Liza Jane” using Rote-Note Methods

Grade level: Second grade

Length of class: 40 minutes

Musical Concept(s)

  • Synco-pa (syncopation) eq e
  • One octave

Materials

  • Song: “Li’l Liza Jane”
  • Chart of scale (solfege)
  • Rhythm cards of rhythms using only quarter and eighth notes
  • Rhythm cards with various rhythmic patterns from the song

Learning/Behavioral Objectives

Students will be able to:
  • Sing the American folk song “Little Liza Jane”
  • Recognize the synco-pa rhythmic patterns in the song
  • Clap the synco-pa pattern when it occurs
  • Sing the synco-pa pattern on solfege pitches
  • Recognize an octave jump in a folk song from Do to Do’
  • Sing an octave jump on solfege

National Standards

  • Sing independently or in a group, singing correctly (1)
  • Identify simple music forms when presented aurally (6)
  • Use appropriate terminology in explaining music (6)
  • Use a system (syllables) to read simple rhythmic notations (5)

Li’l Liza Jane

American folk song, late 19th century

Warm-up Rhythms
Song Rhythm Practice

Procedures: Opening Activity

  • T claps four beats of warm-up rhythms using only quarter and eighth notes. Students echo.
  • T claps a syncopated pattern.
  • T asks, “How is this rhythm different from the first rhythm?” (short long short instead of a steady beat).
  • T then clap rhythms containing synco-pa.
  • T asks students to alternate a syncopated rhythm, with the straight quarter/eighth note rhythms.
  • Students put the syncopated rhythms into body percussion (e.g., patsch on lap).
  • T then asks students to march to a steady beat played on a drum. When students hear the syncopated rhythm, they should walk to the rhythm short-long-short-long, freeze in place, or clap.

Procedures: Teaching the Song “Li’l Liza Jane”

  • T: “Okay, now we’re going to learn a song. Echo after me.”
  • T uses solfege and hand signs to teach the song in a phrase-by-phrase approach as follows: Single-phrase (four beats for each phrase).

e

e

e

e

e

e

q

M

M

R

D

M

S

S

Come my love and go with me

e

q

e

h

L

S

M

S

Li’l Liza Jane

e

e

e

e

e

e

q

M

M

R

D

M

S

S

Come my love and go with me

e

q

e

h

M

M

R

D

Li’l Liza Jane

q

e

q

q

D’

S

L

S

O Eliza

e

q

e

h

L

S

M

S

Li’l Liza Jane

q

e

q

q

D’

S

L

S

O Eliza

e

q

e

h

M

M

R

D

Li’l Liza Jane

  • Double phrases (eight beats for each phrase)
  • T sings the song and asks how many phrases there are (eight).
  • T: “Did you notice which notes we have that were missing from our song? Which solfege notes didn’t we sing?” (F and T)
  • T: “What is the highest note in our song?” (High Do’)
  • T: “What is the lowest?” (Do)
  • T: “There is a name for the distance between a note and that same note higher up. It is an interval of an octave. Octave means eight notes. There are eight notes between low Do and high Do. Do you know of any other words meaning eight with oct in it?” (octagon, octopus). “Oct is the Latin root for eight. So the space between low D and high D is one octave. Can you all show me and sing low D to high D?” (Sing and show hand signs a few times.)
  • T: “Now, at the beginning of class, we learned a rhythm. Can you remember that rhythm?” (eq e synco-pa)
  • T: “Let’s sing the song again, and this time, listen for that rhythm in this song.”
  • T: “How many times did you hear the rhythm in the song?” (Four)
  • T: “On which word did this rhythm occur in the song? Was it on the same or on different words?”
  • T: “This rhythm looks like this (show card eq e), but instead of saying ti ta ti, it has its own word, ‘synco-pa.’ Repeat that please, and then let’s clap eq e synco-pa and say it. The reason it’s called synco-pa is that it is short for the word syncopation, which means to have a rhythm that is ‘off-beat’ or doesn’t fall right on the beats of a song.”
  • Sing the song again, this time holding up the card each time the eq e synco-pa rhythm occurs.
  • T: “Now let’s sing some of the verses of the song.”
  • T: “What can you tell me about Liza Jane? Who is singing the song? What does this person want?”

Closure and Extension

  • Ask students to sing the song without teacher help while clapping the synco-pas.
  • As students to find syncopated rhythm in other songs.
  • Use the syncopation as an ostinato pattern throughout the song.

Assessing Your Lesson Plan

Assessing the execution of the lesson:

Observe students as they are performing by themselves and their ability to clap the rhythm successfully or identify the rhythm and octave successfully.

  • Are only a few students able to perform and identify? Are most students able to? Do students look puzzled or confused?
Assessing the content of the lesson:

Did the lesson address different types of learning? Multiple intelligences? National Standards? Learning objectives? Did it contain various modes of instructional input and modalities (e.g., lecture, demonstration, etc.)?

Li’l Liza Jane Lesson

  1. Adresses different types of learning—Visual, aural, and kinesthetic
  2. Addresses multiple intelligences—Musical, logical/mathematical, linguistic, etc.
  3. Contains appropriate Common Core or National Standards—1, 5, and 6
  4. Contains clear and age-appropriate learning objectives—Synco-pa, octave
  5. Uses a variety of music methods/techniques—Singing, rhythm, instruments, some written notation
  6. Incorporates a variety of instructional modalities—Lecture, demonstration, question/answer, call and response, and kinetic and linguistic activities

Lesson Plan Example #3: Teaching a Song and Musical Concept(s) Plus English Language Arts Standards (Integrated)

General Information

Title: Teaching the Song “Erie Canal” Using Note Method

Grade level: Fourth or fifth grade

Type of class: Regular

Materials

  • Sheet music of “Erie Canal”
  • Visual notation of major and minor scales; various other familiar songs in major and minor (“Hey Ho Nobody Home,” “Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier,” etc.
  • Map of Great Lakes/New York

Learning/Behavioral Objectives (Music and Language Arts/History)

Students will be able to:
  • Sing the American folk song “Erie Canal”
  • Differentiate between major and minor mode/scales used in the song and recognize a fermata
  • Understand the song as a binary form (AB form)
  • Deduce information about life in early 20th-century America (New York) from the song lyrics
  • Use geography to understand the canal as an important mode of 19th- and early 20th-century transportation
  • Distinguish the difference between the use of the two modes in the song and the lyrical/emotional meaning

Common Core Music Standards (Fourth/Fifth)

  • Demonstrate and explain how intent is conveyed through interpretive decisions and expressive qualities (such as dynamics, tempo, and timbre). MU: Pr4.3.4a/5a
  • Perform music, alone or with others, with expression and technical accuracy, and appropriate interpretation. MU: Pr6.1.4a/5a
  • Demonstrate and explain how responses to music are informed by the structure, the use of the elements of music, and context (social and cultural). MU: Re7.2.4a/5a

Common English Language Arts Standards (Fourth/Fifth)

  • Determine one or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.2/CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.2
  • Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3/CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.3

Procedures: Opening Activity

  • T: “Today we’re going to learn about the Erie Canal. Does anyone know what the Erie Canal is, where it is, or what it was used for?”
  • T: “Let’s learn the song and see what we can find out. I’d like you to pay attention to both the lyrics of the song and the melody, because the music is also giving you a lot of information about what’s going on in the song.”
  • T plays a recording, passes out sheet music, or sings song in its entirety. Students sing song by looking at the sheet music (by note).

Erie Canal

Thomas S. Allen, 1905

Procedures: Music Analysis

  • T: “First, let’s think about the music. Can anyone tell me how many sections there are to the song? Where does the second section begin?” T plays or sings again if necessary, and students also sing. (Second section begins at “Low bridge.”)
  • T: “This is known as AB form, which means that the music contains two distinct sections. How can you tell that the sections are musically different?” (There is a slowing down at the end of the first section. It sounds different than the first. The pitches and scale sound different.)
  • T: “The ‘slowing down’ is caused by two fermatas, which means ‘hold’ in Italian. The symbol looks like an eye. When a note has a fermata on it, you hold it for about twice the length of time.”
  • T: “Let’s sing ‘Buffalo’ again to practice the fermatas.”
  • T: “The other musical clue that you’re hearing is that the song is actually in two different modes or scales. The first part is minor, usually associated with sadness or melancholy, and the second part is major, which is usually associated with happiness or joy.”
  • T: “Can you think of another song that’s in minor that is an unhappy one?” (“Hey Ho Nobody Home,” “Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier,” etc.)
  • T: “What do all of these songs have in common emotionally?” (Sadness, loneliness, melancholy)
  • T plays and shows the pitches of the major and minor scales. Students sing D R M F S L T D’ for major and L, T, D R M F S L for minor. If T has an instrument, have students guess which scale is being played. If not, T can play clips from other songs or have them sing other short songs to reinforce the concepts of major and minor.
F Major D Minor
  • T: “Why do you think the composer chose to end the first section with two fermatas?” (To help the singer recognize the two sections, and to distinguish between the minor and major parts of the song)

Procedure: Literary Analysis

  • T: “What’s happening in the song?” (Various answers summarizing the text)
  • T: “What was the Erie Canal used for? Why do you think the Erie Canal was built?” (To transport things easily on water as there were no trains, or trucks at the time)
  • T: “What types of things?” (Lumber, coal, and hay)
  • T: “Which towns does the canal connect in New York?” (Albany and Buffalo)
  • T: “Why does the composer write about a mule? What was the mule used for?” (Hauling barges)
  • T: “Good! Does anyone know what a barge is?” (A flat-bottomed boat for carrying freight)
  • T: “How do the barge and mule drivers know they are coming to a town?” (Because they cross under a low bridge)
  • T: “How does the singer feel when they are coming to a town?” (Happy)
  • T: “How do you know this?” (Because they talk about meeting neighbors and pals)
  • T: “Is there something in the music that also tells you that the singer feels happy when coming to a town?” (Yes, the major scale is used in the second part of the song)
  • T: “Good, what in the music tells you that the singer is not happy about losing their work hauling the barges?” (The minor mode)

Procedure: Integrated Context

  • T: “When thinking of the lyrics and the music, why might the composer have set the first part of the song to sad or minor music, and the second part to happier or major music?” (The first part is talking about work and hauling barges, and the second is talking about coming to a town and meeting your neighbors.)
  • T: “There’s also another part to the history of this song. It was written just as the last mules were being used to haul or pull the barges and were being converted to steam power. If this is the case, why does the singer talk about the mule as a ‘friend’ or ‘pal’?” (Because they’ve been working together for years, and now they aren’t going to be working any more pulling the barges.)
  • T: “Now I’d like you to deduce something first by not looking at the map. We know that the canal goes from Buffalo to Albany, but can you tell me which great lake the canal connects to? Think! The song tells you.” (Lake Erie)
  • T: “Now, let’s look at the map. Can anyone see which waterway the canal connects to in Albany?” (The Hudson River, leading to the Atlantic Ocean through New York City)
  • T: “Albany is not on the Atlantic Ocean, so the Hudson River was used to connect the two waterways.”

Closure and Extension

  • T: “So, to summarize, what impact might this have had on the city of New York in the 19th century to have it be one of the largest seaports in the U.S.?” [This made New York City one of the most important ports and cities in the country, and helped the city grow and become home to many immigrants, workers, etc.]
  • T: “What do you think happened to all of the mules and mule drivers after they were replaced? Is there a musical indication that things turned out all right?” [The switch to major mode and the sense of community and belonging at the end]

Assessing Your Lesson Plan

Assessing the execution of the lesson:

Observe students as they are performing by themselves and their ability to sing the song and identify the modes and binary form successfully.

  • Are only a few students able to perform and identify? Are most students able to? Do students look puzzled or confused? Are they not engaging with the music or the questions?
Assessing the content of the lesson:

Did the lesson address different types of learning? Multiple intelligences? National Standards? Learning objectives? Did it contain various modes of instructional input and modalities (e.g., lecture, demonstration, etc.)?

“Erie Canal” Lesson

  1. Addresses different types of learning—e.g.Visual, aural
  2. Addresses multiple intelligences—e.g. Musical, logical/mathematical, linguistic, etc.
  3. Contains appropriate Common Core or National Standards
  4. Contains clear and age-appropriate learning objectives—Analysis of musical and literary ideas
  5. Uses a variety of music methods/techniques—Singing, rhythm, notation analysis
  6. Incorporates a variety of instructional modalities—Lecture, demonstration, question/answer, written word

III. Classroom Management

While lessons on paper are an integral and necessary step, the actual implementation of the lesson in front of a live class is quite another matter. Teachers all over the world have their own tips and hints as to what makes a good teacher and what makes a lesson successful, and reviewing a few ideas on classroom management is an extremely helpful first step. If the students aren’t focused on the lesson, all of your preparatory work is for naught. Below are a few basic classroom management ideas to use when teaching music.

Classroom Behavior Management Techniques

  • Don’t be afraid to be the teacher!
  • Tell students what you expect them to do. Don’t ask them what they want to do. You are the teacher, and you set the agenda.
  • Use positive reinforcement whenever possible.
    • Don’t be afraid to point out places where students can improve. Show them the next level and let them strive to get there.
  • When disciplining, select one person to stand out as a role model
    • “Look how well Suzie, Frank, and Leticia are doing at…let’s see if we all can do that!”
  • Pay attention to the singing voice! Check whether you yourself are singing correctly and check that the students are singing correctly as well.
  • Use magic, wonder, and surprise whenever possible!
    • “Guess what will happen next?”
    • “What does this sound remind you of?”
  • Add movement whenever possible
    • Hand gestures, small body movements, large body movements
  • Keep sweeping the room, checking to see that they are all “getting it.”
  • Do not talk or give directions over the music; they won’t hear you or the music.
  • When handing out instruments, develop an orderly system for distribution and have a system in place to keep instruments quiet while you’re talking.
  • Talk less and do more.
    • Sing, play, and instrument or mime as meaningful substitutions for words and directions.
  • Most importantly, have fun! If the material excites you, your students will be engaged as well.

Resources

Vocabulary

aerophones: instruments that produce sound by using air as the primary vibrating means (flutes, horns, whistle)

chordophones: a term used for stringed instruments referring to instruments sounded by bowing, plucking, or striking a string that is stretched between two fixed points (violins)

concussion: two similar objects struck together to create sound

electrophones: electronic instruments that either have their sound generated electronically or acoustic instruments that have their sounds amplified

idiophones: instruments that produce sound from the material of the instrument itself; probably the largest category of classroom instruments; sounds produced through shaking, scraping, plucking, etc.

instrumentation: source of sound and music that a child develops from hearing rhythm and a melody

membranophones: instruments that produce sound by means of vibrating a stretched membrane (drums)

organology: the classification of musical instruments around the world

percussion: instrument caused to vibrate by striking it with a non-vibrating object such as a mallet or stick

pitched instruments: instruments capable of making distinct notes and pitch changes while simultaneously following a rhythm (e.g., a piano, clarinet)

plucked: instruments with a flexible tongue that is plucked to vibrate

scraped: sound produced by scraping the instrument with a stick across grooves

shakers: sound produced by small particles contained within the instrument

stamping: striking the object on a hard surface to vibrate the object

syncopation: to have rhythm that is “off-beat” or doesn’t fall right on the beats of a song

unpitched instruments: instruments incapable of making distinct notes and pitch changes, but have one pitch only; usually used to keep the rhythm and tempo steady (e.g., woodblock, claves)