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by Karen Caroe
1) Before you begin, you might want to check out this
printable unit study organizer.
2) On-line resources are given under the subject area.
3) I recommend you go to a music store and purchase a beginning book on music
theory, notation, terms, etc. It will make a handy reference. You can also
purchase flash cards which are a wonderful tool for teaching music to children.
4) Music Education Launch Site
This is a fabulous site. I recommend you spend time there prior to beginning the
unit. It has a lot of resources, lesson plans, links, etc.
1) Define music.
2) What are your family standards on music? Discuss them (and your reasons) with
3) Introduce musical notation. Musical
This will get you started but it doesn't really deal with the bass clef.
4) Define the following: Melody, Harmony, Rhythm, beat, synchopation, symphony,
overture, concerto, choir, band, orchestra, aria, waltz, tarentella, tango,
5) Learn the "voices" Soprano, Mezzo, Alto, Tenor, Bass, Baritone.
6) Listen to choral music and see if you can identify the different voices. Try
to get Acapella music.
7) Create a chart of the Instrument Families
Woodwind, Brass, Percussion, Strings. Place pictures of instruments in their
8) Have children draw 2 staffs. One with a Treble Clef and one with a Bass Clef.
Name the lines and spaces on each staff.
Treble Spaces from bottom to top: FACE
Treble Lines from Bottom to top: EGBDF
>>Remember: Every Good Boy Does Fine
Bass Clef Spaces from bottom to top: ACEG
>>Remember All Cows Eat Grass
Bass Clef Lines from bottom to top: GBDFA
>>Remember Good Boys Do Fine Always
9) For some "advanced" theory:
Frazier's Music Page - Music Theory
10) Make some rhythm instruments (spoons, beans in a tupperware, rice in a film
case, pots and pans) Practice different time signatures. Practice notes and
rests. Play on the beat. Play on the upbeat.
11) Play a singing game. In 4/4 time, sing a whole note. Sing 2 half-notes, Sing
1 quarter note with a quarter rest and a half-note. Get progressively harder.
Sing a higher note, lower note, etc.
12) Make up a song. (Music only) Try to notate it on a staff.
1) Read the story of Peter and the Wolf. Listen to the
2) Read LENTIL by Robert McClosky. (younger students)
3) Look at the Lyrics to songs that you like. See them as poetry.
4) Can you put the words to a different tune? For example: Try singing Mary Had
A Little Lamb to the tune of Row Row Row your boat.
5) Learn poetic terms from the Lyrics you study. What is the rhyming pattern? Is
there alliteration, assonance, onomatapoeia?
6) Write a poem to put to music.
7) Using the notes on a staff, spell words. For example: Draw notes on the
treble clef in this order C A B. Have your child spell the words from looking at
8) Have your child make as many words out of A B C D E F and G as possible. Set
a time limit. Have a race.
9) Do a word search puzzle of musical terms.
Music is a great way to introduce fractions.
If you begin with 4/4 time (4 beats to a measure and the quarter note gets one
beat) you can begin to see how notes are related. A whole note gets 4 beats, a
1/2 note gets 2 beats and it take 2 half-notes to make a whole note. etc.
1) Practice fractions using different time signatures.
2) Learn about the "dot". Some notes have a dot after them. A dot adds
1/2 the value to the time of the note. For example: Given 4/4 time. A dotted 1/2
note would get 3 counts instead of 2. (1/2 of 2 is 1 so the dot adds the extra
count.) What kind of note(s) would you need to complete the measure?
3) Draw a chart showing how the notes are related. Put the whole note at the
4) Practice counting measures as you listen to music. For example, given 4/4
time, count 1,2,3,4...2,2,3,4....3,2,3,4 and so on to see how many measures are
in a piece of music.
Music usually reflects the environment and time of its creation.
Often it reflects the culture of a people group.
1) Create a music time-line. How did music progress. What did it say about the
time in which it was written?
2) Learn the major divisions of Music History.
This is a wonderful site.
3) Learn the Composers who were popular in each time period.
History - Composer Time Line
4) Select a time period and become familiar with the music. What else was
happening in the world. Did music influence events or did events influence
5) Take a Quiz :o)
6) On a world map, locate the birthplace of various composers. Where do most of
them come from? Is one country or another favored with more composers at
different times in history?
7) Locate the origins of specific genres of music.
8) Is there any music that would identify where you live? What about the music
of your heritage.
1) Vocabulary words: Acoustics, vibration, intensity,
2) Learn the parts of the ear. How do we hear? How can we protect our ears with
regard to music.
3) What is music, sound, silence, and noise? How are they related?
4) Learn about acoustics by singing in different rooms in the house. Sing in the
bathroom. Why does it sound different? Sing in a closet. Sing out doors. Do you
"hear" yourself differently.
5) Cover your ears and sing. What does it sound like now?
6) Tape record yourself singing. Does it sound like you? Do other people think
it sounds like you?
7) Try this experiment from Robert Krampf (Note: you can e-mail Krampf@aol.com
and ask to be put on the Experiment of the week list. It's great!)
For this experiment, you will need:
a balloon (Small, cheap balloons seem to work best.)
Inflate the balloon and tie it off, so that it stays inflated. Hold the balloon
loosely in one hand, about 1-2 feet in front of your face. Now talk. Sing.
Laugh. Notice the way the balloon vibrates as you make sounds.
Try holding the balloon near a television or radio. Do you notice that you can
feel some sound more than others? Try feeling very high pitched sounds and very
low pitched sounds. Is there a difference?
How can you feel sound? To understand this, you need to know a little bit about
how sound works. Hold your fingers lightly against your throat and hum. You will
feel your throat vibrating, just as the balloon did. When something vibrates, it
causes the air around it to vibrate. The vibrations spread through the air, just
as ripples spread across a bathtub of water when you wiggle your fingers on the
surface of the water. As these vibrations spread out through the air, they can
cause other things to vibrate. When the vibrating air hits the balloon, the
balloon also vibrates.
This is what lets you hear. When the vibrating air hits your eardrum, it causes
your eardrum to vibrate. These vibrations are transferred through the tiny bones
in your ear to the inner ear. These vibrations are changed into nerve impulses
which your brain "hears" as sound.
8)Try this, also from Krampf
For this experiment, you will need:
a cheap plastic cup. You can also use a Styrofoam or paper cup.
about 2 feet of yarn or cotton twine.
a toothpick or short stick
a large nail
Carefully use the nail to make a hole in the center of the bottom of the cup.
Poke one end of the string through the hole. Take the end of the string that is
inside the cup and tie it firmly to the toothpick. Now pull the string from the
bottom until the toothpick rests on the bottom of the cup. You may need to break
the ends off to get it to fit.
So now you have a cup with a string hanging out the bottom. Not very noisy, is
it? Dip the string into some water, to get it very wet. Hold the cup in one hand
and pinch the string between your thumb and forefinger, just below the cup.
Pinching the string firmly, pull your hand down. The string will slip between
your fingers and the cup should make a loud noise. You may have to try it two or
three times before you get the hang of it.
Why does it make so much noise? Try it without the cup. Take another piece of
string and hold it firmly in one hand. Wet the string and try making a noise
with it. You will hear a similar sound, but much softer. The string vibrates and
makes the air around it vibrate. These vibrations are carried to your eardrum so
that you hear the sound. When you attach the string to the cup, it causes the
cup to vibrate too. The cup vibrates more than the string does, and it makes a
louder sound. Look at the speaker of a stereo. It has a very similar
arrangement, with the black paper cone taking the place of the cup and the
magnet at the base taking the place of the string. It is also very similar to
the cup and string "telephones" that we playes with when I was a kid.
Put a cup at each end of a string. Pull the string tight and have someone talk
into one cup while you listen to the other. It really works.
Try using cups of different sizes and of different materials. Try using
different kinds of string. Do some make louder sounds? Is the pitch different?
Could you make a musical instrument from a series of these string-cups? Sounds
like a fun project to me.
9) Another experiment from Krampf.
You will need:
the tolerance of the people within hearing range
Blow up the balloon. Pinch the opening of the balloon between your finger and
thumb. Now the trick is to hold one side of the opening with the finger and
thumb of your right hand and hold the other side of the opening with the finger
and thumb of your left hand. If you pull, you will be able to stretch the
opening. As the air begins to rush out of the balloon, it will cause the balloon
to vibrate and it will make a noise. By stretching the balloon more, you can
make a higher sound. By stretching it less, you can make a lower sound. With a
bit of practice, you can make a wide variety of sounds.
Just as you varied the tension on the rubber to change the sound, you vary the
tension on your vocal cords to change your voice. Of course, there is a lot more
to speaking than that. Your voice also depends on things such as the force of
air from your lungs and the shape of your mouth, tongue and lips.
With more practice, you can almost imitate speech with your balloon. Without the
other factors (lungs, tongue, lips) you can't make words, but you can vary the
sound to get the timing and the pitch for words. Several famous clowns have used
this very effectively.
10) This is an "advanced" site for Music as it relates to Science/Math
and other subjects.
Most musical terms are Italian. Some are French or German.
None are English.
1) Create a musical terms dictionary.
This will get you started. Printable.
2) Look up some of the terms to determine their origins.
3) Try interpreting a piece of music by the terms written on it. Get a piece of
classical music and act as a conductor: "Now this piece is adagio which
means.........on the second staff we begin a diminuendo............etc.)
4) Learn a song in another language.
5) Listen to an opera sung in its original language. Do you have any idea what
6) Advanced: Write a composition defending or rejecting this statement:
"The semantics of music is the most complete and universal language."
1) Look up the different instruments used in the Bible. What
"family" would each one of them fall into?
2) Look at how God ordered the musicians in the temple.
3) Find verses that talk about music and singing. Memorize them.
4) What value does God place on music?
5) What value would God place on the music you listen to?
6)Read the Psalms. Those were written as songs. Is there a "formula"
for the way a psalm is written?
7) Try writing a Psalm. Can you put it to music.
8) David was able to calm Saul's emotions when he played music. How does music
Have the unit study culminate in one or more of these ways.
1) Have student compose a song with music and lyrics.
2) Write a comparison paper comparing 2 or more different styles of music.
3) Take a test over what has been learned.
4) Begin to play an instrument.
This unit barely begins to touch the surface of music. I recommend a 4 to 6 week
time frame for this unit. To narrow the time or the focus, select only one or 2
aspects of music. I recommend Music Theory be taught no matter what. A good way
to narrow the focus is to select a time period and do the unit study narrowed to
that particular time.
comments, and suggestions, Please e-mail Heather at firstname.lastname@example.org.