Participants will be able to apply the elements of music – pitch, duration, timbre, form, and expressive qualities -- to varied music experiences such as listening, singing, moving, creating, or playing simple instruments.

Music in the Classroom

What You Will Find In Music

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Why Music?


  • Impact student's academic achievement

  • Encourage social and emotional development

  • Strengthen memory and learning retention



  • Influence motor development and physical maturation

  • Enhance the connection between the body and mind

  • Boost confidence and acquire 21st century skills

Click here to download the music poster and resources for using it as a word wall.


"Music enhances the education of our children by helping them to make connections and broadening the depth with which they think and feel. If we are to hope for a society of culturally literate people, music must be a vital part of our children's education." - Yo-Yo Ma


Elements and Concepts

What Children Learn About Music

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sounds occurring at a certain frequency that can be described as high or low


Boy with headphones

group singing

music keys

children singing together


  • Pitches go up or down or repeat
  • Pitches may be represented by symbols
  • Pitches move up or down by step or skip

SCALE: pitches that are arranged in a specific order of whole and half steps. 
Scales determine tonality; different cultures and different periods in time use different scales.

    MELODY: a succession of sounds (pitches)

    • A melody may be based on a scale
    • A melody has a range (low to high)
    • A melody may move by steps, skips or remain the same
    • A melody may have shape (melodic contour) moving up, down or remaining the same

    CHORD: three or more pitches sounded simultaneously

    HARMONY: the simultaneous sounding of two or more pitches; the vertical structure of music
    moving through time and supporting the melody. Harmony may be homophonic and polyphonic.

    • MONOPHONIC: one melody that everyone sings or plays in unison without accompaniment
    • HOMOPHONIC: single melody supported by an accompaniment (e.g., a hymn)
    • POLYPHONIC: more than one melody performed simultaneously (e.g., "Row Your Boat" sung in a round)


    TEXTURE: the interaction of melody and harmony. Two or more melodic or rhythmic lines may occur at the same time, resulting in a "thick" or "thin" texture or density of sound.



    lengths of sounds and silences that occur in music, as well as the organization of these sounds and silences in time


    BEAT: the underlying pulse that may be sounded or silent

    • Sounds may be organized into steady beats and music may or may not have a steady beat

    • Silent beats are called rests

    METER: the pattern of beats by which a piece of music is measured

    • Beats may be organized into patterns of strong and weak

    • These beats may create patterns of 2 or 3, or any combination of 2, 3, or 4

    RHYTHM: the organization of sounds and silences in time

    • Combinations of sounds may be of equal and unequal length

    • More than one sound may occur during the time of a beat

    • Long/short sounds and silences may be organized into rhythmic patterns

    • Rhythmic patterns may be represented by symbols





    characteristic sound (tone, color, or quality) of a voice or instrument

    (pronounced tam-ber)


    Sounds are made by vibrating materials. The vibrating materials determine the quality and "color" of the sound. These may have a pleasant or unpleasant quality. 

    One instrument may make many different sounds; different cultures use different kinds of instruments.

    Sounds may be organized into categories according to the vibrating material:

    AEROPHONE: vibrating air (e.g., flute)

    CHORDOPHONE:  vibrating strings (e.g., guitar) 

    MEMBRANOPHONES: vibrating membrane (e.g., bongo drums)

    IDIOPHONES: vibrator and resonator are the same (e.g., triangle)


    • VOCAL: man, woman, child

    • INSTRUMENTAL: woodwind, brass, percussion, strings

    • ENVIRONMENTAL: sounds found in the environment

    BODY PERCUSSION: examples include clapping, snapping, patting, stomping, etc.



    overall structural organization of a musical composition; the way music is organized in a structure, plan or pattern


    PHRASE: a series of notes that creates a complete musical thought or idea

    • Phrases may repeat or contrast

    • Songs may be made up of several phrases

    • Phrases may be the same or different length

    CADENCE: a sequence of notes or chords that concludes a phrase, section, or piece of music

    SECTION: a piece of music may be organized into sections that are the same or different. Examples include:

    • Verse/Refrain

    • Call and Response

    • Theme and Variations

    • AB, ABA, AABA, etc.

    • Rondo (ABACADA)

    Girl with Boomwhackers

    Expressive Qualities

    qualities (dynamics, tempo articulation) that when combined with other musical elements help to make a piece of music more interesting


    ARTICULATION: the way a musician begins and ends a single sound or series of sounds

    • Music ideas may be made more interesting with various articulation

    • Articulation ideas may be represented by symbols

    • Melodies may be smooth and connected (legato) or short and detached (staccato)

    • Sounds may be emphasized with an accent

    DYNAMICS: the perceived loudness or softness of the music

    • Sounds may be loud or soft

    • Sounds may get louder (crescendo) or softer (decrescendo) to help express an idea

    • Loud and soft sounds may be represented by symbols

    • Music ideas may be made more interesting with dynamic variation

    Expressive Qualities

    TEMPO: the speed of the beat

    • Beats are steady but may be fast or slow

    • The beat may get faster (accelerando) or slower (ritardando) increasing or decreasing the tempo of the music


    Basic Music Skills

    What Children Do With Music

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    • differentiate between singing voice and speaking voice

    • explore range of high and low pitches

    • sing on pitch and with good tone





    • experience feeling and moving to a steady beat

    • recognize the difference between strong and weak beats

    • practice beat accuracy

    • explore sound and silence in rhythmic patterns

    • practice playing strong and weak beats in patterns of 2, 3, 4 

    • practice rhythmic patterns simultaneously with beat/rhythmic patterns of others

    • build skill in playing rhythm patterns 

    • explore varying uses of tempo and dynamics

    • perform with body percussion (clap, snap, pat, stomp)

    • play on non-pitched and pitched instruments



    • explore a variety of icons representing pitch, duration, and form

    • understand the relationship between beat and rhythm

    • use traditional and iconic notation as a means of reading and performing music

    • Use Curwen hand signs



    • respond to patterns of same and different

    • listen and identify how tempo (fast and slow), dynamics (loud and soft), and timbre (vocal, instrumental, environmental sounds) are used in a piece of music to express the composer's intent 

    • learn to listen carefully to others when participating in an ensemble

    • recognize repeated or contrasting phrases

    • identify the form of a piece of music

    • analyze and identify the elements of music in a piece and how they are used to express the composer's intent

    • connect music to personal, societal, and cultural context


    Boy Drumming



    • compose, improvise, and apply musical elements to create music

    • create vocal characterizations as part of a story or song

    • create new words and rhymes for favorite classroom songs

    • create simple beat and rhythm patterns

    • create simple iconic representation of beat, meter, rhythm and pitch

    • create simple rhythmic patterns to be played against a steady beat

    • create variations in tempo, dynamics, and timbre for musical expression

    Vocal Warm Ups

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    "The Voice is a manifestation of the soul." - JoAnn Ottley

    "Singing is dancing with the voice: A Soul Dance." - Susan Kenney


    Align and Energize

    Align and Energize Your Body

    When body alignment changes, life changes


    Play with Your Voice

    Play with Your Voice

    Think of your voice as a toy. Find out what it can do

    Feel the sounds in your body

    Listen to the amazing sounds that can be made


    Breathe with Love

    Breathe with Love

    Oxygenate every cell in the body

    Allow the lungs to be cleansed


    Sing a Pitch

    Sing a Pitch and Tune Your Cells

    Find the "wonder" place

    Feel the difference between vocal play and singing

    Listen to the difference

    Feel the vowel you sing shaping every cell in the body


    Sing Two Pitches

    Sing Two Pitches

    Feel the sensation of changing pitches

    Listen so your voice will know where to go


    Sing a Phrase

    Sing a Phrase

    Feel the flow of pitches as they move through your body


    Add Words

    Add Words

    Feel the challenge of adding consonants to vowels

    Listen as the voice shapes words by adding consonants to vowels


    How to Teach a Song

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    1. Connect the song to their own experiences, a culture, or something they are learning about.

    2. Before singing the song, students hear the whole song (4-5 times) with directed listening, playing, or movement activities. See "What Can I Do with a Folk Song?" below.

    3. Students may sing part of the song every time it occurs.

    4. Play singing games as students become familiar with the song.



    5. Add body percussion and instruments.

    6. Include movement.

    7. Extend learning by having students identify or create form, discover patterns and sequences, count, group, read or write lyrics, make connections to other cultures or classroom subjects.

    NOTE: "Whole song" refers to a simple song that includes a lot of repetition and a recurring, obvious form. For more complex songs, use the "whole song" method with just one section of the piece. It is not necessary to start at the beginning of a song. Begin where students will experience the most success. Adapt your teaching strategies to match the requirements of the song. The structure and demands of different songs might require different teaching strategies.





    1. Let the children hear the song a few (or many!) times before they are called upon to sing the song.

    2. With each hearing direct students' listening or have them engage in some of the ideas listed on the "What Can I Do with a Folk Song?" page.

    3. After they have heard the song 4-5 times the children sing the entire song if it is a short simple song, or join in singing one phrase, verse, or the refrain of the song whenever it occurs. It is not necessary to start teaching the beginning of the song. Teach just one main section or part of the song. Providing picture or word cues, lyrics, or sheet music can be helpful, but isn't necessary.



    4. Define vocabulary words, review difficult phrases, practice melodic intervals, strengthen insecure parts, and correct any sections where students are making errors.

    5. If students have only learned one part of the song, teach the other parts of the song adding one part at a time until they know the entire song.



    6. Sing it DIFFERENTLY every time by adding various elements such as body percussion, instruments, or movement. Vary dynamics and/or tempo. Add rhythmic ostinatos with non-pitched percussion or body percussion. Play harmonic accompaniments on boomwhackers, bells, Orff instruments, or ukuleles. Divide the song into sections and have a different group sing each section, line, verse, or part. Students may sit or stand. Teach them how to conduct the meter of the song as they sing. Be creative and have fun!

    7. After experiencing the song many different ways, students may help determine how to most effectively perform it. When practicing to perform, concentrate on consistency in tempo, dynamics, conducting cues, breathing, pronunciation, etc. Emphasize in-tune singing and good vocal tone. The time to sing it the SAME way every time is when students are practicing to perform a song.

    What Can I Do With a Folk Song?

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    1. Teach the history and context of the song.

    2. Describe the culture or background from which the song originates.

    3. Research and find other variations of the same song.

    4. Create new verses or change the words to support a specific curriculum concept or connection.

    5. Compare and contrast two different songs.


    1. Identify and define unfamiliar words.

    2. Review pronunciation of difficult words.


    1. Songs are literature. Use the same strategies and identify the same concepts you would use when teaching language arts and reading.

    2. Teach or create hand signs, movements, or gestures to represent the lyrics.

    3. Use ASL signs while singing.

    4. Identify the main idea(s) of the song.

    5. Determine the sequence or pattern of the lyrics.

    6. Identify rhyming words and rhyming patterns.

    7. Play instruments only on certain words or phrases of the song, using the rhythm of those words.


    1. Play steady beat (with non-pitched instruments or body percussion).

    2. Students choose one of two different instruments or body percussion. One group plays on the strong beat, the other plays the weak beat(s).

    3. Play rhythm of words (with non-pitched instruments or body percussion).

    4. Half the students play the steady beat, while the other half plays the rhythm of the words using non-pitched instruments or body percussion.

    5. Identify and notate simple rhythm patterns from the song. Play as an ostinato using non-pitched percussion during the song or as an interlude.

    6. Students create their own simple 4- or 8-beat rhythm patterns and notate them. Play them with non-pitched percussion instruments as an ostinato throughout the song or during an interlude.

    7. Play a game called "Same or Different" with the children. On a wood block, drum or rhythm sticks play a rhythm pattern from the song. Then play another pattern from the song of the same length. The second pattern can be either identical to or different than the first pattern. Ask the students to listen and then show you by a designated body signal whether the pattern was the same or different the second time.

    8. Practice singing and playing tricky rhythms.

    9. Add a beat-based hand game, clapping game, or body percussion sequence.



    1. Use shapes, lines, letters to explore melodic contour and play with the voice.

    2. Listen for the shape of the melody. Does it go up, down, or stay the same?

    3. Listen for skips or steps. Practice tricky intervals.

    4. Consider the range of the melody and ensure it is appropriate for the developmental abilities of the students.

    5. Sing with a partner song.

    6. Add a vocal ostinato.

    7. Add simple vocal harmonies.



    1. Choose/use/vary dynamics (loudness or softness).

    2. Choose/ use/vary tempo (rate of speed).

    3. Choose/use/vary articulation (legato, staccato, accents).

    4. Shape phrases through dynamics and breathing.

    5. Identify the feeling of the song and respond to the emotion or mood of the piece.



    1. Identify the form of parts or sections of the song (phrases, refrain, verses, interlude, etc.).

    2. Some songs allow students to create a new form or pattern of a song using symbols, pictures, or icons.



    1. Students follow body position cards or "follow the leader" to a beat while a song is played for the first time.

    2. Create and perform movements that reflect the lyrics of the song.

    3. Do a folk dance or play a simple game to a song.

    4. Pantomime (act out) a song that tells a story or create a tableau that shows a freeze-frame scene from the song.



    1. For pentatonic songs, accompany with a melodic ostinato using notes from the pentatonic scale.

    2. Play an accompaniment based on simple chords (autoharp, ukulele, Orff instruments, bells, boomwhackers).



    1. Students experiment with different vocal and instrumental groupings and expressive qualities as they create their accompaniment patterns. Have them listen and give meaningful feedback as their preferences. Have them focus on what they heard that brought them to their conclusion. Encourage them to apply aural discrimination (listening) throughout the arrangement process to make sure they have arrived at the very best arrangement possible for their musical taste.

    The 5 Audience A's of a Music Performance

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    Arrive early so you are in your seat before the performance starts.


    Allow performers and audience members to focus on the performance and enjoy it. Silence and put away all devices. Never exit or enter during the middle of a song or piece.


    Keep your eyes and ears on the performance. Be quiet and still.



    Notice things you really like about the performance. Respect the hard work of the performers by allowing them to share what they have prepared. Enjoy the show!



    Show you enjoyed the performance by clapping at the right time. Do not whistle or shout. Wait to applaud until the conductor's arms are down and he/she turns around towards the audience.

    Beat and Rhythm

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    Fluency, Pacing, Timing, Synchronicity, Agility, Coordination

    music and beat kids


    Show a steady underlying pulse in various ways as the students follow along: body percussion (patting, clapping, snapping, stomping), alternating hands right, left, right, left (RLRL), feet marching, on an instrument, tapping various parts of the body (head, heart, fingertips, tongue, and so on) as the children follow along.


    Perform a certain number of beats and have the students repeat them. Change the tempo and volume of the beat, and see how well the students follow. Produce a rhythm while maintaining a steady beat and have the students repeat it, alternating back and forth in call and response style. Invite various students to be the leader.


    Use voice, body percussion, or instruments to produce the rhythm of student's names, a nursery rhyme or poem, or words to a familiar song. Divide into 2 or 3 groups and play different patterns simultaneously to the same steady beat.


    Play a steady drum beat and invite the students to walk with the beat. Instruct the students that when the drum starts they start, when the drum stops they stop. Vary the tempo by accelerating and decelerating. Vary the volume by playing loud or soft.


    Give each student a hand-held percussion instrument or have them clap. Play a steady beat in unison. Invite the students to improvise a rhythm while staying with the beat of the group.


    Sound cues cue a behavior. For example: "Walk when the drum beats." "When the chime signals, please stand and turn."


    Invite the students to play various instruments, body percussion, or found sounds to accompany a story or poem. Discuss the message and meaning of a text and create a musical way to represent selected words or phrases that are repeated or descriptive. Perform the created piece as the text is read aloud.

    Invite the students to play various instruments as a soundtrack for a story or to tell a story. Discuss the message and meaning of parts of the story and select a musical way to represent each idea. Perform the created piece.

    Music Lesson Plans

    Find lesson plans sorted by art form and grade level on the BYU ARTS Partnership website.

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    Research on Music Education

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    Music Resources

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    Music Standards

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    1. Generate and conceptualize ideas for drama work.

    2. Organize and develop musical work.

    3. Refine and complete musical compositions.



    4. Select, analyze, and interpret music for presentation.

    5. Develop and refine musical techniques.

    6. Convey meaning through performing music.



    7. Perceive and analyze music performance and activity.

    8. Interpret intent and meaning of musical compositions.

    9. Apply criteria to evaluate musical performances and processes.



    10. Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to music.

    11. Relate music activities and performance with societal, cultural and historical context to deepen understanding.



    Artistic Processes are the cognitive and physical actions by which arts learning and making are realized. National Core Arts Standards are based on the artistic processes of Creating; Performing/ Producing/Presenting; Responding; and Connecting.

    National Core Arts Standards Graphic


    "The Fine Arts have four strands: Create, Perform/Present/ Produce, Respond, and Connect. Within each strand are standards. A standard is an articulation of the demonstrated proficiency to be obtained. A standard represents an essential element of the learning that is expected. While some standards within a strand may be more comprehensive than others, all standards are essential for mastery."

    - Quoted from the Utah Core State Standards for Fine Arts

    USBE Logo

    Click on the icons below to see the state music standards for each grade.