K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • feel the different meter markings.
  • recognize the differences between the beats of each measure (i.e. the down-beat versus the up-beat).
  • start to understand the meaning of conducting patterns.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

45 minutes

Materials/resources

  • A recorded piece of music in the three different meters: 2/4, 3/4 and 4/4
  • A bucket of tennis balls

Technology resources

A stereo system

Pre-activities

The students will need to know that meter is the number of beats in each measure. It would be helpful if the students knew a song they could sing in each of the three meters used in this lesson.

Activities

  1. Have the signs for 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4 on the board.
  2. Ask students if anyone can tell you their meaning.
  3. Play an excerpt from one of your pre-selected pieces and ask if anyone can tell the meter of the piece. Do this with all three pieces.
  4. Have students stand. Pass out the tennis balls while explaining that we are going to use the balls to help us understand meter even better.
  5. Keeping a steady beat, demonstrate the two pattern by bouncing the ball on the floor with the right hand and catching it with the left. Let students practice this.
  6. Play a recording of the piece in 2/4 and let them bounce to the steady beat. If they drop the ball let them retrieve it and keep going.
  7. Have them sit down and ask “Where did you feel the strongest beat?” “Was the ball hitting the floor or your hand?” (Ans: floor) This is called the down beat.
  8. While they are still seated, show them the pattern for three. With your left hand bounce ball on the floor, catch with your right hand, and then toss back to left.
  9. Students practice (Watch for flying balls).
  10. Do with piece in 3/4.
  11. Repeat questions above stressing the term “down beat” for the strongest beat hitting the floor and the first beat of each measure.
  12. Do the same for 4/4, however start with right hand bouncing to floor for beat one and tossing from hand to hand for beats 2, 3 and 4.

Assessment

Collect the tennis balls, have students sit down, and ask questions regarding meter: “Where is the strong beat in each of these meters? “What is that strong beat called?”

Play excerpts of other pieces to see if more of the students can identify the meter they are in.

Supplemental information

Comments

This lesson can be continued to show conducting patterns if the students already know songs to sing in each meter. After showing the conducting patterns and relating them to the tennis ball patterns, let them practice the patterns with their hands. Then take volunteers to conduct the class singing.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Music Education (2010)
      • Grade 6

        • 6.ML.2 Interpret the sound and symbol systems of music. 6.ML.2.1 Recognize whole, half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth, and dotted note and rest duration in 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4 meters. 6.ML.2.2 Interpret, through instrument and/or voice, standard notation symbols...
      • Grade 7

        • 7.ML.2 Interpret the sound and symbol systems of music. 7.ML.2.1 Interpret standard musical notation for whole, half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth, and dotted note and rest durations in 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, and 6/8 meter signatures. 7.ML.2.2 Interpret, through instrument...
      • Grade 8

        • 8.ML.2 Interpret the sound and symbol systems of music. 8.ML.2.1 Interpret standard musical notation for whole, half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth, and dotted note and rest durations in 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 6/8, 3/8, and alla breve meter signatures. 8.ML.2.2 Interpret,...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Music Education (2001)

Grade 6

  • Goal 6: The learner will listen to, analyze, and describe music.
    • Objective 6.03: Identify the basic principles of meter, rhythm, and tonality in analyses of music.
    • Objective 6.04: Demonstrate auditory perceptual skills by conducting, moving, answering questions about, and describing aural examples of music.

Grade 7

  • Goal 6: The learner will listen to, analyze, and describe music.
    • Objective 6.03: Identify and discuss the basic principles of meter, rhythm, tonality, intervals, chords, and harmonic progressions in the analyses of music.
    • Objective 6.04: Demonstrate auditory perceptual skills by conducting, moving, answering questions about, and describing aural examples of music.

Grade 8

  • Goal 6: The learner will listen to, analyze, and describe music.
    • Objective 6.03: Describe and explain the basic principles of meter, rhythm, tonality, intervals, chords, and harmonic progressions in the analyses of music.
    • Objective 6.04: Demonstrate perceptual skills by conducting, moving, answering questions about, and describing aural examples of music.