Music Theory Teacher Resources
Find Music Theory educational ideas and activities
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Music Theory Fun and Games
Music theory lessons don't have to be dull. Concepts can be taught through motivating games and physical activities.
Music Theory Review: Chords
WebQuests can be fun and engaging ways to review concepts. This musical WebQuest includes thirty-five fill in the blank and ten short answer questions, which students complete through Internet use. Upper graders complete this exercise to review music theory, chord structure, triad inversion, and diatonic triads. A great way to include technology and music in a single lesson.
Using Numbers to Teach The Major Scale
Students study the numbers to the diatonic major scale using C note as a basis in this standards-based 45 minute lesson. Emphasis is placed on singing correct pitch, rhythmic accuracy, and proper breath control.
Keys and Scales are Sets
Music theory lessons can be very tricky for some people. Children with a basic understanding of musical concepts take on the task of transposing music and identifying scale sets. This would be a good topic to address prior to discussing circle of fifths. The lesson plan includes sheet music and two worksheets.
A Pentatonic Scale Activity
Learners get a taste of music theory as they explore variations of the C-Major scale. They discuss traditional music styles that often incorporate pentatonic scales in their composition, music theory, and practice. Then they use a keyboard (piano) to practice and play with variations of the scale.
Melodies and Math: Creating Music with Non-Traditional Instruments
Students review the 4/4 and 2/4 time signatures in music. In this music theory lesson, students review basic music theory, experiment with electronic sounds, and create their own musical performance using instruments made from materials found in the classroom.
Intervals, Scales, and Triads
High schoolers explain intervals in terms of musical notes - including whole and half steps, major, minor and perfect - build a major scale on any given whole tone and build a major triad on any given whole tone.
Students explore Indian ragas and learn the differences between an Indian raga and the Western scale. They sing the familiar song "America," first in the Western major scale and then in two Indian ragas (bhairavi and purvi) on a neutral syllable, in order to identify differences in whole- and half-step patterns between an Indian raga and the Western scale.
Making CD's from MIDI Compositions
Students complete their own composition (ABA song form, C Major scale, 32-60 measures) using the keyboard and sequencing software on the computer to playback the song. They fill in answers in their workbooks and watch how to transfer their compositions from MIDI file to CD Audio files.
Missing the Major Scales 2
Any musician can tell you, you have to know your scales, key signatures, and notes when reading sheet music. Kids are quizzed on major scales and the notes found with in each scale. They fill in the missing notes and identify each scale.
Tetrachords and Major scales
Students explore and analyze the structure of a tetrachord and major scales along with their origins and functions in music. They recognize tetrachords and major scales in the context of the music they are practicing at this point in time and view a PowerPoint presentation on starting notes and scale patterns.
Lines & Spaces; Another Round
Fourth graders recall the letter names of the notes of the C-major scale and identify the names of the C-major scale. They identify the names of the lines and spaces on a music staff. They sing rounds.
Fifth Grade Music: Lesson 3 - Unison and Harmony
Fifth graders sing the syllables and pitches of the C major scale, and sing Do - Re - Mi in two-part harmony. They discuss the definition for round and canon, and contrast gamelan music of the Spice Islands with reggae from Jamaica.
Students practice using keyboard and sequencing software to expand their compositions. They use the notes in the C Major Scale and playback their song written in an ABA song form. They complete pages in a basic piano workbook and discuss different versions of their songs played by the computer.
Lesson 4: Behind the Movie Chicago
The elements of music and journalistic integrity in one lesson; What could be better? The class discusses journalistic approaches to better understand responsible reporting versus sensationalism. They watch the Act One from the film Chicago stopping to discuss the part tabloid reporters play in the story. They then analyze the song "All That Jazz," looking at scale, tone, and the use of triads. Sheet music and supplemental material links are included.
Consonance and Dissonance Activities
Hone those musical ears to identify consonance and dissonance in music being played live or on a recording. Learners will work through four activities where they will listen to consonant and dissonant notes being played first by the teacher, then via recording. The concepts are then applied as they compose a piece using both consonant and dissonant tones. Suggestions are included for every grade.
A Pentatonic Scale Activity
The famous Japanese tune, "Cherry Blooms" was composed using a pentatonic scale. Budding musicians explore the nature and theory behind the pentatonic scale as well as the East Asian music it is commonly used in. Multiple extensions are suggested for learners with musical experience, as well as adaptations for those with very little experience.
Rhythm, Math, Rhythm
Students play instruments in math class to learn the interconnectedness between math and music. In this math lesson, students subdivide a piece of music, clapping rhythms and charting rhythm patterns in the song. A guided discussion concludes the lesson.
A Musical Composition Experience
Upper graders having skills in music performance will extend their abilities through creative musical composition. They'll use Finale 2000 to explore facets of music composition, they'll then compose a piece for their instrument in C, F, or G major or relative minor keys. This lesson is intended for proficient musicians, not beginners.
Gamelan-Style Melodic Elaboration: A Music Class Activity
Music world get ready, your young performers are going to practice Gamelan style improvisation techniques. They listen to and discuss the melody and rhythm in Balinese Gamelan music, then take turns improvising by adding notes to a basic melody. Web links to worksheets and music are included.