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In this lesson, students use a familiar folk melody and Bela Bartok’s inspiration to compose their own song




6, 7, 8  

Title – Use you own folk melodies!
By – Robert Gowan
Primary Subject – Music
Grade Level – 6-8

Folk Music in Popular Styles
Subject: Strings

Academic Objectives:

  • Students will find folk influences in popular music.
  • Students will recognize the use of folk melodies to create new and different music.
  • Students will create and perform their own song based of a folk melody that they know.
  • Students will gain an understanding of how music connects through different periods of history

Standards – Music:

      2. Instrumental

      4. Composition

      5. Reading and Notation

      6. Analysis

      7. Evaluation

      8. Music Connections

    9. History and Culture

Lesson Introduction:

      At this point, students have played many familiar melodies such as

Mary had a Little Lamb


Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star


Old Joe Clark


Perrot’s Door

      , and much more. I will start the lesson by introducing them to my favorite composer, Bela Bartok.
    I will give a brief introduction to Bela Bartok and his musical contributions. Bartok used folk melodies from the Romanian countryside in his music quite frequently. I will play examples of the original folk melodies and the pieces Bartok himself wrote based on these melodies. I will them instruct the class to find other composers, or popular artists who have used folk melodies the same way. I will play a popular example for them myself.

Instructional Process

      Activity #1: Introduce lesson and answer questions. Also provide examples that students may already know.

Notes: Have recordings ready of Bela Bartok and a popular artist.

      Activity #2: Students may use


      or any search engine or music site to explore sounds clips or find information about artists who play traditional folk music.

Notes: Have each student document each site they use.

      Activity #3: Have students analyze the form and style the composer used to incorporate their folk melody. Also, have them save their sound clip to make a class CD of examples found. Also, they will fill out a sheet that asks them to compare and contrast the original piece to the present.

Notes: Students should know different forms such as round, and variation. Review terms before activity.

      Activity #4: Students will then take a melody that they know and write it out on staff paper. Students must change some elements of the music in order to personalize it.

Notes: This part of the lesson will require the students take it home to work on it. Take note of what melody each student chooses.

      Activity #5: Students perform their piece. For their classmates, and evaluate each other using a rubric.

Notes: Students will stand and play for their classroom peers. Performance will be graded on a rubric scale by the students and me. Assessment/Reflection:

    By noticing and observing the connections folk music has with all other kinds of music, students will develop a greater appreciation and understanding of how music is written and composed. By creating their own piece and performing it, students will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the process many composers take while creating their music.

Assessment – rubric of performance, and evaluation of written materials.
Cooperative Learning – brainstorming together, and in some cases playing together.
Learning Styles – visual (reading and composing music), auditory (listening to music), tactile (playing music)
Technology/Internet – District initiative to have access to program to be implemented in classroom instruction

E-Mail Robert Gowan !

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