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In this lesson, students compose a sound map with classroom instruments




3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8  

Title – Lesson on Creating a Sound Map
By – Sabrina LaPointe
Primary Subject – Music
Grade Level – 3-8
Title: Creating a Sound Map


      Performing on instruments

    Reading and notating music


  1. To read notated rhythms correctly
  2. To correctly use classroom instruments


      Recording of chosen song

      Classroom instruments

    Classroom chalkboard or dry erase board


1. Choose a song that the class has been working on (I used “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Grieg). Have the students list all instruments that they hear playing throughout the piece. List all correct instruments on the board.

2. Show the students each instrument you have laying out (choose appropriate, non-pitched ones beforehand) and ask them how to play each one. Put out enough instruments so that there are at least two students per instrument type, preferably more depending on class size.

3. Lead the class in composing a sound map on the board by choosing one instrument and playing along with the song recording. As a class, decide whether that instrument sounds good with the recording, or if another one should be chosen. Write each chosen instrument in order on the board as you go. (Each instrument you have out will be used, but here you are deciding in what order they should play.)

4. Next decide how many measures you want each instrument to play and write the number next to the instrument name on the board (so for example drum = x3 and so forth). Practice without the recording and have students perform on instruments when indicated.

5. Now decide on a rhythm for each instrument to play. (I usually keep it simple to start with, mostly quarter and eighth notes and quarter rests.) A suggestion would be to have high-pitched instruments play faster rhythms with more eighth note patterns, and low-pitched instruments play slower rhythms with more quarter notes and rests. That way the low-pitched instruments serve as a bass line for everyone else.

6. Practice playing the sound map without the recording to make sure everyone knows when, where and what to play. Go over any trouble spots and take suggestions for changes as you go.

7. Try the sound map with the recording, pointing to each rhythm as it appears. On the first run-through, it may be helpful to call out each instrument name to keep them on track.

8. Try it a few more times, then switch instruments.

I’ve found that my 3rd and 4th grade students really like the challenge of following the sound map. My 6th and 7th graders even took it one step further and made their own personal sound maps to an approved song of choice, which we all performed in class. This lesson really keeps the students involved and helps them to own and love their Music time!

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