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This is an introductory note values and time signatures lesson




4, 5, 6, 7  


Title – Intro to note values and time signatures
By – Jessica Baskin
Primary Subject – Music
Grade Level – 4-7 


    In order to read music, and play an instrument or sing, students must learn to read the musical staff, which is the basis for musical composition. Beginning musicians should focus on the treble clef, as it is the most widely recognized staff used. Students should also become familiar with basic note values, so that they might successfully read music.


    To set a general base for music learners by familiarizing students with the musical staff.


      The student will be able to:


      1) Recognize and reproduce the lines and spaces of the treble clef musical staff.


      2) List 3 out of 5 basic note values


      3) Clap a basic written rhythm


      4) Recognize and explain basic time signatures


    5) Recognize and explain basic key signatures


  • Staff paper for all students
  • Examples of piano music
  • Note values handout
  • (Prepared quiz)
  • Written rhythm handout
  • Music clips

Lesson: Opening

      : Review staff from last lesson. Have students fill in note names on the blackboard. Use real music examples and have students put on board and name. Ask students if they remember the pneumonic devices we used last lesson.
      Now that we know what the notes are, the next step in becoming familiar with music is knowing how long each note lasts. Ask students why this is important. Demonstrate using a familiar song. Show what it might sound if we didn’t have defined note values (silly!).
      Play a couple of music clips and ask students what they think the music note values might look like.


      : Hand out note values handout and written rhythm handout. Teacher lists, on the blackboard, the basic note values (whole, half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth?, 32nd?) Discuss with students the note division. Make division tree.

Written rhythm handout

      : Clap first two together as a class. Turn to your neighbor and clap rhythms #3-6 to each other. Were there any tricky ones? Go over any difficulties together.

Time signatures

      : Time signatures tell us how many beats there will be in a measure and which note is a beat. Use 4/4 time signatures to have students come up to the board and show us how many quarter notes there are in each signature, and write us a correct measure. Teacher writes an incorrect measure and has student point out error. Play music clips again, and see if we have a better idea of what the note values look like.


    : Discuss the test at the end of the unit. Explain that each homework assignment is part of the test. At the beginning of class tomorrow, you will be expected to have a section of your test done and you will be checked and get a grade for it. For tonight’s homework: 4 measures of 4/4 beats/ note values.

Music Clips:

  • Hilary Hahn Plays Bach – #1 (quick)
  • Classics for Lovers – #2 (slow)
  • Ballet – #3 (3/4)
  • Marvin Gaye Greatest Hits – #3 (4/4)
  • Boyz II Men – #1 (4/4)

E-Mail Jessica Baskin !

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