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This lesson plan is on Musical Modes





Title – Musical Modes
By – Tiffany Jones
Subject – Music
Grade Level – 6th
Lesson Plan/Spreadsheet

Topic: Which musical mode do the students like to listen to the most?

Grade: 6th Grade Music Theory Class (Pre-band prep class)


The purpose of this assignment is for the students to respond to different types of musical modes. The students will think of music in a deeper and more complicated way. The students will not only decide whether they like or dislike the sound of certain modes, but why. The different modes, major, minor, augmented, and diminished, each have a very distinct style and sound. People can love or hate music according to the mode it is played in. The most important thing that I want the students to learn from this lesson is for them to be able to “hear” the difference between major, minor, augmented, and diminished modes, and to be able to articulate the reasons they like or dislike the way they sound. To understand the properties that make up a piece of music will bring the students more in touch with the passion of music. When we receive the message of the music-and that is the one sure road to the enjoyment of music (Machlis). This is want I want to give the students.


1. Students will learn to work together in a group.
2. Students will learn to conduct research and organize the results on their own.
3. Students will become more familiar with the sounds and “moods” of musical pieces.
4. Students will be able to identify different types of modes by sound.
5. Students will learn how to prepare an organized presentation.
6. Students will learn to communicate to classmates and conduct a survey.


1. Tape recorder
2. Recordings of major, minor, diminished, augmented, and diminished chords
3. Spreadsheet to record their research (which the students will make on their own)
4. Computers (provided in the library)
5. Access to the student body
6. Recordings of different musical compositions


Anticipatory Set:

The students will listen to the recordings. Each of the recordings will be of a piece of music in one of the four mode types. The students will “act out” or move to the music, motivated by what they hear. After the recordings are listened to the students will participate in a group discussion on how each piece made them feel. The students will be encouraged to use various objects (animals, cars, etc.,) to compare the “feel” of the music. I believe this exercise will be fun as well as get the students anxious to learn why one piece sounds sad and another sounds angry or happy.

Lesson Opening:

Opening questions: Have any of you ever heard an instrumental song that made you happy? Have any of you ever heard an instrumental song that made you cry?

Articulate Objectives:

In this lesson you will be conducting a survey. This survey will determine which kind of musical mode students of different ages prefer. Doing this activity will familiarize you with how each mode sounds. I want you to learn to work together to accomplish a goal. I want you to be able to communicate to your schoolmates. You will learn what it is like conducting a survey. At the same time you will learn how to take what you learn from the survey and organize the information.


1. We have been studying the musical notes and their properties. Now will take the next element of sound and apply it towards the base knowledge of the chord. This project will have many different facets. The students will be learning more about the notes, and they will also learn which type of chords and musical modes their peers and classmates prefer. The requirements for this lesson are a 15-minute oral presentation over the modes and their role in a musical score. The second part of the presentation will be a survey that the student will conduct. I have played and recorded 4 short piano pieces, each in a different type of mode, for this exercise. The students will be required to make a spreadsheet showing the results of the survey and a chart to help the other student understand the results.

2. On day One, the students will break off into four groups. Each group will begin by listening to the recordings and taking a poll among the group rating each piece 1 to 5 (1 is bad 5 is good), based on how the music makes them “feel”.

3. On day two, the groups will prepare the presentation of the musical pieces. Group one will take the recording to the first grade music class, 4th grade science class, and 4th grade math class. Group two will get the reactions from the third grade music class, 6th grade math class, and 6th grade English class. Group three will get the opinions of the fifth grad music class, 2nd grade art class, and 2nd grade math class.
4. On day three, the students will take their data and make a spreadsheet showing the results. This spreadsheet should be organized and reflect, accurately, the survey’s findings. The students will also make various charts or other visual aids that will help in their presentation.


On day four, the groups will begin presentations. Each group will be required to speak for a minimum of 15 minutes. Each group will also turn in their spreadsheet, as well as a short written essay, for a grade.

Guided Practice:

For practice and reinforcement I will give short quizzes, perhaps for extra credit, where I will play a type of chord on the piano and the students will try to decipher which of the four modes it is in.

The students will be evaluated on the overall presentation; however, the majority of this grade will come from teamwork and participation within the group. After completing this exercise the students will have learned how to work within a group to achieve a common goal. The students will also have a greater appreciation for music and the role musical modes play in music. The student will also have developed an opinion of how each mode sound and hopefully the students will have taken deeper interests music. After all, studies have shown that students who study music will succeed better in school and on average score 25% better on college entrance exams (Stolba).


Machlis, Joseph and Kristine Forney. The Enjoyment of Music. 7th Edition. New York:
W.W Norton & Company, Inc., 1995.
Stolba, Marie. Music in the Public Schools. Wisconsin; WCB
Brown and Benchmark Publishers, 1994.

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