877-542-5504 877-542-5504

Introduction to Music Lesson Plan

Want to Help Fellow Teachers?

Please help us grow this free resource by submitting your favorite lesson plans.

Lesson Plan #:AELP-MUS001
Submitted by: Laura Conaway
Email: lrconaway@aol.com
School/University/Affiliation: Geddes Elementary School, Baldwin Park, CA Date: August 8, 2000

Grade Level(s): 1, 2, 3


  • Arts/Music

Duration: 30 minutes

Description:  This lesson is an introduction to reading music, introducing quarter and half notes and their values.  It can can be a self-contained minilesson, or the beginning of a unit about Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf.

Goals: Students will recognize and gain an appreciation of musical note patterns through reading and mimicking of two types of patterns.

Objective(s):  The students will recognize and count quarter and half notes in simple one-two-three-four patterns.

Materials: Vocabulary:   Quarter Note, Half Note, Vocabulary will be integrated into input, modeling, and guided practice.

  •     Large pre-made quarter and half notes, drawn on posterboard and cut out
  •     OR the notes can simply be hand-drawn on the chalkboard/ whiteboard/

  •     overhead


Anticipatory Set (optional):     The instructor stands before the students and slowly begins slapping thigh once, clapping hand once, and snapping fingers twice.  With non verbal
cues, students are encouraged to imitate.  When all students are mimicking the pattern, the instructor begins to count:  one-two-three-four, one-two-three-four, etc., mouthing the words.  Students mimic; instructor begins to audibly count, students mimic. Finally, the instructor begins singing a simple song: Mary Had a Little Lamb to the rhythm of the slap-clap-snap pattern.

Transition: When the song is done, the instructor asks: Did you know that there is math in music?  Did you see how the song went with our clapping pattern?  Today we are going to learn about two different kinds of music notes and how we can ‘read’ them in a pattern.
Input and Modeling:

(All dialogue is simply suggested–this is not meant to be a script!).

In math, numbers tell us how to count.  Well, in music, notes tell us how to clap.  The instructor then affixes a large quarter note to the white board (taped).  Does anyone know what this is?  This is a music note.  And this (teacher affixes a half note to the board) is also a music note.  They are different music notes.  (check for understanding)  What are they called?  I can’t hear you!  What are they called?  Music what?  What notes?  Children are encouraged to respond with enthusiasm. Now, these are both notes, so they are alike in some ways.  How are they alike?  Yes, they both have a long stem.  Now, how are they different?  One is colored in, isn’t it?  The one that’s colored in is called a quarter note.  Teacher holds up a quarter note (check for understanding).  What is the name of this note?  What note?.  This one that isn’t colored in is a half note.  What is it?  Children are encouraged to respond enthusiastically.  (Check for understanding).  The instructor alternately holds up the half and quarter notes, encouraging students to call out whether a half or quarter note is being held up.

Individual students are called on to answer and explain how they knew what kind of note it was. Now, these two different notes are clapped in two different ways.  Let’s start with the quarter note.  Instructor holds up a placard with four quarter notes (or draws four quarter notes on the chalkboard/whiteboard/etc). Quarter notes are clapped like this:  Instructor claps four times slowly, but without pause. (check for understanding)  How many times did I clap? How many notes are there?  Yes, four.  Call on individual students to clap the four quarter notes.  Now, what if I covered up two quarter notes?  How many times would we clap now?  Yes, twice..  The teacher praises the students’ performance then introduces the half note and its clapping pattern.    The instructor covers/erases the quarter notes with a placard of four half notes/or draws four half notes.  The instructor then leads students in reading the pattern, clapping hands closed and bouncing hand forward (for a count of two) for each note.  Repeat at least once. How was that different?  Yes, we bounced our hands, didn’t we?  How many times did we clap?  Yes, four.  And how many notes are there?  Four-but it is a different clap, isn’t it?  Call on individual students to clap half notes.

(Check for understanding) Do we bounce our hands two times?  No!  How many times do we bounce?.  This is done at a pace contingent on the students’ comprehension.  When it is apparent that the students have figured out the note values/clapping pattern, the teacher shifts to guided practice.  Transition: Wow, you are fast with this!  Now I’m going to mix up some of these notes in the patterns.  Let’s see you clap them out!

Guided Practice I:

The instructor puts up a placard mixing half and quarter notes/draws a mixture of half and quarter notes in simple patterns.  The first is a simple two quarter note, two half note pattern, the second a reversal of the first, the third altering half-quarter-half-quarter, the fourth a reversal of the third, the fifth and following placards mixing notes in both the middle and end of the pattern (such as quarter-half-half-quarter, half-quarter-quarter-quarter, etc.). Instructor guides students through each pattern, reviewing note values  as needed.  Individual students are then encouraged to clap out the patterns on their own, and/or in small groups of three or so.

Transition:   Now watch carefully!  I’m going to clap these patterns.  Some I will clap the right way, but some will be wrong.  Can you tell me when I’m wrong?

Guided Practice II:

Instructor begins clapping various placard/drawn patterns; after each pattern, teacher turns to students and says, Was that right?  Thumbs up if it was right, thumbs down if it was wrong.  Students are then encouraged to correct the teacher.  Finally, students clap out given rhythms by themselves without the instructor’s lead.  Individual volunteers are also called up to demonstrate.

Assessment: Assessment is ongoing during the guided practice.  Students are observed in their accuracy in clapping notes; the instructor offers more modeling if necessary.