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Lesson Plan #: AELP-MUS0213
Submitted by: David Demnitz
Email: ddemnitz@workingfamilies.com
School/University/Affiliation: Greenburgh Eleven UFSD, Dobbs Ferry, NY
Date: September 10, 2003

Grade Level: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10


  • Arts/Music

Duration: 45 minutes

Description: An arrangement of Funk music playable by beginning instrumentalists.

National Standards of Music Education published by the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) :

  • 2. Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
  • 9. Understanding music in relation to history and culture.

New York State Standards for the Arts :

  • Standard 1: Creating, Performing, and Participating in the Arts (Perform music written by others. They will understand and use the basic elements of music in their performances and compositions. Students will engage in individual and group musical and music-related tasks).
  • Standard 2: Knowing and Using Arts Materials and Resources (Students will use traditional instruments, electronic instruments, and a variety of nontraditional sound sources to create and perform music. They will use various resources to expand their knowledge of listening experiences, performance opportunities, and/or information about music.)
  • Standard 4: Understanding the Cultural Contributions of the Arts (Develop a performing and listening repertoire of music of various genres, styles, and cultures that represent the peoples of the world and their manifestations in the United States. Students will recognize the cultural features of a variety of musical compositions and performances and understand the functions of music within the culture.)

Objective: Students will perform an example of Funk music on musical instruments. Materials: All your musical instruments. The bass part should be played on electronic keyboards for that funky sound, unless you have a bass player who is willing to learn to play Funk style bass. If the bass pattern is played on piano, no pedal please. For all electronic voices, choose dry (no reverb or echo), sharp sounds with lots of attack and swift decay.

  • Musical Score
  • Musical Score in .pdf format; requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

    Click the icon to obtain the free Reader. Vocabulary:

  • Funk – A musical tendency toward earthy ingredients associated with popular forms of African American musics.
  • Hard Bop – A style of Jazz which reintroduced elements from Gospel Music and Blues to Jazz.
  • Chromatic Scale – All the notes on the piano, black and white, in order.
  • Procedure:
    Ask students what they mean when they say ‘funk’, and ‘funky.. Play a recorded example of the style (a James Brown recording will do nicely), and ask them if they’ve ever heard music like this before, and if so, where. Ask them what they think this music is used for and how it makes them feel. Review keyboard organization, and octaves. Ask students to identify C, E, G, and B flat by looking at the black notes on the keyboard. Review chromatic scale-all the notes, white and black in order. Review bass, bass pattern. Teach them the first measure of the bass pattern (see attached pdf score). Everybody should play this together, since the melody is in there, too. Split the first quarter note into two eighth notes and play the two bar phrase (see attached score). Do this until its in time and funky. Add the notes in the second measure one at a time to the notes they know. Point out that the notes from E make a chromatic scale from E to G. Don’t play these measures repeatedly yet; play measures 1 and 2, stopping before you try it again.

    When you think the class is ready, have them play the bass part, eight measures without stopping. Show them the bass part to the swing section (see attached score), pointing out that chromatic scale back down to the note they started on (C) after jumping up to G. Rehearse this pattern as you did the other one; first by stopping after each measure, then, when ready, playing the measures in eight measure sections.

    Assign instruments. If someone can play the drums, use them, or use a drum beat from an electronic keyboard to keep the class together. Melody players should find the notes they need to play the parallel intervals which make up the first section of melody; wait until they can play this before going on to the swing section. Rehearse counting quarter notes out loud from the beginning of the measure, but not playing until the second beat. Point out that the melody notes appear similar because the F looks like a C in its relationship to the black notes, and the notes move down together to the black note below them. Allow the melody players to practice playing the notes until they’re ready to play them as the bass players and rhythm players play in time.

    Examine the melody in the swing section. This section is a snap since the notes don’t change, and the melody is two of the notes from the first melodic section. Students should be able to play this melody in time from the outset. Put the sections together. The ‘cadences’ are my favorite trick: notes simply left out. And the cadences signal the change in sections. The melody players should listen for the subtractions at the end of the sections, and just not play when they hear notes missing. Improvisors can solo if they use notes from the melody: C, E flat, F, and B flat. They can experiment to find other notes that work and add them in too. G works well as a scalar tone. You can give them a scale to play, or they can search around for a scale which will work. Play the song through, have students take turns improvising, and, when each improvisor is finished, play the song though to set up the next improvisation. Or, play just the first eight measures, and use the swing section as an interlude to set up the next soloist. Jam on!

    Assessment: Teacher observation of students’ participation and involvement in playing.

    Useful Internet Resources:
    * National Standards for Music Education – MENC

    * New York State Standards for the Arts