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Plan: World Beat: Explore the common functions of music around the world.

Subject: Music, language Arts, Technology, Visual Arts, Dance

Grade level: 4-8

Estimated Time of Completion: four to five fifty minute class periods

I. Summary

Students will learn that throughout our culturally diverse world, we share commonalities of music function and the use of the elements of music to reflect an emotion. Students will use the online activity "World Beat" as a vehicle to gain fluency in the world language of music. The lesson will culminate with the composition of a lullaby with parameters defined by student discovery.

II. Objectives

  • Students will improve their perceptive skills through Sound Lounge activities, and subsequent discussion.
  • Students will listen to, analyze, and describe music.
  • Students will evaluate music and music performance.
  • Students will practice improvisational skills while composing a melody.
  • Through vocal exploration, students will find their comfortable vocal range as they discover the compositional process.
  • Students will understand relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.

III. Materials Needed

  • Piano, Orff instruments, or other accessible keyboard instruments.
  • Recording device - (could be any of the following: tape deck, writable CD player, Digital Disk Recorder, Keyboard sequencer).
  • Staff paper and pencil
  • Computers with Internet access will be helpful in further study for website search.

IV. Procedure


  1. Introduce the lesson by leading a discussion focusing on the various musical, emotional, and social issues in the Lullabies heard in the World Beat Sound Lounge. Questions could include:
    • What is common in the elements of music in each of these examples?
    • What lullaby uses the pentatonic (5 note) scale?
    • What lullaby has a glissando (sliding quality) to the voice?
    • Which lullaby only uses four notes in its melody?
    • What different vocal styles are observed?
    1. Which two lullabies use the male voice?
    2. What two voices sound the most similar in timbre (tone quality)?
    3. Which lullaby has lyrics that do not deal with sleep?
    4. Why do we find lullabies used through out the world?
    • Which lullaby would you like to hear to put you to sleep? Why do you prefer that selection?


  1. Students will compose a lullaby, defining its parameters by answering the following questions relating to the seven lullabies on the World Beat Sound Lounge:
    • Will a baby fall asleep easier to a melody that is loud or soft?
    • Fast or slow?
    • Uses many skips or steps in the melody?
    • Has a complex or simple rhythm?
    • Is at the extremes of or in the middle of the vocalist range?
  1. At a keyboard instrument, students will find a pentachord (five note scale) where their voice is most comfortable. Play with the five notes until a melody rises to the surface.
  2. Students will record this melody throughout the many revisions of the creative process. Listening to each revision after a break will give a fresh ear to the composition and place the composer in the seat of the listener.
  3. Create lyrics for your lullaby that include the your favorite color and season, the word dream, and a baby toy. For each of these lyrics, incorporate an accompanying rhythm.
  4. Students will sing their lullaby to a baby and see if it is successful in calming the child. They should try teaching the melody to a friend and sing it in unison to a baby to see if this has a different result.
  5. Using staff paper or a computer notation program, students will transcribe their composition defining meter, tempo, note values, dynamic markings, and placement of lyrics.
  6. Freedom songs

  7. Continue the lesson by leading a discussion focusing on the emotional, and social issues in the Freedom Songs heard in the World Beat Sound Lounge. Questions could include:
    • Would singing a freedom song be viewed as a violent or non-violent form of protest?
    • Why do you think some people in South Africa were jailed for singing freedom songs before the end of Apartheid?
    • Name current issues in this country that might inspire protest songs?
    • Why do people sing freedom songs?
    • What does singing do for their condition, soul, spirit, or political position when freedom is not a reality?
    • How might the singer’s oppressors respond to the singing?

Wedding Songs

  1. Continue the lesson by leading a discussion focusing on the emotional, and social issues in the Wedding Songs heard in the World Beat Sound Lounge. Questions could include:
    • Name the instruments used in each of the wedding songs found at the Sound Lounge.
    • How do wedding songs affect and reflect the interpersonal and social settings of a wedding.
    • Describe how a wedding event differs with and without music.
    • What are the pros and cons to each experience?
    • Pick one of the four wedding songs and tell why this would be your first choice to have performed at your wedding? How do the elements of music (outlined in the Composer’s Brain Sound Lounge) affect your decision?

V. Classroom Assessment

  • Students should have completed all assignments, and actively participated in all discussions.
  • Students should be able to identify universal rules that seem to apply to the creation of a lullaby.
  • Students should be able to identify the function, social dynamic, and universality of the lullaby, freedom song, and wedding song in our global village.

VI. Extensions and Adaptations

  • With a partner, designate a lead dancer, with the partner mirroring the dance gesture that is created. The lead dancer will pick their favorite lullaby to improvise a dance to. The mirroring partner then attempts to follow the dance with the same motion as the partner is creating.
  • Students could draw an artistic rendering that depicts their composition as a cover to potential printed music.
  • Using PVC pipe, students could create a five hole, pentatonic flute that could be used to play their lullaby.
  • Students could harmonize their melody using a basic I, IV, V chord progression, and create a recording with this accompaniment.

VII. Relevant National Standards


  • Content Standard #1: Demonstrates competence in singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music
  • Content Standard #2: Demonstrates competence in performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music
  • Content Standard #3: Demonstrates competence in improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments
  • Content Standard #4: Demonstrates competence in composing and arranging music within specified guidelines
  • Content Standard #5: Demonstrates competence in reading and notating music
  • Content Standard #6: Demonstrates competence in listening to, analyzing, and describing music
  • Content Standard #7: Demonstrates competence in evaluating music and music performances
  • Content Standard #8: Demonstrates competence in understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts
  • Content Standard #9: Demonstrates competence in understanding music in relation to history and culture

Language Arts

  • Demonstrates competence in speaking and listening as tools for learning


  • Knows the characteristics and uses of computer software programs including the Internet

Information about the author

Brett Smith’s sixteen years of teaching classroom, vocal, and instrumental music, have been broad and varied including each grade level of K-12 students as well as College instruction. Teaching assignments have included suburban and rural settings, with his present duties focusing on elementary classroom music in Mahtomedi, Minnesota. Brett received his B.A. from Gustavus Adolphus College and his M.A. in Music Education from the University of Minnesota.

In October of ’99, Brett was named the Minnesota Teacher of the Year, and went on to become one of the four finalists for the 2000 National Teacher of the Year. He is the President-elect of the Minnesota Music Educators Association, and on the American Composers Forum Advisory Committee for the development of the New Band Horizons Project, (pursuing collaborations with great composers to write music for second year band). He is a past Board Representative of the Minnesota Band Directors Association, past Board vice-president of the Mahtomedi Area Education Foundation, and the Treasurer and Negotiator for his local Education Association. While at Mahtomedi, he has developed, implemented and marketed the Master Musician Program: nine sequential interdisciplinary units incorporating music theory, music history, and the study of other cultures into the performance classroom. He performs on drum-set with the Century College Jazz

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