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K-5: Experience ABA Form

by Lisa Qualls, Learn NC

This lesson will help students understand ABA Form. Through listening activities, they will be able to distinguish the “A” section from the “B” section and the return of the “A” section. Other activities will also be used for illustration.

A lesson plan for Grades 1–5 Music Education

Students will:

  • understand the concept of ABA form.
  • distinguish the “A” sections from the “B” sections in selected listening examples.
  • describe the differences in the “A” sections and the “B” sections using musical terms.

Time required for lesson: 55.00 minutes


  • CD or tape player
  • Recording of “Eine Kleine Nacht Musik,” by Mozart
  • Recording of “Little David Play on Your Harp”
  • chalkboard and chalk (or markerboard and markers)
  • groups of objects to demonstrate the concept of “same, different, same” (e.g. blocks)
  • paper, pencils, colored pencils


Students will need to be familiar with basic dynamic terms and terms of musical expression.

Students also need to be able to recognize different musical instruments by their sounds.


1. Begin by introducing the concept of same, different, same:

  • Prepare several visual displays that illustrate this concept. For example, arrange three stacks of books in front of the room. Stacks one and three should be identical. The middle stack should be a group of books of varous sizes, colors, and shapes.
  • Have the students tell you what they see.
  • Lead them in a discussion about the differences and similarities of the stacks of books.
  • Label the stacks “A”,“B”,“A”. For this activity, you may use basically any group of objects that illustrate this concept. Groups of students can be used as well.

2. Following this activity, give students a brief explanation and description of ABA Form in music.

3. Draw a chart on the board that has three columns labeled “A”,“B”,“A”. Write the title of the music, “Eine Kleine Nacht Musik” at the top of the chart. Have the students copy the chart on paper of their own.

4. Play this musical selection for the students twice, helping them distinguish the “A” sections from the “B” sections as they listen. Play the selection a third time and have the students write down on their charts what they hear in each section. Encourage students to use musical terms to describe what they hear in each section. They may also use non-musical terms or create icons to represent what they hear. When the students have finished this activity, discuss the differences they heard between the “A” and the “B” sections and the return of the “A” section.


  • Play the recording, “Little David Play on Your Harp” twice. Play this selection a third time and have the students raise theirhands when they hear the “B” section begin and the “A” section return.
  • Have students complete a chart for this selection as they did in the previous activity. Charts could be evaluated by teacher or peer partners.

Related websites

Suggestions and Ideas for Teaching Music


You may use any selection in ABA form to teach this lesson. This lesson could be modified to teach AB, AABA, Call and Response, Theme and Variations, and Introduction/Coda forms.

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