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K-2: Musical mountain

by Margaret Harris, Learn NC

Students will learn to hear the differences between low, middle, and high pitches. They will be able to visualize these differences by looking at the low, middle, and high points of a mountain.

A lesson plan for Grades 1–2 Music Education

Students will:

  • be introduced to the concept of pitch and pitch notation.
  • hear and understand the differences in low, middle, and high pitches.
  • relate written symbols to low, middle, and high pitches.

Time required for lesson: 30 minutes

Materials/resources

Sketch a mountain on a chalkboard or on a white board. The mountain should have little stick figured men drawn on the bottom, middle, and the top of the mountain. Write the words “low”, “middle”, “high”, and “pitch” to the side of the mountain.

1 set of bells or small xylophone

Pre-activities

Play little echo games with the class in which you clap or sing various rhythms and pitches as they echo you.

Activities

1. Sing the pitches of do, me, and so. You do not have to use the words of “do”, “me”, and “so”. In fact I recommend singing those pitches using the word “la”. Have the class echo you.

2. Sing various low and high pitches on “la”. Then go back and add some middle pitches. Each time have the class echo you.

3. Using a set of small bells or xylophone, repeat steps 1 and 2 and sing along with the pitches. Again, have the class echo you. Do this several times using different pitches but always making sure there is a big difference between the low pitches and the high pitches.

4. Ask the students to describe what they just did and what they heard. Ask them what were the differences between the sounds.

5. Go to the chalkboard with the mountain on it. Point to one of the men on the side of the mountain and ask them if the man is low, middle, or high on the mountain. Do this a couple of times pointing to different places.

6. Tell the students that music or sound is a lot like the sides of a mountain. You have low sounds or pitches in music just like you have low spots on the mountain. This would be a good place to refer to the words that are written on the board.

7. Ask the class what sound would best fit the low place on the mountain. It should be a low pitch. Do the same thing for high place on the mountain and the middle place on the mountain. As you are doing this, make sure you are pointing to the corresponding men on the mountain picture.

8. Do step 7 several times. You might even want to make very slight changes of where the men are standing.

9. Erase the men or adjust their body shape to look like music notes and repeat steps 7 and 8.

Assessment

A lot of your assessment will be simple observation. There are some things you can do which will assess whether the students understand the concept.

  • Allow certain students to come up to the board and either draw their own men or musical notes or point to the different men and let the class sing the pitches.
  • Play various notes on the bells and let the students tell you whether the notes are low, middle, or high.
  • Play various notes on the bells and let different students draw on the mountain where the notes should be.
  • Erase the mountain and draw notes at various heights on the board. Point to each of the notes and have the class sing a pitch that corresponds to that note.

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