Aim: What is the shape of a melody? How does a melody move between high and low?
Summary: Students sing and identify melodic contours.
Standards: US 1, 2; NYC 1, 6
Modality: performing, responding, creating
Materials: audio excerpts, student worksheet (Moving Melodies)
Time Required: 20 minutes
This activity is part of: Music Educators Toolbox


  1. Practice singing high and low pitches through call and response and familiar classroom repertoire; practice tracing the shapes of the melodies with your finger in the air.
  2. Sing or play different musical excerpts with a variety of highs, lows, and melodic directions. Have students trace the melody in the air as they listen or sing along.
    Suggested listening selections:
    • Download Audio: STRAUSS The Blue Danube
    • Download Audio: MOZART Theme and Variations on "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"
    Download Teacher Worksheet: Moving Melodies
    Audio download help
  3. Look at the melodic shapes on the student worksheet. Have students trace each melodic line with their finger and sing the changes in high and low pitches.
    How does this line move between high and low?
    Can you sing what this shape might sound like?
    Download Student Worksheet: Moving Melodies


Creative Commons License
Music Educators Toolbox by Carnegie Hall is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The Blue Danube” by Johann Strauss II. Available from Musopen. Sound files on the Musopen repository are licensed as Public Domain.

“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” Variations (12 Variations on “Ah, vous dirai-je maman”), K.265/300e, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Performed by Stefano Ligoratti. Published by Stefano Ligoratti and available from IMSLP. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.