Aim: How can we explore changing dynamics and tempo through creative composition?
Summary: Students create a class composition of a thunderstorm by exploring expressive qualities of crescendo/decrescendo and accelerando/ritardando.
Standards: US 2, 3, 4, 6, 8; NYC 1, 2, 3
Modality: performing, responding, creating
Materials: non-pitched percussion (optional), whiteboard or chart paper
Time Required: 15 minutes
- Brainstorm with students what happens during a rainstorm.
- How does a rainstorm begin? What sounds do you hear? How does it change throughout? How does it end?
- Use parallel musical terms when applicable for review (e.g., soft is piano, short separated sounds are staccato).
- Explain that today we will be creating our own one-minute thunderstorm in the classroom using our bodies. Have students sit and tap on their knees, non-pitched percussion, or found objects for the rain. Direct them to begin slowly and quietly.
- Conduct students to accelerando (speed up) and crescendo (get louder) towards the middle of the storm and ask a few to add stomps of thunder and lighting.
- Conduct students to ritardando (slow down) and decrescendo (get softer) with their lap-tapping rain until the last raindrops die out.
- Reflect with students on how their rainstorm progressed.
- How did the volume or dynamics change? How did the speed or tempo change?
- Introduce the terms crescendo and decrescendo for the changes in dynamics and accelerando and ritardando for the change in tempo.
- How did the thunder and lightning sounds stand out from the rain? Introduce the term accent for the isolated stomps of thunder.
- Repeat steps 2 through 4, still conducting and calling out the new terminology in your prompts for students to experience again.
- Optional: Have a student direct the rainstorm using the new terminology.
Notate your rainstorm on the board using both informal drawings and traditional musical symbols (cresc., decresc., accel., rit., <) to show the development of the storm.