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Feeling the Tempo: Presto and Largo

Aim: How can we identify the tempo of music through movement?
Summary: Students demonstrate the expressive quality of tempo through movement.
Standards: US 1, 2, 5, 6; NYC 1, 2, 3
Modality: performing, responding
Materials: Audio Tracks, Teacher Worksheets
Time Required: 15 minutes


  1. Review the definitions of presto (very fast) and largo (very slow).
  2. Hold up sign for presto and repeat the word very quickly (e.g., “pres-to, pres-to, pres-to”) with the students.
    Download Teacher Worksheet
  3. Hold up a sign for largo and repeat the word very slowly (e.g. “laaahr–gooohhh, laaahhr-gooohh”) with students.
    Download Teacher Worksheet
  4. Have students create one or two expressive movements to demonstrate presto and largo. Guide them in performing and changing their movements as they listen to short musical excerpts.
  5. Discuss how these two tempos feel different.
    • How did you move to the presto tempo?
    • How does the presto tempo make you feel?
    • How did you move to the largo tempo?
    • How does the largo tempo make you feel?

Going Deeper

  1. Ask students to share any songs they know, or that you have sung together, which have a presto or largo tempo.
  2. Choose a song with a moderate tempo that the students know well and try performing it at an exaggeratedly fast presto an exaggeratedly slow largo.
    • How did singing at a presto tempo make the song feel different from how we usually sing?
    • How did singing at a largo tempo make the song feel different?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

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