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Comparing Different Versions of a Known Song

Aim: How do expressive elements allow for different interpretations of a song?
Summary: Students create different versions of a known song and listen to contrasting recordings for musical differences and similarities.
Standards: US 1, 3, 6, 7, 9; NYC 1, 2, 3, 4
Grade: 2nd
Concept: Tempo, Dynamics, Articulation, Singing
Artistic Process: performing, responding, creating
Materials: multiple recordings of a known song in different styles
Time Required: 20 minutes


  1. Demonstrate expressive qualities and contrasting emotions in music by teaching a line or two from the chorus of the known song. Model singing the melody in different ways (e.g., excited, sweet, angry, etc.) by changing the dynamics, tempo, articulation, or timbre of your voice (e.g., scratchy, smooth, nasal, breathy).
    • Listen as I sing this song and pay attention to how I use and change my voice.
    • What feeling do you think I was portraying? Why do you think that?
    • What did you notice about the tempo/dynamics/articulation that made you think of that feeling?
  2. In small groups, have students sing the melody with a particular feeling in mind. Experiment with contrasting performances by encouraging students to try different vocal techniques and change the rhythm, tempo, dynamics, articulation, etc. Share and reflect with a focus on comparing and contrasting.

Going Deeper

  1. Listen to multiple versions of a known song.
    Many different musicians have performed this piece using a variety of different effects to make us feel different emotions.
  2. After each listening, use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the recordings.
    • How did each performance make you feel? How do you know?
    • What musical elements did you hear (tempo, dynamics, articulation, timbre)?
    • What were the similarities and differences between the two versions?

Listening Suggestion: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Harold Arlen.
Performed by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
Performed by Eva Cassidy

Additional listening link: Please note that the resource below links to proprietary content.
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" performed by Judy Garland


Grade 3 Activity Exemplar: Expressive Qualities (Dynamics, Tempo, Articulation)

This video is an exemplar of an activity from Carnegie Hall’s Music Educators Toolbox entitled “Comparing Different Versions of a Known Song.” Students create and listen to known songs for musical differences and similarities.


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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