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Listening for Contrasts in Genre

Aim: What musical ingredients give a piece a unique sound?
Summary: Students create arrangements of a melody and listen to recordings contrasting in style and genre.
Standards: US 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8; NYC 1, 2, 3
Grade: 4th
Concept: Tempo, Dynamics, Articulation
Artistic Process: performing, responding, creating
Materials: recordings of different styles and genres, classroom instruments (if available)
Time Required: 20 minutes


  1. As a class, explore how ingredients give recipes their unique qualities.
    What ingredients would you need for a chocolate sundae? What is a different kind of sundae you could make? What different ingredients would you need?
  2. Make connections between ingredients used in a recipe and in music.
    • Musicians also use different ingredients to give their music a unique sound. These include expressive qualities like tempo, dynamics, articulation, and instrumentation.
    • What are some different musical ingredients that musicians might use?
  3. Review familiar expressive qualities with students.
  4. Have students choose a combination of expressive qualities from the Student Worksheet and apply them to a familiar song.
    Download Student Worksheet (PDF)
  5. Have students perform their arrangements for the class. Reflect.

Going Deeper

  1. Using classroom instruments, found objects, or body percussion, have students explore instrumentation with the arrangements they created in the activity above.
  2. Listen to different versions of the same piece in contrasting genres.
    • How would you compare these two versions?
    • What is the same about them? What makes them different?
    • How did the musical ingredients change?

Additional listening links

Please note that the resources below link to proprietary content.
"Little Fugue," performed by The Swingle Singers
"Little Fugue," performed by the American Youth Harp Ensemble


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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