• Grade 1: Expressive Qualities (Dynamics, Tempo, Articulation)

  • Exploring Expressive Qualities in Music

    Aim: How can we identify the expressive qualities of music?
    Summary: Students explore expressive qualities in music through listening, singing, and moving.
    Standards: US 2, 6; NYC 1, 2, 3
    Modality: performing, responding
    Materials: audio excerpts, Student Worksheet
    Time Required: 15 minutes
    This activity is part of: Music Educators Toolbox

    MET flag
  • Instructions   |   Going Deeper   |  Video   |   Assessment
  • MET K Instructions Expressive Qualities
    1. Discuss expressive qualities in music with students: dynamics (forte and piano), tempo (presto and largo), and articulation (legato and staccato).
      • Where can our voices be forte (e.g., playground, sporting event)? In which places should our voice be piano (e.g., library, classroom)?
      • What animals move
      presto (e.g., rabbit, cheetah)? What are some animals that move largo (e.g., tortoise, snail)?
      • What are things that make a
      legato sound (e.g., the wind, a siren)? What are some things that make staccato sounds? (e.g., ticking clock, stapler)?
    2. Have students create movements to demonstrate each quality. (e.g., stomp on the floor for forte, tip toe for piano)
    3. Guide students in making their expressive movements while listening for dynamics (forte and piano), tempo (presto and largo), and articulation (legato and staccato) in short excerpts from exemplary works.

      Suggested listening for dynamics

      Suggested listening for tempo

      Suggested listening for articulation
    4. Have students listen to the excerpts again and identify the expressive qualities as represented in pictures on the Student Worksheet.
      MET G1 FW Musical Expression
      Download Student Worksheet:
      Musical Expression
  • MET K Going Deeper Expressive Qualities
    1. Sing a known song, such as “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” several times, each time singing with a different expressive quality or combination of qualities (e.g., staccato and presto, piano and legato).
      MET G1 TW Itsy Bitsy Spider
      Download Student Worksheet:
      "The Itsy Bitsy Spider"
    2. Make variations with different moods and feelings.
      • If we wanted “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” to sound tired, what expressive qualities would we need?
      • What if the itsy bitsy spider were really happy? How would we sing the song now?
  • MET K Video Expressive Qualities

  • Exploring Expressive Qualities

    Summative Assessment Exemplar: Expressive Qualities