Submitted by Lee F. Zimmerman, Wake County Public Schools

Lesson Title:
Original Band Compositions

Grade Level or Course:
4th and 5th Grade Beginning Band

Time Allotment:
1 (40 minute) class period to present and model composition process Individual student work at home (1-2 hours)
1 (40 minute) class period for performance and evaluation

Targeted Goals and Objectives from the 2000 North Carolina Arts Education Standard Course
of Study and Grade Level Competencies, K-12:

4th Grade Music (can be adapted for 5th Grade):

  • 2.01-Play with pitch accuracy
  • 2.02-Play with rhythmic accuracy
  • 2.03-Play with appropriate technique and posture.
  • 2.04-Play expressively using appropriate dynamics, phrasing, and interpretation.
  • 2.08-Show respect for the playing efforts of others.
  • 4.02-Compose short music compositions for voices or instruments using pentatonic and major diatonic scales and varied rhythmic values.
  • 4.04-Use a variety of sound, notational, and technological sources to compose and arrange music
  • 4.05-Show respect for the composing and arranging efforts of others.
  • 5.01-Read whole, half, dotted half, quarter, eighth note and rest durations in 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4 meters.
  • 5.02-Read pitch notation in the treble clef.
  • 5.04-Use standard notation symbols to notate meter, rhythm, pitch, and dynamics in simple musical patterns.
  • 5.05-Show respect for the reading and notating efforts of others.
  • 7.03-Show respect for the musical efforts and opinions of others.

Targeted Goals and Objectives from the North Carolina Standard Course of Study and Grade
Level Competencies, K-12
for other content areas:

Mathematics, Fourth Grade-Find the fractional part of a whole number using models and pictures.

Lesson Objective(s):

As a part of their study of their band instrument, students will create original melodic compositions within specific guidelines and perform their compositions for the class. Compositions will be notated using traditional methods. The compositions will be performed for the class and evaluated by the teacher. Students will have a checklist of requirements to include in their compositions which they will check off before performing and submitting their composition for grading by the teacher.

Materials/Equipment Needed:

Individual students? instruments, music manuscript paper, checklist of requirements for students to follow and check their work.


Lesson Procedure: Lesson 1 (40 minutes)

  1. Inform students that they will compose a short composition for their instrument and perform it for the class. Remind students that it will be a brand new piece, totally unique, and not music they have heard or seen elsewhere. They will have a set of requirements for their compositions and will incorporate what they have learned about improvisation and reading and playing skills, with their own original ideas to create a short musical composition.
  2. Head out the composition requirement and checklist sheet to each student. Explain the requirements to the students, reviewing such items as time signatures, key signatures, note values, dynamics and tonality. (Optional: remind students about previous composition assignments they have had where they had to complete one or two measures of a song).
  3. Model the process for composition. Put a blank staff on the board and ask for suggestions from the class. Have students evaluate the suggestions especially with respect to proper number of beats in the measure, tonality, expression. As they add to the composition, refer back to the checklist and play the completed measures on the piano or a band instrument. Ask for evaluations from the students. When the piece is done, play the composition (or have a student play it) and have students go down the checklist to see if it meets the requirements.
  4. Tell students that they will now take their manuscript paper, requirements and checklist home and write their own composition. Give them the date that it will be due and the consequences if it is late. Tell them they will be graded on a 1-4 scale on each item on the checklist and then the scores will be averaged for their final grade.

Individual Student Work at Home: 1-2 hours

Lesson 2 (40 minutes)

  1. Have each individual perform his composition for the class on his instrument.
  2. Use criteria from checklist for discussion about the compositions. Class members may constructively criticize and praise the performance of the compositions.
  3. Students will give their composition and completed checklist to the teacher for assessment.


Teacher will assess each student?s composition by assigning a number value from 1-4 for each item on the checklist of requirements (see checklist at the end of this item) and averaging the scores to reach the final grade for the composition

Special Considerations:

This lesson should be completed after the students have had at least one semester?s experience playing on their instrument. They should be able to play at least six notes and? be proficient with reading and playing notation in their proper clef. It is very helpful if the students have some experience with ?mini compositions? such as found in the Standard of Excellence band book, so that this assignment will not be too overwhelming.

If the technology is available and students have had experience with notation software, students could print out their compositions on the computer for a more polished product.




You are going to become a composer!? In this assignment, you will compose a brand new piece of music for your instrument and perform it for the class!? Below you will find a checklist of requirements for your new composition. As you write your composition, be sure to follow the guidelines and then when your composition is done, put a check mark in the blank next to each completed item. Good luck and have fun!

Composition Requirements Student Checklist Teacher Checklist

1. Your composition should be a brand new piece that you have written.______________

2. You must put your clef at the beginning of? the staff that you use. ______________

3. You must put a time signature after the clef sign. Use either 3/4 or 4/4 time.______________

4. You must have at least 8 measures in?your composition. You may add more than that, but not less.______________

5. You must have at least one dynamic mark in your composition. ______________

6. You must have the correct number of beats in each measure (3 in 3/4 and 4 in 4/4).______________

7. You must end your composition on the tonic pitch . Be sure to notate your key signature, if you have one.______________

8. You must give your composition a title.______________

9. You must play your composition for the class.______________



 Composition Grade:_______


<< Back | Table of Contents | Next >>