Submitted by Trudy Elliott Wake County Public Schools

Lesson Title:
Original Rhythm Compositions for Poetry

Grade Level or Course:
Second Grade Music

Time Allotment:
1 (45 minute) lesson for the composition process 1 (45 minute) lesson for performances and evaluation

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

  • 2.02-Play with rhythmic accuracy.
  • 2.03-Play with appropriate posture and increased technical accuracy.
  • 2.04-Play expressively with appropriate dynamics.
  • 2.05-Play instrumental parts while others sing and/or play rhythmic, melodic, or harmonic parts.
  • 2.08-Show respect for the instrumental playing efforts of others.
  • 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.
  • 7.01-Devise criteria for evaluating performances and compositions of self and others.

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

Reading, poetry

Lesson Objective(s):

Goal 2: The learner will play on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music. As part of this study, students (placed in small groups) will read a poem and create original sound compositions within specified guidelines and perform their compositions for the class. Students will use a rubric for self/group evaluation. A separate rubric for the composition and the performance of the composition will be used.

Students will notate using traditional methods on paper and using technological notation if possible/available. The compositions will be performed for the class and finished compositions along with completed rubrics may be placed in each student?s portfolio as a sample of his/her work.

Materials/Equipment Needed:

Music manuscript paper, pencils, selected pitched and unpitched rhythm instruments, poem (or poems), (possibly notational program and printer), rubric for self/group evaluation (developed in class with teacher guidance); composition rubric (teacher-created) for all students.


Lesson Procedure: Lesson 1 (40 minutes)

  1. Inform the students that they will have the opportunity to read a poem, and create their own original rhythmic notation on pitched and unpitched rhythm instruments. They will be using previous learned reading and playing skills with their original ideas to create rhythmic sounds for the poem(s). The students will be given a copy of the rubric(s) that will be used for assessment of their compositions. Then, students will know the expectations from the beginning of this lesson.
  2. The teacher will model the process for the composition. The teacher may use a different poem and guide students to offer input to create a whole group rhythmic composition. The idea can then be notated on the chalkboard or overhead (possibly computer) for the class to see the composing process. The teacher should discuss dynamics, phrasing, syllables of words, patterns, etc. as part of this process. The teacher should refer to criteria used on the rubric as the composition evolves. Students should participate in this idea sharing and play the composition as it develops. Students should feel free to make suggestions and revisions as appropriate. The teacher and students should use the rubric criteria to evaluate this composition.
  3. Divide the students into small groups (4-5 per group) to begin creating their rhythm compositions. The students will need to work on this for the remainder of the class period (brainstorm, create, and notate their ideas for the composition). For the next lesson, students will have time to practice their composition once before the performances. If notation software is used, students will be allowed to take turns to record and publish compositions.

Lesson 2

  1. Remind students of the lesson objective from Lesson 1 and the rubrics. Students will also need to complete the group evaluation rubric.
  2. Each group will perform their original rhythm composition for the class.
  3. Use criteria from the rubric for discussion about the compositions. Class members may constructively criticize performance groups. You may want to use the PAM process for constructive criticism (Praise; Ask questions; Make suggestions).
  4. Have students discuss what they have learned. The rhythm compositions and rubrics may be filed in individual portfolios.


Students will self-assess and group-assess using a rubric designed by the students and teacher. The rubric should incorporate students? ability to evaluate group work. The teacher will assess each student using the rubric that was distributed in Lesson 1. This rubric should use guidelines for their compositions and performances.

Special Considerations:

The lesson should be introduced after students understand the difference between pitched and unpitched instruments, and after the students have experience playing these instruments. Students should also have experience with reading poems or stories and adding rhythm instruments. Students should also have some experience with reading the symbols for rhythmic notation. Modeling and previous experiences are important to the success of this lesson.

Several adjustments and modifications can be made for this lesson. Students and groups that move quickly may want to add lyrics or movement to their composition. This lesson may take more than 2 class periods depending on the class size and the abilities of the students. This lesson can easily be adjusted to make it easier or more challenging, as needed and can be used with different grade levels.


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