Unit 6 Title
Composer’s Choices

Unit Structure

  • Live Video Conferencing with an ACO musician (20-30 min)
  • Classroom lesson delivered by classroom teacher exploring Unit 6 Classroom Lesson on the website (approx. 45 min)
  • Art activity: draw a thunderstorm concluding with a rainbow (approx. 45 min)

Student Objectives
By the end of this unit students should

  • Understand the following vocabulary: tempo, duration, articulation, dynamics
  • Understand and identify the following concepts as they relate to both music and paintings; fast, slow, long, short, bouncy, smooth, sharp, rough, loud, soft
  • Understand the role of a composer and the choices available in the creative process
  • Be able to name at least one composer and one painter represented in the unit

Classroom Lesson Strategies
On the Unit 6 Classroom Lesson page of the website, start at the top and work your way down, listening to at least 30 seconds of each musical example and looking at the corresponding paintings. The written text will guide you and the students as to what to listen and watch out for.

Classroom Art Activity
Draw a thunderstorm concluding with a rainbow.

Materials Needed
For Videoconferencing:  none
For Classroom Lesson: Workbook optional
For Art Activity: Paper of any size, pens or pencils, colored pencils, markers or crayons, or paint

On the Unit 6 Classroom Lesson page are many examples of the building blocks of music and composition. This begins to prepare students for their upcoming task of composing a piece of music. The object of this lesson is for students to become aware of the choices that they can make when they are composing music. For each musical concept, there are analogous concepts in the paintings.

  1. Tempo – the Barber is fast; the Bach is slow. A fast tempo might produce more excitement, energy, nervousness, virtuosity, while a slow tempo might evoke thoughtfulness, calmness, sometimes sadness, peacefulness, etc. For the paintings – the Monet seems slow to me, the Boccioni seems fast, and the Circus I chose because I think it’s fascinating – it has two clear tempos – everything in the middle is in motion, but the audience around is frozen in stillness.
  2. I think that the rest of the main page is pretty self-explanatory. Regarding articulation/texture: for extra learning, I found these two lesson plans about chiaroscuro interesting.



Art Activity:   Ask the students to think about a violent thunderstorm that abates and ends in a rainbow.  As a class, make a list of all of the sounds one might hear in this scene. Note which sounds might be loud, quiet, scary, calm or soothing; which sounds might be fast or slow (for example in a thunderstorm, does the rain hit the ground quickly or slowly?) Also think about the duration of the sounds – does the thunder rumble for a long time, is the flash of lightning sudden and quick?

Ask the students to draw, colour or paint the scene. Use the brainstorming session to guide them to create a visual vocabulary for showing the volume, articulation, and duration of the sounds through contrasts between light and dark, and experimentation with colour and texture. Ask them to explain their choices in words, for example, “the rain started slowly and got faster and heavier and then got slower and ended, so I drew tiny little dots at first, spaced out, then I made them bigger and put them all closer to together and then I made them little again and spaced them out further and further apart until they stopped.”

*Teeny correction: I misspoke on this video: Wagner wrote Siegfried Idyll as a birthday present for his wife, not a wedding present.