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Music Lesson Plan

Name: Jeffrey Malone

Grade/Level: High School Music Theory Duration: 20 min. Topic: Variations on a Theme

Materials Needed:
• SMART Board
• Recording of Mozart’s “12 Variations in C Major”
• “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” sheet music (PDF)
• Theme and Variations Presentation
• Staff Paper
• Orff Instruments
• Watch

Lesson Objectives:
• Students will define and explain variations on a theme and discuss how it may be used in
compositional practice.
• Students will compose an original variation on the theme presented in Mozart’s Ah, vous
dirais-je, Maman, while working in pairs.
• Students will play their original variation for their peers on the provided Orff instruments.
• Students will verbally assess and evaluate the variations of their peers and provide
constructive criticism.
• Students will discuss the importance of composition and establish an appreciation for the
unique musical opportunities it provides.

AZ State Standards Addressed:

• Strand 1, Concept 2, PO 204: Students will demonstrate proficiency by identifying and
playing individually and with others the following note and rest values while maintaining
a steady beat: whole, half, quarter, eighth, dotted half, dotted quarter and sixteenth as
well as other note and rest values encountered in the repertoire.
• Strand 1, Concept 4, PO 201: Students will demonstrate proficiency by manipulating
compositional elements of music to change the style and experience of the music.
• Strand 1, Concept 4, PO 201: Students will demonstrate proficiency by creating short
compositions for their own instrument or others, a minimum of 4 measures within teacher
specified guidelines.
• Strand 1, Concept 5, PO 205: Students will demonstrate proficiency by using appropriate
terminology to describe and explain music encountered in the repertoire.
• Strand 2, Concept 1, PO 202: identifying how music can be transcribed from one music
medium to another (e.g., one instrument to another, one ensemble to another).
• Strand 2, Concept 2, PO 205: Students will demonstrate proficiency by identifying and
discussing the composers of the works being sung/ played.
• Strand 3, Concept 1, PO 206: Students will demonstrate proficiency by using appropriate
terminology to describe and explain music.
• Strand 3, Concept 2, PO 203: Students will demonstrate proficiency by showing respect
for personal work and the work of others through appropriate critique.

National Music Standard(s) Achieved:

#1 Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music
#2 Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music
#3 Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments
#4 Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines
#5 Reading and notating music
#6 Listening to, analyzing, and describing music
#7 Evaluating music and music performances
#8 Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts
#9 Understanding music in relation to history and culture

Musical Focus:
Rhythm Melody Harmony
Singing Listening Playing Instruments
Form History Theory
Moving Conducting Intonation
Tone Color Vocabulary Creating
Expression Balance/Blend Other:

Introduction/Anticipatory Set:
• Students will articulate and explain what they know about theme and variations
compositions and about composing music to their peers and to the entirety of the class.
o Q: Who knows anything about theme and variation compositions? About
composing? How do we go about composing music? What can you vary in a
theme and variations composition?
o You can vary: harmony, melody, rhythm, articulations, tempo, meter, dynamics,
texture and more

• Students will listen to a recording of Mozart’s “12 Variations in C Major”. During this
time, they will complete a short listening guide that requires students to identify the
variation technique employed by Mozart. After each brief listening example, the students
will share their answers with the teacher. Additionally, the teacher and class with briefly
discuss each variation technique employed by Mozart. Teacher handout is provided at the
end of the lesson plan.
o Plan for 100% engagement:
§ Students will fill out the listening guide while listening to excerpts of
Mozart’s “12 Variations in C Major”
§ Students will voluntarily contribute to the class discussion or will be
called upon to answer questions
§ Students that did not contribute to the class discussion will be called upon
to share their answers to the listening guide
o Modifications/Accommodations:
§ Teacher can spark discussion by providing some variation strategies and
encouraging students to independently provide their own responses
§ Hold students to a standard of using academic language
§ Ensure that any students that have trouble seeing the board are seated
close to the board in front of the class. Provide a paper handout of material
if necessary.
§ Ensure that the recording volume is at an appropriate level so that all
students are able to comfortably hear the music
o Formative Assessment:
§ Question and answer based on prompts provided by teacher
§ Students actively and enthusiastically participate in classroom discussions
and listening activities
§ Visual assessment of student’s progress on their listening guides
§ Student’s involvement, focus and participation
o Instructional Strategy:
§ Direct Instruction
§ Question and Answer
§ Discussion
o Time allotted: 6 minutes
• Students will compose their own variation on Mozart’s theme presented in Ah, vous
dirais-je, Maman. Teacher will break class into pairs and allow students to carefully pick
an Orff instrument and find a place around the classroom to work on their composition.
The compositions should employ at least of the variation strategies discussed in the
listening guide and should be representative of the theme. These will be shared with the
o Plan for 100% engagement:
§ All students are focused and working on their composition
§ Walk around classroom to ensure that all students remain focused on the
task at hand
o Modifications/Accommodations:
§ If there are not enough Orff instruments for every student to have their
own, then every group can share one instrument
§ Release one group at a time to pick their Orff instrument and find a place
around the classroom to work
§ Ensure that each group picks two different instrument
§ Despite the variations, you should be able to easily hear the underlying
§ Ensure that each student picks up their own mallets with Orff instrument
o Formative Assessment:
§ Visual assessment of student progress on their variations
§ Have students use “thermometer” to visually show teacher approximately
how close they are to being finished with their variation
§ Students remain focused and engaged in composition activity
§ Students are constructively collaborating on their original variations
o Instructional Strategy:
§ Peer to Peer
§ Collaborative
§ Self-evaluation
o Time allotted: 11 minutes
• Students will perform their variation for the class. Groups will volunteer to play their
original variation on the Orff instruments that have been provided. All other groups will
attentively listen to the performance of their peers. After each group has performed,
students will provide constructive feedback on what they appreciated about the
performance and they would like to see improved.
o Plan for 100% engagement:
§ Groups not currently playing will listen attentively and provide
constructive feedback to their peers
§ All students will provide constructive feedback to their peers.
§ Those who do not voluntarily contribute will be called upon to share their
thoughts on the performance they just heard
o Modifications/Accommodations:
§ If there are students with physical limitations, accommodations will be
made to ensure that they are able to fully participate in this activity
§ For the performance, class needs to be brought back together. Don’t allow
them to stay spread out throughout the classroom
§ This is a great opportunity to discuss performer/audience etiquette.
Professional and supportive atmosphere
§ Choose groups to perform if no one volunteers
o Formative Assessment:
§ Rose and Two Thorns
§ Students respectfully listen to their peers perform their original variations
on Mozart’s theme
o Instructional Strategy:
§ Performance
§ Individual Assessment
o Time allotted: 3 minutes

Concluding Activity/Success Experience:

• Why is music composition important?
o Composition is an extremely unique way that we, as musicians, are able to
express ourselves. You all were given the same guidelines and used the same 12
notes, but each of you generated an entirely original composition based on your
emotions, intentions and musical experience. This is simply amazing. By
composing your variation today, you all have become composers. There are lots
of exciting musical opportunities that are available to composers, so continue to
explore this medium as it interests you!

• If time allows, students will:
o Perform their variations and the variations of the peers
o Evaluate their performance and the performance of others, while providing
feedback and constructive criticism on ways to improve the quality of the
composition and performance
o Add a percussive accompaniment figure to their variation

Summative Assessments:

• Participation Points
o Prepared for class with all the materials they need
o Participating in class discussions
• Variation Composition and Reflection Rubric

Excelling Average No Credit

10 points 6 points 0 points
Student creates an original
Student creates an original
variation that is thoughtful
variation that is indicative
and of moderate quality.
of Mozart’s theme and is
Composition does not Poor quality, did not
outlined by chord tones.
Variation adequately relate to participate or not
Composition is thoughtful
Mozart’s theme. Student completed
and is of a high quality.
did not fully participate in
Student participates fully in
each step of the
composition process.
composition process
Includes a vague summary
Includes a detailed
of the variation, mentions
summary of the variation
some, but not all elements
and details all elements that Poor quality, did not
that went well, and
Reflection went well while also participate or not
accurately identifies areas
accurately identifying and completed
of improvement without
addressing areas of
addressing how they can be

Reflection paper is clean, Reflection is clean and is

Reflection Writing Poor quality, did not
well-formatted, labeled labeled with a heading, but
Style and participate or not
with a heading, and free of contains typos or is
Grammar completed
typos. improperly formatted.
Mozart’s “12 Variations in C major”
Ah, vous dirais-je, Maman

Variation I

Variation Technique(s) Used:________________________________________________

Variation III

Variation Technique(s) Used:________________________________________________

Variation V

Variation Technique(s) Used:________________________________________________

Variation VIII

Variation Technique(s) Used:________________________________________________

Variation XI

Variation Technique(s) Used:________________________________________________

Variation XII

Variation Technique(s) Used:________________________________________________