During this powerpoint lesson, I hope to teach the students about time signatures, which are essential to learning and reading music. While many students can hear a beat and either clap or dance along, this presentation will explain the process that musicians use when they are reading or writing music. In many cases so far in the classroom, I have taught this subject as a broad topic and usually through the book, which is vague and hard to understand. My goal is to utilize this powerpoint presentation with beginning sixth grade band students to show them the possibilities of time signatures in one fell swoop. I am trying to incorporate visual instruction, as well as aural examples and scaffolding along the way. By this point, the students will be reviewing the basics of music including note lengths and the parts of a measure of music. They will take the knowledge they have and take it a step further in this session. On this first slide, there are pictures of different time signatures and a definition of the word. Before I click on the definitions, I may ask the class if anyone knows what it is. I would also have the music playing in the background to get their minds focused on music and the slides to come. The pictures of the time signatures would be examples of what we’re going to discuss, but I would only acknowledge that we are going to learn what they mean together as a class. In my estimation, this will be a fun and interactive way for the students to learn about time signatures. They will be able to listen to examples of music, watch a fun video to get their brains active, and they will be quizzed on their knowledge with instant feedback. I would like to present this lesson to the entire class to help guide and monitor their learning. I believe that if I mention time signatures later on in the year, I can reference this lesson and ask the students to think back to the presentation. For example, how did we explain the beats in Mary Had a Little Lamb. This knowledge will help the students become better musicians and understand why the music is positioned in the way that it is. Knowing the theory behind a process usually helps students feel more engaged in their learning.
This is a more clearly defined explanation of time signatures. There is an example to the right with arrows to correspond to each number. I will add a definition of beats so the students understand that we are discussing the overall feeling of a song. I may tell the students to think of sitting in their room with their favorite music blaring. When they dance or clap to the song, they are feeling the beat.If they clapped every note of a song, they are clapping the rhythm. There is a distinct difference between the two.
This is an important slide to explain why on earth composers have time signatures. With each bullet point, I will explain the purpose in more detail. Most importantly, time signatures help a composer divide music and help musicians understand the feeling of a song. Musicians know that a waltz will have a strong beat every three beats, and polkas have a strong beat every two. Knowing the style helps to make the music more authentic and played more correctly.
This is simply a disclaimer to students, because they will probably encounter these two symbols during their music career. It is more of an introduction in case they come across the symbols. I will not delve into a deep explanation of what the c with a line through it (or cut time) means, as this is more advanced than I want to proceed at this time.
This is a great chart to review the note names and symbols. For beginners, this might require a few minutes of testing. I may jump to the board and quiz the students quickly on different symbols. I would draw a half note, for example, and ask for volunteers to tell me what it is. I have rewards entitled band bucks that are great to give out in these situations. I quickly go through examples and award band bucks for correct answers.
Similarly, I would award band bucks after reviewing the parts of a line of music. At the bottom, it asks students to name the note values. I would take a step away from the screen and ask for volunteers to explain what kind of note we have from the beginning. This would test their knowledge of note names and values without the crutch of the review list from the previous slide.
This slide helps describe the top number in a time signature. The table explains the more and less common numbers that you will see in music. For instance, it is rare that my students will see a 6 or a 9 on top in middle school music, but they will know what it means. Basically, the top number tells you how far to count before moving to the next measure. The picture on the right includes many examples, so I may ask the students the top number in, say, 6/8, 5/4, 12/8, and then double band bucks for the correct answer for cut time. After describing the top number, the bottom examples have the students counting the beats in 4/4 and 3/4. In each example, the number 1 is the strongest beat, and therefore bigger than the other numbers. In 4/4, the students count all the way to 4. In 3/4, they only count to 3. The fun action of the numbers allows everyone to count at the same time.
This is a fun break for the students, and a good assessment level. The students can pull out a piece of scratch paper or grab one from the recycling bin. Their task is to name the top number in all of the following examples. We can check the answers as an entire group, and I may award band bucks to volunteers that know the answer. In addition, I will review that the top number means that they have to count up to this number before moving to the next measure.
The bottom number in time signatures is a little trickier. I would take a bit of time explaining this and giving examples. The bottom number really does not tell you a number, but is a symbol for a kind of note. For instance, if there is a 4 on the bottom, it corresponds to a quarter note. The other examples are in the top left corner. In the table, I have a list for common and less common numbers, which the students can see is a small list. Therefore, it is extremely important to know these three. On the bottom, the students can see that I’m not counting numbers. I am showing the beat, and demonstrating that the rhythms must equal the corresponding note. In the first example, the quarter note is the beat, so even when there are eighth notes, the beat must add up to a quarter note. In the second example,the half note is a beat, so the beat must add up to a half note. In the last example, the beat must last each eighth note. I may give extra examples on the board and also include bonus questions about the top number to help put everything together.
This is another small quiz for students that they can fill out on their scratch sheet of paper. In this quiz, they must look at the bottom number and explain what kind of note gets one beat. I will explain that in number 6, those are half notes even though the edges are cornered instead of round. This concept is trickier, so I may give examples on the board, or I may ask for a volunteer to come up with a time signature and have others explain what note gets a beat.
This is a fun way for the students to listen to a simple melody and try to figure out the time signature. The question is posed before the students get to the video, so they already know their task as they watch the movie. This video is great- silly, simple, and engaging.
The students are using aural skills to name the correct time signature. Below, the students can visually see the music and how it is divided. Finally, I’m asking the students to sing with me, using the numbers instead of the words. This way, they see that the strong beat is on 1, and it occurs every 4 beats, just as the time signature indicates.
This is one of my favorite slides because it is really challenging. I picked four fun songs, ranging from easy to master, and I’m curious how the class does on this mini-quiz. I will play the songs two or three times to give everyone a chance, and then give the answer. I will also play the clip again after the answer is given to have everyone try to hear the time signature. The master song gave me troubles for months, but I’m sure I’ll have some stellar students that can name it quickly. The goal of the lesson is to challenge the student’s mind and ears. I hope that they will understand the concept of time signatures, and be inspired to test themselves when they hear songs on the radio or on their ipod. For further knowledge, I will give the students an optional assignment to pick a song that might test the class. I will award band bucks if a student sends me a song title that they would like the class to hear and have them guess the time signature. I think that music can be a great challenge for students, while also being fun and inspiring. I hope this lesson gives the students a chance to test themselves and learn along the way.
Time Signatures: How many beats in one measure? What kind of note gets the beat?
2 Numbers <ul><li>Top Number </li></ul><ul><li>How many beats in a measure? </li></ul><ul><li>Bottom Number </li></ul><ul><li>What kind of note gets one beat? </li></ul>
What does a time signature do? <ul><li>Helps you feel the strong beat </li></ul><ul><li>Organizes the music </li></ul><ul><li>Shows you how to divide the music in a song </li></ul>
IMPORTANT!!! 2 symbols that you might see in music: The C is another way to write 4/4. The C with a line tells you to cut 4/4 in half, or makes it 2/2
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. = = = = = = Name the top number (The number you count to in each measure) 4 2 6 3 7 12
1. = 2. = 3. = 4. = 5. = 6. = Name the note that gets one beat:
Let’s Practice! First, a fun video to get you started… While you watch the video, try to figure out the time signature. When does the strong beat occur? Every 2 beats, 3, 4?
Did you guess the right time signature? The correct answer is……. Let’s COUNT and sing along: 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 (4) 1 2 3 (4) 1 2 3 (4) 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 (4) 1 2 3 4 1 -2-3 (4)
Test Your Skills With These Fun Tunes! Listen to the music and try to guess the time signature. Use your ears and listen more than once if necessary! Easy- Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Medium- Australia by the Shins Hard- Chicago by Sufjan Stevens Master- I Hung My Head by Sting 4/4 5/4 4/4 9/8