Transitioning from Instruments to Genre.
by Amanda G Willis and Chris Knight

Below is a copy of our original lesson.
I. Overview
The purpose of this lesson is to introduce various instruments to students and also to help students identify rhyming words. This lesson will be geared toward 2nd graders. We will use the book I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello to accomplish our goals. This lesson could be used either in a music class or in a general education classroom.

II. Learning Objectives
After completing this lesson, students will be able to recognize certain instruments as well as rhyming words in the book I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello. At the end of the lesson students will fill in a poem about instruments using rhyming words from a word bank at the bottom of the page.

III. NAfME standards
6. Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.
8. Understanding relationships between music, other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.

IV. Instructional Plan
a) Preparation/Anticipatory Set
Rhyme and have the students practice with instruments.
Chris and I will go through the book and simply show the class the pictures in the book. We will then have the students do a think-write in which they have to write about any of the instruments they recognized in the book and anything about those instruments (an experience, if they play any, if they have a brother or sister who plays any…)

b) Procedure and Activities
-We will then divide the students into two groups and hand out two different instruments to each group. One group will play their instruments when we say the name of an instrument and the other group will play their instruments when they hear rhyming words.

-After we read the book we will go over the instruments and play sample sounds of the instruments.

c) Extensions
The students will do a fill in the blank word rhyme that has to do with instruments.

V. Materials and Resources
book, computer, rhyming worksheets, instruments

VI. Assessment
We will show the students pictures of instruments and see if they can identify them.


In this next section we will talk about two new books we could use to extend the lesson explained above. The first book, This Jazz Man, could also be used for 2nd graders, but the other, I See the Rhythm, would need to be used in an older elementary/middle school music classroom. After doing the first lesson (above) in the 2nd grade classroom (and after talking about instruments in the older elementary classroom) we would transition from talking about instruments to genres/styles of music and the instruments that are often found in these genres or styles. Cellos ,violins, cymbals, harps, and flutes can all be found in orchestras. Cymbals, flutes, saxophones, and bells can be found in bands. In these next two lessons we will be focusing on introducing to the students the style of jazz, well-known people and pieces in this style, and instruments commonly used in jazz music.

This Jazz Man

Evite-small-jazz-man_copy.gifThis Jazz Man, written by Karen Ehrhardt and illustrated by R. G. Roth is a beautifully illustrated book about nine different jazz artists and their instruments. The words are in the format of the song "This Old Man" and therefore the book can be sung to that tune if so chosen (although there are a lot of words). For this lesson the book would be read and then the teacher and students would talk about different instruments, people, and listen to some music samples. A follow-up/extension activity for this book would be for the students to make a mind map. They would do this using Creately which can be found at http://creately.com/.

Creately is an organizing tool students can use to gather and group information in a convenient and clear way. This method is very visual and can help students see the relationships between different elements, in this case, the style of jazz and its people, pieces, and instruments. For each genre students will be required to make a "mind map" using Creately. Each map must contain the following:
  • The genre in the middle.
  • Connector bubbles with the following information: People, Pieces, and Instruments.
  • Each connector bubble must have sub-bubbles with examples of each category.
Here is an example that I did:

Note: I used xmind which is a free organizing tool. I couldn't do an example on Creately because in order to use it you have to pay for it. xmind is very similar though.

I See the Rhythm
0892391510.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpgI see the rhythm by Toyomi Igus gives a clear and unique outline of the history of jazz. It shows the reader where jazz first started and how in evolved over time. This book would be perfect to use in an older elementary/middle school music classroom.

For I See the Rhythm, as a follow up literary activity, we are going to have the students create a time line using information they have read in the book about jazz history and the evolution of artists and music. Students will have a few requirements for the time line which are listed below, but as long as they have the elements listed they will also be able to add things of their own that they feel are important.

  • Subtitle about each page (of the book).
  • Important influences on that time period.
  • Pieces of music for each topic.
  • If there is any religious information listed, please include.
  • Dates. http://www.dipity.com/ This is a link that enables you to create an online timeline.

HotList!: 6 Great Links

The following links are sites that we found would be very helpful to use in our extended lessons.
1. Grooveshark
This is a great listening website for students. They can type in any song, album, composer, or artist and the system will search for it. Grooveshark has a lot of music and is free to use. Also-you don't need a login or password. In these lessons we would probably use Grooveshark quite often to show the students examples of pieces of music and to have them search for their own examples for their timelines and mindmaps.
2. Oral Jazz Histories
The Smithsonian has a wonderful website with many activities and tools having to do with jazz. This link will bring you to a page where you can hear actual recordings of jazz artists talk about their lives. I think that this would be especially useful in the upper elementary/middle school classroom.
3. PBS Kids Go!
This website is full of lesson plans and activities that you could use in the classroom when learning about jazz. There are videos, games, and a timeline too!
4. Jazz in the Classroom
This article comes from the MENC (NAfME) website. The MENC website always has many tools that teachers can use and also forums to post questions and talk to other educators about topics and issues. "Jazz in the Classroom" is about the changing curriculums in America and how best to incorporate jazz into the music classroom.
5. ArtsEdge: Jazz in Time
This interactive timeline would be great in a classroom with older students (especially because they will be making their own timelines in our lesson). Audio clips and pop-out windows are embedded in the timeline.
6. Pandora Radio
Pandora is an online radio which allows you to put in a composer or genre. To enhance knowledge of jazz styles and composers, students can use this source at home and leisurely listen to jazz music.

  • Igus, Toyomi. I See the Rhythm. San Francisco, CA: Children's Book, 1997. Print.
  • Garriel, Barbara S., and John O'Brien. I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills, 2004. Print.
  • Ehrhardt, Karen, and Robert Roth. This Jazz Man. Orlando: Harcourt, 2006. Print.