A Symphony of Sounds: Creating Program Music

A Symphony of Sounds: Creating Program Music

Christine Dunleavy
[email protected]
Winslow Township Elementary School #5

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Electronic Musical Instruments




General Music


Computer with overhead projector & PowerPoint (could use printed-out pages and/or regular overhead projector) Electronic Keyboards


30 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Students have already listened to examples of Program Music such as Peter and the Wolf, Carnival of the Animals
Students have basic understanding of musical elements
Students should have some basic experience using keyboards.

MENC Standards Addressed:

MENC 2: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
MENC 3: Improvising melodies, harmonies, and accompaniments.
MENC 4: Composing and Arranging Music within specified guidelines.
MENC 6: Listening to, analyzing and describing music.
MENC 7: Evaluating music and music performances.
MENC 8: Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.


PowerPoint presentation with nouns, sentence examples
Handouts: Grid for creating sentences and noting sounds
GM Instrument Groups


Students will create “Program Music” based on sentences that can be musically represented. Using keyboards to select appropriate timbres/sound effects, they will create short melodies whose melodic contour, rhythm, tempo, and dynamics are meant to describe their sentences.


Discuss Program Music; Review familiar examples (eg. Peter & the Wolf)
Brainstorm: inspiration for creating music, how elements can be used, etc
Using overhead, look at list of nouns and go over sentence examples:
determine appropriate sounds and find sound groups (use keyboards to check), decide type of melodic contour, rhythm, tempo, and dynamics to fit the example.
Students can work alone or in pairs to write their own sentences on the Grid HO using the nouns from the list.
Students will explore the keyboards to select sounds to use, writing the patch numbers on their Grid sheets.
They will improvise and create 2-4 bar melodies based on their sentences and play them for the class.
If time, students can create accompaniments (chords, percussion) for melodies.


Students demonstrate appropriate use of

  • keyboard sounds (timbre/sound effects)
  • melodic contour
  • rhythm
  • tempo
  • dynamics

to musically represent the words and meaning of a sentence.

5-creative use of all elements in a 4-bar example
4-same as above but shorter example
3-at least 3 elements are demonstrated properly
2-one is element is used appropriately
1-not a clue

Follow Up:

Play “guessing game” (which sentence?) of each other’s examples
Class makes up a chain story and links together Program Music examples
Combine examples and relate to form (AB, ABA, ronro, etc.)
Notate or alternative notation of examples
Record musical examples into Sequence program
Create multimedia presentation of examples:
type in Notepad or Word; Draw or Paint programs, import graphics, sound, etc.

Items to Purchase:

Computers with PowerPoint
Overhead Projector

When budget should be submitted:

6 months to one year

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