Phrases and Themes

Phrases and Themes

Casey Hulick
[email protected]
Goshen Intermediate School

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Electronic Musical Instruments
Multimedia/Digital Media




General Music


Finale/Sibelius; Computer; Projecter/Screen; Speakers/Sound System for Playback; Handout with 2 blank measures in Common Time


45 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Read and write basic notation (treble clef – simple rhythms); comprehension of harmonic and non-harmonic tones; knowledge of root, third and fifth intervals in simple chords

NAfME standard of 1994 Addressed:

NAfME standard of 1994: Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

NAfME 2014: Performing 

NAfME standard of 1994: Composing and Arranging Music within specified guidelines.
NAfME standard of 1994: Reading and notating music.

NAfME 2014: Creating 

NAfME standard of 1994: Listening to, analyzing and describing music.
NAfME standard of 1994: Evaluating music and music performances.

NAfME 2014: Responding 


Finale/Sibelius; Computer; Projecter/Screen; Speakers/Sound System for Playback; Handout with 2 blank measures in Common Time; pencil


Given an assigned chord in a given key, students will compose a two measure phrase using harmonic and nonharmonic tones (nonharmonic tones may be used as passing tones, and as upper or lower neighbors. Various rhythmic note values and rests may be used.



  • Discuss and review harmonic tones in a triad (Root, third and fifth) Refer to appropriate lessons on Ricci Adam’s web site projected on screen.
  • Discuss and review use of nonharmonic tones as passing tones and upper and lower neighbors
  • Explain how each student should compose a two measure phrase based on a given chord symbol (C, F, G7, Am, Bb, C7, Dm, E7)
  • Hand out sheets w/two blank measures and chord symbol
  • Have students compose their phrases then collect
  • Teacher organizes phrases into simple themes in Keys of C, F, and a minor based on simple I IV V7 I chord progressions and enter into Finale projected on screen
  • Before playing the examples, take a few minutes to explain and discuss the process, procedure, and chord progressions to create themes.



  • Evaluate the use of harmonic and nonharmonic tones for each phrase and the use of rhythm
  • Play examples – organize themes in various forms (binary, ternary, AABA, rondo, etc.)
  • Make any needed or desired corrections or changes
  • Students sing music projected on screen (note names, solfeggio, syllables, original lyrics, etc.)
  • Print out final pieces and make copies for students.

Follow Up:


  • Lesson could be repeated for better performance if needed
  • Additional chord symbols and keys could be used
  • Students could be given several chords to compose a complete theme
  • Lesson could be built upon for more extended compositions

Items to Purchase:

Computer; Finale or Sibelius; Internet access; Projector; Speakers/Sound System; Paper; Pencil

When budget should be submitted:

According to school district policy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top