Piano… Isn’t that an Instrument?

Piano…isn’t that an instrument?

Jennifer Raftery
[email protected]
Kent State University

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Information Processing




General Music


Sibelius and Finale are two excellent music notation software options.


30 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Students have to understand volume changes in pieces of music.

MENC Standards Addressed:

MENC 5: Reading and notating music.
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.


Chalk for the board, various records/ CDs/ audio options that vary in range from pp to ff, within their songs. I suggest: Sonatina in C Major, Op. 55, No. 1 by F. Kuhlau and Ballade Op. 100 by F. Burgmuller (piano pieces) allow for other types, Firebird Suite, by I. Stravinsky (concert piece) and also some basic spirituals (choir music) Keep in mind the pieces should begin easy to determine dynamics and increasing become harder as the class develop. Students should be prepared with paper and pencil.


The students will be able to determine between dynamics and know the Latin terms and their meanings. They will achieve this by analyzing music they listened to in class. The teacher will play a few pieces on a stereo and first teach the students the differences between the dynamics; second, let the students try to determine the dynamics themselves and lastly provide a short quiz on a new piece of music with medium difficulty of dynamics.


As the students enter the classroom, have some music (Firebird Suite) playing on a stereo, a bit louder then comfortable speaking level but not overbearing. Once all the students are in their seats, turn off the music and explain that the music was a bit louder than we speak, and we speak at medium levels. So the music was medium loud. Thus begins the explanation of terms as they relate them to the human body. A peep is pp or pianissimo, whispering is p or piano (no, not the instrument), an inside voice is mp or mezzo-piano, while their outside voice is mf or mezzo-forte, talking across a large room is f or forte and yelling is ff or fortissimo. The teacher is to write these examples and ideas on the chalkboard in three main columns: my speech, the Latin abbreviation (short term) and the long Latin word. As the students listen to a piece of music being played, they have to write what dynamic they believe most fits at the time in the piece that the teacher says a number (this would be previously decided) another way to do this is to stop the music and then ask for the last dynamic they just heard.


Students will be given a short quiz on a piece at the end of the class period that is of medium level of difficulty. Note: the teacher would have covered at least two difficult level pieces during class time. The quiz will count towards an overall grade in the class. These skills will be used in the classroom to be built upon in technique and other classroom exercises.

Follow Up:

The students must use these new found skills in the classroom frequently in their preferred area, band, choir or other music settings in general rehearsals.

Items to Purchase:

The teacher should have access to some recordings either from their own collection or from a library. Other than that, all that is needed is a device to play the pieces.

When budget should be submitted:

N/A for this lesson plan unless improving on sound system in the classroom.

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