Surfin’ USA Improv

Surfin’ USA Improv

Eileen Wolpert
[email protected]
Ancillae Assumpta Academy

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Electronic Musical Instruments


elementary, middle school


iMac computer
Performer Sequencer


45 – 55 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Students should be familiar with the location of keys on a keyboard.
Students should be comfortable with following the beat of a piece of music.

MENC Standards Addressed:

MENC 3: Improvising melodies, harmonies, and accompaniments.
MENC 4: Composing and Arranging Music within specified guidelines.
MENC 5: Reading and notating music.
MENC 6: Listening to, analyzing and describing music.
MENC 7: Evaluating music and music performances.


Silver Burdette ^ Making Music with MIDI ^ p. 52
Beach Boys Surfin’ USA sequence file
Handouts of C Major and C Mixolydian scales


-Students will create an improvised melody using the chord changes for Surfin’ USA.
-Students will recognize the difference between C Major and C
Mixolydian scales


1. Distribute copies of the notation for C Major and C Mixolydian scales

2. Give students time to play each scale on their keyboards. Allow them to use different timbres.
3. Lead a discussion about the differences and similarities between the two scales.
4. Have students demonstrate playing the scales on keyboards and other instruments if available. Have one student choose a scale to play and have others guess which one they played.
5. Load the Beach Boys Surfin, USA0/00 sequence using Performer on the student computers and have students listen to it.
6. Demonstrate how to mute the lead vocal and instrumental parts.
7. Students will listen to the new arrangement of the same song.
8. Students will now use the C Mixolydian and C Major scales to improvise a new melody on top of the chord structure for ,Surfin, USA0/00. The teacher may limit student use of note values, instrumentation, or specify that the improv avoid leaps, etc.
9. Group students to provide an opportunity to listen to each other,s improvs.
10. Ask for volunteers to perform.
11. Ask students: Did the improv follow the chord structure?
How did the timbre of the improv affect the overall piece?


Students will improvise a melody over a specific chord structure. Improvisations will compliment the given chord structure.

Follow Up:

Notate the chord changes on manuscript paper.
Notate their new melody on manuscript paper.
Enter their new melody into the sequence.

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