Surprise – You Can Improvise!

Surprise – You Can Improvise!

Maribeth Ford
[email protected]
T.C. Passios Elementary School

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:





General Music


Sequencing Software


60 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Students have prior experience:
– Playing barred instruments
– Exploring pentatonic scale
– Improvising rhythms

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 7: Evaluating music and music performances.


Sequencing Software
Barred Orff Instruments


Students will play barred instruments with appropriate technique.

Students will improvise 4 measures in C Pentatonic.

Students will perform in groups and alone.


Teacher will review procedure and technique for playing barred instruments. Students will remove F & B bars to create C Pentatonic.

The teacher has created a 4 measure C Pentatonic melody with accompaniment. Using a sequencer, the piece has been recorded alternating the 4 measures of accompanied melody with 4 measures of just bass bordun and percussion. Students will improvise in C Pentatonic during the 4 measures of bordun and percussion.

Begin by playing the recording and counting the beats during the 4 measure improvisation section. (Patting steady beat will be helpful here.) Some students may need help internalizing the length of the improvisation. You can use a 16 beat poem such as:
Time to play a tune in C,
You can do it easily.
Pentatonic scales are great,
Here’s the end, don’t finish late.
This will help the students develop internal timing. The class can practice saying the words during the 4 measures.

The teacher will model an improvisation. Students will be instructed to try to start and end on C. Teacher and students will discuss ways to make their improvisations interesting and creative.

Using the recording, the whole class will improvise in the designated 4 measures. (The beauty of pentatonic!) Then, small groups will be asked to improvise and finally, one student at a time.

Time will be provided for self-assessment, peer assessment, and reflection.


A performance rubric will be used to evaluate results.

WOW!! (4) The performance was excellent. The student played an interesting, creative improvisation, starting and ending on C. Correct playing technique was displayed.

Good Job! (3) The performance was well done. The student played an interesting improvisation, starting on C. Good playing technique was displayed.

Keep Trying (2) The performance was tentative. The student was uncertain playing 4 measures of improvisation. Playing technique needs improvement.

Uh-Oh (1) The student was unable to perform an improvisation. Improper playing technique was displayed.

Follow Up:

Students will continue working on improvisation with Orff instruments and begin experimenting with short vocal improvisations.


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