What is Timbre and Why?

What is Timbre and Why?

Tracey DeGrace
[email protected]
Dudley Middle School

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Electronic Musical Instruments


Middle School


General Music


Dry Erase Board (Blackboard)
Electronic Keyboard


2: 30 Minute Periods Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:


MENC Standards Addressed:

MENC 6: Listening to, analyzing and describing music.


Electronic Keyboard
Piano music for “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”
Piano music for “Jingle Bells”


Concept: What is timbre, why does it exist, and why do we use it?

Objective: Students will learn how different Timbres effect the sound and mood of a musical composition. Students will be able to describe and compare the music they hear. Students will also have an understanding of why composers choose the instruments/sounds they use.


(First 10 minutes: Students will complete the “Question of the Day” (already implemented in class))

1. Teacher will introduce and define Timbre.
2. Teacher will ask for a volunteer to write on the board and another to record on paper. (5 minutes total)
3. Students will brainstorm adjectives to be used to describe musical sounds. (5 minutes)
4. Teacher will play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” using standard Piano setting on the keyboard.
5. Students will be asked to describe the timbre and volunteers will record the answers.
6. Next the teacher will play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” using another setting and students will again describe the timbre.
7.Repeat steps 4 and 5 with a few other MIDI sounds.

Second class period:

Continue lesson from previous day (steps 4 & 5) using “Jingle Bells” and additional MIDI sounds.


Informal class participation evaluation. Students receive raffle ticket for intellegent/thoughtful answers (an incentive program already in place in my classroom).

Follow Up:

Listen and Analyse different pieces on music to discuss mood and timbre.

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