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Krystina Rodkey High School Music Theory; Introducing Pitch Lesson distributed over 3 days

National Music Standards:

27 August 2019

MU:Cr2.1.C.Ib Identify and describe the development of sounds or short musical ideas in drafts of music within simple forms (such as one-part, cyclical, or binary).

MU:Cr3.2.C.Ia Share music through the use of notation, performance, or technology, and demonstrate how the elements of music have been employed to realize expressive intent.

Instructional Objectives:

1. Students will gain a basic understanding of pitch as it relates to music.

2. Students will see notes notated on a staff and will gain understanding of how written notation works.


1. Final worksheet

2. Sound setup

3. White board

4. Dry erase marker


1. Introduction of pitch

4. Dry erase marker Procedure: 1. Introduction of pitch a. Everything that has sound has some

a. Everything that has sound has some sort of pitch

b. As musicians, one of our jobs is to differentiate between those pitches and read a written language that they make up

c. Explain the musical alphabet (A-G, back to A)

i. All notes are some variation of a letter A-G

ii. All notes have a place on the musical


d. Introduce students to five line staff

the musical staff d. Introduce students to five line staff i. At the front of the

i. At the front of the staff is a “clef” – (for this lesson use treble clef staff)

ii. Introduce students to five line staff

iii. How the staff works

i. Explain that, the higher the pitch, the higher it is written on the staff. Likewise, lower pitches are placed lower on the staff

a. Ask for examples, place them approximately where they would be on the staff

iv. Labeling notes on the staff

i. Start on E bottom line (explain that the musical alphabet is still A-G, this is just the note that we are starting on)

ii. Go through every line and space, giving that respective area its correct name on a G clef

a. In this clef, each line or space will always be labeled with some variation of this letter

b. There are notes that exist outside of the lines and spaces directly on the staff (ledger lines), but for the purposes of learning note names this is all that they need to know

iii. Ways to remember which line/space is which letter name

a. FACE for spaces

b. EGBDF for lines (Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge is common, but

allow them to have creative freedom to come up with their own

e. Review of terminology

i. Pitch, staff, clef (specifically treble clef)

f. Practice labeling notes on the staff

i. Write a note on the staff, ask them to name what it is

ii. Ask a student to give a letter name, ask someone else what that note would be

2. Review of basic pitch notation

a. Reminder of terms, do some practice labeling notes


Music relating to rhythm

a. You’ve learned about rhythm and you’ve learned about notes/pitch, putting them together creates the bigger picture that is music

b. Pitch and rhythm work at the same time to create the music you hear and perform every day, even if you are just making up a song to sing with your friends

c. Exercise with student - Write just one long note

i. This is boring

ii. Make it more interesting by writing rhythm

iii. Make it more interesting by adding even more notes

i. Improvise within the limits of C major to add interest

ii. Do scalar motion at first, ask students to say what direction the notes went in/where on the staff the notes would be (repeat this a few times)

d. Basic composition exercise

i. Work with students to come up with a rhythm (4 beats)

ii. Compose something in that rhythm using all different notes

i. Ask them if they want a higher or lower pitch, then ask them to be specific with what pitch they want

4. Further development of notation skills

a. Sharps and flats


Label notes on the staff



Draw piano on the board


Explain structure of piano (group of 2 black keys, group of 3)


Label natural notes (white keys) on keyboard


What about the black keys? They must be there for a reason


Play C major scale on piano



Ask them for a different note to start on, ask if they hear that it does not sound quite right


This is why we use the black keys on the piano, but they have to be called something else



C is already C, so we can’t call the black key next to it C




Draw sharp symbol (it’s not a hashtag)

ii. Raise note by one half step, or one key on the piano

ii. Raise note by one half step, or one key on the piano

iii. How do we write this?


a. If writing note name – after the note

b. If writing on the staff – before the note


iv. Practice labeling sharp notes



i. Draw flat symbol


ii. Lower note by one half step/piano key

iii. How do we write this?


a. If writing note name – after the note

b. If writing on the staff – after the note


iv. Practice labeling flat note


Explain that black keys can share note names


C#/Db etc.


With using the black keys you can play a scale on any note and it will sound “right”




Cancel out other accidentals


Worksheet on sharps and flats


5. Use of aural skills

a. Explain that ears are very useful tools in regards to pitch

i. Ear training exercise

i. Matching pitch

a. One note, then go to 4 notes maximum

b. Scales

i. Sing C major scale



D major scale


i. You started on a different note but the scale still was very similar

ii. Play D scale but play C natural instead



Not as satisfying


iii. Play D scale but stop at C#



Ask if this is frustrating



The goal in music is to get to the top note



Introduce solfege



Reference Sound of Music song


Key signatures

a. Short review of sharps/flats if needed

b. Explain – the way we’ve been writing music on the staff, we have to write in every time we want an accidental

c. A key signature is a sort of guide at the beginning of the piece to tell you what notes will always be sharp/flat (ie what the key of the piece is)

i. Even no sharps/flats at the beginning is a key signature. It tells you that no notes are

sharp or flat (unless there is an accidental)

d. Each key is based around one note – if you were to play a scale starting on this note and playing in the right key, it would sound “correct” to you

i. The key of the song tells us what note the song is based around. That note doesn’t always have to stay the same though, that’s part of what makes music interesting.

i. Play for them – end of Beyonce “Love on Top”

a. She sings the same order of notes, just starting on a different note

e. Each key is based around one note – if you were to play a scale starting on this note and playing in the right key, it would sound “correct” to you

f. Circle of Fifths

i. Teach order of flats/order of sharps


a. Let them come up with pneumonic devices to remember

g. Explain structure of a (major) scale


h. Work through several scales going backwards around the circle of 5ths (starting with flats)

i. Write each note on the staff using an accidental, then rewrite using key signature

ii. Add on to key signatures, don’t erase

i. Do same thing with a few sharp keys

j. If time – explain short cuts for finding what key it is

i. Flats: 2 nd to last flat is the name of the key

ii. Sharps: 1 half step above last sharp is name of the key


1. Do students have a better understanding of the concept of pitch?

2. Are students able to understand the layout of a (treble clef) staff and approximate placement of notes?

3. Are students beginning to understand the process of naming notes on the staff?