Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Hey, Cuz!

Tisa Craig
Polk County Schools


Students learn the relationships between rhythm and math, tone color and science, form and geography, melody and art, and harmony and social studies. Why, they are like cousins!


The student understands how the elements of music connect to other subject areas (e.g., how acoustics connects to science).


-White or chalkboard with appropriate marker
-Clipboards with attached pencil and Planning Sheet (Associated File) for each group
-One copy of Music Element with Academic Cousins (Associated File)
-A copy of Assessment Checklist (Associated File) for each group
-Instruments, markers, boards, game spinners, bells, etc. as requested by students on planning sheet


1. Set up white board or chalk board with appropriate marker
2. Make enough copies of the Planning Sheet and Checklist Assessment (Associated Files)for each group
3. Print out Music Elements with Academic Cousins (Associated File) for reference.
4. Sharpen pencils and attach a pencil to each clipboard, clip the Planning Sheet on each clipboard, one per group


1. Begin class by mentioning brain research done that shows students who study music either privately or in school curriculum achieve higher marks on standardized tests.

2. Ask students if they have ever thought about the connection between music and academics?

3. List the five elements of music on the board: Melody, Rhythm, Harmony, Tone Color, and Form. Briefly review the meaning of each element.

4. Group students in five groups and assign each group an element of music.

5. Inform students their task is to discuss their particular element and try to choose an academic subject that closely relates, could be a cousin even, to their assigned element. Encourage students to be prepared to share with the class not only their finding, but also, be able to give an example of how they relate.

6. Walk around from group to group assisting as needed and listening to determine when groups have made their decision and are ready to share.

7. Direct students to move back to their original seats and ask for a volunteer from one of the groups to come write the academic next to element.

8. Interview the group to determine their reasoning.

9. Ask the group who presented the academic if it is their final answer.

10. Ask the rest of the class if they can see the connection. If the majority do see the connection, put a check by the given academic. If the academic is different from the one given in Element/Academic Cousins (Associated File), share it with the class and hold another vote. If the class accepts the academic, write it by the element as well.

11. Follow PROCEDURES #7b-10 for each of the remaining four elements.

12. Copy the list from the board then erase it.

1. Remind students of discoveries made during DAY ONE.

2. Inform students they will again be working in groups and the group project will be to present each element with a corresponding academic. This can be done in a skit, a rap, song, or a game.

3. Instruct students to carefully select their group members. Each group will have a Lyrics Manager, Definition Manager, Design Manager, and Presenter.

4. Describe each position: Lyrics Manager writes the words; Definition Manager makes sure the academic aligns with the element and completes the project plan sheet (Associated File; Design Manager sets and teaches the rhythm if a rap or song is chosen, and the rules if a game is chosen; Presenter performs the rap/song or is the game show host.

5. Draw students' attentions to the bottom half of the planning sheet-Criteria for Selecting Subject Areas. Instruct students to make sure the music element and subject align in accordance with the criteria given and if they are not sure, to ask before beginning development of their presentation.

6. Count to 10, playing walking music or something to allow students time to form their groups.

7. Allow all but a few minutes of remaining class time for completing sheets and working on projects.

8. A few minutes prior to the end of class, collect clipboards.

9. Prior to the next class meeting, read the project sheets to determine which groups are having trouble getting started and/or what materials are needed.

10. Gather the materials requested and have them ready for the next class session.

1. Distribute clipboards first to groups who seem to be having no difficulty.

2. Next, distribute materials as requested.

3. Finally, meet with groups that seem to be struggling. Give suggestions, advice, and feedback as needed.

4. Circulate the room to determine how soon presentations could be given. If the majority of groups are ready, begin presentations during this session. If not, assign each group a position of presentation during the next session.

1. Call on groups to present their project.

2. Assess projects using a checklist. (Associated File)


In this formative assessment a checklist (see Associated File) is used to determine whether students understand how the elements of music connect to other subject areas. Students perform a rap, song, or host a game show in which each element of music is connected to another subject and that connection is explained. Students who have difficulty completing the project will have more instruction, see other students perform, and will be given another opportunity to show evidence of their knowledge of this concept.


For non-creative students or shy classes of students, the assessment could be a matching sheet where students draw a line form the elements of music to subject areas. Students would need to write a brief rationale beside each selection.

Attached Files

Music Elements with Academic Cousins     File Extension:  pdf

Checklist Assessment     File Extension:  pdf

Project Planning Sheet     File Extension:  pdf
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