Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Dynamics in Concept and in Action

Paul Dobson


Students perform grade appropriate literature utilizing the specified dynamic indications and respond accurately to the cues of the director.


The student performs with basic ensemble skills (e.g., blends instrumental timbres, matches dynamic levels, and responds to the cues of a director).


-Dynamic Performance Rating Checklist (see Associated File)
-O’Reilly and Williams. [Accent on Achievement]. Alfred Publishing Co., 1997.
-[Accent on Achievement Teachers Resource Kit Listening CD]
-Individual band instrument
-Individual student folders and pencils
-CD player/stereo unit


1. Download from Associated File; Dynamic Performance Rating Checklist. Duplicate copies for each student (2 written per page for conservation of paper).
2. Obtain sufficient copies of [Accent on Achievement] or comparable text utilizing audio support.
3. Obtain a CD/stereo.


NOTE: Have students follow usual classroom warm-up technique with individual instruments prior to beginning lesson.

1) Ask students why it is important to perform using appropriate ensemble dynamics. Discuss briefly what it would sound like if everyone played at different volumes and tempos.

2) Have the class turn to page 30 of the band method book; [Accent on Achievement] and look at number 117, Trumpet Voluntary. If this is not available, choose an appropriate piece of sheet music or a song from your text book. Have class perform the top line only at any tempo or volume level they want, giving minimal directions. Do not conduct.

3) Ask class how they thought it sounded without direction. Discuss benefits of ensemble dynamics and proper tempo (moderato). Demonstrate non-verbal dynamic conducting cues (i.e. crescendo, pianissimo, forte, and ritardando).

4) Ask class to listen to a professional symphony orchestra perform (model) the same work. (Use CD from Teacher Resource Kit-see third item in Materials. If this is not available use a comparable CD.) Discuss what the students could do to improve the sound of their own performance.

5) Have class perform the same exercise and follow all dynamic directions by closely observing the conductor for non-verbal cues as well as written dynamics. Discuss performance differences and encourage students to make notes in their method books.

6) Distribute Dynamic Performance Rating Checklist (see Associated File) and have each student put his/her name on the form. Discuss briefly the purpose of a checklist and what it will measure. Collect each student's checklist.

7) Have each student perform the selection individually as you call the name from the checklist. Complete the checklists and return to students.


Assess each student's ability formatively using a checklist (see Associated File) that measures the student's application of applied dynamic concepts through performance. Skills measured include tempo, crescendo, ritardando, and observance of varied volume levels (mezzo forte to forte).


Attached Files

A checklist for formative assessment.     File Extension: pdf

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