Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Music's Speed Zone

Elizabeth Roederer


Students relate tempo in music to the story of the “Tortoise and The Hare.”


The student knows a simple music vocabulary (e.g., fast, slow, loud, and soft) to describe what is heard in a variety of music styles.


-The “Tortoise and The Hare” story
-Plain white paper
-Select recorded music of varied tempos from your library, set up the computer to play four selections given in the Weblinks (see page 2 of associated file), or gather written music to play on the piano
-CD player, tape player, computer, or piano
-Tempo assessment sheet, one per student (See Associated File)
-Stickers (optional)


1. Download and copy the Tempo assessment sheet. (See Associated File)
2. Set out crayons.
3. Choose recordings of songs with fast and slow tempos.


1. Greet students as they enter.

2. Tell students that for the next couple of weeks they will be learning special music words.

3. Tell students today's word is “tempo” and that you will be reading them a story. When the story is finished, they will surely know what the word “tempo” means in music.

4. Read the “Tortoise and The Hare.”

5. Ask what “tempo” means in music. (Responses may vary: speed or how fast/slow something is.)

6. Restate that “tempo” means the speed of music.

7. Ask if students can think of a song we sing in class that is pretty fast. (If students are able to name songs that have a fast tempo, reward them with a sticker or compliment for being such brilliant musicians.)

8. Next, ask about a slow tempo as you did in #7.

9. Read the story again and ask that this time students run in place when the hare says something and move in slow motion when the tortoise says something.

10. Distribute the Tempo assessment sheet (See Associated File) and a crayon to each child. Read the directions and answer any questions students may have before beginning the assessment.

11. When students are ready to begin say, “Number 1. Listen.” Play the recording for the first selection and then say, “Circle the picture of the animal that best shows the tempo of the music you just heard.” Repeat directions for each number.

12. Ask students to make sure they have written their name on the name line of their papers.

13. Collect papers and crayons and assure students they will get their papers back the next time they come to music class.


Students are formatively assessed based on their ability to identify examples of fast and slow tempos. (See Tempo assessment in Associated File) Students need practice if they are not successful the first time they are assessed.


If time permits, art paper could be distributed and students could draw something that has a fast tempo on one side of the paper and something that has a slow tempo on the other side. These could be shared with the class.

Web Links

The Classical Piano Song Titles listed on page 2 of the associated file can be accessed at this Website.
Classical Piano

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