Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Meter Readers Turned Composers

Tisa Craig
Polk County Schools


Students learn to interpret time signatures/meter, and then compose eight measures of music in the meter they select.


The student knows how to compose short songs and instrumental pieces within specified guidelines and with a variety of traditional and nontraditional sound sources (e.g., voices, instruments, drum machine, paper tearing, foot tapping, and finger


-Meter or Time Signature worksheets (See Associated File)
-White board and markers


1. Download and copy the Meter or Time Signature worksheet for each student. (See Associated File) Note: If your students cannot draw a treble clef sign on the two staves, draw them before you make copies.
2. Students should have prior knowledge of note and rest values. If not, write notes and rests and their duration in the meters/time signatures covered in this lesson.
3. Sharpen pencils.
4. Have the same meters that appear on the Meter or Time Signature worksheet already written on the white board.


Prerequisite: Students need prior knowledge of note and rest values.

1. Distribute pencils and Meter or Time Signature worksheets. (See Associated File)

2. Ask a volunteer to read aloud the first paragraph.

3. Tell students they may choose to call this Meter or Time Signature. Likewise, when you refer to the fraction-looking numbers at the beginning of the staff by either name, they should know what you are talking about.

4. Review basic music theory that students should already know by asking the following questions:
-What is the five lines and four spaces music is written on called? (the staff)
-What do we call the lines that go from the bottom line of the staff to the top line of staff? (bar lines)
-Bar lines divide the staff into ________? (measures)

5. Using the sheet for students to follow along, show and discuss the time signatures/meters, bar lines, staff, and distance between bar lines as measures. Have the same meters that appear on the worksheet already written on the white board (4/4, 3/4, 6/8, 2/4, 2/2). Before going on, ask if everyone knows what the top number tells us. (Answer: The top number tells us how many beats per measure or how high to count before starting over again at 1.)

6. Once you have used the top number to determine the number of beats (counts) per measure, instruct students to replace the top number (in their mind) with the number one to make a fraction. Model this process on the board (i.e., 1/4, 1/8, 1/2). Explain that the bottom number tells us what kind of note (quarter note, eighth note, half note) gets one count.

7. With teacher-directed study, students should answer the fill-in-the-blank questions on both sides of the paper.

8. Discuss writing a composition and show students how different combinations of notes and rests can be used to fill a measure. Also, tell students that notes placed on different lines and spaces will make their compositions interesting. Demonstrate drawing a note on a line and in a space and also placing a half and whole rest on the staff.

9. Before beginning their compositions, tell students they must:
-decide what meter/time signature they want for their composition and write it just after the treble clef sign;
-then choose combinations of notes/rests to complete eight measures of music.
Note: Students may use only one whole note or one whole rest in their composition.

10. Encourage students to count the note/rest values in each staff to make sure they have the number of counts reflected in the top number of the meter or time signature.

11. As students finish, look at their compositions. If everything is in order, take the compositions to play the next time the class meets. If there is a problem (too few or too many beats per measure) with a student's composition, suggest ways to improve it.

12. Once all compositions are handed in, play each child's composition on the piano. Encourage classmates to clap or compliment the work.

13. Give the composition back to the composer.

14. Once all compositions have been played, ask students to title their musical masterpieces.

15. Collect the titled compositions and if you like, copy them to compile in a class notebook. Send the original home with the composer.


1. Each student selects a meter or time signature, and then composes eight measures of music. After hearing his/her composition played, the student gives the composition a title.
2. Students who do not write a composition or have difficulty completing this assignment, may be given a student coach and allowed to write a composition as homework.


1. From the class compilation of compositions, students may learn to play their own compositions on tuned instruments.
2. Compositions from one class can be played for another class.
3. Students who play piano may play their composition for a PTA meeting during the month of March - Music In Our Schools Month.

Attached Files

Meter or Time Signature worksheet.     File Extension: pdf

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