Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Move Over, Beethoven

Martha Stanley
Leon County Schools


Students, in small groups, create an ABA introductory composition using various, student-chosen sound sources. Student self-assessment opportunities are available.


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


-ABA Composition (see Associated Files) made into a transparency
-Transparency for Body Percussion Graphics (see Associated Files) made into a transparency, then cut into small, rectangular graphics (about 1 by 2 inches) depicting snaps, pats, etc.(See preparations section for instructions)
-Overhead marking pens (erasable)
-Helpful Group Behaviors, enlarged to poster size (see Associated Files). Can also be copied on paper to hand out to each group.
-ABA Composition Criteria, enlarged to poster size (see Associated Files). Can also be copied on paper to hand out to each group.
-Overhead projector and screen
-Non-pitched percussion instruments and associated strikers
-Grade book or other instrument to record assessments during class


1. Download and print each document contained in the attached file once. They will be used as masters for creating transparencies and posters.
2. Make a transparency of ABA Composition.
3. Make Transparency for Body Percussion Graphics of the body percussion printout. For easier to use and more attractive graphics, cut apart like this:
a. Put ľ inch tape on the lines surrounding each graphic from top to bottom and side to side of the transparency.
b. Cut apart the graphics in the middle of the tape, making sure the tape is equally distributed between graphics.
c. Store in a clear, self-sealing quart-size kitchen storage bag.
4. Enlarge ABA Composition Criteria and Helpful Group Behaviors (see Associated Files) to poster size. Post them prominently in the room.
5. Make your non-pitched percussion instruments and strikers easily available.


1. Students need to be able to define ABA form before they do this lesson.

2. Students need to know proper playing techniques for any of the instruments they may choose for this activity.

3. Students need to have been introduced previously to the Helpful Group Behaviors checklist.

(This lesson addresses only the instrumental composition part of the standard.)

1. Say: Letís do something fun with sounds today! Letís be composers.

2. Place the ABA Composition transparency on the overhead.

3. Put two identical body-percussion transparencies on the A sections.

4. Show three other body-percussion transparencies to the students. Have them choose one to use in the B section. Put it on the transparency.

5. Ask students to perform what they see, switching when you point to a new section.

6. Ask a student to pick a number from 1 to 10.

7. Write that number over each section (two circles and the square) of the transparency.

8. Ask them to perform what they see, switching after the stated number of beats. Point to the appropriate sections, moving your hand on the beat to help them count.

9. Have the students perform it without teacher assistance. Discuss how they determined when to switch.

10. Change each number to 8. Do the switch activity again, switching after 8 beats.

11. Ask the students to do the patterns with their eyes closed. (They love this.)

12. Ask for feedback about the quality of the sounds produced, the clarity of the steady beat, and the cleanness of the switch.

13. Choose a beat-competent student to play a jingle-bell or shekere on the steady beat.

14. Use the word INTRO to label the small box at the beginning and explain that is short for introduction. Put an 8 on it.

15. Draw an icon representing a jingle bell or shekere in the intro box and also at the beginning of the bottom line to indicate the sound source chosen to play there.

16. Explain that the bottom line continues throughout the ABA diagram, meaning that the jingle bell or shekere continues to play the steady beat throughout the entire piece.

17. Tell the player to play 8 beats as an introduction before everyone else comes in on the A section. Instruct the player to continue playing the steady beat throughout the piece. Explain that he or she will play the introduction followed by the bottom line.

18. Direct the students to perform the piece as shown now on the transparency. Give the intro person 4 beats to start (verbal count-off).

19. Direct the students to repeat the effort, if required.

20. Discuss the hard parts, easy parts, and parts that need improvement.

21. Have the students try once more. Repeat step 20.

22. Introduce the next task, a small group ABA composition with introduction. Refer to posted checklist and explain that the criteria needs to be in each composition.

23. Ask students to predict how what they have already done in this lesson will be like the task they will be doing.

24. Show them the Helpful Group Behavior poster. Review it briefly. Tell them that you will be assessing each individual on his/her group behavior using the checklist.

25. Allow the students to self-select groups of 3 (2-each composing a section and the third to compose the introduction). Tell them that they should choose wisely because if you disagree with their choices, you give yourself permission to change them, or use your preferred method to assign groups.

26. Tell them that they have 15 minutes to create and practice an ABA composition with posted criteria for the composition and group behavior. Go over the criteria. Tell them they have 15 minutes to work and then they will perform for the class.

27. Use your own procedures to have students choose sound sources (not limited to musical instruments Ė can include voices, body and found sounds) and find appropriate places to work.

28. Circulate to each group during practice. Remind students to refer to the two checklists. Give formative assessments using the checklists.

29. Have students perform for each other. Use your own procedures to insure appropriate audience behaviors including watching each performance, avoiding practicing during anotherís performance, and clapping at the end of every performance.

30. (Optional) Have all students do a thumb-evaluation of how each group did the composition checklist after the applause subsides. Have each individual group assess itself using the group behavior checklist. (Thumb up for exactly right; thumb sideways for getting there, needs practice; thumbs down for not even close yet.)

31. Have students put away the instruments after all groups have performed.


Students create an ABA composition in small groups and perform it for the class. As students create the composition, provide formative feedback to each group. Use the ABA Composition Criteria in the associated file to assess the completed composition in the performance.

During the student composition process, provide formative feedback to each group using Helpful Group Behaviors in the associated file. Use Helpful Group Behaviors to assess Standard 8 of the Goal 3 Standards. Include both rehearsal and performance behaviors in the assessment.


ESE: Be alert to make sure the special needs child has an appropriate part, perhaps the steady beat accompaniment. Check back with the group to reinforce or help shape the groupís decision.

This lesson could be broken into two segments.

The lesson could also be adapted or extended in various ways to perform other forms, i.e., AB, AABA, etc.
Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.