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        5-7,13+

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        Math + Arts | Calculating Musical Tempo

        In this lesson, students calculate the beats per minute (BPM) of songs in different tempos.

        Lesson Summary

        There are three options for this lesson, depending on class needs and time available:

        1. Frame, Focus, and Reflection (view and discuss): students will learn about tempo, rhythm, and speed in music.

        2. Short hands-on activity: students will calculate tempo of music.

        3. Project: students will calculate the beats per minute (BPM) of songs in different tempos.

        Time Allotment

        1. Frame, Focus, and Reflection (view and discuss): 1/2 class period

        2. Short hands-on activity: 1/2 class period

        3. Project: 3-4 class periods

        Learning Objectives

        Math

        I can calculate the tempo of a piece of recorded music in beats per minute and describe it using rate language.

        Arts and Humanities

        I can define tempo.

        I can identify and count beats in a piece of music by listening and using an audio software spectrum analyzer.

        I can define the terms adagio, moderato, allegro, and presto.

        I can recognize if a piece of music would be adagio, moderato, allegro, or presto by counting beats.

        I can determine the BPM (beats per minute) of a piece of music.

        I can distinguish between adagio, moderato, allegro, and presto.

        I can describe how tempo can express ideas or emotions in music.

        Prep for Teachers

        Students will need to know what musical beats are and how to calculate a unit rate. Students will also need to know how to convert a time measured in seconds to minutes.

        Supplies

        Audacity software (free download).  See the accompanying software guide for instructions on downloading, installing, and using Audacity for this assignment.

        Music files selected by the teacher or the students.

        Media Resources

        KET Music Arts Toolkit: What is Music?

        PBS Learning Media: "Math in Music"

        Example #1 Adagio from PBS Learning Media: "Exploring Excellence: Kimani Griffin"

        Example #2 Moderato from PBS Learning Media: "Found Sound: Joshua Jones"

        Example #3 Allegro from PBS Learning Media: "Cluck Old Hen/I Had a Rooster"

        Example #4 Presto: YouTube: Blue Highway performing "Riding the Danville Pike"

        Introductory Activity

        Students will need to know what musical beats are and how to calculate a unit rate. Students will also need to know how to convert a time measured in seconds to minutes.

        Learning Activities

        Frame, Focus, and Reflection

        Ask students to write a definition for the musical terms tempo and rhythm on a sheet of paper. Tell them, as they watch the video, to decide if they want to change their definition. Show the Music Arts Toolkit segment "What is Music?" from 2:55 to 4:58. Allow students to rewrite their definitions if they want. Ask a few students to share their pre and post viewing definitions.

        Before showing "Math in Music" emphasize the idea of musical tempo as the “speed” of a piece of music. A short review/discussion of unit rates and how they are calculated might be appropriate, depending on the class’ needs.

        Short Activity

        The activity embedded in the lesson asks students to calculate the tempo of the music in the example. Viewing the video and completing the online activity will take the better part of a class period.

        Project

        In the KET video, the students see how the beats in the music are represented visually in the music software being used. To extend this program, students can use Audacity to measure the length of a segment of a song selected by the student or the teacher and “see” the beats in the spectrum analyzer, much like was done in the video. See the accompanying software guide for more detailed instructions.

        Example #1 Adagio

        Example #2 Moderato

        Example #3 Allegro

        Example #4 Presto

        Reference Handouts

        Counting Tempo Terms and Activities

        Terms

        • Tempo is the rate of speed of a musical piece or passage indicated by one of a series of directions (e.g., adagio, moderato, allegro, and presto) and often by an exact metronome marking.
        • Beat is an individual stroke of measured time; the steady pulse of a song. Beats are rhythmically organized by the time signature and given speed by the tempo.
        • BPM is an acronym for "beats per minute."
        • Adagio is a slow passage, movement, or work of music. (66-76 BPM)
        • Moderato is music at a moderate tempo. (108-120 BPM)
        • Allegro is a quick lively tempo. (120-168 BPM)
        • Presto is a very fast tempo, usually considered to be faster than allegro. (168-200 BPM)

        Activities

        Using provided samples of music, answer the following for each:

        • What is the BPM (beats per minute) of this piece of music? You can use your hands to clap along with the beat. Count how many beats occur in one minute and you’ll know an approximate BPM.
        • What tempo would this song most closely be (adagio, moderato, allegro, presto)?
        • What kind of mood does this piece of music have?
        • How was tempo used to create the mood of the piece?

        Have students complete the "Music Log."

        Teacher Reference Sheet

        For the terms, you could use the following forms of assessment:

        • Oral questioning with class
        • Bell Ringer Quiz
        • Cross Word Puzzle
        • Matching
        • Post Lesson Quiz

        Activities Sample Answers

        Use the examples provided in the lesson plan. The terms adagio, moderato, allegro, and presto are not bound to specific BPM. The examples provided are in an approximate tempo.

        What is the BPM (beats per minute) of this piece of music? You can use your hands to clap along with the beat. Count how many beats occur in one minute and you’ll know an approximate BPM.

        What tempo would this song most closely be (adagio, moderato, allegro, presto)? 

        • Example #1 is adagio. (approx. 70 BPM, clap pattern 1-2-3, 1-2-3)
        • Example #2 is moderato. (approx. 112 BPM)
        • Example #3 is allegro. (approx. 120 BPM) (Use first part of video “Cluck Old Hen”)
        • Example #4 is presto. (approx. 183 BPM)

        You can play these examples in any order you’d like. Try mixing it up for fun.

        What kind of emotion does this music express?

        Answers will vary. Students may say the slower pieces are more somber or sad while the faster pieces are more happy and fun.

        How was tempo used to help express the emotion of the piece?

        Answers will vary. Students will most likely associate slower tempos with more tranquil emotions, even sadness or peace. Faster songs will usually get more “happy, fun, exciting” adjectives. You may want to have students create a list of adjectives to describe the mood of the music.

        Formative Assessment

        What are the indicators of student progress toward or achievement of each learning target?

        Math Assessment Problems

        Teacher review of the "Math in Music" activity.

        Teacher review of "Music Log."

        Arts and Humanities

        For a quick assessment of comprehension of musical terms:

        • Oral questioning with class
        • Bell Ringer Quiz
        • Cross Word Puzzle
        • Matching
        • Post Lesson Quiz

        For application of terms, review the "Music Logs."

        Program Review

        Where does this fit in? How should you document it?

        This activity contributes to your school’s overall efforts in art programming in several areas, depending on whether you implement just the Frame, Focus, and Reflection portion or you implement the entire project.

        Curriculum and Instruction: Aligned and Rigorous Curriculum

        a) To what extent does the school ensure that the arts curriculum encompasses creating, performing, and responding and is fully aligned with the Kentucky Core Academic Standards?

        b) To what extent does the school ensure that the arts curriculum provides for the development of arts literacy in all four arts discipline and also utilizes the Common Core Standards for English/Language Arts?

        c) To what extent does the school ensure that the school’s curriculum provides opportunities for integration as natural cross-curricular connections are made between the arts and other content areas?

        d) To what extent does the school ensure that the arts curriculum includes the study of representative and exemplary works of dance, music, theater, and visual arts from a variety of artists, cultural traditions, and historical periods?

        Curriculum and Instruction: Instructional Strategies

        a) To what extent do teachers systematically incorporate all three components of arts study: creating, performing and responding into the arts?

        b) To what extent do teachers provide models of exemplary artistic performances and products to enhance students’ understanding of an arts discipline and to develop their performance/production skills?

        Curriculum and Instruction: Student Performance

        a) To what extent are students actively engaged in creating, performing, and responding to the arts?

        b) To what extent do students identify a purpose and generate original and varied art works or performances that are highly expressive with teacher guidance?

         

        Lesson Creators: Mitch Hawkins, Donnie Stevens, Judy Sizemore, Emily Jackson, Dawn Hibbard, and Dean Cornett

        Producer:

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