Grade: all
Subject: Music

#3768. Learning Crescendo and Decrescendo

Music, level: all
Posted Wed May 24 18:54:18 PDT 2006 by Meghan Webb (
Marshall University, Huntington, WV
Materials Required: included in lesson
Activity Time: 35-40 minutes
Concepts Taught: Hearing and visually recognizing the symbols for crescendo and decrescendo

Daily Lesson Plan:
Elementary Classroom Music Unit Plan
Music Lesson

Day/Date: March 27, 2005 Grade/Class: Third Grade

Concept/Concepts: Hearing and visually recognizing the symbols for crescendo and decrescendo

Rationale: I want the children to be able to both audibly and visually recognize the symbols for crescendo and decrescendo.

Goals and Objectives:

1. Instructional Goals: To teach the understanding of crescendo and decrescendo with the spiritual song Steal Away

2. Objectives/Outcomes: Students will be able to effectively compare/contrast the differences in crescendo and decrescendo dynamic levels. The students will also be taught proper concert etiquette in order to prepare them for a field trip.

GM.3.2.4 Recognize the symbols for crescendo and decrescendo.


Lesson Intro:
To start off this lesson, the entire class will again dance to the piece Hoe-Down from Rodeo composed by Aaron Copland. This is a continuation activity from a previous lesson in this unit.
Note: See Rhythms and Dances for School Age Kids by Susan Kramer



1. After the music/dance introduction, have the students sing the American spiritual Steal Away which explores contrasting dynamic levels. Teacher may then explain the history of this song to the children. (For example, this song was sung by slaves on plantations and it focuses on an afterlife with the words "I don't have to stay here." Ask the children to listen to how the mood of the piece changes with the different dynamic levels. The teacher may direct the students to sing softly the words "I don't have long to stay here" and loudly the words "He calls me by thunder; the trumpet sounds within-a soul.")
2. After the discussion over the history of the song, the teacher may question the students about the "V" like symbols that they see in the music.
3. Explain to the students that you (the teacher) will be singing the song, and that they need to listen very carefully. Ask the students to try to hear how the second time singing is different from the first. Note: Students should comment on the different dynamic (crescendo/decrescendo) levels.
4. The teacher may then introduce the different dynamic levels of crescendo and decrescendo. (Note: Be sure to have a visual drawing of the symbols on the board representing the way that this concept is notated in music)
5. Be sure to ask the students if there are any questions. Explain to them that they will be singing the music one more time for fun to see if they can recognize, hear, and sing the crescendo and decrescendo notations in the music.

Concert Etiquette/Rodeo

6. After the completion of the dynamic level activity, the teacher should inform the students that they will be attending a symphony orchestra concert at Marshall University on Friday.
7. The teacher may then go on to explain the proper rules of concert etiquette to his or her students. (See Attached Handout)
8. Explain to the children that for the next activity, they are going to be listening to one of the same pieces of music (Rodeo) that they will hear at this concert. Have the children practice the proper concert etiquette skills before and after the piece.

Concert Etiquette Steps:
• Ask all students to quietly exit the room in a single file line in order to create a concert entrance/exit scenario.
• Direct the students to enter the concert auditorium (classroom). Note: Teacher should make sure that the children refrain from talking.
• Politely signal the children to find their seats and wait for the start of the performance.
• Teacher should wait a minute or two to make sure that all of the children are situated and ready.
• Once the teacher has the full attention of the class, he or she may begin to play the music.
• Watch the children during the pretend performance. The teacher may use this time to correct the children's behavior in order to fix potential problems that might arise during the field trip.
• Make it fun! Be sure to quiz the children on what they should and what they should not do.

Note: Teacher should inform the students of the events that will be occurring during the field trip. For example: Bus ride approximately 20 minutes, lunch at McDonald's approximately 1 hour, etc.

*Relating Hoe-Down from Rodeo composed by Aaron Copeland to this lesson

Additional Activity

9. Each student will be asked to sit down and carefully listen to the piece Hoe-Down from Rodeo composed by Aaron Copeland. Ask the students to try to pick out the sections of the music that gradually get louder and the sections that gradually get softer.
10. Play the piece again for the children, and watch carefully to assess what they have learned. After the piece has ended the teacher can discuss the answers that the children wrote down.


Reinforcement 1:
Teacher can instruct the students to draw the appropriate symbol on a piece of paper when they hear that dynamic level in the music. For example, when the child hears crescendo, have the child draw the crescendo symbol on their paper.

Reinforcement 2:
Each student will be asked carefully listen to the piece Hoe-Down from Rodeo composed by Aaron Copland. Challenge the students to try to pick out the loud and the soft sections in the music. Watch carefully to assess what the children have learned. After the piece has ended the teacher can discuss the answers that the children wrote down.

For a fun activity, the students could create a short piece of music with classroom instruments, using different dynamic levels in order to provide contrast.



• Rhythms and Dances for School Age Kids by Susan Kramer
• Copies of the song Steal Away
• Rules for Concert Etiquette
• Hoe-Down from Rodeo composed by Aaron Copland
• Paper, Pencils
• CD player
• Optional: Variety of classroom instruments

Procedures for Assessment:

1. Randomly select students throughout the lesson to answer questions during both the lecture on dynamic levels and proper concert etiquette.
2. Listen and Watch the students while they sing.
3. Assist the students during all parts of this lesson.
4. Challenge each child to reach their fullest potential.
5. Listen to the feedback of the students.
6. If Reinforcement Option 1 is used, the teacher may collect and grade the students work from that activity.
7. Optional: Unit Test


• Hoe Down from Rodeo composed by Aaron Copland
• Copies of the song Steal Away

Instruments: Optional: classroom instruments to provide variation and contrast

• Integrating Music Into the Elementary Classroom by Anderson Lawrence
• Rhythms and Dances for School Age Kids by Susan Kramer

Other: none

Modifications for Diverse Learners:

• Hearing Challenged Student: Make sure that the child is sitting close enough to the front of the class in order to see and hear the read aloud and to understand all the questions and directions that are being given by the teacher. If needed, the teacher may provide the students with a personal CD player device to better hear the differences in dynamic levels. If possible, allow another student to assist a hearing impaired student during this lesson.

• Physically Challenged: The student should be able to understand this entire lesson. However, a physically challenged student might have a problem with the intro activity depending on the severity of the disability. If possible, a teacher or another child could assist the physically challenged student during the activity.

• Visually Challenged: The child should be able to perform and understand this entire lesson with very little assistance from others. If possible, provide the student with a brail copy of the music for the singing portion of this lesson.

• Gifted Student: Definitely encourage and motivate this child to learn. If the child excels faster than the other students, have the child assist others.

Note: A gifted student could assist the teacher if he or she needed peer assistance during this lesson. The gifted student could assist a visually or physically challenged student.

• Mentally Challenged: If the child is having difficulties completing this lesson assure them that it is okay. Teacher may want to simplify the work to the student's level of learning.

If possible, have the gifted student help the mentally challenged student. Both might learn more!

Reflections and Revisions:
(To complete After Lesson)

Did the lesson proceed smoothly or are changes needed?

Would you re-use this lesson plan?

Did you need other resources or equipment?

Was the length of the activities appropriate for the group?


GM.3.2.4 Recognize the symbols for crescendo and decrescendo.