Lesson Plan for SoundTree

April 2004


Building Canons on Pachelbelšs Canon in D


National Standard:  2 - Performing on instruments alone and with others.

                           4 - Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines.

6 - Listening to, analyzing and describing music.

7 - Evaluating music and music performances.


Objective:    The students will demonstrate their understanding of the structure of a canon by composing melodies and variations over Pachelbelšs Theme from the Canon in D.


Materials:     A networked keyboard lab with computers and headphones.

                   Definition of a Canon Student Handout.

                   Musical Example from Pachelbel’s Canon Student File.

                   Pachelbelšs Canon in D Student File.



1.    Teacher distributes the Definition of a Canon handout.

2.    Teacher introduces the concept of a canon and how it is constructed.  Teacher reviews the handout with the students to answer any questions that they might have.

3.    Using a computer with notation software, speakers, and a projection device, the teacher will open the Musical Example from Pachelbelšs Canon Student File (this lesson uses Sibelius, but any notation software may be used). 

4.    Teacher will play the example for the students and discuss the structure of Pachelbelšs Canon and how it relates to the definition discussed in the Definition of a Canon handout.

5.    Students will discuss the melody over the theme in the bass and discuss how it relates to the harmonic structure of the canon.

6.    Students will then open the Pachelbelšs Canon in D Student File on their computers and compose their own melodies over the given theme in the bass.  Students should stay within the harmonic structure outlined by the theme.

7.    After sufficient time (perhaps 2 or 3 class sessions), students will perform their compositions for the class using the playback function of the notation software.

8.    Teacher and students discuss the success of each composition.

9.    After each student composition has been performed, teacher will replay the original Canon in D for the students using the Musical Example from Pachelbelšs Canon Student File.

10. Teacher and students discuss how their compositions relate to the original.



Extensions:            Students could score their canons for acoustic instruments that could then be performed by live musicians.


                           Students could create their own theme for the canon, and build melodies over them.


                           Teacher could record each composition using either an analog or digital audio recorder to archive the performances for later critique/discussion.