Lesson Plan for SoundTree

February 2005



This lesson requires students to create, notate, and perform the melody of and a rhythmic accompaniment to the traditional Japanese folk song, Sakura.  This lesson will take more than one class session to complete.


National Standard:  2 ­ Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

4 - Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines.

6 - Listening to, analyzing and describing music.

7 - Evaluating music and music performances.



1.    The students will demonstrate their understanding of the pentatonic scale by performing the melody to Sakura.

2.    The students create a rhythmic accompaniment scored for two traditional Japanese percussion instruments.

3.    The students notate their rhythmic accompaniment using the blank score provided.

4.    The students will compare and contrast each others work, and discuss the stylistic qualities of each accompaniment.


Materials:               A networked keyboard lab with headphones.

                           Sakura Student Handouts

                           Sakura MIDI File (visit SoundTree.com to download this file)



1.    Teacher distributes both of the Sakura Student Handouts.

2.    Students read the Sakura History Handout together.

3.    If a computer is available, teacher sets the GEC3 to Lecture mode and plays the Sakura MIDI File for the students.  This MIDI File has a shakuhachi performing the melody and the koto serving as the accompaniment.  If a computer is not available, there are many commercially available recordings of Sakura that can be purchased at most music stores.

4.    Students listen to the recording and describe what they hear, and how it is different from what they are used to hearing.

5.    Teacher sets the GEC3 to Practice Mode and asks students to play the following notes: E, F, A, B and C in at least two octaves using GM Patch #77: Shakuhachi. 

6.    Teacher monitors studentsą progress.

7.    Teacher sets the GEC3 to Lecture Mode and asks students to play the sequence of five notes.

8.    Teacher then asks students to perform the melody to Sakura using only the notes they just played, and sets the GEC3 back to Practice Mode.

9.    Teacher monitors studentsą progress.

10. After sufficient time, teacher sets the GEC3 to Lecture Mode and asks students to perform the melody to Sakura.

11. Teacher then has the students get into groups of four.  Teacher sets the GEC3 to Group Mode and sets each station to the appropriate group (Tip: You can select Duet or Quartet from the pull down menu at the upper right hand corner of the screen in Group Mode).

12. Each student in the group is responsible for either performing the melody, or creating a rhythmic pattern using one of two GM Patches - #115: Woodblock (for the Temple Block part) and #116: Taiko Drum.  The rhythmic pattern should be stylistically appropriate to the melody.  The fourth student in the group can also select another sound to perform either the melody (GM #106: Shamisen or GM #107: Koto) or a rhythmic pattern (GM #117: Melodic Tom).

13. Students will notate their rhythmic patterns using the Sakura Score Handout.  Once the students have created their rhythmic patterns, the groups will perform all of the parts together.

14. After sufficient time, the teacher sets the GEC3 to Lecture Mode and selects the students in each group to perform their melody and rhythmic accompaniment for the class.

15. After each group has performed their composition, students will discuss its success in regard to how well the rhythm related melody and whether it was stylistically appropriate.



Extensions:            Students can use actual percussion instruments to perform their rhythmic patterns while the MIDI File is playing.


                           Students can use their rhythmic patterns as the basis for a new composition.


                           The teacher could bring all of the students into the Lecture Mode to have a mass rhythmic accompaniment.