Barry LeBron

Dr. Frankel





This lesson is intended for a middle school first clarinet lesson.  They have a fundamental knowledge of pitch, intonation, and harmonic theory. 


Objective: Students will further their ability to discern when pitches are in tune, flat, or sharp, by reviewing intonation, practicing and taking an exam with Aurelia, and then assessing intonation on live instruments playing set examples of unison pitches. Our final goal is to play a section in the band music that needs the most attention to intonation.


Purpose: This lesson begins a new segment in a unit on Intonation.  Students previously have learned how to tune their own instruments to a tuner.  Now, they will practice to hear and correct intonation issues in performance with other musicians. 



  1. Clarinets and band music
  2. Access to a music computer lab with ample computers for each student.  The computers have Aurelia with headphones.
  3. Tuner
  4. Two-octave D major scale notated


Anticipatory Set: Individually, students tune each instrument with tuner.  Each student demonstrates flat and sharp extremes, before honing in on central, correct pitch. 



  1. Discuss: What does it mean to be in tune?  Why is it important to be in tune?  Why does it sound better?  Conclusions: pitch is perfected; unisons and harmonic intervals are in perfect relation.  When pitches are in tune, the frequency waves are matching in accordance with the harmonic spectrum and create what sounds as Śmost beautifulą and Śrightą to our ear.  This contrasts music that is out of tune, which can sound displeasing, muddy, or even painful to the artistically sensitive ear.  Mention that all musicians, including rock stars, tune up.
  2. Have instruments play unison concert Bb pitch.
  3.  Open ears to beats in sound waves.  Have two clarinets demonstrate unison concert Bb.  Instruct one player to lip sharp.  All listen to beats in the sound waves as they clash.  The student then corrects the pitch and beats disappear.
  4. Move the students to the computer stations and open Aurelia.  Instruct students to practice levels one and two of the pitch training category.
  5. Have students take prepared exam on level two after fifteen minutes of practice.  Discuss results.
  6. Return to instruments.  Remind students of embouchure technique to attain perfect intonation in all registers.
  7. Play two-octave D major scale, one note at a time.  Begin with one player to a tuner.  When in tune, add a second player, and continue until all are playing one note without beats in the sound wave.  Make sure to draw student attention to listening for the beats.  Then, continue to the next note.
  8. Play the entire scale, conducting each note.
  9. Play excerpt from band music in which first clarinets have phrases including the high D.  Practice this unison section in the same pattern as the scale.  When finished, play as close to tempo and with musical inflection as perfect intonation allows.


Check for Student Understanding: In each section of the lesson, there is constant opportunity to assess student learning.  They will have to correctly tune their instrument and assess whether instruments are in tune, sharp, or flat.  Next, they will take an exam after practicing on Aurelia and discuss results.  Finally, the teacher assesses how each student performs the D major scale and band music while correcting intonation.


Closure:  Pose guided questions to the students. 

  1. Q: Why play in tune?  A: The correct placement of each pitch makes music beautiful
  2. Q: What is a pitch called when it is below center?  A: flat  Q: High from center?  A: sharp
  3. What happens when pitches are out of tune?  A: You can hear the beats
  4. Q: How can you improve pitch?  A: Listen for beats, train ear by practicing with tuner, other musicians, and programs such as Aurelia



  1. Focus on unison intonation in other keys, until finally focusing on the entire chromatic scale.
  2. Harmonic and intervallic intonation lessons, including chord progressions and multiple parts.