Anthony Sgro

A&HM 4029

Dr. James Frankel


Technology Lesson Plan



Tone Poem Composing Project



This project is intended to supplement 5th and 6th grade students’ experience with notation and composition.  During the course, students have already become proficient in entering notation using the Sibelius music notation program.  Specifically, students will explore the role of music in telling a story or poem. 



1)    The students will be able to articulate the effect that music has on the perception of a video scene from a movie.

2)    Using Sibelius, the students will be able to compose a simple excerpt of music, specifically considering dynamics, timbre, and articulation that relates to a poem, story, or picture.


Materials Needed

1)    Computer stations with Sibelius and Word installed for each group of students

2)    Headphones

3)    Several student-chosen movie video clips (as explained below)

4)    TV / DVD Player

5)    CD player

6)    Recording of Debussy’s Prelude a L’apres Midi D’un Faune


Anticipatory Set

The assignment from two class periods prior to this lesson was to bring in a video clip from a movie in which music plays a significant part.  (Since the students brought these clips in ahead of time, the teacher will have time to preview for content and prepare the order of the movies as the teacher feels appropriate.) 

1)    As the students enter the room, the teacher plays the video clips one at a time.

2)    The teacher asks the students to articulate what effect the music has in each scene.  What if the scene had no music?  What if the music sounded different?  What if you closed your eyes and only heard music?  Would the scene look differently?

3)    Explore the effects that dynamics, timbre, and articulation can have on a piece of music.

4)    Explain the project to the students.  Students will compose their own music based on their own poem, original scene, or picture.



5)    Students will listen to an excerpt of Prelude a L’apres Midi D’un Faune by Claude Debussy.  Teacher asks the students to imagine this piece of music being played in a movie theme.  In your opinion, what specific kind of action do you think is going on?

6)    Teacher introduces the term “tone poem.”  Students and teacher discuss how a “tone poem” is like music in movies.

7)    Teacher helps the student create their own story “programme” for Prelude a L’apres Midi D’un Faune.  During the process, teacher asks the students to articulate why they choose specific actions, characters, and moods, using musical terms.  Then, the teacher explains the poem by Mallarme that Debussy had in mind when composing Prelude a L’apres Midi D’un Faune.

8)    Students are split into small groups.  Each group will create their own poem, original scene, or picture.  After they complete their own source of inspiration, students will put on their headphones and begin to compose music using Sibelius.  The music should directly relate to the poem, original scene, or picture.  The music must include thoughtful consideration of dynamics, timbre, and articulation.



Check for student understanding

Each group will share its tone poem with the class.  All students critique how and why the music reflected the scene, picture, or poem.  Students in other groups and the teacher may give suggestions for changes the group may wish to consider.



What are some ways that a composer can express ideas and emotion in the music that they write?  Teacher will guide the students to specifically discuss how dynamics, timbre, and articulation affect the compositional process.




Each group will revise their compositions based on the recommendations of their peers and teacher.




            Each group will perform their tone poems for another class.




Using Word, each member of the group must write a one paragraph essay related to the process that they used to compose music to their poem, original scene, or picture.