Second Grade - Music - Lesson 13 - Keyboards


Become familiar with appearance and characteristic sound of piano.

Identify piano as part of percussion family.

Find middle C on the keyboard.

Observe scale, chord, and "broken" chord.

Listen to a well-known classical piano piece and hear in it "broken" chords and waves of sound.


Diagram of two octaves of piano keys (attached)

Pictures of upright and grand pianos in books or magazines

A piano

Recording of J.S. Bach, Prelude No. 1 in C major from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1 (see

recommended recordings below)

Recommended Recordings

For Bach Prelude: Bach Greatest Hits, Sony CD 64051

This CD is inexpensive ($11.98), and the performance of the Prelude (about 2 minutes long) is by Glenn Gould. The same CD has two other pieces that are part of the Core Knowledge sequence: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring and the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, which is the listening for Lesson 14.

Suggested Books

Barber, Nicola and Mary Mure. The World of Music. Parsippany, NJ: Silver Burdett, 1996

Particularly good sections explaining differences between harpsichord and pianoforte, short sections on Bach and Mozart, plus a good section on music for the piano. Any of these sections could be read aloud to the children.

Danes, Emma. The Usborne First Book of Music. London: Usborne, 1993.

Page 43 has a good diagram for finding notes on a piano. The rest of the book is not relevant for this particular lesson, but has lots of good information about the "science" of music and elementary music composition for young children. Good reference for teacher.

Jeunesse, Gallimard and Claude Delafosse. Musical Instruments. NY: Scholastic, 1994.

Part of Scholastic's First Discovery Books series, this has a striking illustration of a concert grand piano, shown from both the outside and the inside, plus a good, clear illustration of the action of the padded hammer on the string when a piano key is pressed.

Sharma, Elizabeth. Keyboards. New York: Thomson Learning, 1993.

Illustrated with color photographs, this is the most complete book you could find to supplement both this lesson and the one that follows, which is about the organ. It is part of a Live Music! series we've recommended for families of instruments.

Willson, Robina Beckles. Musical Instruments. Henry Walck, 1966.

For teacher reference, wonderful section on the history and historical development of organs, from time of Egypt through a description of Bach's organ for next lesson. Good line drawings and historical information about keyboard instruments such as harpsichord, virginal, spinet, clavichord, etc. precursors of the modern piano.

Young, Percy M. Mozart. New York: The Bookwright Press, 1987.

Serviceable for its occasional historical photographs (for instance, Mozart's clavier) and as reference for the teacher. Definitely not for reading aloud.


Second Grade - Music - Lesson 13 - Keyboards

Background for the Teacher

It is important that the beginning of this lesson be taught at the piano, which will mean starting the lesson wherever a piano is located. The first experience with the instrument needs to be three-dimensional and kinesthetic as well as visual and conceptual. If your piano is not in a music room, you will want to return to the room to play the piano recordings for the listening portion of the lesson.


Have the children gather around the piano, and open it so that the children are able to see the inner workings--the strings and hammers--as well as the 88 keys of the keyboard. Ask: Which family of instruments does the piano belong to? (percussion) Chances are, most people will guess "strings." Say: I want you all to watch the strings and see what happens when I push on the individual piano keys. Play a few notes, then a few more until they can clearly see the felt hammers that strike the strings as the notes are played.

Ask: Who can tell us what happens when I push down keys on the piano? Tell the children that the little rounded pieces are called hammers, because they really do hammer the particular string whose key you push down on the keyboard. If the sounds of the piano are produced by hammers, what family of instruments does the piano belong to? (percussion)

Next, show the children the keys of the piano. Let them guess, then count the number of keys on the piano (88). Say: The white keys all look exactly the same, but there is a pattern to the way the black keys are arranged. What is the pattern? (2, 3, 2, 3, and so on ) Now I want to find an important note on the piano that lets us know where all the other notes are found and what they are called. This note is called middle C. If you find the white key just to the left of the two black keys that is closest to the middle of the keyboard, that will be middle C. (Have as many children find it as possible.)

Say: The keys on the piano use the letters of the alphabet, but only seven of them, over and over again. Show them the following diagram:

ay: The order of the eight notes, played individually from middle C to the next C, is called a scale. If we play only the white notes, starting with any C on the piano, we play the simplest scale there is, and it is called the C major scale. (Play the scale for the children at a few different octaves.) Say: Sing the C major scale with me as I play it and sing the names as we go (C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C).

If we start with any other note, we need to add one or more of the black notes to make a major scale. (Start with D and play D major, E and play E major, etc. just so they can see and hear how the notes combine.)


Second Grade - Music - Lesson 13 - Keyboards
When we play a scale, we play just one note after the other, one at a time. If we play several notes at exactly the same time, we hear the sound they make together. The sound of several notes heard together is called a chord. Starting at middle C (have the children name the note again as you touch it), put your five fingers on the white keys just as they fall naturally; then play 1, 3, and 5 (or thumb, middle finger, pinky) so that the children can hear what a chord sounds like. Ask: If the chord starts on C and I play 1, 3, and 5, what are the names of the notes in this C major chord? (C, E, G; they may need to check the diagram to figure this out) Say: If you play a chord one note at a time, it is called a "broken" chord; play the same chord for them again, this time "broken" and ask again: What are the three notes? (C, E, G) Then take the class to a place where they can hear the recorded piano piece.

Tell the children that the first piece they will hear was written by a famous composer by the name of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) who lived about 300 years ago in a country in Europe by the name of Germany (find on the map). Say: Bach wrote a great many musical compositions of many different kinds--some for voices singing together with instruments, some for combinations of instruments, some for just the string family (have the children name: violin, viola, cello, and bass) and some for solo instruments.

The piece we are going to hear today will be played by piano alone, and it is called Prelude No. 1 in C major. "Prelude" means that it comes before another piece, which it introduces. What do you remember about C major? (the scale with all the white notes, the scale that starts with middle C, the simplest scale on the piano) Say: The person who plays this piece will use two hands on the piano, so you will hear lots of things that sound much more fancy than what we did on our piano, but remember that it is all based on that simple C major scale.

Say: Actually, the entire piece is made up of "broken" chords. Let's listen to it now.

As the piece progresses, say, at one or two points: Do you hear those broken chords? Raise your hands when you do. After they have raised their hands, say: Let's hear it once more, and this time I want you to listen to how the music moves forward. Listen to how it seems to be growing bigger then smaller, like waves coming and going. And how those waves of sound grow, until finally a long "broken" chord enters and the piece ends quietly.

Optional Activity

If there is time, you might want to pass out paper and crayons to the children, play the piece once or twice more--remember, it is only about 2 minutes long--and have them draw what they hear as the pattern the music makes.


Second Grade - Music - Lesson 14 - Keyboards 2


Observe differences between piano and organ.

Listen to a piece written for organ and hear how it is made up of two parts.

Hear how music grows in time, and how it can be felt in hands and arms.


Simple pan pipes, or other instrument with pipes of varying lengths


Several drinking straws and scissors (These are for teacher demonstration.)

One of the Suggested Books from Lesson 13 recommended for organ, or pictures of an organ from magazines

Recording of J.S. Bach Toccata & Fugue in D minor (see Suggested Recording below)

Recording of Camille Saint Saens, Symphony No. 3 ("organ symphony"), final movement

Suggested Recordings

Bach: Organ Toccata & Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 (10 minutes playing time) on Bach Organ Works, Naxos DDD 8.550184 $5.99. The piece may be found in a different performance on Sony CD64051, description Lesson 13.

Naxos label's CD's are all inexpensive and well recorded.


Briefly review with the children some of the material from the previous lesson with a few questions such as: What is the name of the keyboard instrument we looked at and heard playing at the last music lesson? (piano) What family of instruments does the piano belong to? (percussion) Why not the string family? (It makes its characteristic sound from hammers that tap the strings.) Who remembers the letter names of the notes on the piano? (A, B, C, D, E, F, G or they might give it in a different order such as: C, D, E, F, G, A, B) How many keyboards are on a piano? (one, with 88 keys)

Say: Today we will see some pictures and listen to some music of another keyboard instrument. This instrument has more than one keyboard and is often heard in churches. Can anyone guess what it is? (organ) Show the children one or two pictures of organs from the recommended books or from magazines. Be sure that the pictures you choose show at least two manuals (keyboards), the stops on the organ, the foot pedals, and the organ pipes as well.

If you have the Willson book, Musical Instruments, recommended as one of the Suggested Books in Lesson 13, be sure to read for your own information the brief section that gives the long history of the organ, which you may want to pass along to the children in simplified form. The important thing for the children to know is that some form of the organ has existed from Egyptian times. They should also understand that--until modern times--playing an organ always required not only the person who operated the keyboard, but also someone to work a bellows or pump for blowing the air into the pipes as well. If you have a panpipe or similar primitive instrument with pipes of differing lengths joined together, demonstrate the principle to the children in that way. If not, use the plastic straws for a demonstration. Cut the top into a point, pinch the top to flatten it, wet the reed you have just created, fold your lips over your teeth, BCP DRAFT MUS 39

Second Grade - Music - Lesson 14 - Keyboards 2

and blow hard. When you have produced a sound (more like a squawk probably), begin to cut lengths away from the far end, so that you can change the pitch. The point is that the shorter the straw (or pipe), the higher the pitch. The children should be able to understand from your demonstration that the organ operates not from hammers hitting strings the way a piano does, but from wind passing through pipes of different lengths. Therefore, the organ is really a wind instrument rather than a percussion instrument, so it belongs to a different family from the piano.

After your demonstration, show the children the pictures of the organ again and ask: What do you see about the organ that reminds you of the piano? (keyboard). Say: That's right, keyboard. The keyboard on an organ has the same white keys with the same A, B, C, D, E, F, G

names and the same pattern of 2's and 3's for the black notes. But there are also lots of differences. Organs often have two or three, or even four keyboards, which organists call manuals. In addition to that, there is a pedal keyboard for organists to play with their feet! (Show in the picture.) Finally, there are knobs on the organ (show them in the pictures) that are pulled out in different combinations to make the organ sound more like other instruments. Organists are very, very busy with both hands and both feet at the same time. Do you think that would be difficult?

Say: You're going to hear a famous piece for organ written by the same composer whose piano piece you heard last time, the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach worked in churches for most of his lifetime, and he had to write brand new pieces for every Sunday in the year. The piece we'll hear has two parts: a toccata, which is very big, broad music and introduces a second piece, which is called a fugue. A fugue is a piece that is built up of single melodies in different voices, as you'll hear. Listen to this piece as you close your eyes, imagine you are in an enormous building or church, and see how the sound makes you feel.

Play the recording. As the toccata progresses, quietly point out how BIG it is, showing its big contrasts with your hands and arms. Indicate the fugue's beginning, and (using your hands) how the melody repeats in a second voice, then in a third. With just an occasional quiet remark, try to help the children hear how the music builds up as it progresses, becoming greater and greater until it comes to an end.

After they have heard the piece, say: Words and sentences live on a page, and we can always go back and see them. A painting or drawing is done on a canvas or on paper, and hung up to see as well. Music is different: you can't see it, you can only hear it. Of course, an organ player plays from notes that are written on paper--but those notes aren't really the music; the music is what you hear with your ears. The music itself isn't on a piece of paper or hung on the wall like a painting--the music takes place in time.

Say: The organ piece by Bach that we just heard took time--it was maybe about 10 minutes long. Let's listen to the first part of the piece, the toccata, and let's see how many minutes long it is. (If there is a clock in the room, do this with the whole class; if not, use your watch and let the children in on your figuring.) Write the starting time on the chalkboard.

While the toccata is playing, quietly signal some of the music's dramatic changes with your hand and arm, as you did before, but with even bigger gestures. When the toccata is over, write the ending time on the board, and ask: How many minutes have passed from beginning to end? Say: Okay, we see that the tocccata part of the piece is _____ minutes long. What happened BCP DRAFT MUS 40

Second Grade - Music - Lesson 14 - Keyboards 2

during those _____ minutes? (Accept any answer that indicates thinking and listening, such as there were high-up sounds, and low-down sounds, long sounds and quick sounds, loud sounds and soft sounds.) The important part about the toccata is that it moved and grew in time.

Say: You saw me show some of the highs and lows, louds and softs, and long and quick sounds with my hands. I'd like to see you try this. See if you can do it a little bit, along with me, while we play the toccata just once more.