Baltimore Curriculum Project Draft Lessons

Introductory Notes

These lessons generally follow the grade-by-grade topics in the Core Knowledge Sequence, but they have been developed independent of the Core Knowledge Foundation. While the Core Knowledge Foundation encourages the development and sharing of lessons based on the Core Knowledge Sequence, it does not endorse any one set of lesson plans as the best or only way that the knowledge in the Sequence should be taught.

You may feel free to download and distribute these lessons, but please note that they are currently in DRAFT form. At this time the draft lessons on this web site do NOT have accompanying graphics, such as maps or cut-out patterns. Graphics will be added to this site later.

In participating BCP schools, these lessons are used in conjunction with the Direct Instruction skills programs in reading, language, and math. If you use or adapt these lessons, keep in mind that they are meant to address content and the application of skills. You will need to use other materials to ensure that children master skills in reading, language, and math.

Second Grade - Music - Lesson 3 - Orchestra


Become familiar with the four families of orchestral instruments.

Listen to "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra." (15-20 min. depending on performance)


Pictures of orchestral instruments, cut from magazines or shown in books

CD, tape, or LP of Benjamin Britten's "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra"

Recommended Books

Hausherr, Rosmarie. What Instrument Is This? NY: Scholastic, 1992. Pp. 36-38 give miniature line drawings of all the instruments and lists the instruments included in each family of the orchestra; they also list the recommended age for starting lessons on various instruments and particular difficulties of each.

Jeunesse, Gallimard and Claude Delafosse. Musical Instruments. NY Scholastic, 1994. (A First Discovery Book) Names instruments of each family of orchestra. Also, see two-page spread picturing full orchestra, placement and seating of all the instruments with approximate numbers

in each section of instruments plus conductor.

Background for Teacher

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) was a British composer famous for his many operas, solo and choral songs, and his most well-known piece for Christmastime "Rejoice in the Lamb" set for chorus and harp.

Britten's "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" was written in 1945 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the death of Henry Purcell, a 17th-century English composer. Britten based his composition on a theme of Purcell's that runs throughout the piece, and he originally included the subtitle Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell. Britten wrote the piece with the intention of introducing youngsters to the instruments of the orchestra. A spoken commentary was written for it, which may be found on some recordings (for example, CACD 1022 with Ben Kingsley as narrator), but more commonly it is heard as a concert piece without the narrative.


Ask whether anyone remembers what they learned about melody in music (moves up and down, is the part you can sing, may or may not have words). Remind the children that they have listened to music before that has a melody without words. (See Lesson 2.) Ask: Who remembers what family of instruments played that melody? (strings) On the blackboard mark four broad columns labeled strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. Brainstorm with the children, using any of the pictures of instruments you have collected and have them tell you all they can about each family, especially how each family of instruments produces its characteristic sound, and how they would describe that sound. Some possible responses are listed below:

Strings - wooden bodies, strings that are either bowed or plucked; descriptions of sound will vary

Woodwinds - wood or metal; sound produced by blowing breath through special mouthpiece; BCP DRAFT MUS 7

Second Grade - Music - Lesson 3 - Orchestra

relatively soft, sometimes nasal sound in the orchestra

Brass - metal bodies; produce sound by blowing breath through special mouthpiece into metal tubing; sound, usually loud

Percussion - any instrument that makes its sound by being pounded or struck; loud, lively sound

Before playing the piece for the children, tell them that the piece has a very long and lively melody which will be played by all the families of instruments, each one playing it a little differently. In music, we call this form of developing a melody a Theme and Variations. Tell them that the melody, or theme, will first be played by the full orchestra, then played by each family of instruments in a particular order:

Full orchestra, then

1. Woodwinds

2. Brass

3. Strings

4. Percussion

Other musical events follow as the piece develops further, but you want them to identify when each family begins to play the theme. Tell them the order again as you write it on the board: First they will hear the full orchestra play the theme, then the woodwinds, brass, strings, and percussion in turn. Ask them to raise their hands as they hear each new family begin the theme.When they raise their hands, point to the name of the correct family on the board, to reinforce the association between the sound and the family of instruments.

If time allows, after the children have listened and identified the entrances of the four different families of instruments, ask whether anyone could describe some of the ways the melody, or theme, of this piece was changed, or sounded different when it was played by a different family of instruments.


Optional Activity

Other possibilities for exploration of sound present themselves with this piece. In the second half, some of the children may have noticed that individual instruments take turns playing solos. If you have time to play the piece several times over the course of this month, you could help the children identify these particular instruments, and show them pictures as you write the names on the board.


Second Grade - Music - Lesson 4 - Patriotic Songs


Review the meaning of patriotic songs.

Learn to sing words and music of the national anthem.

Listen to patriotic song played by brass family of instruments.


Words for "The Star Spangled Banner," printed below

Recording of John Philip Sousa, "Stars and Stripes Forever"


Review with the children the meaning of the phrase patriotic song (Lesson 1) and, if there is time, have them sing the song they learned in that lesson ("My Country 'Tis of Thee"). Say: Today we are going to talk about another American patriotic song, the national anthem, and how it came to be written. The children need to know that some years after the American Revolution, the United States and England were at war again, and the war was called The War of 1812. British soldiers had already burned the White House in Washington D.C. and the people of Baltimore knew the British soldiers and sailors were preparing to capture Baltimore.

Francis Scott Key was a young lawyer who came to Baltimore to secure the release of an American doctor whom he knew to be unfairly held prisoner by the British. He and a few other Americans were standing on board a ship in the Baltimore harbor at the time the British began attacking Fort McHenry, and he watched rockets and other heavy artillery being fired at the fort, which had proudly flying over it a very large American flag with fifteen stars on it, one for each of the states that were part of the Union at the time. All night the bombardment continued, and Key hoped that as long as it did continue, it meant that the fort had not been taken, and that Baltimore harbor and city still belonged to the Americans. When dawn came, he was able to see the flag still flying, and his relief was so great and his feelings so strong, that he immediately began writing on the back of a letter he carried with him at the time, the words to "The Star Spangled Banner." Key set the words to a tune that already existed and was fairly well known. The song became popular immediately in Baltimore, and gradually throughout the rest of the country as well, especially in the armed forces. Finally in 1931, Congress passed a law making the song the official national anthem.

Have the children sing the song all together, helping them to keep a brisk tempo, then singing it line by line if they do not know all of the words:

Oh, say, can you see by the dawn's early light,

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,

O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?

And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.

Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?


Second Grade - Music - Lesson 4 - Patriotic Songs

Next, tell the children you are going to play a patriotic song for them that has no words and is played entirely by instruments. It is called "Stars and Stripes Forever," and the music was written by a man named John Philip Sousa, who died the year after "The Star Spangled Banner" became our national anthem by law. Sousa's parents were from two different European countries, but Sousa himself was born an American citizen shortly before the Civil War. As a child, he learned to play the violin, but when he was grown up he became leader of the United States Marine Corps Band.

Ask: Which of the families of instruments we talked about play in a marching band? (woodwinds, brass, percussion) Which one does not? (strings) Tell them that Sousa even had a band instrument named for him (sousaphone, even bigger than a tuba--if you have a picture in one of the recommended books from the previous lesson or the pictures you have collected from magazines, show it to the children).

Remind the children before playing the song that, in order to think of it as a patriotic song, they should think of all the uniforms and flags that are part of a marching band. Have them stand and march to the music, standing very tall and proud as they do. Say: Even though you'll be very busy marching tall to this music, listen very carefully for the place where the tune is played by the piccolos, which are really little tiny flutes that play so high up they sound like birds. Raise your right hands when you hear the piccolos begin to carry the melody.

Recommended Book for listening to Sousa

Baer, Gene. Thump, Thump, Rat-a-Tat. New York: HarperCollins, 1991 (available in pbk.)

Good cut-paper band members serve as illustrations by Lois Ehlert, showing a marching band in action.