Unit 2, LESSON 3: Major and Minor, Tempo & Style


Authors: Katherine Alrarcio, Janice Boychuk, Lauren Fagaragan, Chet-Yeng Loong, and Kevin Morita.

Central Focuses:


The primary central focus is to introduce students to musical elements: tonalities (major and minor), tempo (fast and slow), and jazz style.

  • Students will recognize how performers form harmony by performing two different melodies simultaneously. (Re6.1)
  • Students will respond to fast and slow, major and minor scales and explain how intent is conveyed through interpretive decisions and expressive qualities (tempo, tonalities, and style). (Mary had a Little Lamb, Jazz) (Pr4.3)
  • Students will explain, citing evidence, how selected music connects to and is influenced by specific cultural interests,  purposes, or contexts. (Shabat Shalom) (Re7.1)
  • Students will be able to demonstrate how interests, knowledge, and skills relate to personal choices and intent when responding to music. (Cn10.0.8)


The focuses of this unit are to guide students to explore self-awareness,  and social awareness.

  • Students will be able to explore how children make music and how the different styles of music affect our emotional feelings.
  • Students will discover how major and minor scales in music can create different emotional reactions among human beings. 
  • Students will be able to discover how the style and tempo of music can influence their feelings and what they like and dislike.









  • Tonalities (major and minor)
  • Tempo (fast & slow)
  • Styles (Jazz)
  • The sound of music
  • Mary Had a Little Lamb (Jazz)
  • Shabat Shalom


Key Questions:
  • How does this connect with what we’ve learned before?
    What do you notice when we play music with different tonalities?
    How would different music affect what you imagine?

Activity 1

Guided/Collaborative Practice (“We Do”):

  • We are going to watch a clip from The Sound of Music. While watching, see if you can find the places when Maria and the children sing in harmony.

Teacher-led Instruction (“I do”):

  • Note that harmony is formed by singers singing two different melodies simultaneously.
  • Can you recognize when Maria and the siblings sing in harmony?

Independent Practice (“You do”) or Group-work with deliverable:

  • After the clip is done: “What places did you hear the singers singing in harmony together?
  • (Answer: when the kids are on the bikes, some kids sing a long note while other kids sing the melody. When they’re in the carriage, some kids sing the melody with their solfege and maria sings the lyrics/words. At the end when they are on the stairs, they sing in harmony with different melodies using solfege.)

Activity 2

Teacher-led instruction (“I do”):

  • Tell students we’re going to listen to a few different examples of scales, and then different styles of the song Mary Had a Little Lamb

Guided/Collaborative Practice (“We do”):

  • Play an example of a major scale for the students to hear. Ask the students what feelings/words they might use to describe the major scale (Happy, Sad, Calm, etc.)
  • Next, play an example of a minor scale.
  • Ask the students what feelings/words they might use to describe the major scale Happy, Sad, Calm, etc.,)

Teacher-led instruction (“I do”):

Music: Style & Tonalities

  • Music is played on different scales. Now, we will play two versions of Jazz style Mary Had a Little Lamb; one faster, one slower.
  • Try to identify the four phrases in this song by showing your fingers.

Independent Practice (“You do”) or Group-work with deliverable:

  • Have students turn and pair share about the following questions:
    • What are some things you noticed about these two videos?
    • Do these two versions make you feel the same way or different ways? Can you describe some similarities and differences in the ways they made you feel?
    • Did the scale (major or minor) or the tempo (fast or slow) make you happy or sad?
    • In many cultures, playing or singing in a minor mode can still be about something happy.
SEL - Self Awareness & Social Awareness:
  • Do these two versions make you feel the same or different ways. Describe the similarities or differences in the way they make you feel.
  • How do you feel after listening to these two versions?
  • Did the scale (major and minor) or the tempo (speed of the piece) make you happy or sad?
  • In many cultures, playing or singing in minor scales can be happy. We do not really want to generalize how people feel by the tonalities/scales of the piece.
SEL - Self Awareness:
  • Why do some songs "sound" like major, some minor? Open discussion with the students (STANDARDS: RESPONDING).
  • Do you realize many of the Halloween songs are sung in minor scales? Do they sound happy, comfortable, or sad? 
  • Why do you think Halloween songs are performed in minor keys? For example, My Good Oldman, Skin and Bones, The Witch is on the broomstick, Stirring the brew, etc.
  • Let’s listen to J.S. Bach: Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565 (maybe the first three minutes). If you made a movie and used this music, what would happen in the scene, and how would the piece complement what is happening in the film?

Activity 3

Guided/Collaborative Practice (“We Do”):

  • As a class, listen/watch this video of the song Shabbat Shalom.
  • As a class, discuss some ways that we can determine this song is not a sad song, even though it is using a minor scale (i.e. children dancing, the meaning of the lyrics, etc.)
  • Shabbat Shalom, is sung in minor, but not a sad song. It is a song about Shabbat Shalom. In this video, you see children singing and dancing to the music.
  • Shabbat means “May you dwell in peace" (FIRM, 2022). Shabbat happens on Friday at sundown when people start to wind down from busyness and wish each other by saying, Shabbat Shalom. Shalom is a word that is closet, meaning peace.

SPED supports:

  • Students can respond verbally to questions, draw pictures, or use an AAC device. Students may use assisted reading/writing devices if needed for the summative assessment.


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