Gretna Middle School
Lesson plan for: Band, Orchestra, Chorus, Elementary/Middle School Band
Designed for: 7th and 8th grade
National Standards: 1, 2, 7
1. The students will… use singing to help improve the tuning process
2. The students will… use singing to help improve tuning within the
context of a piece
3. The students will… evaluate (through a recording of themselves) their
ability to play a particular piece in tune
1. electronic tuner
2. recording equipment
3. stereo system
Student prior knowledge and experiences before this plan
1. The students have rehearsed Holsinger‚s “Childhood Hymn” several times
previously to this lesson and have a good grasp of the work.
2. Students understand the concept of tuning and intonation.
3. Students have some understanding of the terms tonic, third and fifth.
1. After a thorough warm-up of scales and chorales, the band will go through
their tuning routine. The principle clarinet will use a tuner to establish
an accurate Concert B-flat. From this pitch, the tubas will play a matching
B-flat and the entire band then hums the pitch as well. As the woodwind
players continue to hum, the brass players begin to play and adjust their
instruments. The process is repeated a second time with the brass
continuing to hum and the woodwinds switching from humming to playing
to adjust their instruments. Finally, a third note is given by the
clarinet/tubas and the entire band sings the pitch on “mo” before checking
their individual instruments one last time.
2. Run through “Childhood Hymn” checking balance and blend. After
reviewing the piece, select three of the most exposed cadence points, and
have the band play the chord at each place. After playing the chord, have
the students sing the chord by building it from tonic to fifth and finally
including the third. Use the syllable “mo” again and work for a pure and
in-tune sound. Once this is achieved (or at least improved from the initial
attempt), have the students play the chord building it in the same manner as
before. Finally, approach the chord from the beginning of the phrase and
see if the students can achieve the same (or better!) results. Do the same
for each of the major cadence points.
3. Record “Childhood Hymn” and let the students listen to their recording.
Discuss if the intonation at the cadence points. Is it better? Can it still improve?
What instruments seem to have the most trouble “locking in” the chord?
4. Continue the rehearsal with other pieces and maintaining a focus on the
band’s overall intonation.