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Lesson Plan #: AELP-MUS0218
Submitted by: David Demnitz
Email: ddemnitz@workingfamilies.com
School/University/Affiliation: Greenburgh Eleven Union Free School District, Dobbs Ferry, NY
Date: October 14, 2003

Grade Level: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10


  • Arts/Music

Duration: 45 minutes

Description: An arrangement of Reggae music which elementary instrumental musicians can learn play and sing in one class period.

National Standards of Music Education published by the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) :

  • 1. Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
  • 2. Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
  • 9. Understanding music in relation to history and culture.

New York State Standards for the Arts :
Standard 1: Creating, Performing and Participating in the Arts (Perform music written by others. They will understand and use the basic elements of music in their performances and compositions. Students will engage in individual and group musical and music-related tasks).

Standard 2: Knowing and Using Arts Materials and Resources (Students will use traditional instruments, electronic instruments, and a variety of nontraditional sound sources to create and perform music. They will use various resources to expand their knowledge of listening experiences, performance opportunities, and/or information about music.) Standard 4: Understanding the Cultural Dimensions and Contributions of the Arts (Develop a performing and listening repertoire of music of various genres, styles, and cultures that represent the peoples of the world and their manifestations in the United States. Students will recognize the cultural features of a variety of musical compositions and performances and understand the functions of music within the culture.)

Objective: Students will sing an example of Reggae music and will play instruments to accompany their singing.


  • keyboards
  • chromatic melody instruments
  • percussion instruments
  • Musical Score
  • Musical Score in .pdf format; requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

    Click the icon to obtain the free Reader.


  • Reggae – A style of music associated with Jamaica.
  • Jamaica – An island in the Caribbean Sea, formerly a colony of England.
  • Rastafarianism – A religion practiced by people of African descent in Jamaica.
  • Steps – The distance between adjacent notes in a musical scale.
  • Half Steps – The smallest interval, or space, between notes in western music.
  • Whole Steps – A space between two notes made of two half steps.
  • Bass – Low notes.
  • Chords – Combinations of three or more notes.
  • Syncopation – The placing of a musical accent off the main beat.
  • Procedure:
    Play and sing the song for the students. Ask them what kind of music they think this is, and where they might have heard it. Give background material. Identify Jamaica on a map; identify Jamaica as one of the islands of the Caribbean on which English is the official language. Give some history of Jamaica. Identify the music as Reggae, the popular music of Rastafarianism. Review keyboard organization, which way is up, and which way is down. Identify the pattern of black notes. Have students identify C’s and the middle black note in the groups of three black notes. Discuss half steps and whole steps; show them that there are no black notes which are half steps from one another.

    Teach the students to sing the song (please see attached score), and have them sing it with you. Identify the melodic sections. Define bass part and chords. The bass is played using low notes, one note at a time. Chords are combinations of tones meant to be heard at the same time. Explain to students how the chords are played between the beats. Illustrate this by having the class count One, two, one two at a slow tempo and have them clap on the eighth notes between the numbers (please see attached score).

    Define syncopation (the placing of musical emphasis off the beat) and its corollary, the absence of music on the beat. Show how the rest on the second beat in the bass part helps the music swing by counting one, clapping on the off beats, and leaving out the spoken two. Compare how this feels to the way it felt when they clapped and articulated two (see attached score).

    Now play the chords and bass as they count and clap. Point out that the bass notes are played when they say one, and that there’s a kind of musical space, or rest, when they say two. Now play a bass note on two so they can hear how the accompaniment would feel without the rest on two (see attached score).

    Assign students to keyboards. You can assign as many students to a keyboard as will fit. Teach them to play the bass part, counting aloud, playing on one. Have the whole class play the bass part together. When they’re ready, you play the chords, then add the melody.

    Teach them the first phrase of the first section of the melody (see attached score). Ask them to identify the half step in the first melodic phrase. When they can play the first phrase, show them that after the first phrase is repeated, the third phrase is the same except that another half step is added to the melody. When they can play the first section of the melody, play the bass and chords as they play the first section of the melody. Now teach them the second section of the melody.

    Assign students to play percussion instruments. There are three layers to the percussion: the hi hat rhythm is even eighth notes, the bass drum plays on one and the snare on two. If you have a drum set, have a student play the bass drum and snare, and another play the hi hat. Other percussion instruments can double these rhythms. Add percussion to the ensemble, with some students playing bass, some singing, some playing the melody while you play the chords.

    Play the song for awhile, then rotate students throughout the instrumental roles so that everyone has a chance to play everything. Now you can teach the offbeat chords. Review the counting/clapping activity as done previously, but have them count one and two and one and two and this time. Now show them the simplified chords, pointing out that the lower note moves symmetrically like the bass pattern, from C up to the nearest black note, back to C and then down to the nearest black note (B flat) (see attached score). Have them count out loud, playing when they say and. When they’re ready, add the chords played by students to the mix.

    Assessment: Teacher observation of students’ participation and involvement in singing and playing.

    Useful Internet Resources:
    * National Standards for Music Education – MENC

    * New York State Standards for the Arts