Lesson Plan #: AELP-MUS0223
Submitted by: David Demnitz
School/University/Affiliation: Greenburgh Eleven UFSD
Date: December 12, 2003
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Duration: One 45 minute session
Description: The Battle Hymn of the Republic arranged so elementary instrumental students can play the accompaniment
Goals: National Standards for Music Education: 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: Standard 1: Creating, Performing, and Participating in the Arts Standard 2: Knowing and Using Arts Materials and Resources Standard 4: Understanding the Cultural Contributions of the Arts
Objectives: Students will learn to play and sing The Battle Hymn of the Republic and compare different lyrics which have been sung to this melody.
Teacher Materials: Lyric sheet , musical instruments (please see attached score). I’ve arranged it so you don’t even need the leading tone F#, so you can play the accompaniment on any instrument with the white keys of the piano. The accompaniment is quite slow, so instruments capable of considerable sustain are best – electronic keyboards set to organ or string sounds, for instance. Percussion instruments playing a suitably martial rhythm accompaniment, evoking the marching of the troops would be welcome here.
Student Materials: None specified.
Bass part: played using low notes, usually one at a time
Chords: Three or more notes meant to be heard simultaneously
Melody: A series of musical pitches which seem connected Interval: the space between two musical pitches
Steps: the closest intervals
Jumps: intervals larger than steps
Accompaniment: a musical background, usually used to support a melody
Sing the chorus of the song and ask students to join you. Ask them if they’ve heard the chorus, where and what the music was used for, and ask if anyone knows more of the song’s lyrics.
Sing the first verse of Howe’s lyrics. Ask them what they think the words mean, what they think the song with these lyrics has been used for. Give some historical background, telling them what you think is important about the War Between the States.
Having decided what you want students to learn from this lesson, sing the verses after you place them into historical context. This is a song which can be placed historically in the Civil War, the Civil Rights era, and so forth. Twain’s lyrics can be used not only in an examination of the Spanish American War, but also to suggest that not only is imperialism folly, but resistance to imperial folly can be very funny. Who knows; there may be an opportunity to relate Twain’s lyrics to contemporary events, should there be any imperial folly occurring as you prepare to teach this lesson.
Review bass part and chords. The bass is played using low notes, and is usually a kind of ‘line’, made by playing one note at a time. Chords are three or more notes played at the same time. Review which way is up on the keyboard, and what an interval is (the space between notes), what a step is (going to the note next to the one you’re playing which, in this case, are all white notes) and what a jump is (jumping over white notes, in this example). Review accompaniment, which is a musical background supporting, in this case, a melody. Review melody, which are notes played one at a time which seem connected.
Explain to the students that in this accompaniment, the bass part is a kind of image, a musical shape which, once played, is then played upside down. The bass line moves up by jumping over one white note, then goes up again by a step, and then jumps back to the note you began on. At the end of each phrase there’s a kind of punctuation (I hesitate to call it a cadence) created by a half measure rest. Having made this pattern, you then play it upside down.
Assign students to instruments. They can share instruments since you only need an octave to play the bass pattern.
Teach the bass pattern by first asking students to locate a G. If you’re using keyboards, they should rely on the pattern of black notes to find the G.
This piece in in 12/8, but you can count the accompaniment in 4. So, ask the students to count to four in a slow tempo (about 80 beats per minute) and to play their G when they say ‘one’ and ‘three’.
Have students locate a B and do the same thing, counting to four and playing the B on ‘one’ and ‘three’. Now put two and two together, and play two G’s and two B’s in time.
Do the same thing with the C and the last G, and put this whole phrase together, playing only one G when you return to it at the end of the phrase. Practice this until they can play the phrase in time.
Now remind students that the second phrase of the bass part is the same as the first, but upside down. Two G’s, jump down to play two E’s, a step down to play two D’s, and then jump back up to return to the G on which you began, playing it once.
Once they can play both phrases in time, put them together, and you’ve got your bass part.
The chords are a bit tricky, not because the notes are hard to find, but because the first (G) chord is played twice, and then the next chord only once before returning to the first chord. You can take the time to teach this now or just play the chords yourself. After the first chord is played for four whole counts you play the same chord again. To form the second chord the top two notes go up a step, and then after the second chord has been played once for four counts, the notes return to where they started. To rehearse the chords, have students place their fingers over the notes in the first chord, and have them play the chord when they say ‘one’ as they count to four. They’ll do this twice, play the second chord once and return to the first, pausing before repeating the chord sequence which, unlike the bass pattern, is simply repeated throughout the accompaniment.
Assign roles to students: some singers, some bassists, chord players if they’re ready, and percussionists. Assign soloists to sing verses if you want to, and have everybody sing the Glory, Glory, Hallelujah part. The instrumentalists might even be able to sing the choruses while they’re playing their part.
Perform the song, allowing students to take turns playing and singing different parts.
Assessment: Teacher observation of students’ participation and involvement in singing and playing.
Useful Internet Resources:
National Standards for Music Education – MENC: http://www.menc.org/publication/books/standards.htm
New York State Standards for the Arts: http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/ciai/arts/pub/artlearn.pdf