As well as bringing fun and creativity into the classroom, music is a crucial subject to teach in school.
After all, music helps kids to develop a number of core skills — how to memorize information, the confidence to perform, and the basics of pattern-building, etc. — and great music lesson plans will certainly target these development opportunities.
But, more importantly, as musical influences change over the generations, so too do the messages portrayed through the lyrics. Listen to a Soul track from the 60s, and you’ll hear all about the struggles of Detroit’s Motor City, which inspired the Motown record label and promoted big names such as Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye.
Fast forward to today, and artists are still using their music to make political and cultural statements. Whether it’s Ariane Grande responding to the Manchester bombing, or Kanye West using gospel-inspired backing tracks to share his struggle with mental illness.
Of course, some music is designed purely for our entertainment. And bands like One Direction show young kids that with dedication and hard work — and a little talent show luck! — you really can make your dreams a reality.
But creating the right music lesson plans can be tricky when you’ve got to accommodate varying levels of experience, skill, aptitude and — crucially — music tastes! Not everyone is going to enjoy rap, classical, indie and pop music, are they?
That’s why it’s a good idea to join your class together via debate around the content of the music itself. It doesn’t matter who plays an instrument, and who doesn’t. Or whether they have access to their parents’ record collection, or not. What matters is tapping into how the music makes them feel, what they think the artist is saying with the music, and why.
These 4 vastly different music lesson plans will help you look at musical education through a new lens. From One Direction to Elvis Presley, and The Beatles to Beethoven, each of these musical talents have a lot to teach kids of today.
Music Lesson Plan #1 — One Direction:
The story of One Direction is one that most youngsters are familiar with, and one that they find super inspiring. Basing a lesson around this British boyband, then, would be a great way to teach music to your class.
You should start by teaching, or at least reminding, your students of how One Direction came to be. Their transformation from schoolboys to superstars on ‘The X Factor UK’ is a brilliant way to show your students what a love for music can really do.
Ask your students to discuss each member of the group, and encourage them to think about the different music styles each of the boys have since gone on to adopt. From Harry Styles’ rock-inspired music, to Liam Payne’s more urban sounding tracks, this will help your class understand how varied musical expression can be.
After engaging your class with the origin of the group, you should then introduce your students to our One Direction worksheet pack. These worksheets will offer your students the chance to breakdown some of the band’s most popular tracks, which will directly help them to analyze music more broadly.
There’s a sheet tasking kids with exploring the meaning behind One Direction lyrics, and another to compose a 1D-inspired song of their own. Working sheet-by-sheet, through the 25-page bundle is a great way to shape not just one music lesson, but a month’s worth if you wish!
Music Lesson Plan #2 — The Beatles and David Bowie
Young kids, in particular, will absolutely love learning about The Beatles and David Bowie. And you can create a really fun, engaging, and inspiring music lesson plan exploring The Beatles and Bowie via ‘Yellow Submarine’, Ziggy Stardust, ‘Life on Mars’, and the Magical Mystery Tour album, to name but a few.
What’s more, your class will be stunned at the level of fan hysteria both The Beatles and David Bowie received during their day — they’ll struggle to believe that, unless you had the money to see these acts in concert, you’d never have seen them on TV, YouTube, Instagram, or anywhere else! No wonder people fainted and cried at the sight of their favorite musicians!
Our worksheet bundle on The Beatles helps kids learn more about life in the 60s and the musical background each of the members brought to the band. You can start your lesson focusing on the cultural, societal, and political nature of the 60s, and then hone in on how this inspired the band to create the era-defining music they did.
Similarly, David Bowie’s long career saw him change his creative approach on a number of occasions — often in line with modern fashions and trends. Our 25-page David Bowie worksheet pack helps you start with the basics — David Bowie facts and key musical collaborations — before getting more creative by asking kids to reinvent themselves as punk-rock icons!
Plan these music lessons right, and it’ll be something your class remembers forever!
Music Lesson Plan #3 — Elvis Presley
For many Americans, Elvis Presley defines a musical era.
With his musical output sounding very different to One Direction, The Beatles, and David Bowie, Elvis is a great way to teach your kids about rock-n-roll culture in the 50s.
As someone who spent much of his life in the public eye, Elvis Presley was often scrutinized for his personal relationships. In a way, Elvis was one of the first musical celebrities to be obsessed over in this way, and this would make for a very interesting debate with your music class.
Our Elvis Presley worksheet bundle covers everything kids need to know about The King, starting off the lesson with a ‘Knowing Elvis’ crossword, before encouraging kids to think about the darker side of celebrity. Our ‘Other side of Presley’ worksheet challenges kids to consider what Elvis could have been struggling with at the time of his early death.
Of course, that’s not a topic to cover with every class. But, for the older years, it certainly makes for an insightful, more involved, way of looking at music.
Music Lesson Plan #4 — Ludwig van Beethoven
Wrapping things up with something a little more vintage, music lessons are also an ideal place to introduce kids to the world of classical music and world-famous composers like Ludwig van Beethoven. And, chances are, your class has already heard Beethoven before, even if they didn’t actually know it!
Aside from using Beethoven’s music to discuss 18th-century history, Beethoven was also a master of improvisation and almost entirely deaf by the time he died — a story many kids will be in awe of!
Using our 11 ready-to-use worksheets on Ludwig van Beethoven, you can open your music class with light detail surrounding who Beethoven was, when and where he was born, and what life may have been like for him in his early years. Then you can begin to explore his exceptional musical talent, learning about all the different instruments in an orchestra, the musical families they belong to, and how the kids feel when they hear them.
If you’ve not got a violin, clarinet, harp, etc. to hand, just head over to YouTube and play some footage from there.
Classical music has the power to transport an audience, no matter how old or young. And getting your class to engage with Beethoven’s creations from an early age will encourage them to have an open mind about music for the rest of their life.
Let the music play…
Hopefully, these music lesson plans have inspired you to do something different in your next music class. Let us know which musicians you decide to teach, and don’t forget to check out more of our music worksheets by clicking here
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