What is ABA FORM?

Thumbnail-ABA Form
Classical MPR

Age Range: Elementary, Middle School

Learning Objective: Students will learn about the ABA pattern in music and use it to create their own compositions.

Free Downloads:

ENGAGE students

EXPLAIN. “Music is full of patterns. A very common pattern in music is ABA. We hear one thing, then something different, then the first thing again.”

EXPLORE sounds

CREATE. Guide students through the creation of their own short ABA compositions.

Teaching Tips:

  • For younger students, do not emphasize notation. Use the grid to help organize ideas. Say, “Write words or draw pictures to suggest sound sources for each section. Think about how long each section lasts, as well as specific rhythms, patterns or sounds within each section.”

  • For older students, integrate music terminology and notation if possible. Consider using a favorite song as one of the sections.

  • Have students name their composition.

  • Encourage students to practice and perform their compositions. Share performances with a neighbor, record on a device, or perform for the whole class. (If time allows, discuss being an encouraging audience.)

Here is a completed example:

ABA Sample Grid

WATCH. Listen and watch the Class Notes Video 'Song and Dance in Asturias.' (5 min.)

EXTEND learning

Choose one or more of the following pieces featuring ABA form to reinforce learning.

Teaching Variations:

  • If you have space, encourage students to choose a movement to do for the A section and a movement to do for the B sections. Listen to the piece sitting first to identify the sections, then listen a second time and move around the room.

  • If large motor movement is not possible, use the American Sign Language sign for A and B show the current section.

  • Give each student a printable composition grid and some two markers, one for A and one for B. Ask them to color in each section as they hear it in the music.

Repertoire Options:

Related Lesson Plans

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This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

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