What is TEMPO?

Classical MPR

Age Range: Elementary

Learning Objective: Students will learn a few music vocabulary words to describe tempo, or speed, in music.

EXPLORE sounds

WATCH. Watch the Class Notes Video: Fast or Slow Means Tempo.

DRAW. Invite students to make a tempo spectrum chart. Here are the eight tempo markings listed in the video, listed in order from slowest to fastest:

Say to students, “On a piece of paper, list these markings from left to right, slowest to fastest. Underneath, draw a picture of something that often moves at that speed. A snail or turtle might be at the slow end of your chart. A cheetah might be at the fast end. Vehicles, like bikes, cars and airplanes, work well too. See the grid for an example of what your chart will look like before adding your pictures.”

Tempo grids
Katie Condon/MPR

EXTEND learning

Choose one or more of the following activities to extend learning.

PLAY. Play a quick game of Tempo Olympics! There is no better way to learn about tempo than to experience the feeling in your body, or "feel it in your bones." Create a set of tempo flashcards. Begin with just three: lento, moderato and presto. These represent the slow, middle and fast end of the spectrum. Then, invite students to pick an activity, such as push-ups or jumping jacks. Pick a flashcard and, all together, perform the designated activity at that tempo. Pick a different card and try the activity at a different tempo. Notice how lento jumping jacks feel very different than presto jumping jacks!

Tempo grids
Katie Condon/MPR

LISTEN. If you want to listen to some examples of music at different speeds, or tempi (the plural of tempo), click on the Class Notes: Fast or Slow Means Tempo Lesson Plan Audio Page and scroll down a bit to listen to some examples.

Related Lesson Plans

Logo YourClassical Class Notes

YourClassical is a public media organization and your support makes it possible.

Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment

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

©2023 Minnesota Public Radio. All rights reserved.
Facebook icon
Twitter icon
YouTube icon
Instagram icon