Age Range: Elementary
Learning Objective: Students will learn the musical term “crescendo,” listen to musical examples, and practice making crescendos in their own musical performance.
Free Download: Printable Lesson Plan: Crescendo
DISCUSS. “Remember that dynamics is the word we used to describe the volume level in music? There is a special word for when musicians need to get louder, or gradually increase their volume – that's called a crescendo (creh-SHEN-do.) Try saying that word a few times.” (Pause to let students practice.) Musicians know to get gradually louder when they see this symbol.”
Show students a picture of a crescendo.
ASK. “Do you notice it looks like something that is getting bigger? When you hear or play a crescendo, the sound gets bigger. Let’s see what a crescendo symbol looks like when it's together with music notes.”
“Do you notice another symbol pointing the other direction, right after the crescendo? That's a diminuendo, or a decrescendo, which means to get gradually softer or quieter – the opposite of a crescendo.”
PLAY. Make crescendos in different ways:
Sing a familiar classroom song. Start quietly and get gradually louder. Create and use a crescendo cue card or use conducting patterns to help pace the increase in volume.
Drum on your lap! Ask students to work independently and see how long they can stretch their crescendos. Invite select students to perform their "lap drum crescendo" for the class.
Extend these ideas to classroom instruments or found object percussion.
LISTEN. “Sometimes crescendos happen quickly, and the sound grows suddenly. Listen to this crescendo – it happens pretty fast! Try to match the increase in volume with movement." (30 sec.)
WATCH. “Here's another piece with crescendos. You will hear diminuendos, or decrescendos, too. The slower tempo makes the changes sound more gradual. Performers must use a lot of control to make the increase in volume happen over time. While listening, see if you can open your arms up when you hear a crescendo, and close them together when you hear a diminuendo.” (2 min.)
PRACTICE. “Next time you listen to music, notice any crescendos or diminuendos. Use your new music vocabulary word to describe what you hear to someone else!”
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