by Dr. Richard Dowling, pianist


Melody - Harmony - Rhythm - Tempo


1.     Program begins with attention-getter: “Maple Leaf Rag” by Scott Joplin.

2.     Give short personal bio and state program title. Relate the four musical elements to the importance of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and protein in food. (Children learn about food groups and their components in school.)

3.     Perform Mozart’s “Variations on ‘Ah, dirai-je vous maman’ “—better known as “Twinkle, twinkle little star”—as an example of a piece with a well-rounded musical diet.

                  Theme: Melody                                     Var. 5: Articulations (staccato & legato)

                  Var. 1: Rhythm                                    Vars. 7 & 8: Major & Minor Keys (happy & sad)

                  Var. 2: Harmony                                  Var. 9: Dynamics (piano & forte: soft & loud)

                  Var. 3: Tempo                                         Var. 10: Finale (all elements together)

4.     MELODY:  The Sentences of Music

Some are easy to sing, some not. Some are long, some short.

Perform two short pieces with contrasting melodic character:

a.     Easy to sing and remember: “Für Elise” by Beethoven (written for a little girl).

b.     Difficult: “Minute Waltz” by Chopin (inspired by dog chasing its tail).

5.     HARMONY:  The relationship between melody and the chords in music

Perform several works to demonstrate mutual need for one another.

a.     Play “America the Beautiful” with only chordal accompaniment. Ask if children can recognize piece of music. Repeat with melody. Have children sing along.

b.     Perform segment of Bach’s “Prelude in C”—a piece with no melody.

c.      Perform Chopin’s “Nocturne in E-flat, Op. 9 #2” first melody alone, then harmony alone, then both together.

6.     RHYTHM:  Duple vs. Triple beat patterns

a.     Perform a Sousa March as example of duple pattern. Children clap along with music to get feel of 2/4 meter. Heavy emphasis on first beat.

b.     Perform a Strauss Waltz as example of triple pattern. Children clap along with music to get feel of 3/4 meter. Heavy emphasis on first beat.

c.      QUIZ TIME: Perform segments of Prokofieff’s Gavotte, Joplin’s The Entertainer, and a Chopin Waltz. Have children guess correct meter.

d.     Complex rhythm (syncopation): Perform Gershwin Prelude #1 or 3. Ask children to guess meter (confusion)...jazz has rhythms with accents in unexpected places.

7.     TEMPO:  The Speed of Music

a.     Tempo and rhythm work together just like melody and harmony.

b.     Music uses a “secret code” to tell the performer how fast or slow to play. (Look for these words in the printed program when attending concerts.)

c.      Display large posters with printed Italian terms. Pronounce and define: “Largo, Adagio, Andante, Moderato, Allegretto, Allegro, Presto”

d.     Perform segments of pieces to illustrate different tempi.

e.     Have children guess which tempo marking applies to each piece.

f.      Rimsky-Korsakov: “Flight of the Bumblebee” (presto)

g.     Beethoven: “ ‘Moonlight’ Sonata - first movement” (adagio)

h.    Schubert: “Impromptu in G-flat Major, Op. 90 #3” (andante)

i.      Chopin: “Prelude in C Minor, Op. 28” (largo)

j.       Schubert: “Impromptu in A-flat Major, Op. 90 #4” (allegretto)

k.     Chopin: “Fantaisie-Impromptu, Op. 66” (allegro & moderato)

Extra “Nutritional Aspect” to be presented, if time and attention span permit:

8.     STYLE

a.     Music creates emotional response. Perform excerpts from different styles of music. Ask children how each piece makes them feel: happy, sad, excited, sleepy, etc.

b.     Perform excerpts from:  a Scarlatti Sonata, Debussy “Clair de lune,” Chopin “Prelude in A,” Gluck “Dance of the Blessed Spirits,” Chopin “Grande Valse Brillante,” or Gershwin Preludes

9.     FINALE

Perform Chopin’s famous “Polonaise in A-flat Major, Op. 53”—a piece containing all the elements discussed and two distinct styles.

(c) 1991 Richard Dowling, D.M.A.