Goal: To learn and understand the term 'Dynamics', and to work together as an ensemble.

  • Intro


Contributed by T. Scott Lilly


To learn and understand the term “Dynamics” and more specifically, volume and tempo.

To work together as an ensemble to follow directions, and for students to have opportunities to act as both ensemble members and leaders.


  • Introduction:
    1. Start by having everyone sing the Alphabet Song or Happy Birthday together. You can use any song that everyone knows and is not too long (approx. 30 seconds).
    2. Then say: “Now let’s add dynamics to our song. Dynamics are the way a song or piece of music is played or sung. It can be fast, slow or medium. That’s Tempo. It can be loud, soft or medium. That’s Volume. It can get louder, that’s crescendo; or it can get softer. That’s called decrescendo. It can be Legato or Staccato.” (NOTE: Depending on students’ age, ability and what they’ve learned so far, you can choose to include/not include Legato and Staccato in this activity).
  • Conducting Learning:
    1. Explain to the students: “Now I’m going to conduct all of us singing the song again, but this time using Dynamics.”
    2. Volume: “If I raise one hand up high it means sing loud; low, sing low; in the middle, sing medium Volume. Let’s practice that.” (Sing the song only focusing on changing the volume.)
    3. Tempo: “Now, in my other hand I will hold this pencil, which will be my baton. I’m going to move it back and forth to a steady rhythm like this. (MODEL THIS) If I want you to sing fast, I’ll move it back and forth faster. Slow, slower, and for medium speed, I’ll move it back and forth at a medium speed like this. (MODEL) Let’s practice that.” (Sing the song only focusing on changing the tempo.)
    4. Starting and Stopping: Teach ending all together by raising one hand up and closing it into a fist. Say: “Then you sing when the hand opens. Let’s Practice That.” (Sing the song only focusing on starting and stopping.)
    5. “Let’s combine the two ways of singing, Tempo and Volume. Let’s Practice That.” (Sing, combining all 3 elements together.)
  • Student-Led Conducting :
    1. Have a Classroom Teacher or Para as the first “volunteer” to model this activity before choosing a student to be the conductor.
    2. Choose a student volunteer to lead. Choose another. Repeat as many times as your lesson permits and/or while students are still engaged.
  • REVIEW Staccato and Legato and add that to the mix.
  • VARIATION – Break group into smaller groups and conduct each one differently. For example, one group sings softly; the other loudly. One group is Staccato, the other is Legato.

Transition into Activity

Play a piece of orchestral music and pretend to be conducting it. Reflect on what the students noticed about the music and the conducting.

Transition out of Activity

For the last round, you should be the Conductor. End the song Slow and Soft. Lift your hand up and close your fist and say, “The End.”

Classroom Arrangement

Have students stand or sit in a circle, or in an arrangement that allows the Conductor to be seen by everyone.

Supports/Adaptive Materials/Tools

  • Non-verbal: Activity can be done humming, clapping, tapping, or playing an instrument.
  • Learn a refrain of a song from another culture and/or different language.
  • You could just sing one word or sound (la, la, la, la).
  • Pictures can be used for Loud, Soft, Fast, Slow, Medium, Stop, Go.
  • The Conductor can conduct with just a finger or eyebrows and facial expressions.
  • Show videos of Victor Borges conducting for fun.

Role of the Teachers and Paraprofessionals

Model, lead, participate, encourage brave conductors. Assist if needed.

Remote Adaptation

Everyone is Muted, but they are singing and following the Conductor.

Art forms


15 mins