Composing Melodies with the Pentatonic Scale – in F or G (both examples are provided). F is preferable for singing within most students’ range, but G is preferable if you are also teaching them absolute note names because of recorders starting with B, A and G.

Lesson 1

  1. Music Handwriting Practice – I show how to do first measure and eighth notes in the 4th measure. They finish, then show me, then go back to riser to practice the melodic patterns on paper xylophone.

  1. When all done, I sing pattern, they echo sing and play on paper xylophones.


Lesson 2

  1. Pass out Handwriting Practice papers again.
  2. Paper xylophone practice
  3. Take turns on “real” xylophones
  4. Teach chant: Peas Porridge Hot
  5. Use melodic patterns on Handwriting Practice with lyrics, such as use “do, re, mi” pattern with the first phrase “Peas porridge hot,” such as “do, re, re, mi”. You are giving the students examples of singable tunes they could compose. You want to emphasize that “do, re, mi” are “stepping” notes and “re” to “re” is a repeated pattern. They should mostly use stepping and repeating notes. Some skipping is fine, such as from “mi” to “do” or from “mi” to “so.”
  6. Teacher sing examples, students echo sing and play on paper xylophones and take turns on xylophones

Lesson 3

  1. Review poem: Peas Porridge Hot
  2. Explain composition:
    1. Students will work in pairs and think of patterns that use mostly steps and repeated notes.
    2. Students must use at least 4 pitches of the 5-note pentatonic scale
    3. Students must end on “do,” which in the key of F is F, and the key of G is G.
  3. Students work together, write the solfege syllables in the blanks under the rhythm on the composition page. Then they show me their progress. I help them simplify their tunes so they are easier to learn and play. Then they practice on a xylophone. One student plays while the other student coaches and holds the paper. Then they switch. If they like their composition, they begin to write the notes on the staff.

Lesson 4

  1. Students continue working on their compositions – if no xylophones are available, they must practice on the paper xylophones, singing the pattern with solfege and playing with alternating hands.

Lesson 5

  1. Students finish writing the notes on the staff. Each student has his/her own composition sheet, but partners may help each other.
  2. When finished, they either turn in their sheet for me to type onto Sibelius, or you can teach them how to type it themselves.
  3. When the sheet is printed, the solfege can be hand written underneath the notes.
  4. Students can continue to practice their songs together or decorate their composition page.

Lesson 6

  1. Students practice a few times on xylophones and paper xylophones.
  2. Students take turns performing for the class.
  3. Teacher use rubric to grade.

See also

Extras for Plus Members

  • Lesson ideas, Composition Worksheet (2 keys), Handwriting Practice, Paper Xylophones, Rubric (PDF)

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