As a musician, understanding the music terms for tempo will greatly improve your performances and music appreciation or listening skills.

There are several music terms for tempo, and the majority of these are in Italian! This can make knowing what the music terms for tempo confusing at times, but by completing a few different activities using the music terms for tempo, you will be able to understand and recognize the music terms for tempo in an instant.


What are the Elements of Music?

The Elements of Music are, in alphabetical order – Dynamics, Form, Harmony, Melody, Rhythm, Texture, Timbre and Tonality. For each of these Elements of Music, there are lots of music terms to learn so that you can better understand the music you are playing or listening to.

Each of the Elements of Music contributes to a piece of music in a unique way, depending on the way the composer has written the music, or depending on how the performer interprets the music in their own way.

If you would like a copy of the Elements of Music Mind Maps, click to get your free download now!



Music Terms for Tempo

The definitions and music terms for tempo are commonly written on a music score in Italian. Below are the most common music terms for tempo. However, if you would like to know more about the Element of Music – Rhythm, click here to learn more.

What is Rhythm in Music?

Tempo – the speed or the pace of the music

Largo – slow pace

Adagio – fairly slow pace

Andante – at a walking pace

Moderato – at a medium pace

Allegro – at a fast pace

Vivace – at a fast and lively pace

Presto – at a very fast pace

Prestissimo – as fast as possible

Rubato – a free, flexible, and flowing tempo, the “robbing” of time.


Music Terms for Tempo- One Pagers

One of the best ways to learn the music terms for tempo is to complete worksheets that ask your students to write down the information in an interesting way. There is a lot of research out there that supports novelty in the lesson. If a student is doing something a little out of the ordinary, they are more likely to not only engage in the lesson but also remember the lesson content!

For something, a little out of the ordinary, try these music terms for tempo “one-pagers” to help your students learn the music definitions for tempo. In this collection of Elements of Music Rhythm Worksheets, are the one pager music terms definitions activities.

To use in the classroom, you could ask your students to research the tempo terms, or simply display the terms somewhere in the room so the students can see them to copy down the music terms for tempo definitions. Then encourage your music students to add color, designs, or even drawings to help them remember these terms in the future.

Click here for the Rhythm Definition Worksheets

What my students enjoy, is using the memory matching cards when writing down the definitions to anything! What I do, is use these Music Memory Game Rhythm Terms cards. Try printing a set onto colored paper. Then, instead of cutting out the cards so they can match them in a game (which you of course can do as well), cut them so the term and definition are on one slip of paper, then simple fold them over so that the music term is on one side and the music term definition is on the other. For durability, laminate the set.

Link to the Memory Music Terms Cards for Rhythm here

To use these terms cards in the classroom, or to help your students learn the music terms for tempo, put the terms out for them to grab as they need them to copy down. You will see your students getting up and moving around, they will be talking to other students, working together and the best thing, learning! My kids love these lessons, we usually put on some music to chill out and listen to as they are writing, coloring and drawing their Italian music terms for tempo definitions.

Music Terms for Tempo Poster

Another fun activity for your students to complete, is to ask them to create a poster. You can ask them to work individually or in small groups. You could also ask them to either make a poster for all the music terms for tempo on one poster OR assign a different music term for tempo to each student/group. This then makes for a great music classroom display that the students will enjoy looking at and using in future lessons.

There is a lot of research around getting students to draw to help them remember important information. Watch this Edutopia video that explains how this type of lesson activity can help your students learn and retain lesson content.




Word, Definition, Image

Another good learning strategy for learning the music terms for tempo is the “Word, Definition, Image”, Monitoring Super Six Activity. This activity is an easy one to do in any lesson where you need to teach/learn lesson vocabulary.

In this activity, you can either ask your students to complete this into their class books or use the Graphic Organizer from the resource below.

Click here for the Super Six Monitoring Graphic Organizers

Again, try using the music term cards, or the display the music terms for tempo definitions. Then ask students to draw three columns (or use the worksheet on page 23) with the headings “Word, Definition, Image”. Your students now write down the term, copy the definition of the term, then, next they draw an image that helps them connect to and remember this term. Continue for as many terms you need your students to learn.


Tempo Music Games

Another fun way to get your students learning the music terms for tempo is to play a game. There are several games that you can play using the Music Memory Game Rhythm Terms cards. Click here to check them out.

Below are a few games that you can play with your music students to help them learn the music terms for tempo.

  1. Memory – print and cut out each of the cards. Try making a few sets so that you can have students work in small groups. To play, students spread all the cards with the words face down. They then each take a turn to flip 2 different cards. If the cards are a match of term and definition, they keep the cards. Students continue to play until all the cards are matched up. The winner is the student with the most pairs at the end.
  2. Tempo Order – students place all the cards face down. Then when given the signal to start, they have to flip the cards and then order them from fastest to slowest tempo OR from slowest to fastest tempo. This could be a race to see which group can do it in the correct order the fastest. To make it harder, have them match the terms first, then order them!
  3. Mix-Freeze-Match. For this game, hand out the definitions and terms to each class member. Make sure that you have all the terms matched and enough for every student. To play, have the students swap their cards with other class members while playing some music. When the music stops, they freeze, then they must quickly find their partner matching the terms and definitions. Wait until each student has paired up, and check that they are correct. You can then ask them to stand in order from fastest to slowest tempo. Continue repeating and playing for as long you want.

I hope that these lesson ideas will help your students learn the Italian music terms for tempo in a fun and engaging way.

Remember if you would like a FREE copy of the Elements of Music Mind Maps, click here to get the download today.

Until next time

Happy Teaching

Julia from Jooya

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