Dynamics are an important musical concept to teach your students. But how do you make dynamics fun? Check out these five ideas to spruce up your music dynamics lesson.
But, before we dive into these fun dynamics in music lesson ideas, it is really helpful to know more about the Element of Music – Dynamics.
For more information about what are dynamics in music, be sure to read this blog post, click here.
Dynamics in Music Definition Match it Game
When you are teaching your music students about what are dynamics in music, it helps if they know what the terms are, and what they mean.
A fun way to do this is to have students firstly complete a simple dynamics in music definition activity. Once this is complete, move students onto playing some simple games with dynamics term cards.
There are several games that you can play with these cards, and the best thing is that your students will be having fun while they are learning at the same time. Two of the most popular games that my classes enjoy are listed below
- Memory – lay all the cards face down, and students take turns flipping two cards. If the cards match, they keep it and play again, if the cards don’t match, the next player has their turn.
- Match It – this simple game is best played in pairs or small groups. Try having students race each other to see who can match the cards correctly the fastest! Each group must match the dynamics in music term to the correct definition – the quickest wins!
Drumming with Dynamics Lesson
After your students have learned about the dynamics in music terms and definitions, it’s time to put this newfound knowledge into practice.
This highly engaging and loud activity is great for your kinaesthetic learners who need to physically feel the beat in order to keep time. Have your students sit or stand in a circle and as a group they keep are to clap a steady beat. Once the beat is established, start to pass around a small hand drum or percussion instrument. As they beat the drum, they should start soft and then get louder until they are beating as loud as they can. Then, they pass it to the next person, and they should reverse the process and get softer until they are barely tapping the drum. You can also have them clap their hands or stomp their feet instead of using a drum if you don’t have one available.
A simple variation on this activity is to have a “conductor” in the center, and each student is to have an instrument. The conductor starts the group with the beat, then they change the level of the dynamics by raising their hands to get louder and lowering their hands to get softer. Have your students take turns in being the conductor – they will love it!
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Visualizing with Dynamics in Music
This simple lesson visualizing with dynamics in music activity is great for young musicians of any skill level, and for any instrument that you have available in the classroom.
This lesson idea is great for your visual learners who need to see how dynamics work to better understand them. To start this low prep music activity, draw a line on the whiteboard with different heights to represent different volumes. As you play different pieces of music, show how the volume changes by moving a marker along the line at different heights. You can also use this activity to teach tempo by moving the marker faster or slower depending on the speed of the music.
Experimenting with Dynamics Lesson
After students have had a chance to experiment with making louder and softer sounds, give them an introduction to the music symbols that represent the different dynamics, and dynamic changes crescendos and decrescendos. See the chart above for these common dynamics symbols.
For this lesson try play a few notes on your chosen instrument and ask students to move their hand higher or lower, depending on the volume level of the music being performed. This is a really good way for you to be able to check for understanding of their listening skills!
To extend your students, try this variation. Put on a piece of music that you wish to study, as they listen, encourage your students to write down and use the symbols above to keep track of the dynamics in the music. This will help them start to associate symbols with musical concepts, which is an important skill for musicians of all levels.
Active Listening for Dynamics in Music
For your older students, try having them answer some questions about the use of dynamics in the music that you choose to listen to and study. Some of the questions to have them respond to the music are listed below. You could try this listening exercise as a group, or even as an individual.
- Overall, is the music mainly loud or soft?
- List the sections of the music, then name the dynamics level for each section.
- Are there any changes in dynamics? If so what section, and what are the changes.
- What emotion do the dynamics make you feel and why?
These simple questions could be made more interesting is you choose to compare how dynamics are used in two versions of the same song!
Dynamics Music Chart
Another way to get your students actively listening for the use of dynamics in a piece of music is to give them a score of a piece that they can listen to as well. As they listen and read the music, have them track and take note of all the changes in dynamics in the music. For this activity, try using YouTube clips that have the score showing as the music is playing. There are stacks of these videos to choose from, simply search for a piece that you know your students will enjoy.
Once your students have recorded the dynamics in the music, try graphing the different dynamic levels in a dynamics music chart. See the graph below for inspiration of how to have your students complete this dynamics in music activity.
Composing with Dynamics
After your students have a good understanding of how dynamics work, challenge them to compose their own piece of music using various dynamics. This is a great way for them to be creative and experiment with sound. You can also have them perform their composition for the class and provide feedback on what worked well and what could be improved.
If you have access to technology, try having your students compose using software such as Bandlab, Garage band or Sound Trap. Each of these will allow students to not only compose a piece of music, but also add in dynamics changes and variations to make their compositions interesting.
These are just seven of the many fun ways that you can teach dynamics to your music students! By engaging all types of learners, these activities will ensure that your music students have a mastery of this musical element in no time. What are some of your favourite ways to teach dynamics? Share them in the comments below!