/multimedia/series/AEMicrosites/perfect-pitch

Perfect Pitch

Make a hit when you use baseball to explore the instruments of the orchestra.

About

Age range: Good for ages 10 and up

Estimated Time: Give yourself some time! This interactive takes about 30 minutes to complete.

Key Technology: You can use this on a computer or whiteboard—but you will need speakers (or headphones) for the music parts.

This interactive explores the variety of musical instruments in orchestras from baroque to modern. Players can learn how instruments are made, create their own orchestral arrangements, find out about famous players and composers, and put instruments into their historical context. Guided listening is combined with questions about the history, construction, and use of the instruments. A baseball metaphor and lots of options for exploration and play will keep students coming back to this one!

Think About...

  • As you explore, learn and remember all you can for the “Play Ball” quiz game.
  • Before you get started, think of what you already know about orchestras. Keep this in mind as you explore the interactive.
  • You can use the “home plate” button in the lower left hand corner to navigate back and forth through activities. Feel free to follow any path that interests you, and use that button to get back to the main navigation.
  • In “Create a Lineup,” you can use the “solo” and “mute” buttons to single out one or more parts of the piece to listen to more closely.
  • You might have to listen repeatedly to know and remember the sounds of the different instruments.

Comprehension

  • Name the four eras of the orchestra in chronological order.
  • Instruments were added to the orchestra as time passed; did any instruments retire from the lineup?
  • Melody, countermelody, harmony, and theme are examples of what? (tunes, or parts of a composition)

Critical Thinking

  • Which new instruments were updates of earlier instruments, and which seem like new ideas?
  • Why do you think composers feel a need for new instruments?
  • Do different instruments or combinations of instruments express different ideas and emotions?

Reflection

  • How did changes in technology affect the instruments of the orchestra over time? (available materials, electricity, new ways of making things)
  • You can think of melodies, themes, and harmonies as a conversation among the instruments. Are some instruments more likely to take one part of the conversation than another?
  • When you listen to orchestral music in the future, will you be able to distinguish baroque from romantic music, classical from modern? List characteristics of each type that can help you recognize the differences.

Learn More

Dig Deeper!

Check out the Related Resources box on the right side of this page for ARTSEDGE lessons and resources that can be used with Perfect Pitch

For the Educator

Consider working through “Meet the Players” together, giving students plenty of time for free exploration of “Create a Lineup,” and finishing up with a team game of “Play Ball.”

The interactive begins with “Meet the Players,” which shows the standard members of four styles or time periods of orchestras. Each instrument can be selected individually to listen to sound clips and learn both essential facts (construction, history, important players) and “fun facts” including other events taking place in the world when the instrument was invented. This section presents a large volume of information.

Next comes “Create a Lineup,” in which students can arrange typical pieces of music for each orchestral style, choosing the instruments for melody, harmonies, percussion, etc. This section offers hundreds of options for experimentation, from an all-oboe baroque piece to modern arrangements with typewriter and cowbell.

Finally, “Play Ball” assesses student learning with a quiz game at three levels. Challenges range from identifying instruments by ear to remembering historical events which took place at the same time as the invention of an instrument. This game can be used for individual assessment, or could be played competitively in teams with an interactive whiteboard or projector and screen.

Some prior knowledge of orchestral music will be useful:

  • Recognition of the families of the orchestra
  • Knowledge of basic music theory terminology, such as “countermelody,” “bass,” and “pitch”
  • Familiarity with the four styles of orchestral music covered

Instructional Strategies

This interactive lends itself to large-group, interactive discussions supported by an Interactive Whiteboard. It also is well suited to free exploration at an individual computer station.

Credits

Writers

Rebecca Haden
Adaptation

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