Teaching Time Signatures

Teaching Time Signatures

Mr. B. Boyd, Ms. A. Burke, Ms. J. Francis, Mr. A. Skulko-Kozlov, Ms. V. Trealout

Youtube Video Time Signatures

Prezi Presentation

Music Lesson Plan

Date: 18 November, 2014

Period: 75 minutes

Course: AMU 1O or AMU 2O

Teachers: Mr. B. Boyd, Ms. A. Burke, Ms. J. Francis, Mr. A. Skulko-Kozlov, Ms. V. Trealout


Unit: Music Theory: Simple and Compound Time Signatures

Curriculum Expectations:

  1. A) Creating and Performing

A1.1 apply the creative process when performing notated and/or improvised music.

A2.2 apply the elements of music and related concepts appropriately when interpreting and performing music.

A3.1 demonstrate technical skill when performing notated and/or improvised music.

  1. B) Reflecting, Responding, and Analysing

B1.3 describe the difference between technical aspects and expressive aspects of music.

  1. C) Foundations

C1.1 demonstrate an understanding of the elements of music, particularly through practical application and aural recognition.

C1.2 demonstrate an understanding of, and use proper terminology when referring to, fundamental concepts associated with notation.

Learning Goal(s):

I am learning to identify the difference between simple and compound time signatures in music.

I am learning to analyze the characteristics of time signatures (how many beats in the measure and which note value receives one beat).

I am learning to describe and hear where the beats and pulses fall within rhythms in any time signature.

Success Criteria:

I can correctly interpret time signatures and can identify and discuss whether the time signature is compound or simple time.

I can describe characteristics of time signatures and clearly explain what each part of the symbol represents in written music.

I can successfully listen to a piece of music and identify what meter (time) in which the piece is written.

Minds On (Before):

Listening (10 minutes): Students will engage in a listening activity that will allow them to begin to understand the concept of time and time signatures in music. They will be presented with a piece of music whose “time” or “beat” shifts and will be asked to keep track of the downbeats (beginning of each measure).


Action (During):

  1. A) Prezi Theory Lesson (20 minutes): Students will interact with a Prezi that describes time signatures, musical examples of common time, and a brief description of conducting patterns related to these time signatures. Each slide/page will be explained in detail and students will be engaged in discussion of other musical examples they know in each time.

Prezi: https://prezi.com/cyernxa2fhde/an-introduction-to-time-signatures/

  1. B) Time Signature Game (30 minutes): After students have a solid foundation of time signatures and how to correctly interpret their meanings, the students will participate in a flash card game. They will be split into two teams, who will race to answer a question presented to them on flashcards. The first of the participants to correctly complete the rhythm, and time signature exercise will receive one point for their team. See video example in Prezi.

Consolidation (After):

Playing (15 minutes): Students will engage in a playing activity that reinforces the time signature lesson. They will be presented with various rhythms from the game and prezi lesson and will be asked to perform these rhythms on their instruments.


**Teacher observation of student participation of material (during theory lesson)

**Teacher answering student questions to provide clarity of newly presented material

**Teacher observation of active student discussion in musical problem solving with regards to playing practices.

Praxis Paper

     There are many important elements of music which students must learn in order to perform.  Learning note values and rhythm allows students to gain an understanding of notated music, and read un-pitched repertoire. However, students must first learn how to identify, write, and hear time signatures before they can begin to read, write, or perform repertoire. The introduction of time signatures occurs in the first few weeks of a grade 9 music class, and are expanded upon up to and including grade 10. The interactive Prezi presentation and “Time Signatures” game allow teachers to scaffold learning, beginning with simple time, and eventually introducing compound time signatures.

As described in the textbook, Content Area Reading, the use of technology in classrooms can be useful but sometimes challenging. Prezi presentations are a great way to use technology while facilitating learning in many different content areas.  In music, teachers can use Prezi as a tool to teach the basic fundamentals of music, such as time signatures. Music examples can be used so students can hear the music and be able to identify the differences between the different time signatures. Being able to conduct the time signatures is beneficial for you and your students as they need to be able to see the division of the beats in order to play their music effectively. As an educator, consider the important fact that students learn and interpret in many different ways. Some students may benefit from the technological approach, while others may not be able to absorb the information effectively. For those students, it might be easier for them to grasp the information in a more engaging attempt, via an interactive game.

Games have proven to be extremely useful and insightful assessment tools for teachers, while presenting an amusing review for students. They are very competitive and will always jump at the opportunity to challenge their peers and to prove themselves as knowledgeable individuals. Teachers may use this genre of game to determine which students have fully grasped the concepts they have been teaching their students, and evaluate where common errors are being made. They can use their observations to further reinforce areas of lessons that have proven to be weaker among the students. The game presented here is a race- style game. The class will be split into two teams lined up toward the front of the class. The teacher will then show them a flash card, asking for the solution to a question on the card. The students will then race to complete the question, and the first student to correctly answer will receive one point for the team. At the end of the allotted time, the team with the most points wins.

Through the use of the technology-driven Prezi presentation and the student-centered game, teachers can use these tools to reach a multitude of learning styles. It is important to recognize that this tool is not limited to the topic of time signatures. Therefore, this could be explored further by incorporating a slideshow for each aspect of music; including notation, rhythm, articulation, dynamics, and so on.