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Learning Resource Type

Classroom Resource

Musical Instruments and the Science of Sound

Subject Area

Arts Education


1, 4


Students will discuss vibrations, frequency, amplitude, and wavelength. They will observe instruments, hypothesize how sound waves are created, and experiment with creating sound.  

    Science (2015) Grade(s): 1


    Conduct experiments to provide evidence that vibrations of matter can create sound (e.g., striking a tuning fork, plucking a guitar string) and sound can make matter vibrate (e.g., holding a piece of paper near a sound system speaker, touching your throat while speaking).

    Unpacked Content



    • vibrations/vibrate
    • matter
    • sound
    • evidence
    • experiments
    • conduct
    • create


    Students know:
    • Sound can cause matter to vibrate.
    • Vibrating matter can cause sound.


    Students are able to:
    • Conduct investigations to provide evidence that sound makes matter vibrate and vibrating matter makes sound.
    • Make observations that can be used as evidence about sound.


    Students understand that:
    • Sound can cause matter to vibrate.
    • Vibrating matter can cause sound.
    • There is a cause/effect relationship between vibrating materials and sound.

    Scientific and Engineering Practices

    Planning and Carrying out Investigations

    Crosscutting Concepts

    Cause and Effect
    Science (2015) Grade(s): 4


    Develop a model of waves to describe patterns in terms of amplitude and wavelength, and including that waves can cause objects to move.

    Unpacked Content



    • Patterns
    • Propagated
    • Waves
    • Wave amplitude
    • Wavelength
    • Net motion
    • Model
    • Relevant components
    • Peaks


    Students know:
    • Waves can be described in terms of patterns of repeating amplitude and wavelength (e.g., in a water wave there is a repeating pattern of water being higher and then lower than the baseline level of the water).
    • Waves can cause an object to move.
    • The motion of objects varies with the amplitude and wavelength of the wave carrying it.
    • The patterns in the relationships between a wave passing, the net motion of the wave, and the motion of an object caused by the wave as it passes.
    • How waves may be initiated (e.g., by disturbing surface water or shaking a rope or spring).
    • The repeating pattern produced as a wave is propagated.
    • Waves, which are the regular patterns of motion, can be made in water by disturbing the surface. When waves move across the surface of deep water, the water goes up and down in place; there is no net motion in the direction of the wave except when the water meets a beach.
    • Waves of the same type can differ in amplitude (height of the wave) and wavelength (spacing between wave peaks).


    Students are able to:
    • Develop a model to make sense of wave patterns that includes relevant components (i.e., waves, wave amplitude, wavelength, and motion of objects).
    • Describe patterns of wavelengths and amplitudes.
    • Describe how waves can cause objects to move.


    Students understand that:
    • There are similarities and differences in patterns underlying waves and use these patterns to describe simple relationships involving wave amplitude, wavelength, and the motion of an object.

    Scientific and Engineering Practices

    Developing and Using Models

    Crosscutting Concepts

    Arts Education (2017) Grade(s): 4 - Music


    Demonstrate understanding of the formal structure and the rudimentary elements of music in music selected for performance.

    Unpacked Content



    • Conducting patterns in
    • Syncopation
    • Pitch set: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, Ti
    • Treble clef reading (La, So, Mi, Re, Do)
    • Middle C through High B
    • Create melodic sequences
    • Half-step
    • Whole step
    • Canons
    • Chord components
    • Chord progression (I, V)
    • Crossover bordun
    • Phrasing: antecedent and consequent
    • D.C. al coda
    • Fine
    • pp through ff
    • Age-appropriate audience and performer etiquette
    • Orchestra instruments within the 4 families
    • Age-appropriate pitch matching (A3-E5)

    Essential Questions

    EU: Analyzing creators' context and how they manipulate elements of music provides insight into their intent and informs performance.
    EQ: How does understanding the structure and context of musical works inform performance?

    Skills Examples

    • Sing, move and respond to music from world cultures and different composers.
    • Sing a varied repertoire with accurate rhythm, pitch and expressive qualities individually and with others.
    • With limited guidance, Improvise and compose short compositions using a variety of classroom instruments and sound sources.
    Reading/ Writing
    • Read, write and perform using rhythm patterns that include syncopated rhythms, in 2/4, 3/4 and 4/4 meter.
    Responding/ Evaluating
    • Use the head voice to produce a light, clear sound employing breath support and maintaining appropriate posture.
    • Use student developed criteria to critique their own performances and the performances of others.

    Anchor Standards

    Anchor Standard 4: Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.
    Link to Resource

    CR Resource Type

    Lesson/Unit Plan

    Resource Provider

    San Francisco Symphony