April 2015

Bonus CD: Marching Bands, Part 4 of 4

Marching Bands, Part 4 of 4: Your First Steps


Meets National Core Arts Anchor Standards 5, 7, and 9


Perceive and analyze artistic work (Anchor Standard #7)

Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work (Anchor Standard #9)

Develop and refine artistic work for presentation (Anchor Standard #5)


Music Alive! Classroom Worksheet 3: Rhythm Toolkit

(download at www.musicalive.com/resources/mahandouts.php)

Piano and classroom percussion instruments



  1. Play “New World Symphony” by the University of Notre Dame Band of the Fighting Irish (CD track 6).


What time signature is this selection in? (4/4.)

How would you describe the tempo at the beginning? (Moderate.)

Is the key signature minor or major at the beginning? (Major—A-flat major.)

By 0:39, what has happened to the tempo and the tonality? (The music is faster, and it’s in a different key, specifically, D minor.)

In this new key, on which beat do the brass instruments play chordal accents? (Beat 1.)

The key signature at around 1:25 is now F major. How is this related to D minor? (It’s the relative minor; both keys have one flat, B flat.)

Can anyone say what chord type is heard around 2:03? (Diminished—remind the kids that this a chord made of minor thirds; play them some diminished chords on the piano to demonstrate.)

What type of music is this? (Classical—it’s an arrangement of excerpts from Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, From the New World.)


  1. Play “Caravan” by the Arizona State University Sun Devil Marching Band (CD track 7.)


What time signature is this in? (4/4.)

Is the key signature minor or major? (Minor—B-flat minor.)

How many flats are in that key? (Five: B, E, A, D, and G.)

Can anyone name the type of figure that the low brass plays in the beginning? (An ostinato, a repeating melodic figure that in this case remains constant while the chords above it change.)

Is the harmony simple or complex? (Complex.)

What type of music would you say this is? (Jazz. This is an arrangement of the jazz standard “Caravan,” by the great composer, pianist, and bandleader Duke Ellington and his trombonist, Juan Tizol.)


  1. Play “Birdland” by the Ohio State University Marching Band (CD track 8).


Is the key of this piece major or minor? (Major—F major.)

Does the music have a straight or swung rhythmic feel? (Swung.)

At around 0:17, are the instruments playing the bass line harmonized or at unison? (Unison.)

Around that same point, what type of percussive sounds do you hear on beats 2 and 4? (Handclaps.)

At around 0:35, are the horns playing the higher part at unison or harmonized? (Harmonized.)

How would you describe the style of this piece? (Jazz, fusion to be more exact. It’s the classic “Birdland,” by Weather Report.)

Which of these three pieces do you like best—and why? (Subjective.)



  1. Hand out copies of the Rhythm Toolkit. Have the students use this worksheet to compose two of their own rhythms, one in 4/4 and the other in 3/4, inspired by some of the music they’ve learned in this series of articles on marching bands. Then, have them take turns playing one another’s work on classroom percussion instruments.



Were the students engaged in discussing the listening selections?

Did they complete the Rhythm Toolkit assignments?