Fifth Grade Music Lessons: Orchestra Lesson Plan and a Unit on Instruments of the Orchestra For Elementary Students

Fifth Grade Music Lessons: Orchestra Lesson Plan and a Unit on Instruments of the Orchestra For Elementary Students
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Unit Rationale

This unit was designed for the purpose of providing my students with an opportunity to explore the musical instrument families through the use of technology. In the past, I have introduced musical instruments to my students through demonstration and worksheets alone. The idea of this modified instrument unit, however, is to create a learning environment that is more familiar to my students. Due to the fact that technology is so prominent in their everyday lives, I figured that using technology as a tool to find new information would help to keep them engaged in learning about Music and perhaps boost creativity and academic success as well.

Oftentimes Music classes seem boring and pointless to students and they often treat the subject as just “free time” to “play around.” However, by exposing them to hands-on activities and self-learning/exploration (through technology) in the classroom, students will develop more of an interest in Music and take it more seriously as well.

By the end of this unit, my goal is to have my students become more familiar with musical instruments, their families to which they belong, and the technologies they have used to discover them. These instruments of the orchestra music lesson plans will hopefully help your elementary students to take more of an interest in music as well.

Unit Objectives

Subject Area: Music

Grade Level: Intermediate-Grade 5

(Classes meet once a week for 40 minutes)

Students will be able to:

Identify the four instrument families: woodwinds, brass, strings, and percussion, and their members

Research the characteristics of families of instruments

Recognize the instruments in each family

Listen to and identify several musical instruments by sound

Explain what a conductor is and what he does

Define and compare an orchestra and a band

Discuss and demonstrate the characteristics of each instrument family and members through the use of PowerPoint.

Create an instrument review helper for their classmates via Inspiration.

Compose a brief rhythm line using MusicBox in order to become more familiar with orchestral sounds.

Recall instrument information through Musical Jeopardy Game (via PowerPoint) and Unit Test.

Unit Learning Standards

National Music Standards

Standard 2: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music

Standard 4: Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines

Standard 6: Listening to, analyzing, and describing music

Standard 8: Understanding relationships between music, the other arts,and disciplines outside the arts

National Educational Technology Standards

Standard 1: Basic operations and concepts - Students demonstrate a sound understanding of the nature and operation of technology systems. Students are proficient in the use of technology.

Standard 2: Social, ethical, and human issues - Students practice responsible use of technology systems, information, and software. Students develop positive attitudes toward technology uses that support lifelong learning, collaboration, personal pursuits, and productivity.

Standard 3: Technology Productivity Tools - Students use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity. Students use productivity tools to collaborate in constructing technology-enhanced models,prepare publications, and produce other creative works.

Standard 5: Technology research tools - Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.

Lesson 1: Introduction to the Orchestra

Duration: Forty minutes

Rationale: The purpose of this lesson is to provide students with an introduction to the orchestra and families of instruments within it (via PowerPoint presentation).

Lesson Objectives: Students/learners will:


  • Brainstorm and chart musical instruments
  • Discuss what they already know about the instruments via KWL chart
  • Identify the four instrument families: woodwinds, brass, strings, and percussion; and their members


  • Overhead Projector
  • InFocus machine
  • Teacher’s laptop or classroom PC with Microsoft Office (Word and PowerPoint)
  • Portable laptops for student use with same software installed (including an instrument worksheet document.) Teacher must reserve these for the entire unit period.
  • A musical instrument from each family i.e. clarinet, violin, trumpet, and triangle, for demonstration

Class Organization: Students will each have their own laptop (portable school-owned) at their desks/tables to work on during this lesson period. The teacher will be in the front of the room using the overhead projector and the InFocus machine with the large screen pulled down over the blackboard.


  • Students will log in to their laptops and pull up the this downloadable Instrument Worksheet document that has been previously set up by and saved by the teacher prior to class. (Put it on the desktop for your students.)

  • Students will then complete the worksheet by following directions and printing it for teacher evaluation. (The teacher is to look them over and then keep these worksheets in a file until the end of the unit. The purpose is for the teacher to see what the students already know and for the students themselves to use later to assess what they have learned from this unit.)

  • The teacher then brings up the KWL chart downloadable here via an overhead projector and a large screen for all of the students to see.

  • The teacher will then explain to the class that in this unit they will be studying the Instruments of the Orchestra and their families. The teacher will put up pictures of some of the instruments on the overhead and ask the students if they know of these instruments and to discuss them briefly. The teacher will then chart what they already know about these instruments; i.e. their names, characteristics, etc.

  • The teacher will then present a PowerPoint demonstration on the Orchestra and the Instruments via the InFocus machine to see how many students are correct. As the teacher goes through some of the general characteristics of each family, the students are asked to use Microsoft Word or Notepad to write the names of the four families of instruments and to save it to their documents folder for the next class.

  • The teacher then demonstrates an instrument from each family to the class by playing it, briefly discussing the parts, and how the sound is made.

Assessment: Students will be assessed on their ability to complete a musical instrument worksheet and informally on their participation based on a rubric (download this one) that includes categories such as previous knowledge (participation) and lack of knowledge (level of engagement), behavior, etc.


This post is part of the series: Instrument Families of the Orchestra

This is a great unit plan that will get your 5th grade Music students better acquainted with the various types of musical instruments of the orchestra. There are several lessons that incorporate technology as well. Enjoy!

  1. Instruments of the Orchestra Unit Plan and First Lesson
  2. Instruments of the Orchestra: The String Family
  3. Instruments of the Orchestra: The Woodwind Family
  4. The Instruments of the Orchestra: The Brass Family
  5. Instruments of the Classical Orchestra: The Percussion Family