Grade Levels: K-3

This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about pitch, tone, and beat. It is designed to complement the Pitch, Tone, and Beat topic page on BrainPOP Jr.

Explore the wonderful world of music with your children! This movie will introduce pitch, tone, and rhythm and explore different instruments. We recommend listening to music together and pausing to discuss what they have heard. Which instruments are used? How does this song differ from another song? You may want to review the Sound movie and build a cross-curricular connection with science.

Review with children that pitch describes how low or high a sound is. Together, brainstorm some things that make a high-pitched sound, like a mouse’s squeak, a scream, and a triangle. Discuss what makes a low-pitched sound, such as a tugboat and a tuba. Invite students to sing a low note and a high note. Remind children that some instruments have higher pitches than others. Brainstorm different instruments and sort them by pitch. A piccolo, flute, and a triangle are much higher than a cello, bass guitar, and a tuba. Some instruments have a wide range–a piano can play fairly low and fairly high notes. Explore different instruments, and ask children to explain how a pitch can be changed. On a guitar, as well as many other stringed instruments, a string is pressed down on the neck while it is plucked or strummed in order to change the pitch. On a recorder, different holes are covered to change the pitch, while on a trumpet keys are pressed down.

Tone, or timbre, describes the quality of a sound. Tone does not, however, refer to loudness (volume). Tones from a whistle are sharp, while a cello or acoustic guitar might have warm tones. A trumpet or saxophone can have bright tones. However, they can also have warm tones. One instrument often has many tones depending on how it is played. If possible, experiment with different instruments and invite children to describe their tone. On the Internet, you can find audio samples from different instruments and an orchestra, which is a group of musicians who play instruments that differ in pitch and tone.

Rhythm is the beat of a song. Play a piece of music together and clap along to the beat. Some songs are faster than others. Play different songs and invite children to describe the rhythm. Is it fast? Is it jumpy? You may want to play songs across different genres–such as a hip-hop song and a classical waltz. Remind your children that rhythm can change in a song–it can speed up, slow down, or even stop.

Music is a combination of pitch, tone, and rhythm. There are many ways to combine them, so there are many different kinds of music! Encourage your children to name different styles of music, such as pop or country. How are they different?

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