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June 22, 2020

Music Multiples #5: Algebraic Expressions Lesson Plan

Author: Loretta Walker

Year: 2015

Artform: Music

Subjects: Math

Grade: 5th, 6th

Duration: 15 - 45 minutes

Overview: This lesson builds on the foundation laid in Music Multiples Lessons #1, 2 & 4, though it can be effectively taught when students have no more than the background of Lesson #1.

This lesson provides students with an opportunity to create algebraic expressions that are generated from patterns of numeric multiples that the students have experienced aurally, orally, visually, and kinesthetically.

Standards and Objectives

Keep a steady beat in patterns of strong and weak beats
(5) Operations & Algebraic thinking or (6) Expressions and Equations
Students will generate algebraic expressions to describe patterns found in a table of multiples.



  1. Students should have mastered the skills in Music Multiples lesson #1 (Skip Counting Patterns). It is also helpful, but not necessary, to have completed Music Multiples Lesson #3 (Multiple Families) for the multiple being studied. In the case of this example lesson, students would need to be familiar with the multiples of 3.
  2. Generate or display the visual graphic of the multiples being studied, i.e. 3 in this example. (See Music Multiples Lesson #1)
  3. Have students perform the multiples using body percussion.
  4. If desired, have a classroom percussion instruments highlight the last beat of each body percussion set, i.e. triangle plays on every multiple of 3.


  1. Circle two adjacent or nearby numbers from the multiples chart that you created with the students.
  2. Discuss the possible mathematical relationships between those two numbers.
  3. Express one or more of those relationships in an algebraic expression with at least one variable.
  4. Test the algebraic expression by applying it to at least two other sets of numbers in the chart that have the same spatial relationship on the chart (i.e. adjacent diagonal, or directly above or below)


  1. Circle a different pair of numbers that are either adjacent or in close proximity.
  2. Students create their own algebraic expressions to describe the relationship between the two numbers and test it by applying it in at least two different locations on the chart.


Depending on the specific objectives of the lesson, the teacher may choose to have students explore as many written representations as possible or focus on representing specific concepts.

Enjoy singing or listening to the music again while performing the body percussion.

This lesson builds on the fundamental relationships of equal units and repeated patterns in both music and math that were explored in Lesson #1. If students regularly practice the body percussion skills learned in that lesson as applied to a variety of numbers, then they will be fluent in multiples and these follow-up lessons will be exceptionally efficient and effective. The body percussion practice can be tucked into little snippets of classroom time or incorporated into daily classroom routine as a transition activity.
  • What relationships can be found among the multiples of the number being studied?
  • How can those relationships be expressed using algebra?
Choose music that is at a tempo that the students are able to perform accurately. Being too fast or too slow can make it difficult for children. It is also important that the beat maintain a steady tempo, or speed.

This lesson can also be adapted for use by individuals or small groups to meet individual needs.
  • Beat
  • Rhythm
  • Meter
  • Variable
  • Constant
Historical content of each lesson will vary according to the music used.
Students’ accurate performance of the body percussion patterns without rushing (speeding up).

Accurate identification of Least Common Multiples and/or Greatest Common Factors.
This lesson can be taught well in a short period of time if students are fluent in the skills and concepts in the previous Music Multiple lessons. It will be most effective if students have frequent, enjoyable, ongoing practice with performing the patterns in Lesson #1.


  • One or more recordings of music at a steady tempo in meters that match the factors being studied.
  • Music playback equipment
  • White board or document camera
  • Optional: simple percussion instruments to emphasize the skip counting numbers.