Grade 8 Band

Pictures at an Exhibition
Unit Plan: 8 weeks
Overall Objective: Students will learn important musical techniques, concepts, and skills through
mastering Michael Sweeney's arrangement of Modest Mussorgsky's endearing classic, Pictures at an
How will this unit meet the goals of the Alberta Junior High instrumental Program of Studies?
Playing: Students will develop abilities on their respective instruments through learning this new,
challenging repertoire.
Listening: Students will listen to different versions of this piece as performed by professionals, and we
will discuss aesthetic judgements and interpretations in the context of musical analysis. Listening is
fundamentally connected to playing; one must listen critically in order to play well.
Reading: Students will interpret new rhythms, melodies, harmonies, and form as they appear in
Pictures at an Exhibition.
Creating: Students will not necessarily compose or improvise throughout this unit, but there will be a
strong emphasis on developing interpretational skills, another key aspect of creativity.
Valuing: Students will appreciate a masterpiece of classical music literature and will learn to value
nuances in classical music that are not found in other music.

Week 1: Hand out music. Listen to recordings – orchestral, band, and piano versions. Start first
Week 2: Explore woodwind section at measures 19 to 20. Remind students to be vigilant in performing
accidentals. Start second movement.
Week 3: Work more of second movement. Explore folklore stories about Baba Yaga (show pictures,
etc.) Work on decrescendos at measures 87-89 with trumpets.
Week 4: Start third movement. Explain new triplet rhythm at measures 118-123.
Week 5: Continue rehearsals. Remind students to self assess. Clarify components of a 1, 2, 3, or 4.
Conduct the first playing test.
Week 6: Explore how dynamics can shape the plan and overall impact of a piece.
Week 7: Explore phrasing, and how proper breathing can create superior musical melodic lines.
Week 8: Fine tuning week. Everything should be learned at this point, and students should have a solid
understanding of how dynamics, phrasing, and articulation can bring them beyond a 2 to a 3, or a 4.

Final concert is the final evaluation.

FOR learning: This is my main job as a music educator, and the process through which I am most
effective to stimulate and encourage learning. Students demonstrate their learning through playing on a
daily basis. I then listen and make suggestions to improve based on what I hear. In this way, assessment
for learning is also a remarkable learner differentiation tool, as I can make specific suggestions to
individual students on how to improve their playing.
AS learning: Constant encouragement for students to reflect on how they are playing is essential,
especially in the context of how they are being graded. At least once per lesson, remind students the
expectations as they fit within the 1-4 grading system, and let them evaluate themselves.
OF learning: In terms of music performance, I think this is the least effective way to assess, because it
only takes into account a specific instance of a student's abilities, rather than the entire eight week
process, in this case. Nevertheless, we will have one playing test at the fifth week, and a final
evaluation at the final concert.

1. I will play different versions of this piece so students can hear a professional's interpretation and
execution of the piece. Some students find it helpful to have a clear picture of where we are
headed in the learning process.
2. I will show pictures that go along with the pieces. For some students, these pictures will serve
as a stimulation that will activate connections that will affect how they perceive, and ultimately
play, the piece.
3. I will describe the folklore of Baba Yaga to the students. For some students, hearing a story
about the character in the second movement of this arrangement will be an engaging way to
stimulate expressive playing.
4. I will ensure to include practice times in class where I can visit students to address individual