Arranging and Improvising with *NSYNC

Grade Levels: 5 - 7

Lesson based on a song written by Max Martin and Kristian Lundin.
  • Students will improvise harmonic accompaniments.
  • Students will arrange simple pieces for voices or instruments.
  • Tearin' at My Heart sheet music
  • CD's of popular music groups with harmony (try Take 6, Boys II Men, Manhattan Transfer, The Platters, or the Temptations)
  • CD player
  1. Listen to Harmony.
    • Play examples of harmony from popular vocal music (See suggestions above).
    • You could even ask students to bring in examples, but you may want to reserve the right to approve before playing.
    • Ask students if they ever make up their own harmony to songs on the radio or in other venues where they sing.
    • Finish with playing Tearin' Up My Heart.
  2. Review the Harmony.
    • Review the harmony learned in previous lesson from the bridge of Tearin' Up My Heart.
    • Divide students into melody and harmony sections.
    • Play pitches for students by rolling the chords and then play the chords simultaneously for student sections to sing or play.
  3. Arrange the Harmony.
    • Place students in small groups.
    • Depending on the age and ability of your students, select either the first or the second eight bars of the bridge from Tearin' Up My Heart.
    • Review the melody line and discuss harmony. If students have guitars or rock band experience, they may be familiar with arranging. Or discuss techniques some musicians use to harmonize. (Thinking in either vertical or horizontal lines, for example.)
    • Suggest the student groups "make up" their own harmony. While all but one member of each group sing the harmony, have the other member experiment by singing harmony. Have students take turns "making up" the harmony.
    • Ask each student group to select a favorite harmony.
    • Give the student groups practice time.
    • Invite or select groups to sing or play their versions for the class.

  4. Extension: For advanced classes, have groups notate their arrangements.

The recording is sung an octave lower than notated. Because your students may be familiar with the recording, singing in the notated octave may seem unnatural for them. Boys and altos should sing the same range as *NSYNC. Sopranos may wish to sing it in the written octave. Please caution your students not to overuse their chest voices.

Return to Teaching with *NSYNC.

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