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How can you identify a piece of music’s time signature? This lesson plan uses two engaging video lessons to teach students just that. A fun game gives them the chance to show what they’ve learned.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

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  • define ‘time signature’ as it relates to music
  • identify different types of time signatures in music


  • 1 to 1.

    5 hours

Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.

  • CCSS.


Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.



Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.



Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.


Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g.

, in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).


Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.


  • Copies of sheet music
  • Samples of music in the following time signatures: Polka, March, Gavotte, Waltz, Mazurka, Minuet, Scherzo, Gigue, and Tarantella
  • A worksheet created using the time signature quiz and the meters quiz from the associated lessons


  • Begin by writing the term ‘time signature’ on the board.
  • Now play the video lesson Time Signature in Music: Definition and Examples, pausing at 3:18.
  • Pass out the photocopies of sheet music to the class now, one per student.
  • Instruct students to use what they learned in the video lesson to find the time signature on their sheets.

  • When each student has found the time signature, have them present it to the class along with an explanation supporting their answer.
  • Play the rest of the video lesson for the class now.
    • Who can identify a duple meter in their sheet music? A triple meter?
    • Who can identify a simple meter in their sheet music? A compound meter?
    • Who can spot a complex meter in their sheet music?
    • Does anyone have a mixed meter in their sheet music?
  • Now play the video lesson Meters and Time Signatures in Musical Forms and pause it at 2:21.
  • Play the Polka sample for the class.
    • Can you identify the time signature in the Polka music?
  • Play the video lesson again and pause it at 3:58.

  • Play the March sample for the class.
  • Now play the Gavotte sample for the class.
    • Can you identify the time signatures in these samples?
  • Play the video lesson again and pause at 8:42.
  • Play the Waltz, Mazurka, Minuet, Scherzo samples for the class now.
    • Can you identify the time signatures in these samples?
    • Is it getting harder to do so?
  • Play the rest of the video lesson for the class now.
  • Now play the samples of Gigue and Tarantella for the class.
    • Can you identify the time signatures in these samples?
  • Pass out the worksheet and have the students work independently to complete it.


  • Divide the class into several small groups.
  • Explain that you will be playing a game entitled Guess the Time Signature. You will play assorted snippets of audio, each representing a different time signature.

    The groups must raise their hand if they know the time signature.

    • The first group to raise their hand will state the answer. If their answer is correct, they get a point and you will move on to the next sample of music. If their answer is incorrect, they lose a point and the group who raised their hand second will be permitted to state their answer and so on.
    • The group with the most points at the end of the game wins!


  • Have students select sheet music and analyze its time signature.
  • Ask students to compose simple pieces of music representing each of the time signatures discussed in the lesson.

Related Lessons

  • Rhythm: Quarter Notes, Eighth Notes, Rests & Other Basic Rhythms
  • Rhythm: Recognizing Syncopation, Dotted Notes & Ties

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