Kenan Fellows Program Logo and page header graphic


Lesson Five: World Music

How does location affect a bird’s song? (dialects)

National Science Education Standards

Content Standard A: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry

  • Understanding about scientific inquiry.
  • Employ simple equipment and tools to gather data and extend the senses.

Content Standard C: Life Science

  • The characteristics of organisms
  • Organisms and their environments

Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

  • Characteristics and changes in populations
  • Changes in environments

Objectives: NCSCOS Science

Competency Goal One: The learner will conduct investigations and build an understanding of animal life cycle.

Competency Goal Four: The learner will conduct investigations and use appropriate technology to build an understanding of the concepts of sound.

NCSCOS Music Objectives

GOAL 6: The learner will listen to, analyze, and describe music. (National Standard 6)

  • 6.03 Use appropriate terminology in explaining music, music notation, music instruments and voices, and music performances.
  • 6.07 Show respect while listening to and analyzing music.

GOAL 8: The learner will understand relationships between music, the other arts, and content areas outside the arts. (National Standard 8)

  • 8.02 Identify ways in which the principles and subject matter of other content areas taught in the school are related to those of music.


Birds of the same species will have an “accent” depending on where they are living. Human “accents” vary dependent upon where the live.

Background information for teacher:

Thrushes are eloquent songbirds that live in many different habitats including woodlands and open areas. They feed on insects and fruit. They are well known for their songs and different thrushes sing different songs.


  • Spectrogram — a graphic representation of sound, showing frequency and time
  • Sheet Music – a written representation of musical notation


  • Access to a computer lab or
  • Smartboard if doing this lesson as a large group


30 min

Process Skills:

  • Observe
  • Communicate
  • Measure
  • Predict

Procedure: (Engage, Explore)

  1. Pre-record 4-6 students voices prior to introducing the lesson. Have each student recite the same phrase. Allow the class to match the voice to the student. Explain how distinguishing the tone color of each voice they were able to match the performer.
  2. Go to the Wild Music website and click on animals and then thrushes.
  3. Tell students that they will be listening to four different thrush songs, one from the Hermit thrush, Swainson’s Thrush, Wood Thrush and Veery.
  4. Listen to the birdsongs and view the spectrogram. Discuss what information is on the spectrogram.
  5. Ask students how we represent a song? Compare a spectrogram to a printed piece of sheet music.
  6. Discuss what happens to the pitch when the playback is altered.
  7. After all songs are heard, have students complete the songbird challenge where they listen to the song and try to match it to the correct thrush.

Class Reflection: (Explain)

  1. Do the songs of all birds sound the same?
  2. What are some things that influence what a bird’s song will sound like? (location, speed of recording)
  3. What is a spectrogram and what kind of information does it provide?
  4. How does a spectrogram compare to sheet music?

Elaborate: (Extend)

Authentic Assessment: (Evaluate)

  • Group Participation