YourClassical Children

What does TEMPO mean?

 Classical MPR

April 10, 2020

LISTEN — Audio Instructions

Target age range: Grades K-5

Tempo is the word we use to describe the speed of music. Today you will learn a few music vocabulary words to describe tempo in music.

1. Begin by watching the Class Notes Video: Fast or Slow Means Tempo.

2. Make a tempo spectrum chart. Here are the eight tempo markings listed in the video, listed in order from slowest to fastest:

• Largo
• Adagio
• Andante
• Moderato
• Allegro
• Vivace
• Presto
• Prestissimo

Tempo grids
Tempo spectrum
Katie Condon/MPR

On a piece of paper, list these markings from left to right, slowest to fastest. Underneath, draw a picture of something that often moves at that speed. A snail or turtle might be at the slow end of your chart. A cheetah might be at the fast end. Vehicles, like bikes, cars and airplanes, work well too. See the grid below for an example of what your chart will look like before adding your pictures:

Tempo grids
Tempo flashcards
Katie Condon/MPR

3. Play a quick game of Tempo Olympics. There is no better way to learn about tempo than to experience the feeling in your body, or "feel it in your bones." Create a set of tempo flashcards. Begin with just three: lento, moderato and presto.

These represent the slow, middle and fast end of the spectrum. Pick an activity, such as push-ups or jumping jacks. Pick a flashcard and perform the designated activity at that tempo. Pick a different card and try the activity at a different tempo. Notice how lento jumping jacks feel very different than presto jumping jacks.

4. If you want to listen to some examples of music at different speeds, or tempi (the plural of tempo), click on the Class Notes: Fast or Slow Means Tempo Lesson Plan Audio Page and scroll down a bit to listen to some examples.

Have a question or suggestion? Contact Katie Condon, music education specialist.

More: View all of our YourClassical Music Lessons