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Duration and tempo

What will we learn?

Today we will focus on the pace and feel of any music you listen to and how duration and tempo affetcs this.

This can take 20 minutes to complete but we recommend spending around 30-35 minutes on it.

What is duration?

Quite simply, this is how long a note is played for.  

Some notes can be played for a looooooong time and some can be played for a very short time.


Think of noises or sounds you hear in your everyday life, like the sound of a running tap or a door shutting, do these last for a long time or a short time?

The door shutting has a short duration because it doesn't last very long but the tap could run for a long time and would have a long duration.


Make a quick list of three sounds that have a short duration and three that have a long duration. 

If you clapped your hands once or stomped your feet, would this have a short or a long duration? 

What is tempo? 

The tempo is the speed of the music.  Some songs can be very slow and some can be very quick.  This can make you feel different things about the piece of music.  You wouldn't want to dance with your friends to a very slow piece of music!

Lots of musical terms are in Italian - this is because lots of composers of early classical music were from Italy.  The three mains ones are allegro (fast), andante (at a walking pace) and adagio (slow).


There are three different videos below, remembering what we learned about pulse and rhythm, do you think you are able to clap along and keep the beat?

Listen to them and talk about their tempo: are they fast? Are they slow? Are they in between? Do they make you want to sing or dance? Does it speed up and slow down?  You'll need to watch right until the end to find out...

Think about the notes too, do the notes change quickly or slowly?  Do the singers take their time singing a word or syllable? 

Thinking of your favourite songs now

​What songs do you know that are fast? What songs do you know that are slow? 

Using YouTube or Spotify, see if you can tap or clap along to the beat of your favourite song.  

#LoveToLearn challenge 3:

Using your favourite slow song, have a go at singing it faster than you would - can do you do the same for a fast song and slow it down?

Does this change how you feel about the music?

Can you...

  • Say what duration is?

  • Say what tempo is?

  • Tell which is a fast or slow tempo?

  • Tell which is a fast or slow duration?


Are you ready to learn about melody and pitch?

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