October 9, 2015
By Dwayne Slobodnick

Lesson plan

Bottle Blowing Musicians!

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Students will be able to make sounds of different pitch. Students will be able to learn that pitch is determined by the amount of air in the bottle.

(10 minutes)
  • Explain to your students that they will listen to and make music today.
  • Write the word "pitch" on the whiteboard, and ask your students if they know what it means in relation to sound. After some discussion, define the word PitchAs the high or low quality of a sound or musical note.
  • Write down the definition of pitch on the board, and explain to the students how most instruments have a range of pitch.
  • Show the video of the Bottle Boys playing Under the SeaTo the class.
(5 minutes)
  • On a surface that is visible to the class, place four empty bottles in front of you.
  • Blow into each of the four bottles, and ask your class to listen to the sound each makes.
  • After your demonstration, explain to your students that all of the bottles have the same pitch.
  • Pour a different amount of water into each of your bottles, and then blow into all of them again.
  • Explain that by adding water, you have changed the pitch of each bottle.
(10 minutes)
  • Instruct your students to put their four bottles in front of them, and blow into each one. Blowing into the bottle to get a sound might be difficult for some, so make sure to demonstrate this several times and have the students do it with you.
  • Tell your students to pour different amounts of water into each one of their bottles. Timing will depend of where your source of water is. Depending on your students, you may want to put water into three of their bottles beforehand to save time.
  • Have your students blow into their bottles to find out which ones have the highest and lowest pitches.
  • Start a class discussion about pitch and how it relates to the bottles. Review whole-group discussion rules before beginning the conversation:
    1. ____To gain the floor
    2. Speak one at a time
    3. Listen to others
    4. Stay on topic
  • Fill in the blank for #1 with an agreed-upon way to gain the floor, such as students raising their hands or holding the talking stick.
  • Ask students to give you a thumbs up if they can agree to follow the rules during the discussion.
  • Ask your students to explain what determines the pitch of the bottles. Great questions to ask include:
    • "What determines the pitch of the bottles?"
    • "How do you know?"
    • "Does your bottle with the highest pitch have more or less water than the bottle with your lowest pitch?"
  • Guide students to come to the conclusion that more air creates a lower pitch, and more water creates a higher pitch.
(15 minutes)
  • Explain to the students that they will now have time to be creative and play music.
  • Tell your students to explore the sounds of their bottles and try to make a song of their choice.
  • Allow your class to work independently or in pairs on this. Encourage them to share how they can create different pitches with the bottles.


  • For a challenge, have your students use more than four bottles, or design another type of instrument that can play different pitches. Alternatively, they can try to create different pitches using glasses of water.

  • Support:
  • Allow students who are struggling to create different pitches to make music using wooden blocks, or another instrument, instead.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask some students to share their music with the class.
  • Take notes on the students’ understanding of pitch and how they work together during the music-making process.
(5 minutes)
  • Review the definition of pitch with your students.
  • Explain to the students that they will all play together as an entire class, and enjoy the music!

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