Chinese New Year Music Lesson Plan

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

This lesson introduces students to Chinese New Year music. Students will compare and contrast the holiday's music with other musical genres and make their own bolang gu to create a song, as well as create posters about instruments used to make Chinese New Year music.

Learning Objectives

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

  • Describe the characteristics of Chinese New Year music
  • Identify and describe the instruments frequently used to make Chinese New Year music
  • Compare and contrast Chinese New Year music and other genres of music


2+ hours

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.


  • Pictures or objects representing Chinese New Year
  • Audio recordings of ''Gongxi, Gongxi'', ''Xinnian Hao'', and/or ''Gongxi Ni Facai''
  • Audio recordings of music played by the instruments mentioned in the lesson (erhu, guzheng, gu, bolang gu)
  • Audio recordings of various type of musical genres (country, rap, opera, rock, etc.)
  • Poster board
  • Art supplies (pencils, pens, markers, colored pencils, etc.)
  • Thick paper plates
  • Stapler
  • Thick wooden dowel rods
  • Yarn (cut into 9 inch sections)
  • Single-hole puncher
  • Large beads
  • Tape
  • Copies of lesson and/or lesson quiz (optional)


  • Show the class pictures or objects representing Chinese New Year. Ask the students to identify what these objects have in common.
  • Inform the students that they will learn about Chinese New Year music.
  • Review the lesson Chinese New Year Music: Instruments and Songs with the students online or by using paper copies of the lesson.
  • After reviewing the section of the lesson titled 'Chinese New Year Songs' stop and play audio recordings for one or more of the example songs listed in the lesson. Now discuss:
    • What do the Chinese celebrate during Chinese New Year?
    • When does it occur? How do people celebrate?
    • Describe how Chinese music sounds. What is the mood of the music? What do the lyrics describe?
    • How is Chinese New Year music different from what we hear on the radio?
  • Read the remainder of the lesson with the students.
  • Show the students the pictures of the instruments included in the lesson and play an audio recording of each instrument being played.
  • Discuss the following with the students:
    • Name the Chinese instruments used to create Chinese New Year music.
    • How are they the same and different from the instruments we commonly use to make music?
  • Answer any questions before moving on to the activity.


Compare and Contrast Genres

  • Divide the class into small groups.
  • Assign each group a musical genre such as country, rap, opera, etc. Have each group listen to an audio recording of a school-appropriate song from that musical genre.
  • Provide each group with a piece of chart paper to create a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting their musical genre and Chinese New Year music.
  • When the groups have finished their charts, have them share the charts with the class.
  • Check for student understanding by having students complete the lesson quiz online or using paper copies.

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