Indian Music Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson plan, students listen to examples of Indian music, learn the differences between the different types, and do collaborative research and presentations to understand more about the instruments and important figures of Indian music.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Explain the differences between Hindustani and Karnatak music.
  • Recognize a few major figures of each type of music.


50 minutes


  • Compact disc or easily accessible online examples (e.g., YouTube) both types of music, each type of instrument, and one example of each artist mentioned in the lesson.
  • Internet access

Key Vocabulary

At the conclusion of this lesson, students should be able to identify and define the following vocabulary terms:

  • Hindustani
  • Karnatak
  • Raga
  • Tala
  • Sitar
  • Ravi Shankar
  • Tabla
  • Zakir Hussein
  • Bansuri
  • Tambura
  • Harmonium
  • Purandara Dasa
  • Kirtan
  • Kirshna Das

Curriculum Standards


Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.


Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data.


  • Choose one of the music examples (but not the single instrument ones), and have it playing on either a CD player or the computer speakers (depending on the mediums on which you acquire your examples) when students enter the class.
  • Turn the music down or off, depending on the preferences of your students. Have students read the lesson Indian Music: Instruments & Artists
  • Stop students when they reach the 'Karnatak Music' heading. Play one of the examples of Hindustani music you have found.
  • Hold a short discussion on Hindustani music and its components. Some example discussion questions include:
    • What are the primary characteristics of Hindustani music? The primary instruments?
    • What is the origin and influences of Hindustani music?
    • Do you like Hindustani music? Does it remind you of anything more familiar?
  • Have students finish reading the lesson.
  • Hold another short discussion on Karnatak Music. Some example discussion questions include:
    • What are the primary characteristics of Karnatak music? The primary instruments?
    • How does Karnatak music differ from Hindustani music? How are they similar?
    • Do you like Karnatak music? Does it remind you of anything more familiar?
  • Have students take the quiz

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