Romantic Music Lesson Plan

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Educate your students about Romantic music with this lesson plan. They will view a video lesson, take a related quiz to follow up, and participate in activities to reinforce some concepts they learned.

Learning Objectives

After studying this lesson your students will be able to:

  • Define several musical terms related to Romantic music.
  • Explain some of the surprise tactics used by Romantic composers.
  • Name two traits common to Romantic era music.


1-1.5 Hours


  • Audio copies of the 1812 Overture, In the Hall of the Mountain King, Symphonie Fantastique, and the William Tell Overture (videos are optional)
  • Copies of the video lesson Characteristics of Romantic Era Music: Emotion & Dynamic Contrast along with the related lesson quiz, one copy per student
  • Internet access
  • Two preprinted worksheets, one containing 15 Romantic era terms, and one containing 15 related definitions, but not in the correct order

Key Vocabulary

  • Flexible forms
  • Forte
  • Fortepiano
  • Fortissimo
  • Pianissimo
  • Piano
  • Sforzando
  • Subito

Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.


Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.


  • Inform your students they will be learning about Romantic music.
  • Ask them if anyone is familiar with this music, or even likes to listen to it.
  • Review the eight vocabulary terms.
  • Read the introduction.
  • Start the video lesson Characteristics of Romantic Era Music: Emotion & Dynamic Contrast, and pause for the first time at 0:24.
    • What were two trends inherent to Romantic Music?
    • In what century was the Romantic era?
    • Was Romantic music similar to the music that was played prior to it?
    • Did Romantic music involve extremes?
  • Restart the video, and pause this time at 2:27.
    • Which genre used to tell stories before Romantic music?
    • Did the emotional music succeed in replacing words?
    • What are flexible forms?
    • How did Berlioz employ them in his music?
    • What three examples of the Romantic era are still popular?
    • What three forms of entertainment use Romantic music? Why?
  • Restart the video again, and pause for the final time at 4:49.
    • What is another word for dynamics of music?
    • How are loud and soft sounds portrayed?
    • How did Verdi and Mahler utilize them?
    • What does sforzndo mean?
    • What does forte piano mean?
    • What does subito mean?
    • What two loud instruments were used?
    • What two soft instruments were used?
  • Lastly, restart the video, and view the section 'Lesson Summary.'
  • Review the entire video lesson, and ask your students if they have any more questions.
  • Have your students take the lesson quiz to show their overall grasp of the material.

Activity One

  • Let your students know they will be playing a 'matching' type game involving terms related to Romantic era music.
  • Divide your students up into pairs.
  • Pass out two preprinted worksheets, one with the following 15 terms, and one with the corresponding 15 definitions, but in mixed order.

1) Forte piano - first play loud and then play soft

2) Subito piano - play soft suddenly

3) Berlioz - wrote the opera Les Troyens

4) Mahler - wrote Song of Lamentation

5) Celesta - resembles a piano

6) Sforzando - Great force should be used when playing

7) Pianissimo - an extra soft sound

8) Fortissimo - an extra loud sound

9) Piano - a soft sound

10) Forte - A loud sound

11) Dynamics - another term for volume

12) La traviata - opera by Verdi

13) Tchaikovsky - wrote the ballet Swan Lake

14) Grieg - wrote Look to the Sea

15) Rossini - wrote The Silken Ladder

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