Stravinsky's Rite of Spring Lesson Plan

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

This lesson plan will encourage students to consider the use of music to portray actions and events in the ballet, 'The Rite of Spring,' by Igor Stravinsky. Students will discuss the history of the ballet and the controversy surrounding it.

Learning Objectives

As a result of this lesson, students will

  • identify The Rite of Spring as a controversial ballet by Igor Stravinsky
  • provide support for their opinions about the music and story
  • relate the music and themes to the plot of the story


60 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text


Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Materials Needed

  • Projector or SMART Board
  • Whiteboard or blackboard
  • The Rite of Spring music
  • Ability to play audio using computer or another device


  • To introduce the lesson, write the word 'rite' on the board. Ask students what the word means.

Elicit the idea that a 'rite' is a religious or otherwise serious ceremony or act. Ask the students to brainstorm some rites with which they are familiar.

  • Display the video lesson, The Rite of Spring: Story, Analysis, Composer & Music using a projector or SMARTBoard.
  • Stop the video at 1:14. Discuss the information presented, using questions such as:
    • What is The Rite of Spring?
    • Who wrote this ballet?
    • How was the ballet received when it was first presented?
    • What was controversial about the ballet?
    • What is the basic story of the ballet?
    • What does a choreographer do? Who was the choreographer for The Rite of Spring?
  • Restart the video and stop it again at 2:15. Discuss the information presented, using questions such as:
    • Why was The Rite of Spring considered to be 'revolutionary?'
    • How did the time period influence the audience's reaction? Why?
  • Restart the video and play the remaining segments to the end.
  • Discuss the information presented with questions, such as:
    • What is 'dissonance' and how did Stravinsky use it in the music of the ballet?
    • Why do you think he used dissonance? What purpose did it serve?
    • What was special about the orchestra that Stravinsky needed to play the music for the ballet?
    • How can an instrument 'have a distinctive role' in the piece of music?
  • Ask students if they have any questions about the lesson. To check for understanding, display The Rite of Spring: Story, Analysis, Composer & Music Quiz. Go through the quiz one question at a time, asking students to raise their hands to indicate their responses for each question. Address any misconceptions by the students as you proceed through the quiz.

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