Surprise Symphony 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.

Use this lesson to help your students examine Franz Joseph Haydn's 'Surprise Symphony.' A group activity is included for students to create skits of real-life situations that correspond to the musicality of 'Surprise Symphony.'

Learning Objectives

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

  • explain why Haydn's work is called Surprise Symphony
  • identify and describe musical components used create humor and surprise in Surprise Symphony
  • connect the musicality of Surprise Symphony with a real-life situation that invokes the same humor and surprise


1.5-2 hours


Curriculum Standards

Please note that each state has different standards for music. Please consult your state's standards to ensure proper alignment.


  • Play selected sections of Surprise Symphony (Symphony No. 94 in G Major) for students. Be sure to include pieces of each of the four movements, focusing on the second movement.
  • Have students discuss the emotions they felt while listening to the music. Ask them to identify any surprises they encountered in the rhythm, tone, etc. of the music.
  • Tell students they will be examining Surprise Symphony in today's lesson.
  • Provide students with copies of the Haydn's Surprise Symphony Analysis text lesson, and read the 'The Surprise Symphony' and 'Symphony No. 94' sections as a class.
  • Pause and discuss the following questions with students:
    • How did the movements in Surprise Symphony intrigue listeners?
    • How did Surprise Symphony help define orchestral music for many years after its creation?
  • Continue reading the rest of the lesson as a class.
  • Discuss the following questions with students:
    • What specific movement in the Surprise Symphony earned the masterpiece the name 'surprise'?
    • Why do you think Haydn included a fortissimo beat in a song that was mostly quiet and peaceful?
    • How did Haydn use musical composition to inject humor into a piece of orchestral music? How can humor be created with music instead of words or actions?
  • Provide students with copies of the lesson quiz to complete. Review the quiz together and provide clarification as needed.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it now

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 220 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Used by over 30 million students worldwide
Create an account