Tchaikovsky Lesson Plan

Instructor: Josh Corbat

Josh has taught Earth Science and Physical Science at the High School level and holds a Master of Education degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Use this lesson plan to introduce Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's life and works. Students will read a text lesson, discuss how an artist's life influences their work, and reimagine a piece of music in their own context.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify some of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's music
  • describe some of the influences the life of an artist can have on their work


60-90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Analyze in detail how an author's ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).


Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters.


  • Samples of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's most famous works (e.g. Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and the 1812 Overture).


  • Begin the lesson by playing one of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's most famous works. Ask that students not chat during this time. They should just listen and enjoy the music.
  • Ask students to reflect on how the piece made them feel. What did they think about when they listened? There is no need to write anything down; this is just a time to quietly reflect.
  • Distribute the text lesson Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Biography, Music & Death. Ask students to read the introduction and 'Tchaikovsky's Secret' sections (stopping before Early Compositions).
  • In pairs, have students discuss the following questions. When pairs are finished ask for volunteers to share their responses with the class and allow a conversation to take place.
    • What other examples of tormented artists can you think of?
    • How might a secret like Tchaikovsky's influence an artist's work?
    • Can you think of any modern music that is influenced by the life of the artist?
  • Ask students to read the Early Compositions section.
  • Play an excerpt from Swan Lake. As students listen, ask them to jot down what the music makes them feel. What life experiences are they thinking of as they listen?
  • Students will now read the Middle Life section. Play an excerpt from 1812 Overture, again have students reflect on how it makes them feel.
  • Finish up by having students read the Final Years section, followed by the same reflective activity while listening to an excerpt from The Nutcracker.
  • Read the 'Lesson Summary', answering any remaining questions.

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