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Lesson Plan:

For Teachers: The Music of Oscar Peterson

Type: Assignment
Subjects: Social Studies
Grades: Grades 6-8
Duration: 1 lesson
Purpose: To understand and explain personal response to music
Summary: Students will write a critique of several of Oscar Peterson’s performances .

Before Exploring

Ask students the following questions about musical taste:


  • What kind of music do you like? Why?
  • What performers do you like? Why?
  • Describe the kind of music your parents listen to. Explain why their taste might be different from yours.

Outline the Opportunity

Have students visit the topic Oscar Peterson: A Jazz Giant on the CBC Digital Archives website. Ask them to choose three piano pieces to listen to, and explain that they will write a description of each one followed by a brief critique of the music. They should listen to their chosen pieces several times. They might consider what they like and dislike about the music, how it compares to music they listen to, how it makes them feel, and so on.

Revisit and Reflect

Have students share their written critiques of the music. Remind each student to support his or her opinion with details from the pieces they listened to. They may wish to return to the site and listen to pieces described by others. Ask students what they thought of jazz music before they listened to Peterson's performances, and whether their opinion has changed in any way.


Students can write a brief critique of the work of a favourite artist.