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What are timbre in music and how do you create a creative lesson around it?

Updated: Jan 9, 2023

Experience different timbres of music and creating rhythm while having a little bit of fun in performance with this music teachers resource. What are timbre in music? The timbre in music definition is "the character or quality of a musical sound or voice as distinct from its pitch and intensity" according to Oxford Language online. But essentially, it's like tone color. It's the different sounds that can be made. If we compared a flute and a trumpet sound, they would have very distinct sounds - no matter if they were playing the same rhythm or melody. A flute and a trumpet would never sound alike.

I started this music teachers resource Stomp Project and "what are timbre in music" concept 10 years ago and, over time, I have made it way more fun than when I did it my first year of teaching. It's a great music teachers resource that incorporates timbres, cooperative learning, rhythms, creativity, and performance. Here's how I have made this project what it is today:

Music Teachers Resource Materials:

  • Trash - and a lot of it. Make sure to clean it (if needed) and prep for paint.

  • Neon paint (this is important)

  • Grey/White/Cream King Sized Sheets (either used or Walmart has some for $10-$15)

  • Highlighters

What are Timbre in Music Rhythm Activity Timeline


  • I start off with having students watch Stomp clips either on YouTube or the DVD I purchased.

  • We discuss how the performers use "trash" items to create music and how they utilize them to create different sounds and rhythms and answer the the question, what are timbre in music?

  • After school I transform my room to look like an Alleyway. Consisting of graffiti walls, brick walls, trash cans, street signs, and....BLACK LIGHTS : ) I put the neon painted trash into separate piles (according to how many groups there are in the class).

  • MUSIC TEACHERS RESOURCE TIP: If you want a brick wall look or graffiti - collaborate with your art department. Get some very cheap sheets (or donated) that are plain and have the art department create your vision!


  • The students come into the class with a wonderful greeting of me banging on metal trashcans with my hat backwards. They walk in and see the classroom totally transformed with the lights off, black lights on and decoration fully setup.

  • MUISC TEACHERS RESOURCE TIP: I tell them to have a seat when they come in because excitement is going to be very REAL.

  • To start class off, the students get into groups and fill out the worksheet with highlighters and review the rubric. On the worksheet is information they need to discuss:

    • the different jobs each one will have

    • materials

    • skit ideas

  • After they figure out groups, I discuss the project, timeline, expectations and rubric. Then the creativity begins!


  • This music teachers resource project typically takes a few days for them to figure out what they are doing, how they are doing it, and what is timbre in music and how to effectively produce their sounds.

  • Some students get really involved and plan wardrobe, face paint, fingernail polish, entrances, etc.

  • Let them practice with the lights off, because they can see how they can manipulate the lights and objects. If this makes you nervous having the lights off for a long period of time, just tell them you will turn the lights off the last 10 minutes of class so they can practice their performance and see how the black lights affect their materials.


  • Students perform in the black light.

  • MUSIC TEACHERS RESOURCE TIP: Discuss etiquette with the class when people perform.

  • I usually have them come up with group names and introduce the group with a ridiculous, funny back story before they perform. Kids get a kick out of it! And definitely video the performances and have the kids watch them the next day. : )

See below for inspiration:

Check out my Facebook Live Video of my classroom walk through on these music teachers resource and how I set up my classroom. : )

If you are wanting to save some time in music teachers resource creation, I've got you covered! So, sit back and enjoy the already made lesson and activity to answer the question "what is timbre in music?"

If you are looking for more music teacher resources for your music classroom or band classroom, please feel free to visit my other blog posts below!

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