Integrated Arts Series: Lesson 12 - Diversity - MetroFamily Magazine
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Integrated Arts Series: Lesson 12 – Diversity

By Oklahoma A+ Schools

Reading Time: 2 minutes 

Thanks to our friends at Oklahoma A+ Schools, we’re finishing up a year-long series of easy, fun and engaging arts integration activities that kids and families can enjoy together. For this installment, we’re exploring diversity.

Bonus: Integrating the arts with students’ everyday academics is proven to increase comprehension and retention! 

Lesson 12: Diversity

Diversity is a variety. It is a range of different things. When looking at the diversity of items, you are looking for the things that make them different. The differences are what makes each item special and unique. We see diversity everywhere in the world, from the types of places people live to the variety of animals in a single forest to the number of different holidays celebrated in December around the world. In this month’s activity, we’ll be looking at the diversity found in music.

Diversity in Music Style

Have you ever heard one story told two different ways? That is one way to think about the two pieces of music linked below. Pyotr Tchaikovsky (PYO-tur chy-KAWF-skee) was a Russian composer in the late 1800s. He wrote the ballet, Story of the Nutcracker, in 1892. It was based loosely on the fantasy story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffman. In 1960, Duke Ellington an American composer and leader of a jazz orchestra reimagined The Nutcracker Suite with Billy Strayhorn an American jazz pianist. Ellington and Strayhorn stayed true to the original composition but made their version unique.  We are going to focus on what makes the two versions different from one another and how those differences make each piece special.

  1. Listen to each composer’s version of the Overture. Try to identify the differences you hear.
    1. Tchaikovsky Nutcracker Overture
    2. Ellington Nutcracker Overture
  2. Use the elements of music to discuss differences. How do these pieces compare:
    1. Rhythm: the movement of music through time. Did one version stretch notes out longer or make them shorter? How did that change the sound?
    2. Tempo: the speed or pace of music? How did the pace of the music change from one version to the other?
    3. Texture: the way individual parts of music are layered or the number of sounds occurring at the same time. Did you notice that there were more instruments playing at the same time in one version or were they about the same? How does this change the song?
  3. Draw what you hear. Gather your favorite writing or drawing materials and listen to one of the versions. While you listen, draw, color or write whatever you would like as inspired by the piece. Repeat this with the second version of the song.
  4. Compare and Contrast. How are your pieces different? What diversity do you see in your creation based on the music you heard?


Integrated arts activities are created by certified teachers and provided by Oklahoma A+ Schools to meet the Oklahoma Academic Standards across multiple content areas. Find more activities at and share your creations with us on social media by tagging MetroFamily and OKA+ Schools Institute! For more arts-integrated activities, visit or find them on Facebook at SAIL Box, OKA+ Schools Institute.

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