A Lesson to Honor Dr. King’s Dream!

This Quaver Music lesson incorporates engaging Orff activities and honors the life of a hero!

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is January 18th!

Have you explored this Song-Based Lesson centered around the Quaver original song, “He Had a Dream.” This 5th-grade lesson explores the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and incorporates Orff resources!

Today, we’ll walk through this engaging lesson and explore how you can use this lesson in your classroom!

The objectives are:

  • Discuss the life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Play the Orff arrangement of “He Had a Dream.”
  • Choose words to describe the effects of accidentals.


1. Meet Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

This screen introduces students to the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ask students to share any prior knowledge they may have about Dr. King’s life and accomplishments.

Explore important dates from his life, important facts, quotes, accomplishments, and more! Encourage students to take notes as you move through the lesson.

2. He Had a Dream (Lyrics)

At the heart of this lesson is the Quaver original song, “He Had a Dream.” 

Listen through the song once or twice and ask students to look for information about Dr. King’s life in the lyrics.

Learn the verses together, discussing the historical context of the lyrics. When students are ready, sing the song.

3. Meet the Composer

Tell students that a composer is a person who writes original music. One of the composers of “He Had a Dream” is Otto Gross. Watch the video to hear Otto discuss his intent in composing “He Had a Dream” and the process he used. After watching, ask students what challenges one might face when composing a song and strategies for overcoming them.

4. Instrument Set Up & Play the Parts

On the Instrument Setup screen, inform students that the Orff arrangement of “He Had a Dream” requires both F sharps and F naturals. In order to play it, they will need to set up our instruments a little bit differently.

Once their instruments are properly set up, it’s time to learn to play the part using the Play the Parts screen. Be sure to click MENU and NOTES for suggestions about how to use this screen.

5. He Had a Dream- Orff

This screen provides a playalong track as well as highlighted measures to accommodate sight reading. Be sure to click MENU and NOTES for suggestions about how to use this screen.

6. Powerful Words/Powerful Notes

Use the Powerful Words screen to start a discussion about Dr. Martin Luther King’s words. Allow students to read each quote silently and then reflect on them with a partner. Then, use the Analyze, Respond, and Apply icons to continue the discussion.

After reading about the power of words, it’s time to introduce students to the power of notes! Introduce students to the concept of accidentals with the Powerful Notes screen.

Just like Dr. King used words to create a powerful effect in his speeches, accidentals are used to create a similar effect with music.

7. Assessment

If time allows, you may want to use the pre-built assessment or Quiz Challenge screen to assess and review with your students!

And there you have it! 

We’d love to hear how this lesson is working for you and your students!

For more information and training on how to use Song-Based Lessons, visit Quaver’s Help Site to access our library of video training courses or click the blue HELP button in the top right corner of this screen to access training videos.


How will you use this Song-Based Lesson in your classroom?