Lesson 2: Exploring “In the Pines”


Aim: What gives music its expressive qualities?
Summary: Students learn “In the Pines” and explore expressive qualities in music.
Materials: Musical Explorers CD or online audio, chart paper, markers
Standards: MK-2GM.1, MK-2GM.2, MK-2GM.3, MK-2GM.4, MK-2GM.6, MK-2GM.7, MK-2GM.8, MK-2GM.9, MK-2GM.10
SC: MGK-2.1, MGK-2.2, MGK-2.3, MGK-2.4, MGK-2.5, MGK-2.6
Vocabulary: emotions, mood, waltz


Listen to “In the Pines”

  • Listen to “In the Pines,”  Track 37
  • Learn to sing the chorus,  Track 38


In the Pines

The longest train I ever saw
Went down that Georgia line
The engine passed at six o’clock
The cab went by at nine

In the pines, in the pines
Where the sun never shines
And you shiver when the
cold wind blows
Little girl, little girl what have I done
That makes you treat me so?

You caused me to weep,
You caused me to mourn
You caused me to leave my home


The longest train I ever saw
Was nineteen coaches long
The only girl I ever loved
Is on that train and gone



Explore Emotions and Opposites Through “In the Pines”

  • Read the lyrics of “In the Pines” with your students. Discuss the story and the emotions, or feelings, that might arise when someone in their lives goes away.
    • What feelings or emotions would you have if someone important left for a long time?
  • Write down these emotions on chart paper or on the board (this will be the beginning of the “Emotional Opposites” list). Brainstorm opposites for each word (e.g., sad/happy, gloomy/funny, serious/silly, etc.).
  • Have students demonstrate facial expressions to go with each emotion. They can then draw these facial expressions on SG32.


Compare and Contrast “Uncle Pen” and  “In the Pines”

  • In music, we use the term mood to describe the emotion or feeling created by the music.
  • Listen to “In the Pines,”  Track 37
    • What is the mood of this song?
    • How does the music tell us what the mood is? Is it fast or slow? Loud or soft? Bouncy or smooth?
  • Listen to “Uncle Pen,” Track 30
    • What is the mood of this song? Is it the same or different than “In the Pines”?
    • How does the music tell us what the mood is? Is it fast or slow? Loud or soft? Bouncy or smooth?
  • Have students choose a different mood for “In the Pines” or “Uncle Pen” and sing the chorus in a way that reflects this mood.
    • What did you do to create the new mood?
    • Was it faster or slower? Louder or softer?
    • What else did you change?
  • Have students document their answers on SG33.


Waltz to “In the Pines”

  • Explain that “In the Pines” is a waltz, a style of music and dance that is counted in three: Beat 1 is strong, and beats 2 and 3 are weak. In this simplified version of the waltz, the students step down on the strong beat and up on the weak beats (DOWN-up-up).
  • Ask students to line up in single file in a circle:
    • Beat 1 (down): Step forward on your right foot and bend your knee as you plant your foot down.
    • Beat 2 (up): Bring your left foot to meet your right, stepping on your tiptoes.
    • Beat 3 (up): Step on tiptoes in place with your right foot.
    • Repeat the three steps, beginning on your left foot.
  • Once students are comfortable with the movement and can do it up to speed, play “In the Pines,”  Track 37 , again and have them waltz in a circle to the music.
  • If they master the waltz moving in a circle, try it in partners.


Musical Word Wall

Add the words emotions, mood, and waltz to the Musical Word Wall.


PDF Downloads

SG32 ↓ Download File
↓ Download File


Musical Explorers Audio Tracks