ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Nutcracker's Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy

Updated on August 23, 2017

The Nutcracker Ballet's Sugarplum Fairy by Tchaikovsky

The Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy ~ such beauty, grace, elegance, and fluidity! What young lady hasn't dreamed of flowing across a sparkly stage in a pink tutu dancing with a handsome prince? Well, maybe not everyone, but this magical, mysterious piece of music is one of the most well known classical pieces of music in the world.

As the fourth in a music unit about the Nutcracker Ballet and Tchaikovsky, this lesson hopes to share appreciation for a remarkable musical creation and teach about the many musical elements of melody, harmony, tempo, dynamics, form, tone color, and expression.

Free recordings and sheet music are found below along with worksheet materials, resource links, and full lesson plans that will hopefully shorten lesson planning time for teachers trained in music or teachers who want to add music into their whole curriculum. See the main unit page for cross-curricular ideas throughout the unit.

Thanks for visiting ~ enjoy your study and leave a message below to let me know how my lessons may serve the education community better. Peace & Blessed Christmas Greetings!

Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker
Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker
Although I have listed resources for free online recordings and videos for this piece, you may want to consider purchasing a recording for yourself to listen to whenever you want!

The Nutcracker ~ Lesson Materials

These materials were created for my children and students and are free for anyone to use simply because of my love of music education! All I ask is that you could leave me a message to know how you used the materials and / or what I could add or change to make them more helpful to others. If you would like to post a picture of your lapbook or notebook that you create, just contact me and I will happily do so to one of the pages of the unit. :D

The notebook and lapbook materials are stored at my blog, Joyful Songs. Two stars and the number of the suggested mini will be placed at each section in order to know which one to use. i.e. **3

Joyful Songs presents The Nutcracker Ballet Unit!

Update: March 2014 - Since I first entered these worksheets at my blog, the blog format has changed several times (beyond my control). Please message me if you would like a free copy.

1. Nutcracker Music Vocabulary Cards - print on tagboard.

2. Vocabulary Pocket

3. Vocabulary Notebook Page

4. Nutcracker Theme Music 'Lyrics", Celeste Mini Book

5. Instrument Family Book - Keyboards

6. Orchestral Score Pocket

7. Sugarplum & Marzipan Mini Books

Tchaikovsky's Use of the Celeste

Listen to a recording of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Ask student to listen for the special instrument called a celesta. Discussion topics to think about: What does the instrument sound like? What type of instrument do you think the celesta is (string, woodwind, brass, percussion, keyboard)? Why do you think Tchaikovsky choose this instrument for a fairy dancer? Which family of instruments is the celeste from? What other tone colors or instrument sounds can be heard in the piece?

Select (if any) mini books you would like students to write notes.

**1 Nutcracker Music Vocabulary Cards - print out on tagboard for extra durability.

**2 Vocabulary Pocket

**3 Vocabulary Notebook Page

**4 Celeste Mini Book

**5 Instrument Family Book - Keyboards

Research history with "What is a Celeste?" below, and listen to samples of the instrument.

Kids will enjoy reading and hearing about the celeste at New York Philharmonic Kids.

History & Samples of the Celeste

Famous Modern Piece for Celeste - Music by John Williams


Main Musical Theme of the Sugarplum Fairy

Listen to the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy again. (By the way, when I was researching I found many references to both "sugar plum" and "sugarplum" - pick whichever you like.)

Teach students my silly lyrics to the 'A' Theme. I wrote these just as a simple way for students to remember main concepts and themes. I apologize for not being a poet! Listen to the piece again singing the "A" theme while tapping a steady beat on laps for the other sections.

**4 Nutcracker Theme Music "Lyrics"

"Nutcracker Dance of the Sugar Plum,

Sugar Plum, Sugar Plum, Sugar Plum Fairy.

Features instrument called celesta,

celesta, celesta, came form Paris, France.

Nutcracker Dance of the Sugar Plum,

Sugar Plum, Sugar Plum, Sugar Plum Fairy.

By Tchaikovsky, by Tchaikovsky,

by Tchaikovsky, the end!"


Reading an Orchestral Score

Music Theory

Look at sheet music for "Sugar Plum". I used the score below for these questions. If you have a different arrangement there will be slight differences. Simply adjust as needed.

Orchestral Score of The Sugar Plum Fairy

Scroll down to Tchaikovsky; there is a score for the whole orchestra, and separate instrument parts to see.

I did not create a lapbook mini for this section; instead, I had the children use copies of the first two pages of the score to circle concepts we talked about and take notes. The pages can be folded to put in a lapbook pocket.

**1-2-3 Vocabulary

**6 Orchestra Score Pocket

Music Theory Concepts to Learn & Discuss ~ Lessons and materials to teach these concepts are found in previous lessons of the Nutcracker Unit.

Nutcracker Ballet Unit

Overture of the Nutcracker Lesson Plan

March of the Nutcracker Lesson Plan

~ What is the meter or time signature of the Sugarplum Fairy? (2/4)

~ What does that mean? (There are 2 beats per measure, and every quarter note gets one beat.)

~ Where is the key signature located? (At the beginning of each line.)

~ How many sharps # does the Bass Clarinet part have? (3)

~ How many sharps # do the string and celesta parts have? (1) - Strings, keyboards, and some brass and woodwinds play in what is called concert pitch and are considered C instruments. A key signature with one # is called concert G major. Other instruments play in different keys due to their sizes and shapes; therefore you will see various key signatures in the score. Although the key signatures look different, they are pitched the same. The bass clarinet part (BC) is in A major but sounds in concert G major. The French horn part (Hn) has no flats or sharps in C major, but it also sounds in G major. The 'A' clarinet part (cl) is marked in Bb major with two flats, but sounds in concert G major. Most clarinets are considered Bb clarinets, but some are pitched differently. My daughter recently performed Nutcracker in a youth orchestra switching from her Bb clarinet to an A clarinet as the score called for. The fingerings are the same, but the size variation causes the change in pitch. ~~ Confusing, huh? I hope this makes sense!

~ Find where it has a quarter note or q = 64 on the top left of the first page. This tells the conductor and performers the tempo or speed of the piece. Sometimes it will have M.M. q = 64 standing for metronome marking set for a quarter note at 64. If the number were 60, it would mean there should be 60 beats per minute, or one beat per second. 120 would mean 120 beats per minute, or two beats per second.

~ Find "pizz." in the string parts on the first page. Pizz. stands for pizzicato - it tells the string players to pluck their strings instead of using their bows; it creates a short, detached sound instead of the usual smooth sound.

~ Look at the celeste part on the first stanza. Find the dot (.) on top of the notes. This is called staccato. The performer will play the notes separated or detached - more of a bouncy feel!

~ Pick out any other concept you would like your children or students to know.

~ Students may write down any unknown vocabulary words down on their vocabulary flashcards or notebook page for reference.

The Sugar Plum Fairy Cook Book - Old English Recipes & High Tea
The Sugar Plum Fairy Cook Book - Old English Recipes & High Tea
Delightful recipes to create enjoyable treats to eat while you listen to the Nutcracker or during festive get togethers!

Analyzing, Arranging, & Composing Music

Listen to several other arrangements to compare and contrast what you hear such as tempo (speed), dynamics (loudness), tone color (instrumentation), and other musical qualities such as melody, harmony, rhythm, and form.

You will find many versions on YouTube - some incredibly awesome, and others ... well ... not. I think music students may learn from both good and bad interpretations of the piece, and so I encourage listening to many.

Questions to think about: What makes one version better than another? Will some people prefer one version while other people prefer another? Why? What is most appealing to you about your favorites? If you were performing this piece, which qualitites would you like to imitate and why?

Creative assignment: Consider creating your own version of the Sugarplum Fairy. It could be as simple as humming the main theme while tapping on a percussion instrument to very elaborate adaptations.

Play around with many musical qualities! There are no right or wrong answers, so try something new!

Melody & Rhythm - perhaps keep the same notes but alter the rhythm, or keep the rhythm and change the notes slightly.

Harmony - try an ostinato (repeated pattern of notes or rhythms) with one note, chord, or sequence.

Form (how the sections of the piece are put together) - change the order or amount of sections in the music.

Experiment with numerous tempos (speed) or dynamics (volume) to see what you like the best.

Tone Color (sounds) - try different instruments or sounds in the music.

A Mad Russian's Christmas - Music by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Enjoy this very modern version of a classic piece!

Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Cool mix of classical and rock styles!

Candy Cane
Candy Cane

What exactly is a Sugarplum or Marzipan?

We've heard of them, but what are they?

Research and write your findings in the mini books.

**7 Sugarplum & Marzipan Mini Books

Visions of Sugarplums has a brief history and recipies.


"Sugarplum" Poetry to Enjoy

Favorite Poems about Sugarplums

The Sugar-Plum Tree by Eugene Field (1850-1895)

Twas the Night Before Christmas ... "while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads".

Does Sugarplum taste good? - (I've never had it before.)

Have you ever tried sugarplum candy?

Wishing you "Sugary Dreams" this season!

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      12 months ago

      This is wonderful!!. I am looking for copies of your printables too. I appreciate if you email me some.

    • profile image


      12 months ago

      This is wonderful!!. I am looking for copies of your printables too. I appreciate if you email me some.

    • profile image

      Maddie O 

      3 years ago

      Hi there!

      Can you send me as many of your docs as you can?? This all looks great!



    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Hi! I am also looking for copies of your printables. Would you email me some as well?

      These lessons are so creative and fun. :)

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      @kaseyrivenburgh: Me, too!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Love the music, dance and ballet.

    • Herman IV profile image

      Herman IV 

      8 years ago

      My kids love the Nutcracker. It is a family tradition to try to see the ballet each Christmas. Wonderful lens!

    • Lauriej1 profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens! My daughter was in "The Nutcracker" for 9 years straight. We loved every minute of it! Great lens!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great music, great ballet, great lens :)

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      8 years ago

      I remember as a child doing a dance to this at a dance recital. Thank you for bringing back such fond memories.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I love it when I come back to a lens I blessed before and its worn-off, and I get to bless it again. I'm going to add this to my Nutcracker lens too. Tis' the season for the Nutcracker!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Love the sugar plum fairy!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      8 years ago from USA

      Thanks for explaining things. It makes it more enjoyable.

    • sushilkin lm profile image

      sushilkin lm 

      9 years ago

      Thanks for Sharing informative lens !!

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      @Nancy Hardin: Thank you so much, Nancy! :)

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      9 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      The Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy is one of my favorite recordings, and I play it often, especially nearing Christmas. Thanks for an interesting lens which taught me something new...the celeste. Blessed.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      What a wonderful lens. While you were enjoying your sugary dreams, the sugar angel came to bless your lens.

    • ChemKnitsBlog2 profile image


      9 years ago

      Getting snow last night got me thinking about Christmas real early.... thanks for bringing me the spirit!

    • DesignedbyLisa LM profile image

      DesignedbyLisa LM 

      9 years ago

      This is a great lens. Wow! Lensrolled to my: Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker Suite lens.

    • BuckHawkcenter profile image


      9 years ago

      What a wonderful lesson. Great for adults, too.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      9 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Love Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker! Lensrolling to my Best "Nutcracker" Movie lens.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Ballet .. Nutcracker's Dance is so charming. Love here .. Give you 5 stars :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very sweetly done!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Such a delightful and informative piece, I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the Sugarplum Fairy and how it can be played.

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 

      10 years ago from United Kingdom

      Great lens. Thanks for visiting mine and your good comments. 5*

    • poptastic profile image

      Cynthia Arre 

      10 years ago from Quezon City

      I'm back to give this wonderful lens a little boost because I strongly feel that it needs to be seen by more people! *blessed by an angel*

    • profile image

      lasertek lm 

      10 years ago

      I have watched the Nutcracker dance several times but this year is a special one because my daughter is part of the school play. Great lens! Rated 5*

      Happy Holidays! Hope you could visit my lenses and be a fan of my fb page. Thanks

    • rubyandmahoney profile image


      10 years ago

      I love the Nutcracker ballet! My mom and I used to go every year.

    • blessedmomto7 profile image


      10 years ago

      Great Lens Pamela! Can you believe I have never seen the Nutcracker live? Of course I have seen the Barbie version and another DVD version from the dollar store. Maybe someday I will see it live!

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 

      10 years ago from New Zealand

      Congratulations on reaching 50. This is another fantastic lens! I was surprised I missed 2 on your quiz, but I did learn a lot here. Blessed by a Squidoo Angel (if you want, you can add your link at Angel Blessings from Pukeko)

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 

      10 years ago from Los Angeles

      Congratulations on your 50th lens! It's terrific!

    • AlisonMeacham profile image


      10 years ago

      I know The Nutcracker very well as my daughter has danced in it for 6 years and now my son does too. I spend my time backstage helping with costumes and props. I don't often get the chance to watch it from the audience! Squid Angel Blessed.

    • poptastic profile image

      Cynthia Arre 

      10 years ago from Quezon City

      What a fantastic lens! I studied piano when I was young so I always love your music lessons Pamela - this one in particular takes me back to my childhood as I remember watching a staging of the Nutcracker by a local ballet company. (:

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image


      10 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Magical. I love the Nutcracker Ballet. Congrats on your 50th Lens, Pamela!

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      10 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      great lens! angel blessed!

    • ZenandChic profile image


      10 years ago


    • profile image


      10 years ago

      What a "sweet" website!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Lovely! My teacher used to play this to the class during needlework lessons. It's always been one of my favourites. Gorgeous lens.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)