Advocate Support Inspire Create

MU:Pr4.2.1a Describe and demonstrate how context, theoretical and structural aspects of the music and digital media/tools inform and influence prepared and improvised performances.

Variations on Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

This lesson introduces the concept of variation of a musical idea to create variety and interest in a composition. The teacher will provide a template of the melody to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. The students will take this original melody and create 3 variations using the digital tool. The first variation will use altered rhythms, the second will use an altered melody and the third will use a combination of rhythmic and melodic variation. *This lesson could be modified for more advanced classes by incorporating harmonic and/or modal variation, instrumentation variation, etc. to meet the instructional needs of the class.

History, Art or Basketball

*This lesson can also be used to address MU:Pr4.1

The music technology class has been given an assignment to produce 3 different compositions for 3 upcoming events happening in the school.

  1. The first event is a guest speaker who is a veteran of US Army who is coming to speak to the 11th grade US History classes about the Vietnam war. The principal wants the class to produce a fanfare to be performed before his introduction to the students.
  2. The next event is an art show of contemporary, abstract art that the advanced art classes are having to showcase their work. The art teachers wants to have some music that will be played in the background while people are viewing the artwork.
  3. Finally, the basketball coach wants to have some new hype music that can be played while the team is being introduced before the start of their championship game. Something to really fire up the players and spectators.

Each team will use the Musical Planning Guide to map out a plan for each of the 3 compositions. The team should then discuss their musical strengths, backgrounds and preferences before making a decision on which of the 3 options they feel they could most successfully complete as a team.  

Santana and Latin Rock

*This lesson was created by in cooperation with the PBS series “Soundbreaking”.

Teachrock is an incredible resource with excellent lesson plans and supporting media. It is highly recommended that teachers explore all of the resources located on their site. This lesson can be used as a continuation of the lesson “Single Ladies and the church” (adapted from the teachrock resources). Or it can be used as a lesson on its own. To teach the Santana and Latin Rock section of the lesson go to this link to the lesson here and scroll down to number 5 under procedures. Familiarize yourself with the lesson and media resources available and adapt the elements of the lesson that will fit your instructional goal and class level or use the lesson as is.

If you use this lesson as a foundation to have the students create their own compositions based on their personal experiences and cultural influences then it can be applied to a Create or Perform standard. If you use the lesson without a create or perform activity, then it can be used to address a “Respond” standard (MU:Re7.2 or 8.1)

Where are you performing?

Students will be using the Tech Tool developed by for the PBS Soundbreaking series to explore how various digital effects and recording techniques can manipulate the way the sonic environment of a  performance is perceived. The lesson begins with a mini field trip around the school. Borrow a snare drum or conga or some other instrument that you are comfortable playing from the band room. Explain to the students that the space that a performance takes place in can have subtle and/or dramatic effects on how the performance is heard and perceived.

You will play the instrument in 3 different environments around the school while the students record their observations of how the sound changed in the various places in their journals. The students will then use the tech tool to explore Sound Waves, Vocal Effects and Guitar Effects. They will then refer back to their notes from the mini field trip and record which effects from the tech tool they would use to recreate the sounds created in each of the 3 observed environments. Have the students share their hypothesis for each environment as they begin to develop an understanding of how digital effects can be used to influence and create a sonic context to their music.

Modulation or Moving the Musical Furniture

This lesson can be adapted for a beginning, intermediate or advanced class by adjusting the depth and detail of the music theory behind modulations and what the composition assignment will be. Reading and listening to the links in this article is a great way to prep for this lesson. She uses some great examples of modulation in pop music.

Moderate a discussion with the class about ways we break up the monotony of our environments. We may decide to change our hairstyle, or wardrobe, rearrange the furniture in our bedrooms or even paint the walls to create some variety in our lives. If we don’t change things up a bit, life gets boring and mundane. The same thing can happen with music. Explain that a very common technique to break-up the repetition and monotony in music is through something called modulation or changing keys.

Play some examples of modulation from pop music for the students. I use Michael Jackson’s Man In The Mirror and Bon Jovi's Livin' On A Prayer are a great examples. There are tons of others.

With a beginning level class, I would not get to deep into the theory of modulation. At this level you want to get them listening and creating as much as possible without getting bogged down in the theory (get them hooked on creating music and they will beg for the theory later on). Soundtrap makes this a very easy process with beginners. You can either create a template that has a 4 or 8 measure phrase with 4 tracks if you need to get through the lesson quickly or let them choose their own tracks and loops and create a longer, more complete composition.


Major vs Minor Tonality with Melodies

This lesson introduces students to how the tonality of a melody can change the expressive and contextual nature of a melody. Students are presented a video presenting popular songs that have been changed from major to minor and vice versa. The teacher then leads a discussion of how the expressive and contextual content of the songs were changed leading to a discussion of major and minor tonality and scales. Using noteflight, students will see and hear how a major scale and its relative minor scale are notated using traditional notation and the playback feature in noteflight. Students will also see and hear a common children's song in its original form and then transformed to its relative minor. Finally students will use noteflight to alter the notes of two other traditional folksongs to change the tonalities from major to minor and vice versa.

As an extension, students can use noteflight to create their own original melodies in a major and minor version. Students could also download their noteflight melody into soundtrap (DAW) to add additional accompaniment tracks such as drums, harmony or counter-melody.