Attached you will find my completed Understanding by Design lesson template.
Rap and Place Goals:
- (Students will) Know the meaning of “flow” as it relates to rap music [K]
- (Students will) Develop a beat using their understandings of rap, rhythm, structure/form and style [S]
- (Students will) Create their own lyrics for three verses of rap reflecting a different sense of place (2 more than their previous Jay-Z-based rap) [M]
- (Students will) Roleplay a scenario in pairs where one student is the administrator and another is a student, and the student must advocate on why learning about rap and place has proven beneficial to their musical learning and should not be taken away due to rap as being seen as offensive [T]
New Project Proposition Goals:
- (Students will) Know the meaning of the terms “timbre, instrumentation, texture, and articulation” as they relate to music [K]
- (Students will) Articulate similarities and differences among multiple musical styles using their background knowledge and guided vocabulary [S]
- (Students will) Analyze, in small groups, how a selected song could have its style altered to 3 other styles of music [M]
- (Students will) Create, in small groups, a cover of a selected in another style using acoustic and/or electronic instruments [T]
Goals and objectives are something I’m more familiar with. This class has pleasantly presented largely unfamiliar content to me, and for that I am grateful. However, much of my music education program has been about goals and objectives as they relate to lesson planning, student learning, and linking to national/state standards. It wasn’t until this semester in my classes that I started delving deeper into different categories and levels of objectives. Between this class and English Immersion, I have delved in much deeper to planning and writing objectives. Knowing that there’s different levels of objectives, and how to employ more powerful action words to articulate differentiation in levels of understanding, have proven valuable skills that I can’t wait to apply to my future teaching.
One of the primary connections I made to the project based learning with convergence is the scaffolding that takes place, built in or not. In doing a project such as a remix, mash-up, arrangement, etc., there are requisite musical and often technological knowledge bases that students must know or be guided towards in order to achieve. For example, to create an arrangement of a song, students must know: the affordances and constraints of the instruments involved in the new version of the song (timbre, range, technical execution), how to execute aural skills (for melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic content), and how to express music beyond notation. Therefore several smaller projects or assignments could be planned and executed to scaffold student learning in hopes for setting them up for success in a larger scale project, like a full-on arrangement of a song, or whatever it may be. Engaging in musicking in non-traditional ways is another aspect in which project-based learning can connect to the approaches mentioned in the article. The students are engaging in music and applying skills in a manner not consistent with traditional band, choir, or orchestra, yet they are still learning about and engaging with all of these musical concepts that are taught in traditional music classes.
Generative Question: How are the dimensions of music able to express different styles of music?
Music Problem: Which are the main musical dimensions that you found constitute different styles?
(Target) Musical Concepts Engaged With: timbre, instrumentation, texture, and articulation
Project Idea: Have students assess musical dimensions of a song, and through repetitious active listening and aural and written stylistic research, create a cover of a song in another style. Example: My song “Jet Black Heart” is a pop punk song, but I’d try to do it in a big band style. This type of project engages the students in multiple dimensions of music, links to topics that they enjoy and are personally interested in, and provides an alternative manner for musical expression; all of which are covered in the article and project based learning.
Billboard Hot 100 Selection:
Rap and Place Project:
To continue such a project on rap and place, one could start having students experiment with beat production. Being able to produce an authentic background track that has a rappable form to it. Then, once the beat is formed, have students begin writing their own lyrics to a rap utilizing a different sense of place than their original rap. (Example: If their first rap was about Arizona in general, make it specific to their city of residence.) Then the students would have to submit some final product as a testament to their understanding of the content. That could take form in submission of: just the lyrics and just the beat, a recorded performance of the whole rap, or a live performance of the rap.
It was interesting to read this article and then see how it is linked to the operations of our class projects. Something that stood out was the generative questions. At the beginning of our projects, the generative questions were discussed in great depth. In doing so, space was opened up for ideas to be thrown around, and it really got people thinking. Since the generative questions are open-ended and not easily solved, it creates a scenario where so many routes can be explored. With the ASU community project we’re currently wrapping up, it’s extremely interesting how three very different projects emerged in our classroom given the same criteria. That’s a testament to questions’ abilities to help guide and scaffold student learning. Often times, throughout the project, the generative questions were referred back to; directly when asked by the teacher, and indirectly when peers went around to different groups asking guiding questions that often related back to the generative questions.
Varying types of assessment is a topic I haven’t discussed in a while, and brought me back to my Intro to Music Education days. The article discusses how formative assessment is an effective method of supporting learning. Within the context of our class project, we were asked to keep a project log. In addition, we were constantly being as by Dr. Tobias, Nathan, and our peers various questions that can be seen as formative assessment. These are all effective methods that help demonstrate our process, showcase our understanding of the content, and allow for our growth to be tracked over an extended period of time. Relating this to Mr. Maxwell’s class, he expects the students to keep up with journals. This year, for their major project, he wants each class period they’re given to work on the project, a short video clip that showcases what they’re working on that day. His goal in doing this is not only just formative assessment, but for students to be able to reflect back upon their process upon completion of the project. I believe doing that is a fun way for students to engage in thinking about their process. Although my concern is he isn’t strict with reminding kids to do that, and some kids might not see the point in doing it, blow it off, or be too shy/awkward to make the clip worthwhile.
I really enjoy talking about curriculum, and am finding this class extremely valuable. In our degree program, I don’t think we talk about curriculum enough, and I believe this class provides an effective space for such discussion to be held. This class gets my brain moving in allowing me to think of ways I can apply these amazing, innovative project-based ideas into a traditional music setting, as well as potential for other types of music classes I could potentially construct and offer as a future teacher. I believe we aren’t given enough space for such innovation to occur in most of our classes, and I’m enjoying having an outlet for such creativity, innovation, and discussion.
When creating lyrics, one of the first things I did was write down words that others and myself associate with Arizona. Words relating to atmosphere, environment, weather, culture, and lifestyle were common themes among most of the words. Then I must have listened to “Empire State of Mind” on loop about 6 times before I even started writing lyrics. I chose to adhere to an AABB rhyme scheme to make it more entertaining to listen to. I chose to insert only a few blips about myself towards the beginning and end because I wanted the lyrics to more reflect AZ life. Then I just plugged in my buzz words from early and started forming phrases around them. I sort of just “felt” the rhythms and had a loose connection to Jay-Z’s. Every two lines, I would rap it over the song to make sure the words fit well with the beat.
The musical problem I was working to solve was to convey my thoughts and feelings about AZ and sense of place through lyrics over a certain beat. In solving the problem, much like what students would experience, I was faced with several elements to consider. I first had to consider my lyrical content, and the value behind each of my selected words. Then I had to consider articulation and diction. Which words should slur together, and which should be more staccato and disconnected? Should my words be more clear here, or more muddled? How much monotone should I use? Where should I put accents and emphasis? Those are some sample questions I was considering. In this process specifically, I think students would learn quite a bit about creative writing, style (rap), rhythm, diction, articulation, and musical expression. With creative writing and musical expression, students would learn how to bring their thoughts and feelings to life through a written and auditory mediums. Students engaging in this activity would also be more accustomed to the rap style, and its various nuances. Oftentimes students either love or hate rap, and I believe it would show the students who aren’t fond of it how much goes into it and broaden their appreciation for it. Lining up rhythms with a beat is an important skill to have when creating and performing rap, and students would gain more rhythmic opportunities and experiences in such a project. Having to consider articulation and diction when performing lyrics to rap also allows students to more deeply explore those vocal-musical elements.
In order to create and execute this type of project at a high level of quality, one would need to have a solid understanding of the rap style, and be able to identify (aural) and replicate (performance) them. That includes form, tone, instrumentation, lyrical content, and other stylistic nuances. One would also have to have a solid understanding of interpreting accompanimental rhythm and tempo (aural), and being able to express lyrics over that (performance). Having a good ear and being able to shift within chord changes for effect (aural) also would benefit the creation of such a project. Comfort with the creation and execution of a rap song (performance) would also greatly help to do this project at a high quality.
After engaging with this project, I am curious as to how to get shy students in on the performance aspect. As a shy/former shy student, it is terrifying to have to do something alone in class. Even in groups, something as vulnerable as a peer performance of a verse of a rap can be extremely daunting. Besides buddies/groups, and framing it in a different light (such as “poetry set to music”), what are some other options for involving more students to perform, especially the shy ones? In creating their own version of a rap beat, I think students will gain all of the experiences gained in normal rock/pop songwriting experiences, except framed in a different context. The dimensions of music covered will largely be the same (dynamics, instrumentation, texture, articulation, etc.).
“AZ State of Mind” (Verse 1), By: A-Man
Straight outta Scottsdale, though I’m not rich
Middle of suburbia, like without a hitch
We in the desert, all sun and sand
Palm trees power lines, no water all land
Dried up and thirsty, we all want the beach
Here in the valley, all your goals within reach
Cultural diversity, the best food: Mexican
Speaking with others, learnin’ that lexicon
Winter and nights, the weather is better
Throw in some rain, and we’ll feel much wetter
Quenchin’ that thirst, don’t you ever forget
Don’t drink and drive, you know you’ll regret it
Lookin’ for a good time?, hit up Mill
Try to have a good time, it will rain your bills
I enjoy it here, got me some chill friends
I’m not that cool, but here the fun never ends
“Engaging as cover artists, arrangers, and stylistic transformers” is a strategy I believe can be used to stimulate musical growth, and is something I want to experiment with in my teaching. I think covering an existing piece of music is a great strategy for promoting mastery over a specific style, honing aural skills, and implementing technical adjustments to achieve a desired sound. I believe engaging with music, and trying to cover it, broadens students’ overall musicianship. In relating it to the music I chose, the song “Jet Black Heart” is in the pop punk genre. It would be cool to cover the song in the style of: big band, metal, classical, etc. Using the style of covering a song leads into discussion as what constitutes certain musical genres and styles, and paves way into the discussion of how to implement said attributes musically. Doing instrumental covers of songs with lyrics also presents the challenge of “What do I need to do on my instrument to replicate the vocalist’s voice?” Articulation, intonation/voicing, note-decay, and such are all elements that come into play when deciding that. In using a strategy like this, one also brings in students’ interests into the classroom. Studies show that letting students explore their interests in the context of a class project that relates to material being taught helps them learn more efficiently and effectively.
Another strategy I could implement would be “engaging as music teachers and learners.” The idea behind this one is that repetitive listening to originals, covers, and video tutorials of a song leads to some sort of product, whether a live performance or a digital replication. While listening to various performances or tutorials of a piece, students are exercising their aural and analytical skills, as well as honing their performance or music production skills. Providing a space for students to do that could also allow them to explore navigating resources, and also allow them to bring their interests into the classroom.
The visualizations in the linked post provide a variety of visual representations of music. In context to the types of Att-L listening, students could look at visualizations of music in order to better understand the musical nuances of a piece of music. Since visualizations provide visual cues for auditory experiences, incorporating visualizations helps students synthesize connections between what they see and what they hear, and thus will help develop their ear. For example, if someone can’t identify a rising melodic line, then a listening map that puts pitch on a vertical plane would help them identify when a pitch is rising, and match it with what they’re hearing.
All of the questions in the Allsup and Baxter article can relate to these visualizations. Visualizations allow for students to make sense of music without having as much of a trained ear. For example, using guided questions to get students to isolate a dimension of music such as dynamics might be assisted by having a listening map that somehow demonstrates the loudness and softness of a piece will better allow them to express their thoughts on the dynamics. Analytical and judicial questions can be guided through the use of visualizations as well. Asking students to analyze and discuss the melodic contour of a piece can be made more achievable and accessible to untrained ears by giving them a visual representation of the piece. Thus, giving students these visualizations can help to scaffold musical problems addressing these questions!
I believe listening maps and visualizations provide visual representations of music, which can help students learn and grow as music students. I believe that those with a lesser-developed musical ear can benefit from visualizations, if given guided instruction to help them synthesize those connections. Honestly, in my own music education, I find several of my music teachers could have expedited understanding on a concept for the class by providing some sort of visual element to accompany the auditory experience they were trying to convey. Since not all students are auditory learners, having visual elements present in teach can also make for a more successful learning experience for students.
Perhaps in my selected musical piece, engagement in this manner could be executed by having students create their own visualizations. Have them focus on one element or dimension of the piece, and have them visually express that in a manner more simple than that given video examples. For example, I could tell students to “graph” the melodic contour of the melody line, or have them express the dynamics visually, or have them illustrate the texture of a piece. I truly believe visualizations are underestimated in the traditional music education school of thought, and that they can be used a resource to expedite and solidify students’ understandings of musical concepts.
- the types of listening addressed in the Campbell article
- the types of questions addressed in the Allsup & Baxter article
- musical problem solving
- learning goals, knowledge, & understanding (as articulated in the Wiggins & McTighe chapters)