I promised last week when I posted my new studio incentive program for the coming school year that I’d share more about the resources that I’m using for all of the different elements on our syllabus this year. Here’s a look at some of the things we’ll be doing to get our brains hooked on music!
General Syllabus Objectives
Both this year’s “This is Your Brain… on Music!” incentive and last year’s “Mission: Music” incentive are designed to be used with a musicianship syllabus program. I use the Kansas MTA’s Music Progressions syllabus for my students. If you participate in another program, you should be able to adapt the incentive to work with the specific goals and curriculum you use with your students. If you don’t already have a program you like, you can view and download the Music Progressions syllabus free from KMTA’s website – it’s a great resource!
I’m asking all of my students to choose at least one creative project to work on this year. Detailed direction sheets for each of these projects are available at the bottom of this post and on the Curriculum Sets page. Here’s an overview of each, and a list of the resources I’ll be using for them:
1. Composer/History Project
For this challenge, students must research a composer or other topic from music history, then find a creative way to showcase what they learned – through a visual display, a Powerpoint presentation, an informative video, or other creative vehicle. They also will listen to at least one work by the composer and fill out a Listening Challenge Worksheet.
There’s a handy list of student-friendly composer websites (many of which have sample audio clips of the composer’s works) on the Online Classroom page of my studio website. We’ll also be using this reproducible composer handbook published by Alfred. (Students can pick up a reproducible packet with information on their chosen composer from me at lessons.)
2. Composition Project
This one doesn’t need much explanation! Students who enjoy composing will have the opportunity to create an original piece, then score it using Finale (at the studio) or Finale Notepad (free to download and use at home). They’ll also create cover art for their piece, so that we can turn their new work into newly “published” sheet music! (Check out this post for details on DIY sheet music.)
As a fun addition this year, students will also have the option of recording their piece and adapting their artwork to make a CD single or YouTube video to share.
3. Video Project
This is the project I’m most excited about! I love asking students to come up with visual imagery or story lines to help them play expressively. This project lets them do that in a very tangible way (and with a very cool result!).
Students will select a piece of music to learn and record. This will be the background music for their video. Next, they must find a designated number of visual aids to accompany their music. Visual aids might be artwork they create or find online (there’s a list of public domain image & clipart sites on the Online Classroom page of my studio website). They might also choose to create visuals using facts they research about their piece, or a poem or story they create to narrate the piece.
At the studio, we’ll use Windows Movie Maker to assemble the sound and image files into a completed video. (Movie Maker comes standard with most versions of Windows. If you’re a Mac user, iMovie will do the same thing.) Once the videos are done, students can share them over YouTube and Facebook, and show their friends and family what cool things they’re up to at their lessons!
Rhythm, Technique, Sightreading and Listening Objectives
If you’re curious about what I use for the other objectives on the syllabus, check out this post on the activity binders I use with my students.
You might notice that there are no theory objectives listed on either the “This is Your Brain on Music” or “Mission: Music” incentive programs. I teach theory objectives almost exclusively through hands-on manipulatives and games at lessons, and by analyzing patterns and theory elements in students’ repertoire. I don’t typically use theory workbooks with my students until they reach intermediate to advanced levels of study (at which point they’re usually done with incentive programs!).
If you’re looking for materials to teach theory objectives, you might find this new Resource Guide page helpful. It lists (almost) all of the materials available for download from this site, divided by concept, and labeled with a Music Progressions syllabus level.