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Ideas? Suggestions? - Music Teachers

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August 24th, 2008

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10:33 am - Ideas? Suggestions?
I am a K-5 music teacher, but this year was asked if I would take on a 7/8 music class at the attached middle school.

I was asked to take the class less than one week before the start of the school year. It's a class of 27 students, 20 of which are boys and as of this year is the only music class in the school. Last year the school had a band, so about a third of them signed up for music thinking it was going to be band, but the teacher left last minute and the course was scrapped. Another third signed up for a music technology class, and the final third just didn't want to take art as their elective.

I just do not know what to do with them. The school has tons of amazing music resources including state of the art recording equipment, a digital music studio, and computers with midi keyboards for composition. We also have a classroom set of african drums. Unfortunately all of these resources are now locked up in a closet due to lack of space. The school formerly had a gorgeous, very large, soundproofed band room but due to extreme overcrowding was split into two smaller classrooms which are currently being utilized for math and science classes.

The classroom I am teaching in is on the other end of the school and is usually a math classroom for the other 6 periods of the day. On each side of the classroom there are math classes going on as I am teaching, and directly underneath me is a science classroom.

I took a survey at the beginning of the year to get an idea of what the kids were interested in and what class they had originally signed up for. The overwhelming response was that they wanted to learn to play an instrument, unfortunately this has been ruled out as the only instruments I have at my disposal are the african drums (and some very large band instruments such as euphoniums, bass clarinets, etc.) and I am teaching in the math wing where making excessive noise is not an option.

So what do I do with these kids? We have no general music curriculum to work with. The first week I did a sort of "history of rock and roll" type thing, but the kids just aren't the interested in it and are totally frustrated that this class is not what they had signed up for.

This is their elective so I am really trying to make this course something that they will enjoy, but I am at a loss for ideas. Help?

(6 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:August 24th, 2008 04:00 pm (UTC)
Would you be able to set up the keyboards in your new classroom? With headphones, there would be almost no sound at all. You could buy or create a self paced keyboard program that the students could follow, kind of like recorder karate, where they practice on their own and move up the karate belt based on which level song that they can play.

You could also do something with composition, where the students learn about theory in a simple lecture type setting with an ongoing composition project where the students compose a song for keyboard based on their theory lessons. For instance, compose a song using a plagal cadence. The students could then compose and record their song. At the end of the semester, they might have enough songs to make a CD of their compositions.

If your school has a lot of extra money set aside for music, acoustic guitars are rather quiet and fun for that age.
[User Picture]
Date:August 24th, 2008 04:12 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately the keyboards are a no go as the classroom I am in is very small and we barely have room for all the kids and their desks, plus I am only in there for one hour of the day and it is used as a math classroom the rest of the time.

Guitar is something I am looking in to, but unfortunately I don't think I could make it happen this year. That is something I am looking at for next year though, especially since it's something I want to do at the elementary school anyway.

The composition/theory class is what I am mostly considering, unfortunately I have no curriculum or materials of that ilk to work with, so I'm trying to find something age appropriate to use with them. The levels of these kids vary widely. Some of the kids already play instruments proficiently and read music very well, while most others can't tell a quarter note from a half note.
[User Picture]
Date:August 24th, 2008 04:25 pm (UTC)
Would turning it into a music appreciation type class be possible? The kids could study different genres and do some large projects with presentations for the class. In my hs music appreciation class we did a really neat project linking the arts and music. we took a song that we really liked and either created art to go along with the song or found art that went along with the song. some people made short films, some people painted. some people wrote a story. we also did a lot with comparing classical and modern music. things like, comparing bach and metallica, nirvana and maybe beethoven? i dont remember all of the composers/bands, but you get the idea. we would look at the different characteristics, like with bach and metallica, we would look at the guitar solos and organ parts. it gave me a new appreciation for classical music that i didnt have before that class. We also talked a little bit about music theory, mostly solfege, roman numeral analysis and dictation. Sorry i cant help you out, i'm a new teacher and havent had to go through anything like this yet. eek.

I hope you get a better facility/room next year!
[User Picture]
Date:August 24th, 2008 04:48 pm (UTC)
That's probably what is going to happen. I just don't have any curriculum or resources for that type of class at this particular grade level so I'm trying to string things together from the internet.
[User Picture]
Date:August 24th, 2008 04:24 pm (UTC)
Um, do band? Or are you just elementary general?
[User Picture]
Date:August 24th, 2008 04:46 pm (UTC)
Only 1/3 of the kids signed up for band, so the other 2/3rds don't have instruments and most of the families in my community are not in the economic position to purchase or rent. I don't have enough instruments to provide the kids with instruments. Plus, the noise concerns are a big issue.

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