Our big idea is Voice. We started by asking students in all the grades what voice means to them.
In the following audio clip, you’ll hear students stating what they think voice means to them. This was without a lot of explanation or discussion, just to see where they were at the beginning of the project.
Students brainstormed what it meant to express their voice, and explored whether you can still have a voice and be part of an ensemble.
We discussed how composers use different tools to express their voice, like melody, accompaniment, rhythm, and timbre. Students then had to create a group composition using sounds/motions that represented themselves. [insert name composition video]
In Ms. Jackson’s language arts classroom, we looked at how music and poetry are similar, and how poets are like composers and musicians.
We started by using a Venn diagram to compare and contrast poetry and music. Then students brainstormed the mood of different pieces of classical music. Finally, students had to choose music to set to a given poem, and we all discussed why different students chose different music (not everyone agreed!).
Students explored how they could use figurative language, something they had to learn in their language arts curriculum and use in their poetry, to describe music. They then created a music composition of their own to score their figurative language.
Finally, students experimented with rhythm in poetry. They created a class ostinato (or repeating rhythm), and each wrote a poem using that ostinato. The class theme was Chicago or Illinois.
We finished up the year by exploring the instruments of the orchestra, their different timbres (or voices), and how they all contribute to making different kinds of music.
We started by figuring out how to classify instruments and what makes an instrument belong to a certain instrument family. Students were given a random small percussion instrument, and they had to get themselves into 3 groups of like instruments WITHOUT TALKING. Then students discussed why they grouped themselves into those groups and what their instruments had in common.
Over the course of four weeks, we explored in more depth the individual instrument families of the orchestra. Students got to choose which instrument represented their voice (and make an instrument family tree). They compared and contrasted different instruments in different families to find similarities and differences. They got to create instruments in different families to experience how the sound was made (straw oboes, shoe box guitars, pop bottle flutes).
We finished up the end of the year by creating a multi-layered percussion ensemble composition. Students incorporated their ostinato rhythm from their poems in Ms. Jackson’s room, melody on the glockenspiel, and accompaniment on small percussion instruments of their choice. They had to use the different timbres of the instruments to express their voice.