Friday, May 31, 2013

Musical Listening Exploration Report

I'm working on developing some new ideas for use in the Interactive Notebooks I use with grades 3-5.  I'll be making a more detailed post discussing usage of the interactive notebooks soon (I promise!).

Until then, here's a new worksheet I developed for grades mid3rd - 5th.  It can be filled out and glued into a composition notebook, as long as you glue it in horizontally (it will take up two pages).

It has an alien theme because our mascots at my school are "Explorers" and all our decor, etc, is "spacey".  You could also pretend that your students are "aliens" here to document the music of earth so they can "present" it back on the mother ship.  (See end of post for more fun ideas to incorporate this theme).

I plan to use it in three different ways.

1. WHOLE CLASS - As a class, we would listen to a piece of music chosen by me (I haven't decided specifically which one I would use) and discuss what we heard.  I like to give multiple listenings, asking the students to listen for specific things each time, or giving them a chance to move around (either using a predetermined set of movements or let them create their own).  Then, we would complete the worksheet together (project it on the screen or smart board and fill it in as a class - you could place a copies of the worksheet in plastic page protectors and have the students answer the worksheet only with you with dry erase markers).

NOTE: When selecting a piece, keep in mind these tips (our Teacher Editions are FULL of great pieces to use and often include activities and questions to ask):
1. Why did I select this piece?  What do I want the students to learn from it?  What things can I ask the students to listen for?
2. Does this piece make a connection with other musical elements we've been studying (is it a pentatonic piece, does it use the string family, does is show dynamic contrast, etc)?
3. Is the length and complexity of this piece appropriate for the students' level?  (Often, we have grand pieces that we LOVE but might not yet be accessible to our students or will require more work on our part as we present it to them)
4. Can I create something fun (movement, listening game, etc) for the students to do while they listen?
5. How can I relate this piece to something the students can make a connection to (was it in a popular movie, does it depict a historical even they've learned about, did they see it performed live when the High School band came over?)

For the first section of the worksheet, the students would be provided with the title of the piece and composer by me.  We could then use our composer owl center (see below) for information on the composer (could fill in the nationality and dates at the bottom of the worksheet also) and to decide which musical time period (see branches) the music falls into.  Some other great websites that are kid-friendly for composer info include:
Classics for Kids: Composers
Making Music Fun: Composers

Composer Owls

Composer Corner
We would also discuss how to rate the music.  Students would have to defend their reasoning for rating the music a specific amount of stars.  This is a great time to spark class discussions and to help students develop critical listening skills.  If your students aren't feeling particularly chatty or aren't sure what to do, model having a conversation with one of the students, then have them converse in "shoulder partners" (someone next to them).

Next, we would move on to the middle of the worksheet.  First, we would discuss the voicing/instrumentation of the piece.  SFS Kids has a great website on the Instruments of the Orchestra if you need it.  I have orchestra pictures up that the kids can refer to.
Then, students would offer vocabulary terms to describe the music, such as, "The dynamic level of this song is mainly forte" or "The tempo of this song is largo," etc.  I have a music word wall that the students can use for this part.

I love when students guess what the song is about (this isn't applicable for every piece, however).  They are very creative and they LOVE finding out the real meaning of the song.  You might have your students illustrate this first, then write about it.  When doing a whole-class activity, you can draw or select a student to draw.

In the bottom of the worksheet, show the students how to use a search engine of your choice to search the name of the piece (or you can equip them with a separate article about this) so they can research the reason it was written.  Students will also need to defend why they would or wouldn't recommend this to a friend.

2. SMALL GROUP - Once we've practice the worksheet together, the students will try this again but in smaller groups.  I have my students divided into four groups.  Each group will have a different song on the ipod (I have a set of four ipods).

I can't wait to buy these so students can have their own head-phone:
Students can use the worksheet to spark discussions between group-members.  Then can use the word wall, composer owls, instruments posters, and other materials to answer the questions.  Students can search on google using the iPods (or you could supply them with an information sheet about each piece/composer - like the one below):
The students would then present their song to the class (you can play the music lightly in the background while they present, or have quiet listening time then have the group present).

If your students need more work with music vocabulary, have them play this fun review game first (my kiddos love it):

3. INDIVIDUAL ASSIGNMENT  - Students would then complete an individual assignment.  I'll have the students do one where they all address the same piece, then one where they have an individual piece (experienced music-listeners or those who have had many listening and research opportunities may be able to select their own piece given appropriate parameters).

If you have a tech lab (we do, and our tech teacher is awesome about incorporating musical websites when I ask), students can do their own research and even listen to their work on youtube or using Arts Alive.  There are many recordings and composer/piece info on Arts Alive (I love it).

PRESENTATION TIPS - Check out these tips if you'll have your students present their findings.

1. Space Theme - Dig into the space theme.  Turn out the lights and have students report by lamp or flashlight.  Conduct the piece with glowsticks.  Have students speak into a microphone with a weird reverb or effect that sounds "spacey" (or you could use those toy microphones - I've seen some at Target and Oriental trading).  Paste the finished reports on a space-themed bulletin board.

2. Partner Presentations - Students can complete their own report, but chose a partner to help them present it (they would need to have the same piece).

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