Here’s a project your students can complete while at home that will introduce them to new music literature. This activity addresses the “Responding” national standard by asking students to select, evaluate, and analyze music.
I have to give credit to my two sons for this idea; John, who is a high school band director in Waconia, MN, and Joel, who is the band director in Pierz, MN. Together they came up with the list of songs based upon their own personal likes and pieces that they thought would be interesting to the students. I edited the list slightly to include some of my favorite pieces and some I thought were more geared towards college students.
As we all know, band is a social activity as well as a “class,” and although we can’t have live rehearsals right now, we can still have live interactions with each other. When students submit their choices for the second round, I plan to host break-out sessions via Zoom where groups of students can interact with each other about choosing the set of pieces that will advance to the next round. It is my hope that as we progress to the “final four” that students have collectively chosen pieces to use as program material for the fall. I believe that students can have meaningful and interesting discussions about the pieces and be able to connect with each other during this strangest of times.
Open the Google Doc to access the bracket. Click on a title to see and listen. For each competing pair of songs, choose your favorite to move to the next round. Write a paragraph about each of the Final Four titles and why you chose them, then explain why you chose the “winning” piece (What did you like about the songs? What makes them “good” pieces? What did you not like about the other songs?).
Variations and Extensions
- Before beginning the project, have students develop their own rubric or criteria that they will use to evaluate each piece.
- Assign the bracket as a group project. The group will debate and negotiate together to decide which piece moves forward.
- Pair up students who had different “winners” to discuss what led them to choose the winning piece.
- Find multiple versions of the “winning” song and analyze the differences in the performances.
- Extend the activity by having students learn more about the composer or arranger of the winning piece. Students can create a mock Facebook or LinkedIn profile that reflects what they learned about the composer.
- Use this exercise as a way for you to gauge the interests of your students. Did you notice any patterns in the pieces they chose? Did their choices surprise you?