Reply To: Title 1 High School Music Appreciation or Choral Ideas

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I teach a non-music major class for a fine arts credit at the university level. Here are some ideas from my curriculum – hope they help!

They could easily do a body percussion unit. Start with learning how to keep a beat and then move to 2, 3, and 4 level body percussion (snap, clap, pat, stomp). They could also learn some basic note units (quarter, eighth, half) and create their own body percussion compositions. The student love this activity – they eat it up! You can even teach form at the same time.

We also do a drumming unit – that requires some tubanos or chairs and buckets. 🙂 The students could also do a speech composition where you give them a spooky poem (works really well in October) and they have to add crescendos, different timbres, etc., and perform the final poem as a small group.

I’m not sure how mature your students are, but we also talk extensively about how music functions in their lives. Look up Merriam’s 10 functions of music for a resource or read either of Daniel Levitin’s books to give you some ideas. We discuss how it’s used to communicate emotions, how it can be used to educate, how it can function as a symbol, etc. The discussion of “what is music?” is also pretty popular in our classes. Start with Cage’s 4’33” (the BBC orchestral version on YouTube is very well done) and let the debate begin!

The students could also complete some projects. If your students have access to computers, mash-up videos are awesome!!! We require that there be some sort of message behind the mash-up other than “we’re young and we like to have fun”. Additionally, we have the students go for 24 hours without music, keep a journal while doing it, and then write a paper about the experience. The students have a really hard time doing this, but it’s so valuable! Many of them do not realize how much music is on TV, in stores, etc.

For all these things, there are TONS of resources on YouTube. Body percussion videos, drum circles, instructions on how to create mash-ups, etc. By the way – the best mash-ups are from a user called waxaudio, very advanced but pretty cool.

Good luck! I love teaching non-musicians, they’re great to work with.