Please check back often! Or visit any of the links on the left hand side of the web page. Thanks! On this page you will find activities that were done during the 2014-2015 school year.


A big THANK YOU to all the musicians in the 2014-2015 6th Grade Band!!
Music Makes Me



This Nearpod activity is based on the NCAA Basketball Tournament. But instead of basketball teams the students listen 2 two musical selections and then vote for the musical composition that they like the most based individually on their ranking of five musical elements, (timbre, melody, rhythm, tempo, and texture), found in the selections. The "winner" will be the selection that gets the highest ranking on each element. I have found that this web-based tool is an excellent way to cover some important musical elements, listen to a variety of musical selections, and have the students based their personal opinions on content specific words.


TOP 10

One of the first activities that we do in the 6th Grade General Music classroom is a "Top 10" document. However, to make it more thought provoking, I ask the students to list their top 10 songs of all time - since the day they were born. I then don't return the paper to them until I see them in 8th Grade General Music classes.


In musical terms any pattern that repeats over and over again is an ostinato. These can be rhythmic, melodic, or harmonic. We get our English work obstinate from the Italian word ostinato. Of course there are many everyday actions that we do over and over again, for example, check out this Simpsons video. And of course, many songs that we listen to have ostinatos in them. The students do many dances/movements that have ostinato patterns in them like the Macarena, the Cotton-Eyed Joe, the Chicken Dance, the Cupid Shuffle, etc. Recently the "Cup Song" featured in the movie Pitch Perfect is a great example of an ostinato.

After singing and do motions to a song entitled "Hey Ho", the students created their own ostinatos using the web site The students can easily share their creations with each other, themselves and the teacher. I also showed them the web site.


The students in the Music 8 classroom fill out a Google Document which asks them for 6 different songs describing: 1) What was the first song you ever bought? 2) What song takes you back to your elementary school days? 3) What song always gets you moving? 4) What is your perfect slow song? 5) What song would you want at your funeral? and 6) What songs makes you, YOU? I then ask them to complete the assignment by sharing a YouTube video of their song that "makes you, YOU" and they have to describe it in musical terms, (e.g., melody, rhythm, harmony, instruments, etc.), before I play a portion of the video for the class.


The Music 8 students continue their study of different musical styles by completing a "tree" of American Music. Through discussion and teacher directed activities the students learn that each style is dependent on what came before and how the styles of American music influence future styles. After study the students can 1) correctly identify a style of American music; 2) begin to determine what the characteristics of a particular style are and what are the difference between styles; 3) accurately list the chronological order of American musical styles; and 4) list 3 facts about a particular style of American music. I also show the students representative videos of each style.


All through the Music 8 experience, I am always comparing the past with the present and having the students think about what music will be like in the future and their particular interests/styles. They are always telling me about how they like or dislike a particular performer and/or the weirdness of contemporary performers, e.g., Lady Gaga or Miley Cyrus. I like to tell them that there were always performers that the public either liked or hated. Not everyone likes a particular style or thinks that what someone did or dresses is strange. To prepare them to talk about their likes/dislikes in musical terms I have them view 3 different videos and describe them in musical terms, e.g., timbre, texture, rhythm, melody, etc. This is done using a chart/table:. It is easy to say I like or don't like a performer, but I want them to tell me why the do or don't like the music. The 3 videos we view are "We Will Rock You" by Queen, "Jammin" by Bob Marley and the Wailers, and "Rock and Roll All Night" by Kiss. I then let them come up with their own style of music and a name of a band in that style. It is great to make a Google Docs sheet and compare the names.


After discussing with the students the number of ways that music affects us, I play for them the opening scenes to the movie "Star Wars" with the sound turned off. A course, there is an immediate reaction to how weird this is - one does not get the same emotional impact watching a moving picture without any sound or for that matter sound effects. I then show the same scenes but this time I had some random generated cartoon music from Looney Tunes series, e.g, "Bugs Bunny", "Thom and Jerry". Again, the emotional impact is totally different. It is amazing how the music affects one's self. As a concluding activity, I let the students finish this worksheet: , and I have them come up with their own background music.


Using a online resource found in the Hershey MS Library entitled, "Popular Music Through the Decades", I have the students complete a Blendspace with information that is outlined below:
  • Describe the musical elements of a particular musician and the style he/she played in
  • Compare and contrast your own musical tastes with a particular musician/style

This online program lets the students collect web resources in one place to share material and lets me "flip my classroom", where the students do their own Project-Based Learning and create Differentiated Instruction. Using this program also lets me view all the projects in one place and have the students comment on their peers. Here is my template:

If you click on the image, you can enlarge the graphic and scroll through the different boxes.

Some student example are here:
Blind Lemon Jefferson
Bessie Smith
Ray Charles
The Beach Boys

This educational experience was very rewarding and allowed me to cover a lot of material in a limited time. The online resource is a great product with huge potential done is a very user friendly way. It is a "one-stop" technology that lets the students determine the extent of their finished project and allows them to use multiple online search engines. I will be adapting and this project for future classes.