TOOLS: Graphic organizer for students to brainstorm sounds, musical score for "Stripsody", projector & whiteboard for interactive brainstorming & sharing visuals, pencils, variety of classroom instruments/sounds to demonstrate timbre,
(Optional: USB microphone for recording student performances, audio editing software (Garage Band), video editing software (iMovie), and Vimeo account to upload and share student work making full use of privacy settings)
MA Arts Curriculum Framework: (Music)
STANDARD 2 Reading and Notation Students will read music written in standard notation.
*Though you will not be having the students learning about it directly, this is an important exercise in contextualizing western, standardized notation for these very young students, allowing them to understand 1) what kind of information does a musician need from a written score?, and 2) how to clearly annotate your composition so a performer creates the sounds you intended.
STANDARD 4 Improvisation and Composition Students will improvise, compose, and arrange music.
STANDARD 6 Purposes and Meanings in the Arts Students will describe the purposes for which works of dance, music, theatre, visual arts, and architecture were and are created, and, when appropriate, interpret their meanings.
STANDARD 1 Acting Students will develop acting skills to portray characters who interact in improvised and scripted scenes.
STANDARD 5 Critical Response Students will describe and analyze their own theatrical work and the work of others using appropriate theatre vocabulary. When appropriate, students will connect their analysis to interpretation and evaluation.
Guided Concepts & Benchmarks for Students:
- Considering important questions, such as: "What is music?", "How should written music appear?", "How do we communicate our intentions as a composer on our musical score?", and finally, "How do we describe sounds using words?"
- Demonstrating ability to designate pitch, timbre, and performative narrative through use of graphic notation.
- Gaining comfort with performing in front of one's peers, guided by scaffolded, positively framed constructive critique from classmates.
- Exploration of timbre and pitch through use of onomatopoeia and artistic illustration.
- Gaining comfort with receiving and sharing positively framed, objective & constructive peer critique.
1) Ask students, "What does sheet music look like?" Introduce them to important vocabulary: score
2) Discuss with students: When we look at music, we get information (like a map for sound, or instructions). We follow the composer's directions based upon what we see written on the page. Often, we get to interpret how to perform the music on the page, as long as we follow the information given to us!
3) Pass the score for "Stripsody" around, or share some pictures of other graphic notation scores. These ones make for great examples:
4) Share a performance with the students! I like to perform this piece myself, and will have slides up on the board with visuals of the score as I share the work with them. There are other great videos on youtube. (Because I share this lesson with very young students, I only perform the first portion through the barnyard scene. I leave out sections that contain shocking/violent storylines- such as the machine gunman or the cowboy & indians fight)
5) Have students brainstorm their own sounds, and have them record the pitch, timbre, and a few different ways to depict the sound using graphic notation. It's fun to share how many different ways the same sound can be notated, and to discuss with students how different versions may render different results from the person performing your piece.
Sound Brainstorm Examples:
5) Now it is time to compose! Have your students revisit the score of "Stripsody", and discuss the different types of stories presented in the music:
- pitch exploration (extreme highs to extreme lows, see p. 1)
- repeated alphabetic sounds (onomatopoeic alliteration, see pp. 7, 12, & 16)
- mini scenes (cat & dog fight p. 5, radio tuning pp. 8-9, barnyard scene p. 11, etc.)
- nonsensical silly sounds
6) I remind my students to treat this work carefully, like a piece of artwork. The score needs to be legible so a performer can understand the story. I also ask them to compose their scenes like a sentence, left to right, without stacking sounds (it can be hard to tell what sounds come first when they are not composed one after the other). To scaffold this, I provide a composition worksheet on the back of their sound brainstorm that mirrors 3 figures from Cathy Berberian's piece:
- Figure 1: Staff with three lines to designate pitch (High, Medium, & Low)
- Figure 2: One single line to allow for illustrating a sound with traveling pitch
- Figure 3: Graphic illustration block
When students have finished their work, they can add color to their scores.
7) Have students perform their compositions for each other in class, or record audio and make a movie that has their voices added to pictures of their score. (This teacher has done lovely work with students!)
Student Work Examples: