What kind of music do you like to listen to? Why do you like that type of music?
People are still listening to Mozart's music 225 years after his death. Do you think people will be listening to any of today's artists 225 years from now? If so, who? If not, why?
Imagine that you could create a 200-CD compilation including every scrap of music a musician ever produced. Which artist would you feature in your product? Why?
Creating the anthology of Mozart's work required years of scholarship, planning and curation. Do you think gaining such an in-depth understanding of the history of music is valuable or not? Why?
- As a class, identify as many genres of music as possible. Tell students to go beyond what's popular. Encourage them to include genres from different cultures and periods of time.
- As a class, in small groups or with a partner, have students conduct research to learn about the history of one genre of music. Instruct them to define the genre, identify important moments in its history and recognize at least one noteworthy musician who performed that type of music. Challenge them to find one or more examples of songs from that genre.
- Once students are finished with their research, instruct them to write a brief essay highlighting what surprised them about the genre of music they studied.
Have students play recordings of songs from their genre as they share their essays with the class. After the presentations are finished, challenge the class to create a playlist featuring at least one song from each genre they heard.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
Complete the activity as a class. After identifying a multitude of genres, have students vote to decide which genre of music to study. Divide the class into four groups, and assign each group one topic: define the genre; list important moments in its history; identify noteworthy musicians; or find recordings of songs from that genre. Have groups share what they learned. Then have students each write an essay about what surprised them the most. Work as a class to create a playlist of students' favorite songs from the genre.
As a class, identify as many genres of music as possible. Then divide the class into small groups. Assign each group one genre of music to study. Have group members each write an essay telling what surprised them the most. Then have all groups share their essays with the class. As a class, create a playlist featuring one song from each genre of music that students studied.
As a class, identify as many genres of music as possible. Then divide the class into pairs. Assign each pair one genre of music to study. Have each partner write an essay telling what surprised him or her the most. Then have pairs share their essays with the class. As a class, have students create a playlist of their favorite songs from each genre. Challenge them to include one older song and one new song from each genre.
As a class, identify as many genres of music as possible. Then divide the class into pairs. Assign each pair one genre of music to study. As they investigate, challenge partners to learn how the type of music they're studying has crossed over into one or more other genres of music. Have each partner write an essay telling what surprised him or her the most. Then have pairs share their essays with the class. As a class, have students create a playlist of their favorite songs from each genre. Challenge them to include at least one older song and one new song from each genre.
Explore how musical instruments can be used in a study of sound energy with this lesson from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Utilizing a combination of observation, logic and reasoning, students determine how different pitches are made. Then they invent their own instruments to produce various sounds and pitches.
Read this Smithsonian article to learn how one artist is attempting to bring classical music into the social media mix.
Use this lesson from the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access to explore shape-note singing, a tradition that began in the American South as a simple way to teach the reading of music to children. The lesson includes audio samples of shape-note hymns from the Smithsonian Folkways archives.
Since 1992, Smithsonian Jazz has been documenting the oral histories of more than 100 jazz musicians, performers, relatives and professionals. Invite students to listen to their stories. Then expand their knowledge of jazz with “Groovin’ to Jazz Lesson Plans” from the National Museum of American History.
This bilingual (English/Spanish) site from the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage gives students an introduction to the sounds of the mariachi: its instruments and how they are played, its rhythms, the kinds of music it plays and how it is important to people.
Use these lessons from the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage to introduce students to the traditional music of northern India. By the end of the unit, students should be able to sing scales, improvise over a drone and discuss Indian music.
Invite students to explore the National Museum of American History’s music collection. The collection contains more than 5,000 instruments of American and European heritage, including Prince’s Yellow Cloud Guitar and Tito Puente’s autographed timbales. It also features materials documenting the career of renowned musician Duke Ellington.