|Grade span:||4 to 12|
|Duration:||Three 45-minute sessions|
Description:This lesson is one example of how you can implement the practice of Expressing Yourself Through the Arts. In this activity, students use music to express their personal histories and create a soundtrack that reflects their individual identities.
- Develop a timeline of key life events
- Understand how music can convey ideas and emotions
- Identify music that represents and reflects one's life story
- Writing materials (paper, pens, pencils)
- 10 to 12 portable CD players, headphones, and CDs
- Review the basic elements of music that affect emotional quality, such as tempo (speed) and key (major vs. minor).
- Create a personal timeline to use as an example for the class (optional).
- Compile CDs to show different kinds of music and the emotions they evoke. For example:
- Happy: "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" (Mozart), "Stars and Stripes Forever" (Sousa)
- Sad: "Moonlight Sonata" (Beethoven)
- Angry: "Ride of the Valkyries" (Wagner), "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" (Bach)
- Excited: "Flight of the Bumblebees" (Rimsky-Korsakov), "Toreador March" from Carmen (Bizet)
- Try to obtain a wide variety of musical styles, such as classical, jazz, rock, pop, hip-hop, musical theatre, and country.
- Compile CDs of music that demonstrates the personal experiences of composers. For example:
- "The Star-Spangled Banner" by Francis Scott Key describes his pride as he witnesses a British assault on Baltimore and watches the Americans emerge victorious.
- "A Strenuous Life" by Scott Joplin commemorates Booker T. Washington's 1901 visit and dinner at the White House.
- "Cry Me a River" by Justin Timberlake describes his feelings about a famous ex-girlfriend.
What to Do:Session 1
- Begin with a discussion of how music can convey emotions. You may want to play a fast piece and a slow piece and ask students to describe what they hear (fast music can be happy or excited, slow music can be sad). Give examples and play excerpts, if available.
- Discuss how composers and songwriters often use their life experiences to guide their music. Give examples and play excerpts, if available.
- Explain that students will be using composers' music to tell the stories of the students' own lives. Explain that students will use this session to create a timeline of significant events in their lives, and that the next session will be devoted to selecting songs that best represent each event and the accompanying emotion. Keep in mind that this may be difficult for students who have experienced significant loss or stress in their lives. Allow them to choose the events that they want to share.
- Discuss the concept of a timeline. Share examples, including your personal timeline if applicable. Ask students to reflect on their lives, and consider important and memorable events.
- Allow students to use the remainder of the session to create their own personal timelines. Students may wish to first create a list of events, and then transfer the events to the timeline.
- You may want to ask students to bring CDs or personal CD players for the next session.
- Remind students of your earlier discussion about the use of music to convey emotions and commemorate events.
- Distribute student timelines. Ask students to consider the events on the timelines. Ask them to think about not just the events themselves, but the experiences that are attached to them (sights, sounds, emotions).
- Give students time to explore different kinds of music, and to select a variety of songs that represent various events on their timelines. They may use their own CDs or those that you or other classmates share.
- Ask students to write down the songs they have included on their personal soundtracks, including a brief explanation of the significance of each song. Students can use their own CDs, and they should bring them to the next session when they will share their work.
- Ask students to share two to three songs from their personal soundtracks, explaining why they chose particular songs and what each one represents.
Evaluate (Outcomes to look for):
- Student participation and engagement
- An understanding of how music can be used to represent emotions and events
- Personal soundtracks that reflect students' feelings and emotions about events in their lives
Click this link to see additional learning goals, grade-level benchmarks, and standards covered in this lesson.