Today the first class took place. Students and parents were supposed to arrive at 2:30 for orientation with Lynn. Three of the families showed up, all of them late. The fourth was not present until 3:00, when the student arrived for the first class. I called the mother, who said she had a meeting out of town. One student forgot his binder, and only one student had completed all of the assigned homework. We started orientation at 2:45. At 2:50, the parents left the room with Lynn for a separate parent orientation and I started class. Here is the lesson plan:
Lesson Plan 1
Expectations: Each student received a keyboard, packet, and a binder before class. Each student and his or her parent agreed to the commitment of this class, which requires at least 30 minutes with the keyboard a day. The student was to have completed the packet which explained the names of the keys, grand staff notation, and major scales starting from any notes. Each student was to have completed the following assignment in addition to completing the packet’s written homework:
1) Be able to play all scales with both hands.
Bonus: Play them as fast as you can as best as you can!
2) Make up a song using all white keys and quarter notes. Write it down. Be ready to play it in class. Give it a name and pick how fast to play it.
Bonus: Use a sharp and a flat!
3:00-3:05 Students will warm up on their keyboards and get ready to play what they wrote in class. The instructor will collect each student’s notated original composition and make a copy for everyone in the class. Include an example of the instructor’s own original composition.
3:05-3:15 Show and Tell. The teacher hands out a copy of all of the original compositions. Students take turns playing their original composition in front of the class and explaining it. Students ask the composer questions and the composer answers.
3:15-3:20 The Creative Process. Students engage in a discussion about what it means to create something, specifically music, and present it in front of other people. Discussion question ideas: How did you start when you wrote your composition? What did you have in mind when you started? Was it hard to start writing? Why or why not? Are you proud of what you created? Did you want to play it in front of people? Was it scary to play it in front of people? Why or why not? Are there things about your piece that you want to change? What will you do differently next time? What does creating something new mean to you? Did you have fun? Why or why not? Do you want to do this again? Why or why not? How can your classmates help you be a better composer/songwriter? How can you help yourself be a better composer/songwriter?
3:20-3:22 The Idea Journal. The teacher explains that the blank sheets of music at the back of the binder are to be used to write down musical ideas. These ideas can be notes, words, or pictures. The goals is to get down an idea when you have it so that you don’t forget it.
3:22-3:25 Basic Parts of a Song. Bass line, chords, melody, harmony. Title, tempo, copyright, composer, lyrics. Students are shown an example of a song that has all four parts.
3:25-3:35 Homework check. Students switch binders with each other and a selection of homework questions are quizzed. If a student finds a mistake, he or she circles it in pencil in the student’s binder.
3:35-3:45 Scale review. Students play a scale at random for each other and review the major scale. Each student writes the scale on the board with sharps and flats written in.
3:45-3:50 Ear training. Instructor plays a note on the keyboard and students identify it, write in down on staff paper, and name it.
3:50-4:00 New assignment. Instructor hands out new assignment for next week and explains.
Extra time If there is still time left at the end of class, the instructor can encourage a collaborative activity. The students are paired up. Student 1 plays his or her original composition. Student 2 is instructed to put another layer over this original composition. This is played in front of the class after a few minutes. Discuss this process.
From 2:50 until 3:00, I made the students who did not complete the assignment of writing down his or her song do so. I gave the student who forgot his binder my binder, and told him to review the concepts. At 3:00, I began the lesson plan. Overall, the students were excited about the class. They were attentive and friendly. They joked with each other, and offered words of encouragement. My goal for this class was to make everyone proud of creating something original. I made a note to call the parent of the student who did not show up for orientation, as well as the student who forgot his binder. I want to make sure that no one gets left behind, so I will hold them all accountable on an individual level.