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7th Grade Music Appreciation

Here I am, 1 day befor school starts and I have been asked to teach a music app. class for 7th graders. Any ideas on texts and resources that will help me get started? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
on September 7, 2011 8:33am
Nicholas- check NAME (formerly MENC) online. Lotsa resources for ms music appreciation. I teach music appreciation classes at a community college, and I think my experiences may be similar to what you face.
1. Begin with a written response from them- "what IS music?"  Read them to the class- or, better, have them read their response to the class. The idea is to get the seventh-graders to talk aboiut what you want, instead of them talking about what they want.  Then get on Youtube and listen and view music performance- ask them for suggestions.  Help them discover what is unique about the music they selected. Then play a classical piece, such as Marjorie suggested.  Program music might be just the "ticket" to engage their imaginations.
2. Engage them in a discussion/written response to the question "What do we use to create music?"  With their active, verbal input, you will be able to design a "lesson plan" that addresses the "things" that humans use to create the art form known as music. You should end up with "things" like pitch, timbre, beat and rhythm, loudness, tempo, and for me, the most important, form.
Best Wishes!
on September 7, 2011 11:52am
Hi Nicholas,
Is it a music appreciation-only class?  I ask because I call my 7th grade music class 'General Music' (wow, exciting name, huh?) and that broad title means I can teach them music literacy (note names, how many beats in a whole note, rhythm games) which is what I typically start the year with.  Other topics would be: instruments of the orchestra, tone color to ID what instrument is playing, a Broadway musical unit with a song from a new show each class, music careers, music history time periods...
The only thing I DON'T do is teach pop music/R & B/Rap etc... because it's not my forte.  I explain it as: "you kids know more about the music you like than I do, so what can I teach you?  I listen to Country and Bluegrass, do you want me to teach you that?"  =0)  Plus, as we all know, their music likes and dislikes change about every 3 weeks so you could never keep up with it or please everyone.  I'll reply privately if you like and I can send you some worksheets, etc... Of course there's more to planning a class than just handing out a worksheet with quarter notes and eighth notes on it, but it could help you get a start.
on September 7, 2011 2:43pm
Hi Nicholas,
In my opinion (I've been teaching middle school general music for 12 years), 7th graders shouldn't just be "appreciating" music; they should be actively engaged in it.  Listening is a part of it, of course, but they need to be doing hands-on learning activities A LOT. Get them singing, playing instruments, creating their own music.  Also, talk to the 7th grade teachers of other subjects, find out what they are teaching them and at times you may be able to integrate.  For instance, in my school the 7th grade social studies curriculum is world geography, so part of what I do with the 7th graders is a survey of music from several different regions of the world.  You don't want to "teach" current popular music, but I would suggest doing some research so that you are familiar with it.  It can often be very helpful as a bridge for them into understanding the basic elements of music.
Good luck!
on September 8, 2011 5:57am
I agree with Erin. Students will quickly get bored and cause trouble if they are only passive learners in an optional class. keep  them engaged with Orff, Curwen, Dalcroze and other music learning philosophies that stress active involvement. In this way your class will be seen as fun and they may learn something without knowing it!
on September 8, 2011 7:15am
U have a mnemonic for the 6 (SIX!!!!) Elements of Music. SHMERF. (This year I'm going to re-introduce the visual of the Smurf because of the movie.)
Sound - The instruments and sounds used to make music
Harmony - Anything pertaining to the accompaniment or background
Melody - The "tune" which identifies the song
Emotion - Feelings, Images, or Thoughts expressed in the music.
Rhythm - Tempo and rhythmic patterns or "beat" which define the song.
Form - The Structure of the song, which part happens first, next, last?
Typically, most 7th graders fall victim to music marketing, and ignore the actual elements of the music. Use this as the guideline to introduce these concepts. You can include other "units" into each category, (Note durations under Rhythm; Staff for Melody; chords for harmony; Instrument families for Sound, etc.) Eventually, the kids should have the vocabulary to express what they hear in the music. They can even use the elements to compare and contrast different pieces, or different performances of the same piece; they can even define specific genres and musical periods through the 6 elements. (Baroque tends to use more polyphonic harmony; Classical, more Homophonic.)
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