Music education is a great way to help middle-school students express their creativity while also gaining an understanding of instruments, rhythm and the importance of music in society. Additionally, studies have found that students who participate in music education are more likely to excel in other academic areas, including standardized tests such as the SAT.
Combine a history lesson with music education by exploring the life and influential legacy of Elvis Presley. Provide students with a brief background on the biography of Elvis Presley. Challenge students to do research in small groups to find out more about the influence that Presley's style had on modern rock, and assign each group a specific topic to report on, such as current musical performers who draw from Elvis' style, and the evolving social views on rock music over time.
Instrument Group Composition
Create a lesson plan that introduces middle-school students to the four families of orchestra instruments: strings, winds, brass, and percussion. Once students have become familiar with the various instruments and their associated sounds within each group, assign students the task of composing a 15-second song including at least one instrument sound from each family. Songs may be composed by using musical software, such as "Garage Band" for Mac, on the classroom computer.
To kick off music education, help students realize the prevalence of music in their everyday lives by instructing them to create a "music journal." For one week, require students to jot down every place that they hear music. Provide examples such as background music in a television show or in the grocery store. Require that students think about the role of the music and how it may have affected their mood or train of thought. By becoming more aware of the presence of music, students are more likely to become interested in the topic.
Exploring Music's Cultural Influences
Examine music's relevance to historical and cultural events by assigning students a research project about music during the Civil War, times of slavery, and life in the United States. Provide historical music samples for students to listen to, and challenge them to find examples of other songs, both historical and current, that relate to culture and societal conditions. Lead a discussion about the ability of music to provide hope for a sector of society, express anger, or inspire change.
- Children's Music Network; "Twelve Benefits of Music Education", Carolyn Phillips
- Teacher's Network; "Elvis Lives", Vivian Nash
- Data Dragon; "Learn About Instruments"
- Teacher's Network; "Ready-Set-Tech With the Instrument Families"
- Music Education Madness; "Beginning of the Year Middle School General Music", Karen Stafford
- Teachers.net; "Looking at the Old South: Music and Culture", Virginia Martin,
- piano and music notes image by Franc Podgor...¡ek from Fotolia.com