Elements of Music Graffiti Board
The graffiti board is a technique that can be used in classrooms across the many teaching disciplines and age groups.
Recently I used this technique to lead my class of Year 9 students into thinking about and discussing the elements of music.
I asked each student to think of a word that is used to describe the sound of music. I had to emphasize that I didn’t want words that described how it made them feel….. such as happy or relaxed, only words that described the sound of the music itself.
I then gave a couple of examples by asking – what words can be used to describe a lullaby? Soft and slow were the first answers to come from the students. After this they were on a roll!
One after another each student came up and wrote a word on the GRAFFITI board!
This continued until the flow of words slowed and the GRAFFITI board was looking very full!
The next step was to categorize the words according to the elements of music.
I deliberately choose the word FAST and asked what the word described about music. The initial reply was that it described the speed of the music. It is important to establish the correct terminology at this point and so after a little more prompting; the students gave me the word TEMPO.
Students were then asked to locate other words on the GRAFFITI board that described the TEMPO of music.
We continued this way in order to establish the other elements of music.
Finally students were given a worksheet on which they were asked to write each of the words on the Graffiti board in the column of the correct element of music.
Click HERE to download the ELEMENTS of MUSIC worksheet
Things to consider when writing a musical analysis
- Does it start immediately, or can you hear an introduction first?
- Does it move in leaps or steps?
- Is it legato (smooth) or staccato-like (short and detached)?
- Is the approximate range, small or large?
- Are the phrases balanced or uneven?
- Are there clear cut cadence points?
- Is it motivic or lyrical?
- Is there frequent and consistent use of sequence
- Are there other compositional devices such as arpeggios,leaps, repeated notes and imitation (where melodic motifs are being played in another part)?
- Is it major or minor, modal, atonal, polytonal?
- What keys are used and how are they related to each other, if at all?
- Does it use another scale or tonal-system?
- Does it use chromatic chords?
- Does it have treatment and resolution of dissonance, any unresolved dissonance?
- Does it have clear cadence points, consistent harmonic rhythm (when does the harmony change)?
- Is the beat obvious or is it more hidden?
- Is it in simple or compound time? Duple, triple or quadruple
- Do the parts (various instruments) play the same rhythm, or are there different rhythmic patterns for each part?
- Are there irregular metres and time changes?
- Are there rhythmic contrasts e.g. 3 against 2?
- Are the note values all very similar or constantly changing?
- Is there a simple rhythmic pattern, of perhaps one note per beat, or is the rhythm more complex than that?
- Does the rhythm develop or is it made up of repeated rhythmic motives
- What instruments is the pieced scored for?
- At what point do more instruments come in?
- Can you hear one or more solo instruments in the work?
- What role do the various instruments play? (Are they all playing the same thing or do some play thematic material and some play an accompaniment role?)
- How is the sound built up?
- Is the use of dynamics unexpected or logical?
- How does sound intensity (loudness or softness) contribute to the music?
- Does one texture predominate (polyphonic, homophonic, monophonic) or is it mixture?
- Is it thick and heavy or light? What makes it so?
- Is the structure clear? e.g. binary, ternary, rondo, theme and variation.
- Is it free flowing, episodic, through composed or cyclical?
- Is it determined by factors outside the music? e.g. words or story.
FREE: PDF Download of How to Write a Musical Analysis
I have a special needs student in one of my music classes. He has Asperger’s syndrome. He is 12 years old and has had very little formal music training.
Recently he completed his first ever Composition Task by following a strategy that I believe worked quite well. This task ran over TWO lessons.
Compose/create a four bar melody with four beats in each bar and notate it on the treble stave.
- The student was asked to clap rhythms that were four beats long. (I demonstrated some to get the ball rolling)
- After coming up with a few different four bar rhythms, the student chose two that he liked and together we notated the rhythms on a blank piece of paper. (no stave involved at this point)
- He chose the following:
- This two bar rhythm was repeated to make the four bars of rhythm needed for his melody:
- We spent some time clapping through the rhythm so it would be remembered when the student moved on to composing the melody for his rhythm
- To compose the melody we used a virtual keyboard found on the following site. (I believe an important point at this stage of the process was that the student was more comfortable at a computer keyboard with a virtual keyboard than a piano or musical keyboard.)
- After exploring the different instrument sounds and drum beats available, the student chose the piano to work with.
- His task was to ‘tap’ out his rhythm on any of the WHITE keys between G and D1 (that way the F# and any mention of key signature was avoided)
- As the student came up with a sequence of notes that he liked (working on ONE bar at a time AND tapping the notes out to the rhythm he’s chosen), I noted the letter names on his sheet of paper.
- He could do this by either clicking on the ‘keys’ on the computer screen or by using the computers keyboard: G = G, H = A, J = B, K = C and L = D
- This is what he came up with: G A B B G D C B G A B C D B A G
Notating the composition
To begin today’s lesson we clapped through the four bar rhythm and played through the melody using the notes the student had chosen on the keyboard.
Then it was time to notate the melody in the treble stave
I gave the student the following information/worksheet (which I had typed up since that last lesson):
G A B B G D C B G A B C D B A G
COMBINE the RHYTHM and MELODY
The rhythm was on the page and the student had to write the letter names under the corresponding notes. E.g.
The student was then asked to notate his composition/melody onto the stave, combining the rhythm with the melody notes he’d chosen.
AND he DID it!!
This process worked very well. Not only did the student complete the task, but perhaps more importantly it had given him a great sense of achievement. He had composed and notation his own melody which he could also play!
WORLD MUSIC RESOURCES
Three great resources for your World Music Unit
Students are given a list of 26 world music instruments.
Their task is to match the instruments in the first column to their country of origin.
A list of countries is provided for the students to choose from.
Students write the country next to the instrument in the second column of the table.
In the third column, students must categorize the instruments as either chordophone, aerophone, membranophone or idiophone. CLICK HERE
No prior music knowledge is needed for this activity. This is an in-depth research and oral presentation task for students.
It requires students to choose a country and research the instruments and music of that country. There are SIX pages in all:
PAGE 1: outlines the task. There are six criteria areas for students to address.
PAGE 2: is a teacher marking sheet for assessment.
PAGE 3: is a table of suggested countries for research and a column to enter student names so you can keep track of the country each student is researching.
PAGES 4 and 5 is a list of internet sites where students might find information.
PAGE 6: has a list of tips and ideas for the teacher.
Students really enjoy this task and they learn heaps about the music of many different countries! CLICK HERE
This is s fantastic resource to include in a unit on World Music or as revision.
It is also a good activity to leave for your class when you are away.
A teachers answer sheet is included. CLICK HERE
Tips for Making Your Practice Time Really Count!
- Practice a little EVERY day; this is far more beneficial that one or two long practice sessions a week.
- Have a certain time each day that is set aside specifically for your practice. It will then become part of your daily routine.
- Split your daily practice into even smaller time chunks i.e. technical work in the morning and pieces in the afternoon/evening.
- Learn each piece a phrase at a time. Practice each phrase SLOWLY until you have it and then go to the next phrase.
- Starting at the beginning of the piece and playing through to the end each time you practice is not an effective use of your time! You are merely practicing mistakes!
- Don’t practice mistakes or you will become very good at playing them!
- Sometimes start in the middle of your piece and work to the end.
- Regularly record yourself and listen carefully to it.
- Practice the hard bits – not just the bits you like.
- Listen to your pieces being played by the great players.
Recommended Resource: CLICK HERE
“Musical training is a more potent instrument that any other because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inner places of the soul.” Plato
The 12 Benefits of Music Education
- Early musical training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning. It is thought that brain development continues for many years after birth. Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds.
- There is also a causal link between music and spatial intelligence (the ability to perceive the world accurately and to form mental pictures of things). This kind of intelligence, by which one can visualize various elements that should go together, is critical to the sort of thinking necessary for everything from solving advanced mathematics problems to being able to pack a book-bag with everything that will be needed for the day.
- Students of the arts learn to think creatively and to solve problems by imagining various solutions, rejecting outdated rules and assumptions. Questions about the arts do not have only one right answer.
- Recent studies show that students who study the arts are more successful on standardized tests such as the SAT. They also achieve higher grades in high school.
- A study of the arts provides children with an internal glimpse of other cultures and teaches them to be empathetic towards the people of these cultures. This development of compassion and empathy, as opposed to development of greed and a “me first” attitude, provides a bridge across cultural chasms that leads to respect of other races at an early age.
- Students of music learn craftsmanship as they study how details are put together painstakingly and what constitutes good, as opposed to mediocre, work. These standards, when applied to a student’s own work, demand a new level of excellence and require students to stretch their inner resources.
- In music, a mistake is a mistake; the instrument is in tune or not, the notes are well played or not, the entrance is made or not. It is only by much hard work that a successful performance is possible. Through music study, students learn the value of sustained effort to achieve excellence and the concrete rewards of hard work.
- Music study enhances teamwork skills and discipline. In order for an orchestra to sound good, all players must work together harmoniously towards a single goal, the performance, and must commit to learning music, attending rehearsals, and practicing.
- Music provides children with a means of self-expression. Now that there is relative security in the basics of existence, the challenge is to make life meaningful and to reach for a higher stage of development. Everyone needs to be in touch at some time in his life with his core, with what he is and what he feels. Self-esteem is a by-product of this self-expression.
- Music study develops skills that are necessary in the workplace. It focuses on “doing,” as opposed to observing, and teaches students how to perform, literally, anywhere in the world. Employers are looking for multi-dimensional workers with the sort of flexible and supple intellects that music education helps to create as described above. In the music classroom, students can also learn to better communicate and cooperate with one another.
- Music performance teaches young people to conquer fear and to take risks. A little anxiety is a good thing, and something that will occur often in life. Dealing with it early and often makes it less of a problem later. Risk-taking is essential if a child is to fully develop his or her potential.
- An arts education exposes children to the incomparable.
Carolyn Phillips is the author of the Twelve Benefits of Music Education. She is the Former Executive Director of the Norwalk Youth Symphony, CT.
YouTube Video: A case for Music Education in our Schools!
Music Advocacy Resource: CLICK HERE
Treble and Bass Lines and Spaces
Remembering the names of the lines and spaces has always proven a little challenging to many new music students. When it comes time to learn the Bass clef as well as the Treble clef it often becomes even more confusing!
Here is a series of videos from MusicK8.com that uses the power of song to aid the learning process!
BASS LINES and SPACES
A 24 slide PowerPoint introducing students to the lines and spaces of the treble and bass clef!
The Ppt carefully and thoroughly leads students through understanding the lines and spaces of both clefs with revision quizzes along the way.
For the final revision slides, answers slides are provided for students to check their work!
You will find this an invaluable resource – clearly set out and easy for students to understand! CHECK it OUT
I made a purchase today and I have to admit that it is the first step in my preparations to begin the new school year!
What did I buy………………………………… a Sony ALARM Clock Radio!
Hmmmmm – what is that saying about my excitement level for returning to school? (That I’m VERY excited and don’t want to miss a single second of course!) ;-0
All joking aside, I am pretty pleased with my purchase because I have been searching for a while for a new, trendier looking alarm clock/radio and this one fits the bill perfectly!
The things I like about my new Sony Alarm Clock Radio are:
- iPod/iPhone dock slides in and out so can be hidden from sight when not in use!
- iPhone sit in the dock with its case on
- The LED light numerals are nice and big and…..
- You can set the brightness of the numerals to suit you! This aspect I love as I don’t like light around when I’m trying to sleep!
- There are TWO alarm settings, so I can have a loud urgent one set for school days and a softer, calmer one for the weekends.
- Setting the time/alarm is VERY easy. You can go forwards AND backwards through the hours and minutes! So – if you speed through and miss your intended time, you can just ‘reverse’ back to it. You DON’T have to go through the whole 24 hours again! (So frustrating!!)
- Didn’t damage the bank account too much. (Good value I think)
Here it is – doesn’t it look great!
So…. All-in-all I am very happy with my shopping spree today and know that I will ALWAYS be up in plenty of time for school!