The students at PS 11 are very fortunate to have a diverse and colorful school with a large variety of offered activities. Other than my classes (they call them "Juilliard classes") the students take classes in chess, ballroom dancing, and swimming, as well as another weekly music class where they learn songs and keyboard skills. So, my lessons have been so fun to plan as I always teach in an aesthetic teaching model. This style of teaching music (or any art form) involves discovering a new concept by giving the students a safe environment to problem solve as if they are composers or performers, then therefore having the necessary skills to listen to real masterpiece that is an example of the new learned concept. This model strives to teach a deeper understanding of the concept by having the students create their own musical works which utilizes it, rather than just defining and forcing memorization of new terms.
I spent this semester focusing on teaching new musical terms and elements, so that as a class we can continue to use these ideas as the year goes on. I would like all of this to culminate in a large composition project and performance by the students at the end of the year. Here are the concepts I taught and the corresponding masterwork which I paired it with as an example of utilizing the technique:
- Melody vs. accompaniment (Stravinsky: Suite for petite orchestra, Mvt. 1)
- Subito dynamics, forte vs. piano (Mozart: Marriage of Figaro Overture)
- Rondo form (Mozart: Bassoon Concerto, Mvt. 3)
- Theme and variations form (Copland: Simple Gifts Theme)
- Minimalism (Ligeti: Six Bagatelles)
- Ostinato (Adams: Short Ride in a Fast Machine)
- Musical argument (Nielsen: Woodwind Quintet, Mvt. 4)
Each of these lessons begins with a warm up game to being thinking in the direction of the topic. Next is a short introduction to the topic and a composition main activity where the students create a piece of music using the new concept in small groups. After rehearsal time, each group performs and discusses their work for the class. The lesson finishes by listening to and discussing the master work the class has been aiming toward. This closing activity ideally gives a sense of revelation about the new concept, as well as empowerment for having created their own composition.