Kendra McNair


Fayetteville, AR

Interests: Curriculum design and...

  • Posted 7 Years ago
  • 3.4k

Ideas for developing essential questions in middle school band

We need ideas! We are bringing back to life a 'sleepy' band program at an urban middle school in Texas. Administrators require us to design lessons based on Understanding by Design. We are familiar with this approach but, need some tips and suggestions for incorporating UbD in our lesson planning and evolving program plans. By the way, the administrators have not seen UbD used in band courses either and therefore, aren't able to guide us. We are all new at this.  Where do we start?


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03 Nov 10, 02:31 PM

Middle school students are likely to be able to compare their knowledge of fractions with their music. The difficulty is that the fractions they are actually using are tied to a space of time, more than a fraction of something you can see, like a pizza or a gallon of water. You can make the comparisons...but they may not be relevant. Why not try a reading connection with non-fiction text about the composer or the music. Talk with your reading teacher about the techniques taught for recognizing what is important in a non-fiction text and then see if you can tie it to reading what is on the musical page. I have even taken a piece of writing about Mozart and asked the students to re-write the headings in a way that will better summarize the text. Then they are learning reading and Mozart. If you take it to the score and try to find clues to what is important to the music by text on the page... then you are teaching reading, and reading! These are some ways to tie two disciplines together.

If you don't want to integrate, but want to write and use a UbD lesson plan for beginning band students, you can use big picture musical ideas for your enduring understanding: Here are some possibilities: changing the dynamics of a piece changes it's musical meaning, Composers use contrast and repetition to make form in music, Harmony can be created by two single melodic lines combined in canon. There are as many enduring understandings for music as there are for any other subject. Music has important big picture ideas and that is what you're looking for. As for your essential question: How can a 5 note pattern be changed to make a melody? How can musicians keep the rhythms consistent when playing differnt notes? How does posture, and body position change the sound of musical instruments.  Again, there are a million of them. Hope your band wakes up and grows. It can be a wonderful experience for middle school aged students.Smile


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26 Oct 10, 05:53 PM

Fractions are in integral part of learning music and a concept many midde school students have difficulty conquering.  It would be great if you could incorporate fractions into your music program.


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