Creating ³Folk Webs² in General Music Class

By James Frankel

 

While teaching 6th Grade General Music can pose some interesting classroom management issues, it can also provide some wonderful opportunities to incorporate technology throughout the curriculum.  In my district, we teach the History of American Popular Music to our 6th graders.  One aspect of the curriculum is Folk Music.   When we wrote our general music curriculum we integrated technology throughout each unit utilizing our music technology lab.  The following is a lesson plan for a project that we complete with our 6th graders for the Folk Music unit, and I have found that it works extremely well.  You can take however many class sessions that you feel necessary to complete the plan ­ it usually takes my students five 45-minute class sessions.

 

Objective:      The students will demonstrate their understanding of the musical and historical context of a given folk song by completing the following tasks:

·      Using notation software, the students will notate the melody (which is given to the students by the teacher) and an accompaniment (which the students compose).

·      The students will convert their notation file to a standard MIDI file.

·      Using the Internet, the students will research the historical background of their given folk song.  Try the following website: http://www.contemplator.com/america/, or enter the name of the folk song in a search engine.

·      Using web-authoring software (Adobe GoLive, Microsoft FrontPage, Netscape Composer) the students will create a webpage that includes the historical information that they found as well as the standard MIDI file they created.

 

Procedure:     Teacher delivers instruction about the history, roles, and functions of American folk music.  (Try creating a PowerPoint presentation on Folk Music ­ your students will love it).

 

                        Students create learning groups (2 or 3 students per group).  Each group is given a melody from a folk song (the melody should have suggestions for harmonization.

 

                        Using notation software, the students will choose an appropriate folk instrumentation, and then transfer their given melody into the notation file.  Once completed, the students will use the chord suggestions to create an appropriate accompaniment.  Students should save their notation file as a standard MIDI file.

 

                        Using the Internet and some suggested websites from the teacher, the learning teams will research their folk song to find any historical information about the origins of their given folk song.  Students should print out this information so that they can formulate their own descriptions for their ³folk web².

 

                        Using web-authoring software, the learning groups will create a single web page that includes the following information:

·      Standard MIDI file of their finished melody and accompaniment.

·      An historical background about the origins of their folk songs which could include the country or place of origin, any historical events surrounding the song, possible composers of the song, etc.

·      An image that is reflective of the song.

·      Any relevant links to find out more about their particular song or folk music.

 

Once completed, the students will present their web pages to the class for evaluation and discussion.  Students will make any necessary changes to their pages based upon this discussion.

 

Teacher will post the completed web pages on the school¹s website.

 

 

            I hope that you have as much success as I have had with this lesson.  I have found that it is a wonderful use of the technology that I have in my classroom, as well as a great way for the students to gain recognition on their school¹s website.  The students are very comfortable creating web pages and I have found that they enjoy using that skill in another subject area, and music class is the perfect place to use it.  Be sure to create a scoring rubric ahead of time so that the students know how they will be created.  It also answers many of their questions about the expectations of the project.