Rock Till You Drop!

A composition lesson plan using Rock, Rap, and Roll

Janie Rigotti



OBJECTIVE:  At the end of this lesson students will be able to compose a short piece of music using the program Rock, Rap, and Roll that includes at least one background beat and three different sound effects.  The composition should be at least four phrases long.


PURPOSE:  The purpose of this lesson is twofold:

1.     To provide a medium for the students to express themselves creatively while integrating technology

2.     To reinforce the study of rhythmic patterns and phrasing.  Up to this point we have performed many different rhythm patterns on classroom percussion instruments, creating different phrases.  We have also combined different rhythm patterns in small groups to discover the best way to modify the pre-existing patterns so that all can be played as part of a larger composition.

***This would be towards the end of the unit, possibly as a final project.


MATERIALS NEEDED:  The materials needed for this project are:

1.     A class set of computers (computer lab)

2.     A class set of Rock, Rap, and Roll CD ROMs installed on the computers

3.     A class set of headphones

4.     A projector to hook up to the teacherıs computer

5.     A class set of hand drums placed in a circle in the middle of the room

6.     A handout of how to use the different features of Rock, Rap, and Roll

7.     A CD player

8.     A teacher created CD of pre-recorded ³beats² in different styles, i.e. Rap, R&B, African, Reggae, etc.


ANTICIPATORY SET:  As the students walk in, the CD of different beats will be playing.  They will be asked to have a seat in front of a drum and begin finding a way to keep the steady beat. 



1.     As the CD continues to play, have the students create rhythms on their hand drums that can accompany the beat

2.     Go through several different styles of music, giving the students a chance to try different rhythms and styles.

3.     Have a ³drum circle.²  Decide on a beat and have the students solo one at a time, going around the circle, accompanying the beat.

4.     Have the students put the drums away and go to a computer with a set of headphones.  The teacher computer will be hooked up to a projector displaying Rock, Rap, and Roll.

5.     Explore the program, first by teacher demonstration and student replication, following the printed handout of steps.  Does anyone notice the correlation of the styles of music on the program to the styles on the CD heard at the beginning of class?

6.     Allow the students the opportunity to experiment on their own, using the direction sheet to help facilitate the process.

7.     Students will then be asked to compose a short piece of music using the program that includes at least one background beat and three different sound effects.  The composition should be at least four phrases long.

***Note: The students should be reminded of the previous group work they have done combining different rhythmic ideas into one composition.

8.     Share individual compositions with the class.  The other students in the class will be required to point out the sound effects and the style of music.


CHECK FOR STUDENT UNDERSTANDING: Circle around the room, providing feedback and checking student progress.  Determine whether or not the criteria for the assignment were met during the sharing and comment accordingly.


CLOSURE: Have students explain why they chose the style of music they used to work in and how their compositions are similar to the small group work they did last week.


EXTENSIONS:  These compositions could become background music for their end-of- the-year video yearbook.  This activity might also serve as a catalyst to excite the students and encourage their involvement in future composition projects.