Not sure how I did it, but I had EVERY music student engaged in creative learning today! I created a project couple years ago combining poetry, musical composition and invented notation. The first year I give a lot of guidance on how to complete the project the “proper” way. The second year I eased up on my instruction and just gave a brief overview of some examples. This year I put all of creative learning into the students hands – and it has paid off tenfold!
I started by telling the students that they would be put into groups and their goal was to create something musical with a poem of their choice. Because I have my classes only once per week I have a selection of funny poems they can choose from or they can write their own. (I would love to collaborate with their enrolling teachers to allow more time for poetry selection.)
Once each group had selected their poems I gave the students free reign over all the school owned instruments. I asked them how they wanted to handle more than one group needing a particular instrument. There is only 1 piano – what if 2 or 3 groups want to use it? They came up with guidelines for sharing as well as suggestions for solving conflicts that may arise during the creative process.
I gave them 3 goals:
- Create something musical that includes a melodic component.
- The music and poem must work together in performance.
- The group must find a way to write down their music.
The groups spread out through the room and started creating. Every student was on task, trying out musical ideas and sharing with their group. I didn’t need to redirect students more than once or twice. I didn’t have to help any groups with conflict management. It was loud (that is an understatement) but it was focused and creative.
The students have only had about a class and a half to actively compose in their groups and they have come up with incredibly interesting songs, raps, tone poems, etc. I can’t wait for their finished products. I’ll be sure to post the audio recordings for anyone interested.