3 projects that your music students will love

Summer is a time when schedules open up for music educators. If you run an independent studio, it usually means that you have a few time slots open in your weekly schedule. Why not use it for a studio activity or culture-building event?

Here are 3 projects that your students will love and will get them and their parents talking about you:

Project Soundscape – What does your town sound like?

I think most of your kids these days have smart phones or iPads on hand. You can prompt them to go around and sample sounds from your studio or a certain area (park, library, restaurant, etc.) Their goal is to put together a soundscape that sounds like music, yet represents your town or city. You can bring all the sounds together with GarageBand, Logic or (less-powerful, but free software) Audacity.

The kids should take 5 or more classes to do this and can be as creative as possible with the sounds. Then there should be a concert where they premiere their compositions. Maybe some kids will want to introduce their works or others will have words they add to the soundscape or others may want to draw or show a video of something on the wall while their work plays. Maybe someone will compose a piece to work together with their soundscape.

I think this would make great marketing material for your studio for future years. Plus the kids would gain a creative perspective on music and can call themselves a composer or media artist. This should be designed so you lead them through the whole process – first brainstorm sound ideas, maybe make a checklist, start in the classroom, prompt them to visit different locations or go as a class, have set computer time for GarageBand, guide them through their vision and long term process.

Project Recycle Symphony – Build your own chamber group out of random objects and compose a piece for it.

Technology at its core is not really about computers, but about building tools to do amazing or new things. I think if you want to go retro, you can visit a goodwill or Salvation Army and just pick up a big box of random stuff (the more random the better): clocks, combs, mirrors, music box, rubber bands, paper clips, pencils, hanger, books, etc.

Each kid can select a set number of objects, get into groups and build instruments. Once they finish building their instruments they have to learn how to play it, then they can compose a chamber piece of music and then perform it for the class.

This probably would take 3-5 classes to do well, including the performance. It’s not exactly high-tech, but it’s maker, simple and fun.

Project Private Recital – What does it take to put together a concert?

A clear goal or vision is something that drives purpose into the minds of great achievers. I have really enjoyed asking my students to do private recitals. Many teachers use them as a way for busy or shy students to escape performance in recitals, but I prefer to use them as a deep learning experience.

You pair two students who are complimentary in ability together and have them put on a recital. Students and parents are in charge of inviting an audience, organizing food/drinks, and lots of practice by themselves and with their partner. More is learned from the process than from the performance itself. Private recitals has been a staple in my studio since starting.

Music is only the start. What are you really teaching through all these projects?


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