Five More Ideas to Try After a Concert

Last year around this time I shared five ideas to try after a concert. That post was one of the top-read in 2018, inspiring me to add five more fun activities. While the title says “after a concert,” in reality, you do not have to wait. They would be great for anytime you need something different to do – before a break, during testing time, you name it. Here are five more ideas to try after a concert.

Five More Ideas to Try After a Concert

Music Composition

Music composition made the list last time, when I talked about an inquiry-based composition project. A great way to get student musicians composing is to have them start with a mash-up project. In the book, Launch, John Spencer and AJ Juliani talk about how a mash-up is a crucial part of the creative process. They explain in their book how people start by with imitation, copying the creative work of others. The next step is a mash-up, taking several existing ideas and reworking them into one. For student musicians, this could mean anything from mashing short melodies from a method book, or simple, well-known folk songs. One benefit to a mash-up project, as a first composition project, is that students are seeing and copying the music notation correctly. It forces them to follow the rules of music notation, which doesn’t always happen with young musicians.

If you are looking for something even more simple, another fun project I did involved a snowball fight! During a snowball fight, students work together on compositions. Check out this post for more details about how the snowball fight works: The Snowball Fight – A Music Composition Strategy.

Create Accompaniments

I did this project with a small group of students last year and they loved it! Using GarageBand, or a similar tool like Soundtrap or BandLab, have students create accompaniments or backing tracks for songs they play on their instrument or sing. For example, my students in band and orchestra learn a lot of folk songs. These simple songs they can both sing and play were perfect to add accompaniments.

Students work together using GarageBand
Students work together using GarageBand

Students first created a drum beat to accompany one of their favorite songs. Next, with my help, the students created a bass line. They loved it! The students said they felt like professional musicians. We even had the students record themselves playing along with this backing track so they had a final product from the activity. It was great for the students to experience the different backgrounds and experiment with what they thought sounded good. They could adjust things like style and tempo, making the piece their own. And the benefit for me was that as a result, they ended up playing the song multiple times throughout the class as they experimented. This activity would work best with small groups, each group having a device. I could see it also working with a large group and one device, but you would not have as many students involved in creating.

Recruiting and Promoting

Most music teachers have to recruit students or promote music department events at some point. Why not have students help? These could be a low-tech or high-tech projects!

  • Students can create posters, promoting upcoming events or music activities. Encourage students to incorporate descriptive, yet brief, details about why someone would want to attend or participate. They could do this on poster board or using a design program such as Canva, Google Draw or Adobe Spark.
  • Students can create promo videos advertising events or activities. Videos can be more descriptive than posters. There are many video creation programs such as WeVideo and iMovie. iMovie even has a built-in “Movie Trailer” feature, which is fun to use.
  • Students can create videos encouraging younger students to join the band, orchestra, chorus, or any other ensemble. This would be a great project to use Flipgrid, since each student could contribute their own video to a larger work.

There are many directions you could take a project like this, it just depends on your goals and timeline. It is important that whatever you have students create, you use! And make sure students know this. Projects with an authentic audience are most meaningful to students.

Coding

Coding is a hot-topic in education, as it embodies many twenty-first century skills. Computer science standards have even been added in many states. There are several resources available for students to complete coding projects in music! Makey-Makey is an invention kit that allows you to turn everyday objects into touchpads. Users then connect the objects to apps that can play drums, piano, sound effects, and more. Here is an example of bananas being used as a piano: Banana Piano. The Makey-Makey is easy enough even elementary school students can use it.

Google’s CS First program incorporates block coding in its curriculum. Google provides all the lessons, videos, and even materials for free. The CS First curriculum has seven different themes, including one about music and sound. According to their website, “In Music & Sound, students use the computer to play musical notes, create a music video, and build an interactive music display while learning how programming is used to create music.” While the teacher does not need any coding experience to use CS First with students, I would recommend at least trying it yourself first. You will probably enjoy it!

Another fun coding tool is Sonic Pi. This is the most complex of the options mentioned here because you have to create actual code – it’s not just the “drag and drop” method used in block code. It is the most authentic though, and something that older students could handle especially if they have prior coding experience. This is a great tutorial video for Sonic Pi that shows the range of capabilities: Sound Explorations: Hot Cross Buns.

Inquiry Projects

Inquiry can sometimes seem like another edu-buzz word, but I see its value in education today. In fact, when Kathryn Finch and I wrote about the qualities of an empowered music student we specified “asks questions” as one quality! An easy way I’m incorporating inquiry this year is through a Wonder Wall in the classroom. Trevor Mackenzie and Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt introduced this idea in their book, “Inquiry Mindset.” The Wonder Wall is a place in the classroom where students can contribute their musical questions! After the concert we will dedicate some class time for students to research, experiment, and dive deeper into their musical wonderings.

Five More Ideas to Try After a Concert.

Hopefully, these suggestions have sparked some ideas for you and your students. Whatever you do after a concert, put your students at the center of the experience. Give them the opportunity to have a voice and choice, to create something, to ask questions, to connect with others, and to own the process. Empower your music students – it’s worth the time and effort!

If you didn’t already check out the ideas from last year, be sure to do that now! https://offthebeatenpathinmusic.com/2018/04/19/five-ideas-to-try-after-a-concert/

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