Middle School: Exploring Music

Course Overview

Units at a glance

Imagine a baseball game that began without singing the National Anthem. What about a birthday party where, before cutting the cake, no one sang “Happy Birthday,” or a wedding where the bride walked down the aisle to silence? Music has been an important part of human life for thousands of years, and we are just now discovering the impact that music can have on the human brain, emotions, and even the forces that shape history. In this Unit, we will explore the origins of music and the role that music plays in our lives.

Have you ever been to a concert and wondered where the musicians learned how to perform so powerfully? They all started by learning the basics: the elements of music! You might be familiar with rhythm, pitch, melody, and harmony. We will explore these elements a little deeper so that you have the tools you need to create beautiful music!

In our busy world, how do we learn to really focus on the music all around us? Should we listen for the beat, the melody, or the harmony? What is most important? Well, the answer of course is—all of them! In this unit, we will learn how to sharpen our listening skills in order to hear the details of music. Doing so will help us to begin thinking about music in a new way.

Even if you just sing in the shower, it’s important to understand how our voices help us connect to ourselves and others, and also how our voices help us to express ourselves musically. In this unit we will build on our knowledge of musical elements to start reading
real music!

Picture yourself listening to your favorite song. What instruments can you detect? Even modern music, which is heavily dependent on electronic “instruments,” is based on instruments you may know well: guitar, trumpets, drums, piano (synthesizers). Maybe you’re familiar with video games where you competitively play virtual instruments—Guitar Hero, anyone?

Human beings have been creating and enjoying music for thousands of years. Because we’re such a creative species, we use music to communicate, solidify social bonds, and entertain ourselves, so this music has evolved into different categories. As you can see from our study of world instruments, the sky’s the limit when it comes to creating new music and new instruments. Now, let’s become familiar with the ways music has evolved over time and in different places!

Let’s rock! It’s time to finally put all of our musical skills to work as we learn to play the guitar together. But first, we’ll talk about good performances. Have you ever felt chills down your spine as you listened to a piece of music? How does that happen, and how can we make sure we are performing well for the audience? Let’s find out!

By sticking with a few guidelines, we all have the power to follow in the footsteps of Beethoven or Bernstein! When we compose new music, we will draw upon our musical elements and put them together to create a new piece of music.

Course Highlights

Investigate the wonders of music.
Examine the fundamentals of music.
Analyze the essentials of music and musicianship.
Listen to, analyze, and discuss the fundamentals of music and musicianship.

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