All posts by Andrea Henderson Music Education Blog

Assignment 25: How might we structure and organize a new hybrid course?

Responding to: Tobias (2016) “Learning With Digital Media and Technology in Hybrid Music Classrooms” in Teaching General Music

“In the context of music education, a hybrid approach embraces overlaps, combinations, connections, and blurred lines among music and ways of being musical…A hybrid approach to music education reflects a comprehensive curricular model that allows for students to emphasize particular foci or specializations while developing multifaceted or hyphenated musicianship in varied contexts (Tobias, 2012a)” (pg. 113)

At the beginning of the semester, I was not sure what I would think about having music classes that were different from my own experiences. When took digital/hybrid lab, I didn’t think I was much closer to accepting new types of music classes because I didn’t get to explore it from the perspective of a student and a teacher.  Looking at this quote, I am much more understanding of having classes that aren’t “normal.”  The discussions that we have had in class about student-centered learning and having projects where we are the students taking more responsibility in learning and engaging with music have really helped change the way that I think of what it means to be musical.  I have been struggling with how I feel as a musician, because I don’t enjoy just one thing, but even just reading this chapter has helped me look at myself as a “hyphenated musician” (pg. 113). Looking at this chapter a second time has helped me get past that mentality that I think a lot of classically trained musicians have of looking at contemporary musicians (or other ways of interacting with music) as being less “successful” somehow.  There is this show called “Lost and Found Music Studios” that my little brother likes to watch on Netflix, and last year when we watched it, I kept thinking that there wasn’t anything special about these teenage kids being in bands and writing their own music, because it was just something that I thought people would do in their spare time, but looking at my internship and the way this class has taken us on different routes to be musical, I can appreciate the show a little more.

“By situating technology and media use in musical contexts, music educators can intertwine technical information with aspects of curriculum that address musical concepts, elements, or principles” (pg. 131)

It took me a while to think of a “facilitator” as a teacher, because they weren’t the “all-powerful” presence/authority in the class or the director that was there to tell everyone what they need to play.  I started to think more of classes that exist for students, the ones that don’t necessarily want to be in traditional music ensembles, the ones that wanted a class for them in order to help them with their lifelong musicianship.  I was reminded of the article we read earlier this semester, about participatory cultures with a low barrier to entry.  As I was looking at this chapter again, I started to see more connections between the readings and how we keep having conversations about things like the balance between using technology and not using it, making sure that the end goal is the musical concepts that need to be taught using the specific technology rather than learning the technology itself (pg. 120).  I’m seeing how this class is preparing us for applying this to our own teaching later on, because we don’t really learn about the technology (except when we did the exploration to teach each other) but we are engaging the process of learning things and why we might approach things a certain way but not really “finish” everything.  A lot of the projects that we have been doing have helped me with my own assignments, and creating projects, because I am able to see the things that I do/don’t like and where I could possibly take a project like that somewhere in the future.

Drawing from this chapter, the Kratus article, and Tobias (Convergence), I want to keep thinking about new music classes that I could teach that actually have a relevance in students’ lives, where I can take things that they are already doing, and use the knowledge that we have been gathering on PBL and UbD to create classes, units, projects that allow students to develop lifelong music skills.  One thing that I did not agree with in the Kratus article was the fact that only popular instruments like piano, guitar, ukulele were identified as instruments that allowed for these lifelong musicians.  I believe that any instrument a person is interested in learning can be used throughout their lives.  Instruments like violin and clarinet do take longer to learn/can be harder, but that doesn’t mean that students can’t still learn them and use them however they want.

My hybrid class probably wouldn’t be called “Creative Musicianship” because I don’t think that it would cater to everyone.  I personally wouldn’t take it because I don’t think of myself as a creative musician or think that I would do well in a class like that.  I think I would take more of the route of having a “Music Exploration” class or even “Music Appreciation” because it would cater to more students and offer a sort of relaxed feeling about what it could be.  I want a space where students can feel free to explore what music means to them and if they want to be able to identify themselves as a hyphenated musician.  I would like to have different “tracks” like students do at my internship, like “creating, covering, analyzing, etc.” so students can do what feels right to them.

If the class was as short as a quarter, I would have limited tracks, but still have students find what it is they want to do, with the resources the school has.  Students could do “reports” of artists or kinds of music they like, if they just want to learn about what is going on in the field, they could do covers of songs and learn instruments or softwares that they want, or they could work on creating their own music if that is what they are there for.

If the class were only a semester long, I would have similar projects, but they would be longer and involve more class instruction and collaboration between groups and tracks so that students could have a more well-rounded experience.  Thinking back to the article about learning aural skills through engaging with popular music, I think that I would like to explore integrating some of those practices in as I could, because students might be already doing things like that and could just be more aware of what they’re doing and learning.

If the class were a full year, I would probably keep the same idea as giving students a more rounded experience and have them do a series of projects that build on each other (even happening at the same time, like from the TGM chapter), and allow students to just refine their skills and work with each other to create or analyze at their own levels and just help them get to whatever the next step would be for them.

I have sort of outlined what I think is kind of the logic behind the way Dr. Tobias has structured this class, starting with seeing where we stand on the idea of thinking outside of the traditional box and making music classes that are for the students.  We keep doing little projects that go along with the readings to get us out of our comfort zones and thinking more about project-based and student-centered learning.  The assignments we have had are getting us ready for designing large-scale projects because the readings are getting more focused, and building off of each other, and I have seen how there have been common themes between my mini-projects that could potentially help me with completing the final.  I plan on taking these posts and readings and going over what I came up with to see if I could come up with something similar or tracking my thought process to see how I might turn something small into something big.  I might work with a group, and depending on the way that we think, and have been building our own little projects, we may be able to put things together and see if they can keep building off of each other.  I think that by revisiting older readings, we might even be able to transfer things over and develop ideas there, like we did with combining PBL and UbD.

I find that I am still confused on TPACK, we talked about it in Digital/Hybrid Lab a little bit and kind of glossed over it in this class, and I would like to explore it a little more in the future so that I can have a better understanding on it.


My Honors Creative Project – Final Product

There is value in audio recording for teachers, whether one is a music teacher recording their students and ensembles or a classroom teacher recording oneself or their students. Music and classroom teachers have various reasons for wanting to record their students, such as hearing what is being produced in rehearsals and having students reflect on their own performance and musical progress. Teachers may desire to record their students, but they may not know how to do so. Simple recording tools such as cell phones do not produce quality recordings, and unless they have specialized training, teachers may not be familiar with other kinds of recording equipment or how they can set up equipment in order to obtain a good quality recording. I searched for resources on recording equipment and techniques, but I could not find a single source that teachers could consult to learn about the basics of recording equipment and techniques. Teachers have limited time and may also have limited financial resources. The purpose of my project was to create a free and easy-to-use resource for teachers to answer their questions on recording and give them the tools that they need in order to get started with making basic, high quality recordings. The research process included research about different kinds of recording hardware and software, documenting recording techniques for different settings and instruments, and interviewing teachers about their needs. The product that that resulted from this project is a website, Recording For Teachers ( This website features information about recording equipment, the recording process, how to produce shareable files, and an interactive means of posting questions.

Assignment 23: How might we gauge the quality of a project?

Responding to: Campbell, Thompson, Barrett “Methodologies for Exploring Teaching and Learning” and previous posts

Joseph Schwab “imagined teachers to be curious and inquisitive individuals concerned about their own practices and the complexities and subtleties  of their effects (1959/1978)” and “curriculum makers and curriculum inquirers” (pg. 120).  He suggested that teachers can look at their teachings through ““four commonplaces”: learners, teachers, subject matter and milieu [social environment] (or context) (Schwab, 1983)” (pg. 120).  I think of this as teachers putting themselves in the position of their students and being a student of themselves.  As a teacher, one needs to make sure that they are not just following an existing lesson plan template that they think might work for their students. They need to think about how the four commonplaces interact with each other and how students are able to make sense of what the teacher is expecting them to go through.  They can take a step back and observe how everything is fitting together, and “After we have observed, we [can] summarize by evaluating the overall impact or quality of this educational/musical experience for the participants” (pg. 121).  

Rather than just focusing on what the teacher has done, which is what I have been looking at mostly in my past internships, you can shift between how all of the other elements of the classroom and students interact with the curriculum and together.  Even though we have not actually taught our projects that we have been planning through the last few assignments, I can still start thinking about how I might assess my own projects in the context of a classroom setting.  I have been altering my plans as we have been doing the readings and having to get more specific in the questions and end goals, and I think that this is something that I would be doing in a real classroom.

In thinking about the projects as learning opportunities or experience, “John Dewey (1938) suggests that educational experiences are likely to be worthwhile if they are: (a) democratic in structure-including teaching-learning relationships that are communal and self-governing in their organization; and (b) built on “continuity and interaction” or active engagement” (pg. 124).  Educational experiences should also have generativity, giving students the opportunity to take it in different directions and thinking about how they might connect with it in the future, vibrancy, significance in a personal context that allows them to connect closely and actively with it, and residue, memorable moments (pg. 126-7).  A good curriculum must also be comprehensive, offering students a range of ways they can interact with and learn music and creating a balance with what is included, sequential, where they learn what they need to in terms of understandings and skills, and relevant by connecting their in school and outside of school experiences for future engagement and learning (pg. 134-5).  

On page 128-9, there was a list of different kinds of curriculum and characteristics of them to help with reflection:

  1. Documents – goals and standards
  2. Overall Plan – where it falls in the grand scheme of things
  3. Planned Activities – arsenal of tools available for planning that teachers modify
  4. Subject Matter Acquisition – things specific to a particular discipline
  5. Outcomes – evidence of the strengths and weaknesses, assessments of the experience
  6. Experiences – student interactions with materials within the classroom, including people and how they learn and self-reflect
  7. Tasks and Concepts – tasks/skills to master
  8. Cultural Reproduction – specific cultural values, making connections to society
  9. Cultural Reconstruction – improving society
  10. Expectations – what outsiders expect to come out of the process, goals

Using the reading to generate a rubric to assess my own project, I chose to focus on the project having documents, planned activities, generativity, vibrancy, relevance, and residue, all on a scale of 1-4 for a total of 24 points available.

  • Documents – 4
    • In my last post I was able to connect the steps for my project to the national core arts standards, showing that there was a reason for each step and relevance to the music standards, and was able to show my learning goals (Knowledge, Skill, Understanding (meaning-making and transfer)
  • Planned activities – 4
    • Going back to other posts, I have activities planned for creating playlists and exploring genre and style in order to help with creating a set list and eventually exploring creating original music based on what students have learned about what goes into making music and what they like about music that can carry over to their own products
  • Generativity – 3
    • In thinking about how students might view this kind of activity, it might be hard for some of them to really engage with it and see where they can take it, and might not be as interesting to them if they don’t see how it can help them later, and I think that I was able to address most of my generative questions, but not necessarily all of them in a way that would resonate with students
  • Vibrancy – 4
    • I believe that students can take activities that I have designed and take it into their own lives in the middle of the project because they can think about their own music and music-making abilities (ex. doing a cover or arranging)
  • Relevance – 4
    • I think that at some point students will need to plan music for some event in their life, even if it is just a personal playlist, and they should have the tools to make a comprehensive playlist or set list for anything they do in the future
  • Residue – 3
    • Some students might have different ways that they can engage with it, and may have a lot of fun with it and want to continue with projects like this in the future, but there might be a few students that have frustrations in the middle of the project, and I would account for possible “bad” memories in any project I plan
  • Total – 22/24 (~92%)

I have been trying to plan my activities, for the most part, to connect with the idea that I might be able to do something with them all in the future.  I might modify some of them with all of the readings and discussions that we have had this semester, but I think that overall I can come up with good activities, at least as a start that I could use until I have experience facilitating them.  I don’t have the experience of facilitating any of them to be able to reflect on them, but I think that they could work in a middle school setting or early high school as a way to explore different ways of experiencing music.  I think that my rubric is fair, seeing as I was able to address what was expressed in the assignment and the reading, and the fact that we have not gotten to teach them or really get feedback in class about them as we have been building on them.

Assignment 22: How might we design experiences for units and project-based learning?

Responding to : Wiggins “Performing, Listening, and Creating Problems” from Teaching for Musical Understanding and previous posts

When thinking of musical problems, we can think of them as musical learning opportunities.  Learning music through musical problem solving means that students will be solving problems about performing, listening, and creating (pg. 75).  Teachers can plan for these different opportunities by connecting them with each other and with the Core Arts Standards.  In the past couple of posts, I have been working on designing a project that focuses on performance, creating a set list that is appropriate for specific settings, as an entry point to creating original music.

The goals for the project were:

  • Identify various uses of music in daily life experiences and describe characteristics that make them appropriate for different uses
  • Perform a variety of music of different styles and genres
  • Plan a performance that is relevant to the community they are performing for (set list, original songs, etc.)
  • Write original music for a specific group of people

In order to meet these goals using musical problem solving, in a way that they can build off of each other, we were instructed to come up with 3 steps in which each step is a learning opportunity.  Since problem solving means that students will be solving performing, listening, and creating problems, each step will be a different problem.

  1. Listening: Students will (after determining where and who they are performing for) find a song that they want to learn and learn how to play it using whichever instrumentation they are comfortable with.  They will listen to the song multiple times, each time they will identify a different dimension of the song (i.e. melody, rhythm, harmony, etc.) and make decisions on how they are going to visually represent them.  They will have the options of moving as the song leads them to, and justify why, or they can create a poster for the song (not necessarily lyrics) that they think an audience would understand and explain what made them choose to represent it that way.
      • Core Arts Anchor Standards: #7. Perceive and analyze artistic work, #8. Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work, #9. Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work
  2. Performing: When they have finished analyzing their song, they will revisit the dimensions that they identified and make decisions on how to bring them out in a performance.  They will figure out what they can do in order to make the song’s style and genre come out to an audience, and explain why they think that the decisions that they make will be appropriate for their song.  They will have to analyze the song as it was written, and do more than just imitate what the original artists did (teacher or recordings).
      • Core Arts Anchor Standards: #4. Select, analyze and interpret artistic work for presentation, #5. Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation, #6. Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work
  3. Creating: When they have a performance that they are happy with, they will create an original piece (or arrangement of another song) that fits in with the genre and possibly style of the song they have been working with and be geared toward the audience that they have been assigned to perform for.  Here, they will be able to take all of the dimensions of music that they have analyzed, performance practices, and their research on their audience, and put them into their own work.  It doesn’t have to be really long or complicated, but it does have to feel like a finished product.  They can use whatever tools they think will help them stay organized and creative (technology, visual representations, etc.).
      • Core Arts Anchor Standard #1. Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work, #2. Organize and develop artistic ideas and work, #3. Refine and complete artistic work

These steps get them thinking about what goes into making and creating music.  By making music, I mean being able to use some sort of instrument or technology to engage in music making, and by creating, I mean putting something together for a specific performance.  Through going through these three steps, they are learning what the purpose is for different genres of music, what the characteristics are of different genres (each group/class would have a different genre/audience assigned), how they can perform a song with a specific style within the genre, and think about how they might use the characteristics they have identified and experienced in a piece of their own or arrange a song to sound like it belongs in the genre.  They will learn what is expected of them from an audience, as they experience the music making of other groups, and use this to help them with their creating stage.

  My original generative questions were:

  • Why do you want an audience to hear you?
  • How do you want the audience to connect with you?
  • How are you going to make a set list of music that is relevant to the audience?

The steps that I have for designing this project begin to address these issues, but as I have been revising and focusing this project through the last few posts, I have changed them to include:

  • How am I going to connect with the audience?
  • How can I incorporate recorded music into the performance?
  • Am I going to write music for this performance?

I think that these questions connect more with the original real-world/worthy topic that I started with, because I want these projects to help learners be able to prepare for future performances of their own and feel comfortable with the music that they are creating.  Through following these steps, they are showing their audience in some way what it is that goes into making the music they are performing (visually), they have the opportunity to introduce technology to have more interaction with the audience, or arrange a piece to have a repetitive section that the audience would be invited to join them in, and they will be given the choice of writing their own music that they think the audience would be comfortable with.

Assignment 21: How can we design units and projects?

Responding to: Wiggins and McTighe “Module B: The UbD Template” from The Understanding By Design Guide to Creating High Quality Units and reviewing Tobias, Campbell, Greco (2015)

Using the project from the previous readings (in place of a standard response, using the template from Module B):

Established Goals (going along with national standards):

  • Identify various uses of music in daily life experiences and describe characteristics that make them appropriate for different uses
  • Perform a variety of music of different styles and genres

Stage 1: Desired Results

Transfer: Students will be able to independently use their learning to…

  • Plan a performance that is relevant to the community they are performing for (set list, original songs, etc.)
  • Write their own music for a specific group of people

Meaning: Understanding: Students will understand…

  • The kinds of music will be well-received by their audience
  • How to plan for transitions between songs and set changes

Essential Questions: Students will keep considering…

  • How can I meet the needs of the community/audience I am performing for?
  • How am I going to connect with the audience?
  • How can I incorporate recorded music into the performance?
  • Am I going to write music for this performance?


  • Students will know…
    • Where they are performing
    • Who is in the audience
  • Students will be skilled at…
    • Researching demographics of a particular area
    • Singing and/or playing an instrument

Evaluative Criteria:

  • Collaborative
  • Knowledgeable
  • Responds to information discovered

Stage 2: Evidence

Performance Task/s: Students will show that they really understand by evidence of…

  • Researching recent performances in their venue/community and reviews
  • Researching what goes into setting up for a performance
  • Researching topics and genres that their audience would be interested in

Other Evidence: Students will show they have achieved Stage 1 goals by…

  • Filling out a form about the demographics of their audience/community
  • Identifying how long they have to perform, including transitions and set-up, to determine how much music to prepare
  • Identifying the genre and style and justifying their choices of music

Stage 3: Learning Plan


  • Performance ability
  • Group collaboration
  • Style and genre preferences
  • Prior knowledge of community

Learning Events: Student success at transfer, meaning, and acquisition depends upon…

  • Identifying the reason for and the purpose of the performance opportunity and how long they have to prepare for it
  • Knowing what they have available for performing (instruments, microphones, stands, chairs, etc.) and how long they have
  • Forming groups/ensembles for performing based on instrumentation, music preferences, and ability through self-reflection
  • Basic research and critical thinking skills to interpret and analyze data
  • Student ability to create a piece for performance, arrange a piece, or do a cover, and work/collaborate in a group to make a successful performance

Progress Monitoring:

  • Formal and informal assessments of:
    • Performance practices
    • Communication
    • Research structure and progress

I decided to still focus on researching how to perform for a specific audience because it is a skill that could be transferred to areas other than music, such as public speaking and deciding when to record (i.e. having a DJ performance vs. a live ensemble).  Also, through learning how they might cater their performance to a specific audience, they can start thinking about how they might create music for a specific audience.  Through the project, they will learn about style and genre, another topic that I have touched on in previous readings and assignments, and be able to find what works for them and their audience.  Through their decisions of how to deliver their music to their audience, they could do covers or original music, and how they write and arrange their music would be up to them, but they would be able to write their music for their audience based on the information that they would uncover throughout their research.  I started thinking about this as an option when looking at the performances that students at my internship have.  There are a lot of students that create their own music, and their reasons are all different, and there are a lot of them that just like to do covers, but they often arrange songs for themselves and adapt them to fit their own styles.

I thought of having actual documentation of their research, as a way to help them structure and expedite the process, through thinking about the scope of the project and how much time they would have to do the entire thing.  This project is mostly a short one, but there are little things that could branch out from it and become larger-scale projects, one of the main things that I would like to see being the ability to think of a target audience for creating music.  I am a little confused on how to actually structure units and “thematic” projects, because we haven’t talked much on the readings  due to the changes in our class schedule, and having read the modules out of order and having to connect back.  I would like to explore what it means to “unpack” goals and backwards design, talk through it instead of reading and filling out a template.

I think that the Unit by Design approach is different from Project-Based Learning mostly in the backwards design approach.  With the PBL approach ((1) Choosing a worthy topic (2) Finding a real-life context (3) Creating generative questions (4) Developing critical thinking and cultivating dispositions (5) Deciding the scope (6)Designing the experience) I feel like it is going forward and is a little easier to think about with how to get the project started and thinking about what you could do with it.  You don’t necessarily have a strict plan, it is more emergent and allows for the project to go in a different direction than maybe you had intended.  The UbD approach is a little more work but allows you to plan more in terms of what actually goes into the unit because of the kinds of templates there are to fill out.  You are designing a plan, with specific goals to meet at each step, and it doesn’t allow for a lot of changing once you get the plan in motion.

Assignment 20: How can we design units and projects?

Responding to: “Module E: Different Types of Learning Goals” from The Understanding By Design Guide to Creating High Quality Units

This module was about understanding and setting learning goals, understanding the difference between knowing, understanding, skill, and transfer.  They are all important, because you have to have the little things (building blocks) in order to build understanding and make connections and use what you’ve learned (pg. 58).  Basically:

  • Knowledge is having facts
  • Skill is having the ability to carry something out
  • Understanding is being able to explain what you know
  • Transfer is being able to apply what you know in other situations

Teachers need to make sure they are planning for what students need to know and how they are going to get there.  Teachers can engage in backward-design with their goals in order to determine assessments (pg. 60) and make sure that students are not just doing what they told them to do, but they are able to do things themselves.  When I think of assessing understanding, I think of being able to teach someone what you claim to understand and see if they can get someone else to understand it.  I think about the readings we have had, where there is going to be some students that have to “translate teacher-talk” to those that don’t understand it the first time.  Teachers need to also make sure that they need to keep in mind “what general, useful, and interesting inferences do you want students to see as meaningful?” (pg. 64).  Eventually, teachers should want their students to be able to take what they are learning in class and apply it to different kinds of situations in their own lives.  Like with Project Based Learning, students should be engaging in projects or musical problems/learning opportunities to learn a skill that they can take to real world situations (pg. 65).  

At my internship, I have talked with my mentor teacher about how he gets students to the point where they don’t really need him, because “in the real world, no teacher is there to direct and remind them about which lesson to plug in here or there” (pg. 65).  He has talked about how he lays the groundwork for how equipment works and what order to go in with using software, and students need to be able to show him what they need to do, and he can track their progress as they go on and ask him less and less questions (gradual release of responsibility, autonomy) because they are able to find a groove and are eventually to the point where all he needs to do is see what they’re doing in order to assess them.

Revisiting the previous assignment:

Topic: Creating a set list for a performance/plan for a performance


  • Why do you want an audience to hear you?
  • How do you want the audience to connect with you?
  • How are you going to make a set list of music that is relevant to the audience?


  • Knowledge Goal: Students will know…
    • The community that they are performing for
  • Skill Goal: Students will be skilled at…
    • Researching the specific community and its members and how they engage with music
  • Understanding Goal (meaning-making): Students will understand…
    • What kinds of music will be well-received by the community
  • Understanding Goal (involving transfer): Students will be able to…
    • Plan a performance that is relevant to the community they are performing for (set list, original songs, etc.)

These goals connect with and support students’ creative and critical thinking (PBL) because they are getting them to “be analytical, explanatory, and interpretive” (Tobias (2015), pg. 44).  Researching a community will help students become more aware of the effects of their performance, and how they can adjust what they are about to do in order to meet the needs or preferences of a specific community.  It is something that they should be thinking about wherever and whenever they perform, and can even help in the future if they are writing music, thinking about their audience and how they want to connect with them.  Based on the data they uncover, they should be able to justify their decisions on planning their performance.  They have the chance to put themselves in the set list, and think about how this decision-making process will come into play later when they are planning performances or presentations in other areas.  Understanding what music is important to one community might also allow them to reflect on their own musical preferences and keep track of how that changes over time and place.

Assignment 19: How might we enact project-based learning to foster students’ musical growth and learning?

Responding to: Tobias, Campbell, & Greco (2015) “Bringing Curriculum to Life: Enacting Project-Based Learning in Music Programs”

“At its core, project-based learning is based on the idea that real-life problems capture student interest, provoke critical thinking, and develop skills as they engage in and complete undertakings that typically result in a realistic product, event, or presentation to an audience” (pg. 39)

Taking a project-based learning (PBL) approach is about getting the projects to have students be able to connect with music on a more personal level.  Learning experiences through projects that are structured in such a way to focus on the student, where the teacher is mostly just a resource, collaboration is encouraged, inquiries are made, and being able to manage the project (pg. 40) helps make what students are doing more meaningful.  Through the collaborative nature of project-based approaches, students are able to expand their skills, that they would not normally get to work on, like collaboration and critical thinking (problem-solving) in a normal setting.

PBL is about connecting real-life problems with what students are doing in class, in order to capture and keep their attention, make what they are learning relevant to their lives in order to have a longer-lasting meaning, and helps them be more accountable for succeeding (pg. 40).  One thing to keep in mind from the start is that “although projects provide rich contexts for musical learning, projects typically do not constitute the whole educational program” (pg. 41).  Any project, no matter how long or short has to be part of a bigger whole, and they need to have “thoughtful design and preparation” (pg. 40) and “…require structure and a solid understanding of human learning processes” (pg. 41), because a good project can’t be pulled out of thin air, and they need to connect and build each other in a way that students can learn.

The article describes characteristics of well-designed projects: (1) student centeredness, (2) teacher facilitation, (3) collaborative interaction and inquiry, and (4) disciplinary expertise” (pg. 40).  There is a lot of connection points for some of our previous readings, such as the social constructivist approach, learning music through solving musical problems/learning opportunities, and with teachers needing to have knowledge of pedagogical approaches and being prepared for what they are teaching.  

To design projects, teachers need to: (1) choose a worthy topic, (2) find a real-life context, (3) create generative questions, (4) develop critical thinking and cultivating dispositions, (5) decide the scope, and (6) design the experience (pg. 41).  Teachers need to focus on something that is relevant to the students, that allows them to connect to their own lives and background, that also meets curriculum requirements (pg. 42).  Through posing questions and objectives as musical problems, students can use these real-life examples to develop their collaborative and problem-solving skills and gets students to be able to connect what they are learning to current and future situations (pg. 43).  Teachers need to plan questions that can guide students in their projects and see what directions students can go in that maybe weren’t thought of originally, and gets students thinking about what they need to do to make the project meaningful (pg. 43).

I liked the way the process of designing the process was compared to a video game, because a video game ““provides a set of experiences, with the assumption being that learners are active constructors of meaning with their own drive, goals, and motivations.  Most good games afford multiple trajectories of participation and meaning making. Content is delivered just-in-time and on demand to solve problems”” (Squire, pg. 44).  Thinking of PBL as a story helps with determining the direction, kind of like the “Create Your Own Adventure” project in Digital Hybrid Lab, where students can know an overall goal that they need to meet, and figure out how they are going to get there, a theme that has been discussed in previous readings.  In this way, things emerge “organically” (pg. 45), which is one of my mentor teacher’s favorite words to describe his program, where students are able to figure out how they want to be musical and connecting that to their own lives.  His students love the way that the program and projects are structured, and start to “police themselves” to make sure that they and their peers are doing what they need to do in order to succeed.

I am struggling to see how this place project we are working on is supposed to relate personally to our lives, thinking as a student.  I can see this “video game approach” unfolding, how we were all started the same and were able to create our own adventure, but I don’t see how I can apply this to my own life.  The project itself is structured fine, and we seem to be on a good track, and are always able to do something with it.  I am sure that it will reach a point that I am able to find a way to connect with it, as we have not had hardly any time in it yet.  I am curious as to how teachers can prepare for these kinds of situations, where the plan they had doesn’t exactly have the effect that they wanted with students and how they can step in and make the necessary changes.

“Imagine you are going to develop a project for your own future music class…”

Worthy Topic: How do you decide a set list for a performance?

Rationale: This topic/question as a start for PBL is appropriate because it can be useful for different music areas and individual students/performers/musicians, because at some point they will have some kind of performance and may or may not be involved in the designing of it.  Through analyzing their performance and where it is and who is involved, they can learn about the community and how they want to engage with it.  They will have the opportunity to think about the music they like, can play, and how it can relate to others.  At my internship, students are currently having to think about some upcoming performances and how they are going to fill time slots, and I think that this kind of project would be relevant to them.

Generative Questions and Description:

  • Why do you want an audience to hear you?
    • Thinking of why they are performing helps them get a personal perspective on what exactly it is that they are doing, and will help them with making their decisions.  Thinking about why the audience will be there will help them connect with the audience and meet their needs or expectations.
  • How do you want the audience to connect with you?
    • They might have a participation element that they want to include in their performance, or they may just be thinking about playing for entertainment.  They might think about having to adjust their list or order based on the reception of the audience, what kind of music they think will resonate well with their audience.  They also need to think about what they want to get out of the performance
  • How are you going to make a set list of music that is relevant to the audience?
    • Going back to how music will resonate with the audience, they might need to engage with research in order to make a relevant and cohesive set list.  They may uncover something about a community (even theirs) that they did not know, think about, or that they find interesting and can connect with.