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Teacher Grants: TeachNet Ready-Set-Tech
Composing with the Instrument Families

In this unit, students create a 15-second song that uses at least one sound sample from each of the four instrument families. This project uses the students' original and creative ideas to compose music that incorporates the learning of the instruments. It is also fresh in its approach because we are using technology to achieve the goals of the music classroom.

Subject Area
Music, Technology

Grade Levels

Students will be able to: (1) Name all four instrument families and their qualities; (2) Identify at least three different instruments by sight and by name; (3) Students will use the New York Philharmonic Web site to learn about the history of different instrument families; (4) Students will be able to create new software and real instrument tracks in Garage Band and combine them with samples from the loop browser.

Internet Used
The Internet is used as a tool to support the understanding of the instrument families, instruments, and their history. Students use the New York Philharmonic web
site, http://nyphilkids.org, to reinforce their understanding.

Materials Used
eMac G4 computers with Internet access; GarageBand (Apple) software; M-Audio keystation 49e (or any MIDI keyboard); New York Philharmonic Kidzone web site, and Microsoft Word (or any word processing application).

Standards Addressed
Through music making, students will develop musical skills, express themselves as thinking, feeling muscians, apply and utilize the elements of music, and use technology to facilitate expression. This unit addresses the "Music Making" strand from the NYC Blueprint for Teaching & Learning in the Arts (http://schools.nyc.gov/projectarts/Pages/a-blueprint.htm).

A rubric is included on the project web page which addresses the areas in which student work is evaluated.

Students Involved
The students involved did not have any previous musical background, but decided to learn to compose music for a general music credit required by New York State. The students range from grades 9-12, and have different levels of comfort with a computer, though virtually none have encountered GarageBand, which is used
to create the music in this unit. This is the second unit of the semester, and at this point , students were assumed to have a basic understanding of GarageBand and its functions.

Teacher Tips
You may want to do a few lessons to introduce the students to the functions of GarageBand. See Apple's web site for information on how to get started: http://apple.com/support/garageband. GarageBand is software only available for Apple computers.

To further emphasize the instruments and their families,
students could practice grouping the instruments into families. The game, "Instrument Frenzy" on the New York Philharmonic web site offers excellent practice. The game can be found at: http://nyphilkids.org/games/main.phtml.

Overall Value
This project addresses the instrument families, instrument history, and incorporates this knowledge to produce an original student composition. I have found that my students are attracted to this unit because it allows them to be creative in using technology to create a new and unique composition.

Eva Egolf

Eva J. Egolf currently teaches Music Technology, Concert Band, Class Piano, and General Music at L.D. Brandeis High School in New York, NY.  Her passion is teaching music composition through technology. She created the Music Technology curriculum, and aided in the development of the Music Composition Lab at L.D. Brandeis High School. Mrs. Egolf majored in Classical Saxophone Performance, and minored in English and Technical Writing at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. She also holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from Lehman College in the Bronx, New York.



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