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Listening and Responding to Music

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A unit plan for years 7–8

This unit contains activities related to nine specific pieces of music. The activities are divided into four sets under four different intended outcomes.

Intended outcomes

The intended outcomes for each set of activities are selected from those in The Arts in the New Zealand Curriculum related to the following music strands:

Strand: PK – Developing Practical Knowledge in Music
Level 3 achievement objective: Students will identify through focused listening, and experiment with, contrasts within musical elements.
Level 4 achievement objective: Students will identify through focused listening, and experiment with, a range of patterns, effects, sound qualities and structural devices.

Strand: UC – Understanding Music in Context
Level 3 achievement objective: Students will identify and investigate characteristics of music associated with particular contexts, purposes and styles, in past and present cultures.
Level 4 achievement objective: Students will identify and investigate characteristics of music associated with particular contexts, purposes and styles, in past and present cultures.

Assessment
The assessment for this unit focuses on the intended learning outcomes selected from strands PK and UC. They are given at the beginning of each set of activities.

Introduction

Question: How can we – as 'non-specialists' – include more music in our teaching of year 7 and 8 students? This question came from classroom teachers at an intermediate school. They recognised that their students needed to experience more music, especially music from a wide variety of styles and genres. Although they had some specialist music teaching support available, they decided that they – as classroom teachers – had a significant role to play.

Answer: Vicki Thorpe, music adviser at Wellington College of Education, answered the question by preparing this unit plan . She worked through the plan with the teachers as an example of a music planning process.

Who could use this plan?
While this unit plan was developed for classroom teachers at an intermediate school, many of the activities could be used or adapted for younger students.

What resources were used?
Nine pieces of music were chosen for the unit from the following three resource recordings:

  • Into Music 2;
  • Sweet! A Taste of New Zealand Music;
  • Ears Wide Open.

How has this resource been used?
This resource has been used in two ways:

  1. 'Opening students' ears': For this approach to work with students, it is important for the teachers to get to know the music in the unit plan really well first. Vicki Thorne encouraged staff to listen to the selected tracks frequently, including listening to recordings in the car.
    • The selected tracks were used as a means of introducing a wide variety of music styles and genres – the unit began with students listening to all the other tracks on the resource recordings, (which are all readily available). The teachers were interested by the wide variety of responses within the class to each piece of music.
    • The notions of 'like' and 'dislike' were discussed with the students – at year 7 and 8 level, many students identify strongly with a particular music style or performer, often to the exclusion of other kinds of music. The teachers discussed and implemented strategies to encourage a more open, less judgmental response from students. Frequently, the conclusion has been that the more often students listen to music in a directed and focussed way, the less likely they are to 'turn off their ears'.
  2. 'Track of the week': This approach used the unit plan as a basis for planning listening activities for other kinds of music.
    • The teachers worked in syndicate or teaching groups to came up with a list of 10 tracks from their own CD collections, or from those already in use in the school. They used the unit model to plan learning activities for these new pieces of music. (Teachers who were less confident with a particular style or genre worked with a colleague who knew more about it.)
    • Each week, one of these new pieces of music was introduced to the students as the 'track of the week'. Every day of that week, they would listen to the same piece of music, but in a different context each day – sometimes in their classroom, and sometimes with students from the other classes.

Where to next?
Extension activities are given at the end of each track's activity list that provide for:

  • further exploration;
  • playing;
  • singing;
  • creating;
  • recording;
  • analysing;
  • appreciating.

The 'track of the week' concept could also be used thematically with other curriculum areas, such as social studies, English, or relevant international languages.

Extension resources
Sources of other music to use with this unit model are:

  • NZ Music for Creative Dance 1 and 2 – available from SOUNZ ;
  • Sound tracks from movies;
  • 'Greatest hits' recording collections;
  • Teachers' own music collections;
  • Public library stock – particularly for music to use in integrated units, (for example, world music to use with social studies).

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