PRINCIPLE 1: ALLOW STUDENTS TO SHARE THEMSELVES
MOST KIDS SIMPLY LOVE to tell others, especially their teacher, about themselves. One way they can do this is by sharing what they like in music. Allowing students to share their passion for music, or a certain kind of music, can be a great motivator. For many students, the music they listen to contributes to their sense of identity, how they view themselves and want to be viewed by others.
In my high school music production class, I teach a project called “My Favorite Things Podcast” in which students create an audio podcast to tell about some kind of music they like. If you don’t know what a podcast is, don’t fret. A podcast is a lot like talk radio, where a host talks about virtually any topic. If the topic is music, the host may share sound clips to amplify the topic. For this project, students artfully string together several short audio clips of their favorite artist (or band, or composer, etc.) and then record a simple voice-over narration to provide a little background and explain what they find so compelling about the music they are presenting. Today’s music technology makes creating the clips and recording the voice-overs very easy. Topics put forward for this project by past students have varied wildly and include favorite solo artists and bands, or favorite composers—you would be surprised at the music your students listen to and admire.
One of my favorites was called “A Tribute to the Newmans.” This podcast by high schooler Julian S. tapped his love of film music, and particularly music by the Newman dynasty of Hollywood film composers (Alfred, his sons Thomas and David, and their cousin, Randy). The podcast begins with the 20th Century Fox theme and includes short clips of music from the film Scent of a Woman (score by Thomas Newman), the song “Dayton Ohio, 1903” (by Randy Newman), and the film The Egyptian (score by Alfred Newman). Julian narrates, introducing each clip with modest explanations, yet I learned much from the podcast about Julian’s musical sensibilities. No prodding at all was required to