While clearing out the 'dump' folder on my desktop, I came upon a mental meandering about those criteria that I had done with my grade 10s.* I've decided to share my thoughts with you today.
Just to give you some background... the unit is a grade 10 soundtracks unit. We open up with Criterion A: Knowledge and Understanding. There, we learn about the power of silences, mickey-mousing, source music, underscoring, the history of music soundtracks, leitmotifs, voice as an instrument, etc. Then, the students have to compose 1:40 of music based on an Aardman's production clip that has all sound removed except for the voices.
One day, at the start of the creative cycle, we were talking about what creative thinking looks like:
(I love to colour as I type)
C: Creative Thinking
- how did you come up with your plan #1brainstorming - #2mind mapping - #3storyboards - #4research into music genres; Storyboarding; Annotating the script; summarising
- how did you think creatively during your creative cycle
- #5Reflections that show how you solved problems really creatively; show how asking a question lead to other questions; challenge a convention about how you think about movie soundtracks (e.g. break the rules); write about problems in a positive and upbeat way; draw diagrams of other possibilities; get feedback from other people and consider their different perspectives; experiment with sound - if you try something and you don’t like it, then export that to MP3, put it in your DW, and write about why it didn’t work; trusting your gut reactions; anticipating problems that might arise when you are composing; decide IF an idea is good and then try it; seek out unusual solutions when you encounter problems.
- #5Reflections that show you took what your learned about movie soundtracks and applied it; how the movie itself inspired the composition
Examples of Brainstorming Activities
- finish researching music genre characteristics
- create a brainstorm on what types of music genres they could use for their composition
- pick a genre, now do a brainstorm on all the characteristics they know about that genre
- watch the video and do a brainstorm on the types of emotions that could be portrayed through the video
- do another brainstorm on the characteristics and the emotions combined, and see how you can use characteristics to create those emotions
- watch the video again and make a list of all the sound effects you don’t hear; give your list to a friend and have them watch the video while reading your list; what sound effects did you forget? Did you remember to add ambient sound as well?
- complete the storyboard for your video
1. Is the composition's technique correct? Criterion A.
2. Does the composition match the vision shown on the screen? Criterion D.
Here is an example. Let's say the student writes...
"While watching the clip, I noticed that the penguin character is very evil, and that he's introduced during a clap of lightning. I had to decide whether I wanted to play this clip as a parody, with funny music, or whether I wanted to follow the action on the screen and make the character evil as well. But is the character evil or very evil? I could maybe use minor chords in a lower register to make him sound evil, but perhaps using a series of diminished chords, repeated in the upper register would make him sound super evil." For me, that's Criterion D because his/her artwork is based upon a stimulus. He is composing a response to what he sees on the screen.
Now let's say the student writes...
"There doesn't appear to be any sources of music in this clip, so I'm going to use underscoring music instead. There should be two pieces of music present - when the dog turns off the light and then when the penguin starts to change the robot pants. I think the best way to show the difference between the two scenes would be to have a period of silence when the thunder rolls. Silence is important because it emphasizes the action on the screen. As the penguin starts to build the robot, I'm going to have a choir come in and sing some really creepy, "ooooh" over top of the drill sound." That would be Criterion A because his/her artwork is based on the technical knowledge gained in the class, and the composition is highlighting their understanding in how to apply it.
So that's now how I separate A3 and D1. Sure, I've seen a document floating around that says A is head-knowledge and D is heart-knowledge, but how can teachers criterion-assess someone's heart? It's too fuzzy and vague. We always have to go find proof. That's why, for me, I've separated the strands like this:
Grade 6 Compositions
D: Heart Knowledge: After studying Chinese drumming and watching several live performances, how have you used them as a stimulus to create your own drumming ensemble?
A: Head Knowledge: Which instruments are involved in Chinese ensembles? How do costumes play a roll? Which rhythms are stereotypical? How do the different non-pitched percussion instruments interacting with each other throughout? How do hand positions influence not only the sound but the look of the ensemble?
Grade 7 Performance
D: Heart Knowledge: We have looked at how locations inspire musicians to create and perform because often the best music grows out of personal experience. How has this unit inspired you to perform a particular song? How is the location of this song special to you?
A: Head Knowledge: How does the form and orchestration of the song emphasize the lyrics? In your personal interpretation of the song, how will your group arrange it to highlight the meanings you found?
Grade 10 Compositions
D: Heart Knowledge: After studying rondeau, how have you used them as a stimulus to create your own?
A: Head Knowledge: How do you compose a rondeau? What is its structure? Which key does each section use? How are phrases built?
Those are just a few of my ideas. I'd love to hear how you are working with A3 and D1. If you have any comments, please leave them below - I'd love to discuss with you.