Unit 7 Title
Notation

Unit Structure

  • Live Video Conferencing with an ACO musician (20-30 min)
  • Classroom lesson delivered by classroom teacher exploring Unit 7 Classroom Lesson on the website (approx. 45 min)
  • Art activity: begin creating Key for composition (approx. 45 min)

Student Objectives
By the end of this unit students should

  • Define and understand the concept of Notation/Graphic notation
  • Be aware of the existence of many different kinds of notation
  • Associate musical concepts with visual symbols

Classroom Lesson Strategies

  • On the Unit 7 Classroom Lesson page of the website, start at the top and work your way down, looking at different examples of notation. The written text will guide you.
  • If there’s time, this is a fun, interactive notation lesson. http://www.teachingideas.co.uk/notation/graphic-notation

Classroom Art Activity
Start making keys for the upcoming composition

Materials Needed
For Videoconferencing:  Workbook unit 7 pages, writing utensil
For Classroom Lesson: Workbook optional
For Art Activity: Paper of any size, pens or pencils, colored pencils, markers or crayons, or paint.

The students will need their workbooks and something to write with for the live videoconference.

The next two lessons are building up to the final project of composing a piece of music that an ACO musician will perform for the students at the last videoconference. This piece can either be written as a class or individually – that is up to you to decide what would be best for your students.

Unit 7 Classroom Lesson is devoted to introducing the concept of notation. The students are going to compose their piece in lesson 8 by drawing or painting a picture; in order for the musician to read it and interpret it as sound, the students have to create a form of notation and a “key” which explains the rules.

Read through the Unit 7 Classroom Lesson with the students and note the different ways over the years people have visually represented sounds.

If there’s time, this is a fun, interactive exercise to do with the class.   http://www.teachingideas.co.uk/notation/graphic-notation

Art Activity: Create a key that the students will use to compose their pieces. In this lesson, they are only creating the key. They will compose the piece itself in the next lesson.

Below are parameters and choices that students can make when creating their key (these are gleaned from lessons 1-6. It might be helpful if there’s time to go back and review and listen to a few examples from earlier lesson). Not all of these need to be used; the students can choose what elements they will eventually want to use in their composition. The only one that is obligatory is the first one, so that the musician understands how to read the composition. This key should only be a draft/work in progress because the students will need to add, subtract, and change things as they start to compose their pieces.

  1. How will time pass in the composition; that is, how will the composition be read? From left to right, right to left, up and down, in a circle? Clockwise, counterclockwise? Is it random? Will arrows show the order of events?
  2. Similarly, how will register (high and low) be shown?
  3. Create pictures or symbols or a visual method for showing:
    1. The duration of notes
    2. The volume of notes (pianissimo through fortissimo)
    3. Emotions (for example, a smiley face can signify the composer wants happy music, or red scribble can signify an angry riff.)
    4. Sound effects (pizzicato, ponticello, tremolo, harmonics, mute)
    5. Articulation/texture (short, sharp, smooth, connected, bouncy, etc…)
    6. Violin imitating nature sounds (they can draw rain for example, or wind, or a picture of a bird if they want birdcalls, etc.)
    7. Shapes – the student can choose to compose gestures by drawing shapes (for example, they can specify that a diagonal line down from right to left indicates the pitch sliding from high to low like a sigh.

Here are some examples of students’ keys in the past. These came from a slightly different assignment and don’t include all the parameters from above, but they might start to give you an idea. (Click on each thumbnail to view a larger version.)

One thing that these keys don’t do and that your students’ keys should do is allow for more than one parameter to be used at once. Encourage your students as they are brainstorming their notational rules to create things that can be combined – for instance, perhaps they choose register to be up and down on the page – then if they draw a bird at the top of the page, I know that they want a bird sound to be very high. Or, volume – they can decide for example that if something is circled in red, it means loud, if it is circled in blue it means soft. So then if I see 2 birds at the top of the page, one circled in blue, one circled in red, and then 1 bird lower down circled twice in red – I will play two bird sounds, one loud, one soft, and then one bird sound lower and twice as loud.