Skip directly to content

Put Yourself Out There: Identity, Genre, and Concert Production in Music Ensemble Performance

As an instrumental music teacher, there is often a disconnect between the music studied in class and the music consumed by the students outside school. Often times, students practice their “school” music in a vacuum, unrelated to their “life” music on the outside. The effects of this can be seen as detachment from the subject material, lack of effort, or withdrawal of participation altogether. The music educator’s job is to select a body of repertoire that is engaging for all students, along with reinforcing basic instrumental skills in students and allowing the ensemble to deliver a compelling performance. To deliver these goods, bridging the gap between “school” music and “life” music is essential. In addition to maintaining the normal schedule of rehearsals, performances, and assignments, this curriculum unit will give instrumental music students the opportunity to control many aspects of their performance, down to selecting material, creating arrangements, booking the concert, and promoting the gig. The sense of ownership conveyed will help to motivate the students to give their maximum effort to practice and prepare “their” music. This leaves students no excuse to ask, “when can we learn to play a good song?”
In addition, students completing this unit will not only be tasked to examine their music listening preferences, but also to consider the social forces at work that could have brought them down that path. Do you love to sing hymns at church? Does your dad play in a metal band? Do your grandparents speak Spanish? Or do you just want to wear 1980s-looking clothes that Instagram models are now wearing? Students will be tasked to examine the variety of cultures in which they exist and participate and how they interact with themselves and one another. This unit is intended for late middle school or early high school students, as students in this age range are in the middle of undergoing secondary socialization—determining the kind of people they will become and how they will interact with various social groups. As music is inherently linked with cultural practices throughout the world, one’s music listening preferences will inevitably say a lot about the person presenting those preferences. The unit is intended for instrumental music ensembles, though it can easily be tailored to work with a vocal performance ensemble or a general music class. The unit is meant to run concurrently with the standard course of instrumental music study, where long tones, technical exercises, repertoire study, and concert preparation still occur. The final project (the concert) will be
separate from the regularly scheduled school performances, and will serve as a
presentation of the diverse and shared experiences of the members of the group.

Walter Bechtold
Download Unit: 

Post new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.