Where Will You Be in 20 Years?
Finale Notepad (or some other music composition program)
Garageband (or real instruments recorded into Garageband)
Subject and Grade Level: Seniors in High School (or you can adjust the unit for other subjects)
I like to begin this unit by playing the song “Class of 57 Has Dreams” by the Statler Brothers. After they hear the song, it is fun to have them do a quick write (about 5 minutes) of where they think they will be, and where their classmates will be in 20 years.
Once they have done a quick write, then I like to play the song a second time and let them jot ideas as they listen. I then will move on and play songs that are similar and let them continue to write notes as they listen. (If possible I like to have enough songs to listen for about 15 or 20 minutes and I like to have them from several different genres of music.)
We then talk briefly (very briefly since I am not “versed” in music) about the parts of a song. Stanzas, the chorus/refrain, rhyming, syllable count, repeating for emphasis, etc. The kids are then set on a task of finding a song from their own collections that are similar to a class song. By the next day I like to have them list where everyone will be in 20 years (funny, serious, surface, career, family, etc.) I remind them not to hurt each other’s feelings… we all want to stay friends. If this is not possible, then the students can write a fictional class song and not use anyone’s names, locations, job aspirations, etc.
Then they begin the writing process. They need to write a song/poem. (I tell them I don’t grade for quality, but for effort if anyone is really in a panic.) If there is time, they can write music with a composer, use the loops in Garageband, or play the song with an instrument of their own. They don’t have to be a good singer (Adam Sandler-esque), so they can ask someone else to record the words for them with the instrumental. Often bringing in the music teacher to team teach is a good plan and makes it really fun. Who knows… maybe they will want to play song at Class night, a graduation party, or reunion.
Intergrated Subject Areas Also Covered:
LA 12.2.1, 12.2.2
After playing songs from my collection (which I try to have songs from several decades), I ask the students if they have songs that are similar in the general message. I encourage them to bring the CDs or put the songs in a folder in their iTunes so it is easy to play the songs when called upon.