Proposed Outline for High School Music Class

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This is a rough outline of what a great music program would look like (to me). First some equipment required:

  1. Macbook Pro laptops
  2. Adapter to plug in instruments
  3. Microphones
  4. Electric guitars
  5. Bass guitars
  6. Accoustic Guitars
  7. Keyboards
  8. Electronic drum kit
  9. Small (15w) amps
  10. Posters of rock legends

Ok, now for the outline:

  1. Intro to Garageband
    Garageband is a great piece of software. You can set up audio tracks and even create a custom drum track. You pick the tempo, the style and all sorts of settings. Each kid would need to learn how the software works and the first task is to make a custom drum line.
  2. The 4 chord Song
    C–G–Am–F. This is a super easy and common song progression. There are hundreds of hit songs that use this progression. The kids would learn about this progression and how to play it on any instrument (bass, guitar, keyboard). They  should record themselves playing the progression against their drum line.
  3.  Lyrics
    My recommendation here would be to take a popular song and turn it into a modified haiku. For example:

5 (rhyme)
7 (rhyme)
5 (rhyme)
7 (rhyme)

Then ask the kids to write the haiku with their own words. For the above it could be

Just a small town girl
Livin’ in a lonely world
She took the midnight train goin’ anywhere
Just a city boy
Born and raised in south Detroit
He took the midnight train goin’ anywhere

Any kid can write lyrics if you give them preset haiku structures.

  1. Singing & Melody
    This is where the lyrics are entered into the drum line and 4 chord instruments. This probably needs some help by the teacher, but kids should be able to pick up the technique quickly. Along with the drums and instruments, this is recorded into Garageband
  2. Performance
    Each kid should have a song they can play on their laptop. They should play them for the class and then put each song on the wall with lines for instruments needed. The kids can sign up to help another student with their song and perform a live version.
  3. Publishing
    Also known as “How to upload to Youtube”. Also, I think showing the kids how to get rights to their song. This is an important lesson that art and music also have a intellectual property and business aspect. It’s not complicated, but it would boost kids self-esteem and ego to know they have published a real song.

I think a classroom with a decent teacher could get an entire class to publish original music in one semester. Surely, there are details I am missing, but I think this outline is in the ballpark.

Who can help fill in the details?


Whatya think?