What Does A Classroom Where Everyone Is Teaching and Learning Look Like? (Creating Music Part 2)

2011Symposium_1_2Today’s post is a continuation of yesterday’s article, where I began to describe using the core arts standards for creating to design a classroom environment where ideas and knowledge are shared freely as a key part of a rich educational culture. Once musical ideas have been created and selected, they are evaluated. The student is looking into selected ideas to see how well they meet appropriate criteria and to see how well they will form a musical work. In order to do this, students will need to be open to new ideas that may result from evaluating and refining selected ideas, be persistent in refining ideas until they meet appropriate criteria, and apply the appropriate criteria to their ideas. The point of this work is to improve the quality of their creative ideas. Just as students exchanged ideas and knowledge while creating the ideas through improvisation, now they exchange ideas and knowledge for evaluating and refining their own and others’ creative work. Students assist each other in applying the criteria to their own work, generating refinements, and notating and/or recording ideas.

It is critical that students have a thorough knowledge of and experience with the criteria rubric being used to evaluate and refine their creative work. Priorart-of-teaching to reaching the evaluate/refine stage of creating, students should have opportunities to practice using the criteria to evaluate and refine musical ideas that either you provide, or that they create, but do not intend to use in a finished musical work. This time of practice will gain the students expertise in evaluating and refining using the criteria, and will enable them to go into greater detail and depth when it comes to evaluating and refining ideas they are preparing to use in a musical work intended for presentation/performing. The criteria themselves should include both teacher-provided and collaboratively developed items. As students participate in developing criteria, they gain a deeper knowledge of what qualities constitute exemplary work.

When created ideas are evaluated and refined so that they meet all criteria employed, students are ready to move onto the final stage of creating, which is presenting/performing. The dual nomenclature is used here to clarify the music standard with the parallel standard in the other arts, for which the term presenting is used. Only the music standard contains the term perform, but it is intended to more accurately represent how music is presented.

The present/perform stage is the point in the process where intent is conveyed, craftsmanship is demonstrated, and originality is exhibited. This is the culminating piece of the process of creating music, and is essentially an action of communication. It occurs when the work meets all employed criteria, which the students learn is the point at which a creative work is ready to share with others. Composers perform and/or direct the performance of their work, and describe the connection between the creative work and their expressive intent. There is great opportunity in the performance of student work for celebration of accomplishment, affirming and empathy through artistic expressiveness and response to it, and of realizing the social context in which music is performed, especially the connection between composer and responders.

Below is a sample rubric that could be used with activities described above. These criteria are from Connecticut’s Music Composition and Self-Evaluation Assessment Task Grade 5 . For the complete document, follow the link provided.

Grade 5 Music Composition Task Rubrics


Student Code: ______


Guidelines of Task (check all that apply)

_____  pitches are organized around a tonal center

_____  at least 4 different pitches

_____  at least 2 rhythmic values

_____  at least 8 measures


Notation (check all that apply)

_____  key signature matches pitches

_____  pitch: note heads make pitches clear

_____  time/meter signature matches rhythms

_____  rhythm: correct note heads/flags/beams, rests, number of beats in each measure


Notation-Performance Match(circle number that best applies)

3      Performance matches notation throughout.

2      Performance generally matches notation, with minor deviations possibly attributable to performance issues.

1      Performance mostly matches notation, but significant differences raise questions about student’s intent.

0      Performance differs from notation so significantly that student’s intent is unclear.


3 thoughts on “What Does A Classroom Where Everyone Is Teaching and Learning Look Like? (Creating Music Part 2)

    • Your welcome, Judi. I’m glad you are finding the blog useful. I find that it is terribly important to think through this process, so we can help our students get the most out of their creative activity. Please share the post with others whom you think might also find it helpful, and thank you for your comment.

      • Yes, it is very important to articulate & define a structure for the creative process…not only for the students, but even for teachers & administrators. As an educator, I have found that having defined my process, I could more easily advocate for my program & also help administrators understand the performing arts classroom more clearly. I will share your post with some of my colleagues. Have a great day!

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