If you ever ask students how many of them listen to music in the morning before school, chances are many hands will go up. This lesson plan from PBS Teachers encourages students to open their ears and minds to the possibilities of sounds, what constitutes music and what makes a musical instrument. Activities include examining personal definitions of music through discussion, reading and writing with a fun exercise creating water drums.
Students view a video clip of avant garde composer Jeffrey Stolet, who breaks away from “traditional” patterns of music and music composition, using computer–generated and computer manipulated sounds, infrared beams, as well as traditional instruments. The goal of this unit with its step-by-step procedures is to “open the ears” and minds of the students to possibilities — of what sounds might constitute music, and what makes a musical instrument. As a result, students can gain new perspectives about what music is and when a sound is simply a sound and when it becomes music.
The lesson offers extensions and adaptations for K-12 learners, and since it’s not meant to be a complete science on the study of sound, teachers will find additional resources such as those from the ThinkQuest Library (no longer available) and the Physics Classroom.