Learning Activity #3: Culminating Task

Educational Focus

Students synthesize their learning about how composers reflect the spirit of their own age in their music.

Materials

Chart paper and markers
Access to music composition software

Lesson Map

I. Read and Discuss

  • Reread the following out loud: Many artists today seem to feel their work must "express the age I live in," and cite war, corruption and crime as reason for creating bitter and angry work. My God, if only you could have experienced some of the miseries of the age I lived in - disease, oppression, poverty. And corruption! Life wasn't all bad, of course, and there was much beauty in my age- but so there is in yours, and why not try to capture that spirit, too?

    Michael Colgrass
    (writing in the voice of Mozart)
    Frontispiece,
    Letter to Mozart

  • Discuss whether it is better to use art to explore the darker side of reality and our world today, reminding students of the music they have experienced in this unit (Vivier, Pentland, Morawetz, Weinzweig), to celebrate the best things in our human culture (as done by Prévost and Colgrass), or should art do both?

II. Demonstrate Learning

  • Have students choose one of the following culminating tasks:

1. What issues are most relevant to us today? What sources could you draw on to document these issues in music?

  • Create a mind map as an initial brainstorm.
  • In a small group create a composition to comment on an issue of social justice, using a combination of ‘real world' texts (which could include newspaper headlines, Twitter, blogs, speeches on audio files etc.) and music you create. Share using Garage Band or real-time performance.

Provide additional criteria relevant for your own teaching situation (e.g., use of specific form, written notation, software, instrumentation, etc.)

OR

2. What is beautiful, wonderful or inspiring about our present world? What types of music could you draw on to celebrate this positive vision?

  • Create a mind map as an initial brainstorm.
  • In a small group create a composition celebrating the good that is in the world today, using a combination of imported samples of music, real world texts or recordings and music you create. Share using Garage Band or real-time performance.

Provide additional criteria relevant for your own teaching situation (e.g., use of specific form, written notation, software, instrumentation, etc.)

III. Extensions

  • You may wish to explore two further selections in relation to this theme: the beautiful Molto Sostenuto by Sophie-Carmen Eckhardt-Gramatté written under the shadow of impending war in Europe in 1939, and/or Peter Paul Koprowski's Sinfonia Concertante, a work which is dramatic and satirical at different times and explores the "apathy, fear and poverty" he encountered on a trip home to post-war Poland.
  • You are encouraged to listen to the complete selections of these musical works and explore the information about them on the National Arts Centre (Canada) website with your students. Scores and additional information for many of the selections are available through the Canadian Music Centre. Both selections are also available at www.artsalive.ca
Virtual Museum of Canada

To access the Virtual Museum of Canada's complete digital learning resources and lesson plans, visit the VMC Teachers' Centre.