Soon there will be a new way for students at James Hart School in Homewood to make music.
Over the summer, Emily Kasper, Matt Johnson and Adrienne Olsen, music faculty at Hart, designed a new curriculum that will have sixth, seventh and eighth graders using technology to explore and create music in the required six-week General Music classes.
The curriculum also aligns with national and state standards for music, Olsen said.
Projects will be produced by students using the ‘garage band’ program on iPads and recorded sound rather than using paper and pencil. Eventually students will use desktop computers and electronic piano keyboards in a designated music lab, she explained.
Phase I of this project is this year’s purchase of 30 iPads and a rolling cart. These are gifts from three support organizations — the Music Parents Association, the District 153 Parent-Teacher Association and Foundation 153 — that pooled their resources to underwrite the more than $9,000 for this purchase.
In the General Music classes, each grade learns a different facet of music.
In sixth grade, students study the elements of music — melody, harmony, form, texture, music notation and literacy. It’s a culmination class of everything the students have learned since kindergarten.
In seventh grade, students focus on American music from 1880 to the present. In eighth grade, it’s music of the Western Civilization from caveman until 60 years in the future, making the students predict how music will change in their lifetimes.
The three teachers have plotted out specific exercises for students. For example, eighth graders will use iPads to create a chant and a rap song. It could be a look at Gregorian chant and something performed by Chance the Rapper.
In keeping with the period being studied by seventh graders, one of their projects will be to create a blues scale and a jazz piece.
Another project will have students working in groups. Each group will pick a music genre, such as the 1960s British Invasion or the 1940s Bebop jazz style, and create a presentation about that type of music and what was happening in the world that would have had an influence on the music.
Olsen said she and the others are happy with the start of the program.
Hart School has an open room that can be converted to for Phase II’s music lab that will house computers and electronic keyboards. She envisions it working much as foreign language labs operate with a console that provides the general material but each student working independently at a computer.
The team is beginning a fundraising effort and investigating grants to help fund Phase II.