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Lesson 3: Teaching and Performing Our Circle Songs


Original Lesson Plan:

Edited Lesson Plan:

I wanted to show my students that this step is the first step into arranging through improv so I incorporated a circle song led by me in the beginning of this lesson. This had also helped me talk about the process of teaching a circle song to other people. Setting an example by establishing tempo first with snaps and teaching parts going on from there.




1) The motor is often the hardest part since you're starting from nothing. Sometimes just singing anything to get any ideas out is the best way to go about it. Much like when you write a story or an essay, sometimes it's just easier to write anything down to get a draft going and then sifting through what you have to pick out ideas you want to expand on!

4) This happens to me a lot! I find that the best way to work off of this is to try to change up the idea from what you already know. Another group wanted to use the bass line from Feel Good Inc. by The Gorillaz but since that isn't entirely improv we worked together to change a few key notes and rhythms so it didn't sound exactly like the notorious bass line.

I'm glad you learned something new about improvisation. The hardest step for most is definitely just starting because you have no context to go off of and that isn't something we do much in the K-12 music classroom. Thank you for stepping outside of your comfort zone to try something new.


1) Interesting, I'm wondering what kind of process your group went through to pick and choose which ideas you used in your song and why.

2) Exactly! We often fall into this pattern of following an interpretation that creates wonderful singers and a good sound, but lacks the development of musicianship. Creating something musical forces you to delve deeper into the "why" we like things and allows us to think for ourselves.

3) I'm glad that zoom and the breakout rooms worked well for your group. This is still a very new territory for music teachers.

I'm happy that you were able to enjoy this project. Sometimes it can be hard creating something new for the first time, especially in a context that you're not super familiar with (and in a hybrid setting). Great work on this project and I hope you're able to use the skills you've gained in the future.

*all reflections are available in the full portfolio PDF*


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Students took on the challenge of teaching their circle songs to the full ensemble in this lesson. This created a different kind of performance that the students have not done much of before, a performance of their own work. The students had chosen which part to give to each section, many chose the motor for the basses, and they acted as leaders to the choir. They would sing their part one at a time building the song until all five (or six) parts are being sung, this can be seen in the video). While working with the students during lesson two, some had expressed concern for having to teach their songs. I forgot how nerve racking and difficult this concept is when you’re doing it for the first time. I decided that it would be best for me to help the students out by acting as a resource for them. Instead of making them sing and teach on their own, I would sing with them and be there for any questions they would have while singing their song. 

I realized, looking at my lesson plans once again, that I needed to revisit the lesson plan to include my online students more than just “play their circle song.” This wouldn’t have worked for many reasons, the biggest reason being that this series of lessons was redesigned to encourage the collaboration between students online and students in person. The question I had to ask myself was “How?” 

How will these students stay engaged? 

How will they help teach their circle songs to the full group? 

This lesson was the most difficult to incorporate the online students and have them participate in the teaching of their part in the circle song. I decided that since I was going to be used as a resource anyway, the students could sing their part to me and I would relay it to the section that was assigned for that specific element. Originally, this was something that I didn’t think I would need to do, but teaching is all about thinking on your feet. My original plan for the scaffolding of these lessons was that students would require less and less help from me as we moved through this process. This may have been true with the scaffolding between the first and second lesson, but when I got to lesson 3, I was more involved in the teaching process with the students.

Overall, the students learned a lot about the vulnerability of creating music and enjoyed the process (frustration and all) of collaborating with their peers. I felt like the way that I incorporated the online students in this lesson got them participating at least a little bit in order to teach at least one person (me) their part to their group’s circle song.

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