Constructive feedback

This scheme of work explores how learners’ work can be evaluated in a way that gives constructive feedback and encourages peer review. Compositional activities entail using note rows generated through magic squares as a starting point for group compositions, improvisation as a group and working as an ensemble.

The scheme of work was originally created for pupils in Year 10 working towards BTEC Music.

The scheme of work was created by composer Jackie Walduck working with teacher Jenetta Hurst at Hamstead Hall School, Birmingham.

Scheme or work

Key Question

What processes for evaluating pupil work can be adopted to give constructive feedback and encourage peer review?

Aims of this project/scheme?

  • To compose and perform in a creative ensemble;
  • Experiment and exploring ideas through improvisation and realisation processes;
  • Realise “backbone” scores;
  • Develop critical and constructive approaches through group and peer-to-peer discussion and explore the use of evaluation in composition.

Key outcomes

  • Whole group and small group compositions, created through realisation of backbone scores.
  • Increased knowledge of expressive value of intervals in atonal composition.
  • Developed understanding of musical roles in a creative ensemble.
  • Strategies for learners to evaluate own and peers’ work when composing, improvising and performing.

Lesson 1

Improvising rhythmically as a class ensemble; introducing chromatic melody and realising a section of backbone.

 

Topic and Purpose

This lesson will set the scene and establish the artistic context. It will help learners develop knowledge and understanding of backbone realisation and creative ensemble practice.

Objective

To introduce chromatic melody by listening to Blue Monk by Thelonius Monk.
Improvising rhythmically as a group and asking “what works?”
Realising a rhythmic section of Blue Appropriation.

Engagement

Learners will develop an understanding of collaboration through becoming a creative ensemble. First they shall use un-tuned percussion. Learners will then extend this knowledge through using instruments to improvise and compose as a whole class ensemble.

Stick-ability

Learners will develop knowledge and understanding of how to observe and reflect on their practice, informing future work.

Lesson 2

Maintain the context of a creative ensemble by rehearsing and recapping previous week’s work.

Use the first 16 notes of Blue Monk as source material to be re-ordered by the Magic Square, creating a “note row”.

 

Topic and Purpose

Introducing Magic Squares as a way of re-ordering the notes of a given melody. Resultant series of pitches will be used to create atonal backbone melodies.

Objective

Maintain the context of a creative ensemble by rehearsing and recapping previous week’s work. Then: Use the first 16 notes of Blue Monk as source material to be re-ordered by the Magic Square, creating a “note row”, which will become future backbone material.

Engagement

Looking at Durer’s etching Melancholia I and exploring the mathematical properties of Durer’s magic square.

Stick-ability

Starting a composition with a “system” can set you thinking in new ways about musical material.

Lesson 3

To listen closely to the expressive power of intervals.

For pupils to develop their confidence in sensing an interval’s expressive value.

 

Topic and Purpose

Deepening the tone row compositions. Creating pupils’ own criteria for, and confidence in, evaluating their atonal compositions.

Objective

To create a chart showing the “expressive value of intervals”. Use this chart to develop tone row compositions. Evaluate own and peer melodies

Engagement

Formative assessment and group discussion will aid learner engagement.

Stick-ability

Intervals have an expressive value – they feel different from each other, and different people experience them differently. Trust your own judgement!

Lesson 4

Developing melodies further.

Exploring ways in which they can be realised as backbones, or slotted into the backbone Blue Appropriation.

 

Topic and Purpose

Exploring atonal melody and creating simple backing.

Objective

To add a rhythmic element to atonal melodies that were created with a focus on pitch and line. To use the given material and creative ensemble techniques to create backing.

Engagement

The dramatic scenario (Monk’s moment of arrest in New York).

Stick-ability

A strong melody can be placed over a background texture, drone, chord, pulse or riff. OR any of the above accompaniments can be created to go with a given backbone melody. As long as the role are differentiated and clear, the music will have distinctive interest without chord changes or over written counterpoint.

Lesson 5

To explore the idea of musical background.

To use this knowledge to realise Backbone (tone row) melodies in small groups.

 

Topic and Purpose

Creating background for backbone melody.

Objective

To consider what makes a good background. To compose background material in small groups to accompany atonal melodies.

Engagement

Compare the backgrounds in the photograph of Thelonius Monk to Durer’s Melancholia 1.

Stick-ability

A good background stays in the background, a good solo melody is salient. There are many options in creating a background beyond chords.

Lesson 6

This session focuses on the rehearsal and recording process to consolidate and celebrate the project work.

 

Topic and Purpose

Bringing material together, rehearsing, performing, recording.

Objective

Recording whole class and small group compositions.

Engagement

Set up as a band – in instrumental groups, rhythm section all together.

Stick-ability

Composing and performing in a creative ensemble
Composing and realising “backbone” scores.
Exploring “evaluation” in composition, improvisation and realisation processes