My Top 10 Music Units of Work
It’s funny, but I couldn’t believe that I never had never put this list together! Teaching Music has not only been my occupation for the last 17 years, but it is also my passion. I love igniting the learning fir in students, and having the privilege of teaching them Music is an added bonus. For the last 10 years or so, I have been perfecting the art of teaching Music using Units of Work as my basis on which everything else hinges.
This Top 10 List of Units of Work, contains my all-time favourite topics to teach. I do teach these units to my students, and year after year my students still love being in my classes. This list is in the order I teach each unit. Please keep in mind that I teach Music to students from years 7 through to 12, and these are the units that I use with my Years 7 to 10.
Every single one of these units includes the use of the Super Six comprehension strategies. The strategies are embedded into each lesson making it easy to both teach and students to learn. Along with this, there are listening activities to accompany each lesson. The listening skills are based on the Elements of Music, and students are introduced to each element and then each lesson is built upon the other, reinforcing what students have learned in their lessons. Most of these units includes an assignment, usually a composition and performance one, again designed to build the skills of the students, increasing with difficulty. The only thing you need to prepare are what pieces of music you want your students to learn and perform, and this will depend on what is available to you as well as the skill levels of your students!
Each of these units is available for sale over at my Teachers Pay Teachers store, but be sure to check out some of the $$$ saving bundles as well! To check out each unit, click the heading and it will take you directly to that resource, or click the link below to check them all out.
This unit introduces students to the musical element of rhythm. They learn the basics about note values, time signatures, as well as composing a short ensemble piece that they also perform.
In this unit students are introduced to each Family of the Orchestra. Students learn how to classify instruments, different sound sources as well as different techniques used to produce a sound on an instrument. I like to pair this unit with the Make an Instrument Assignment. The unit and assignment complement each other quite nicely.
This is my all-time best-selling product! And, I have to say I love teaching this on too. It is a light unit that students enjoy because of the flexibility it has built into it. Throughout the unit students learn about how music is used in a movie. The best part is, you can then choose a movie that you know your students will love, and watch it! Of course, to keep your supervisors happy you have a reason to be watching a movie in class. What I love is that I have a few movies that I use year after year, and even though they are older movies, my students still love them. The two movies I like to use are “The Sandlot” and “Shrek”. Both movies use music really well and effectively for the students to reinforce what they have learned in class time.
This unit was named because I wanted my students to not “groan” when I told them we were going to learn about Jazz Music! Years ago, I would spend a whole term on African Music and another on Jazz Music, and let’s just say, the students were bored out of the brains and would misbehave. So, I learned from that experience, and changed it up so that I only spent about 5 weeks on African Music and another 5 on Jazz Music. This way students kept moving with the content and they now enjoy this unit. In the beginning of this unit, we do lots of work with the djembes and tuned percussion. I like to use the “Obi Senya Na” assignment with this unit. The assignment works well because students have to arrange and perform their own ensemble of the African folk song, and every student can succeed because they can choose which instrument they wish to compose/perform on.
In this unit students are introduced to the instruments used in Rock and Pop music – guitar. Drums, voice and keyboards. Other instruments are also covered in this unit, along with how to classify instruments, their sound sources and performance techniques. I use this unit to introduce students to each instrument so that they can have a go and see which one they would like to pursue further. When I teach this unit, I like to watch the movie “Bandlsam” or “School of Rock” and then complete the Rock Music Design Project – the kids love it!
This is another of my most favourite units to teach! In this unit students are introduced to where rock music all started and the musicians that shaped so much of what we hear today. Musicians like Fats Domino, Bill Haley and the Comets, Buddy Holly and Elvis are all covered. Students listen to the classics from each of these artists and will enjoy performing this music as well! To accompany this unit, I like to have my students complete some independent research on some of the other Pioneers of Rock using the Musician Study resource.
This unit follows on from where the Pioneers of Rock finishes off. This unit covers everything from classic rock musicians like Led Zeppelin to the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, and beyond to some Australian artists like INXS and Kylie Minogue! You can also pair this unit with some more independent research with the Musician Study. As a way to keep your sanity, and connect the learning, try watching the old classic “Blues Brothers 2000”. I do fast forward a section of the movie where the girls dance in very little, but otherwise, this movie is great for showing the different styles of rock and blues along with the added bonus of having greats like BB King, Aretha Franklin and Cab Calloway featured!
As an Australian teacher, the only compulsory topic that I must teach to my students is Australian Music. This can be sometimes quite difficult, especially as most students don’t like most homegrown music, they prefer music that comes out of the USA. So, when I teach this unit, I pick the parts that I know my students will enjoy the most, and this depends on each class. In the unit it covers everything from Traditional Indigenous Music, Contemporary Indigenous Music, Folk Music, Rock, Pop, Hip Hop, Country and even Classical. I even let me students choose what we learn about for the lesson – I give them two options each time and they choose and we go from there. Another great movie that accompanies this unit is “The Sapphires”. This movie, which is just brilliant, makes a lot of sense to students once we have completed each of the other units, it helps them to make connections and “see” the bigger musical picture.
The last two units, including this one, are ones that I use with my Year 9 and 10 classes. This unit introduces students to the music of both Africa and Spain. Once students learn about each of these two different cultures, they are shown how both of these musical influences shaped music in other parts of the world such as in South America.
I like to use this unit to familiarise students with unusual sound sources from countries such as China and Indonesia. The unit includes instruments from all around the world, and does include Africa and Australia in there, however, I tend to blend the previous unit into this one so students get a good overall “sound” of instruments from around the world. This unit works really well with the World Instrument Study resource, and can be used as an assignment or as an addition to classroom learning.
So that’s it, my Top 10 Music Units of Work. These units cover everything from Classical Music and the Orchestra, to music of many different cultures, to Rock and Pop and everything in between. Every one of these units will be sure to delight and engage young musicians in learning about where the music they listen to have its origins.
Until next time
Julia from Jooya