You have just interviewed for your dream teaching job. It’s a great school with a great reputation and in a beautiful area close to where you live.
Everything and anything that you could possibly wish to have in the music room is there – lots of instruments, plenty of space, nice furniture and great storage.
There’s just one problem.
There isn’t a music history curriculum for you to follow. There are no music teaching resources to base your lessons on.
Where do you start?
Well that’s where this blog post can help you. It’s one thing to have all “the nice things” but if you don’t have a set of music history lessons or resources to teach with, it’s hard to know where to start.
We know as music teachers that music history and music appreciation are not just subjects; they’re gateways to exploring the rich tapestry of human culture through the lens of the elements of music. However, teaching music history often comes with its own set of challenges, especially in the middle school or general music classroom.
In this comprehensive guide, the aim is to simplify the process of “Middle School Music History Curriculum Planning” to make it a rewarding and enlightening experience for both you the teacher and your students alike. But as you know, planning your music lessons is not always easy, particularly when you do not have a music history curriculum to base your lessons on!
As you know, planning your music history curriculum takes time, but to help you in this process, there are a few simple things to consider that will make it easier for you. These include:
- Time management and scheduling
- Using outcomes to plan
- Planning your scope and sequence
- Planning when and what to assess
- Planning for differentiation and inclusivity
- What resources to use
Time Management and Scheduling
The first challenge that music teachers often face is managing their precious resource – time. Planning a music history curriculum that spans an entire school year can be daunting, especially when you have multiple classes, extracurricular responsibilities, and performances to prepare for.
Some questions you might need to ask yourself include:
- What school wide events will interrupt daily lessons?
- What classes will you be teaching?
- What concerts do I have to plan for?
- What assemblies and events do I have to plan performances for?
- What extracurricular activities am I expected to do?
- What duties are on my schedule?
This video here is the actual process I personally use to plan out my school year, lessons and assessments.
How to Plan Music History Curriculum Outcomes
Teaching music history is not just about sharing facts; it’s about setting clear learning objectives and aligning them with educational standards.
To help yourself plan which outcomes you will address, and when, have a copy of them close to you when planning. Then, as you start to add things to your planner or teaching schedule, add in the outcomes and objectives that make sense for each class.
It’s always a good idea to try and keep things simple. Instead of trying to cram in all of the outcomes, try grouping similar outcomes together and work from there. For example, if some of your outcomes are to “Interpret intent and meaning”, “Apply criteria to evaluate” and “Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experience”, then think how you could complete class work and assessments that will address all of these outcomes together.
Planning Your Music History Scope and Sequence
Selecting the right historical periods and themes and sequencing them logically can make or break a music history curriculum. Remember that music history and appreciation does not mean that you only study the Western European Tradition of “Classical” music! There are many different musical genres and music history topics to choose from, and what you choose will depend on your own area of expertise as well as what will appeal to your students.
But, this is the time to start thinking outside the box. For a list of possible music topics to study, check out this blog post linked below:
Or try this blog post linked here – 5 Music Topics that Should be Taught in Every Middle School Music Classroom
Planning What and When to Assess
Assessment plays a pivotal role in understanding what your students have learned and where they need improvement. It will be much easier to plan if you firstly know your due dates for reports!
Once you know when reports are due, ask yourself how much time do I need to mark the assessment, and how long does it take to enter data and write reports?
When you know the answers to these questions, work backwards to decide when an assessment needs to be due. Keep in mind any school wide activities that might prevent your due dates from going ahead. Are there any blackout times where no assessments can be conducted? Are there any school wide events?
When you have an idea of when assessments are due, you will then need to decide on what type of assessment it will be for your class. Is it an assessment for performance, composition, listening or musicology?
After deciding when you are going to assess, and what will be assessed, you will then need to think about the skills your students will need to complete the assessment. When will you teach those skills? Can these skills be incorporated into your lessons? How will you teach the skills?
Here are 2 blog posts that you might want to check out that are all about assessment ideas
How to Plan for Differentiation and Inclusivity
Middle school music classes often consist of students with diverse skill levels and learning styles. To create an inclusive and engaging learning environment, you must adapt your music history resources to meet these varying needs. Some ways that you can easily differentiate in the music classroom are listed below:
- Choose music that is suited to the skill level of the student
- Choose music that will appeal to the student
- Give students options about performing as a soloist or as part of a group
- Give students the option to record themselves performing for submission instead of performing live in front of the class
- Give students options for what instrument to perform on
- Provide a variety of options within the task – what technology to use, what instrument, group/solo work, etc…
- Provide a variety of submission options – handwritten, using music software, recorded with video, recorded with audio only
- Give students a set of listening questions that is at their level of understanding
- Give students options for the music they choose to study and analyze
- Give students options for how to present the information – mind maps, essay, paragraph, dot points, verbally
- Give students a variety of topics to choose to study
- Give students topics that will suit their level of research skills
- Provide students with scaffolds to complete the research – questions, mind maps, graphic organizers
- Give students options for submission – handwritten, typed, submitted by hand, submitted digitally, video, audio, podcast, etc..
Music History Teaching Resources
Now you can see that there is a lot to consider when planning out your music history curriculum! But, you don’t have to start from scratch, there are resources out there ready to go that will make it much easier for you to plan and teach, for 2 whole years.
This comprehensive resource is designed to make your curriculum planning journey easy, engaging, and effective. It contains 12 complete units of work, each equipped with music history lessons, music appreciation lessons, elements of music listening activities, practical hands-on lessons, assessments, music vocabulary activities, and reading comprehension strategies. You’ll discover how these resources align perfectly with your curriculum needs while offering engaging, interactive experiences for your students.
This bundle includes 12 resources, and they are all ones that I have personally used with my own Grade 7 and 8 music students. Listed below is the order that I teach them, and what grade level they are for.
Grade 7 Music
- Rhythm and Rap
- Instruments of the Orchestra
- Film Music
- The Keyboard – mini unit
- World Music
- Beginnings of Rock Music – African & Jazz Music
- Rock Music History – Pioneers of Rock Music
- Instruments of Rock and Pop
- The Guitar- mini unit
- The Drumkit – mini unit
- Rock and Pop Musicians – Popular Musicians and bands from the 1960s to 2000s
Middle school music history curriculum planning doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By addressing the challenges of time management, clear outcomes, scope, and sequence, assessments, differentiation, as well as inclusivity, you can craft a music history course that both you and your students will love.
And to make this journey truly easy and engaging, don’t forget to explore our “Music History Bundle” – a resource designed to help you overcome the budget constraints, student diversity, and time limitations often faced by music teachers. Discover the joys of teaching music history and appreciation by simplifying the planning process.
To explore and purchase the Music History Bundle that will transform your middle school music history curriculum, visit our store here:
Until next time
Julia from Jooya