Instrumental Music Research Assignment




Musical Content & Notes

January 8

First class: Course Introduction and Overview

Read Chorales from Bach and Before for Band, distributed in class



Teaching tonal and rhythm patterns

Rote song teaching procedures

Rote Song Treasure Hunt assigned (due Jan. 17)

Make sure you have your

recorder for next week’s classes!

Mary Had a. . .

Yankee. . .

Hot Cross Buns

This Old Hammer

London Bridge




Basic Principles: Aptitude vs. Achievement, Method vs. Technique, Instrumental Readiness

Method Book Review assigned (due Jan. 22--rubric provided below)

Rote Song Treasure Hunt due 

Performance of Student Rote Songs

Rote song partner teaching

Executive skills partner teaching

Read: Are Students Learning Music in Band?

Good Rhythm and Intonation from Day One in Beginning Instrumental Music

Field Trip: Instrument Repair Clinic @ Meridian Winds

Pedagogical Analysis Project #1: Toccata for Band, assigned (PAP rubric provided below, due Feb. 5)

Method Book Review due 


Lab: Bring major instrument and recorder

Introduce Major tonal patterns and skill learning sequence

Read&Rehearse Toccata for Band (see R&R schedule)

Performance of Student Rote Songs

Mary Had a. . .

Yankee. . .

Hot Cross Buns

This Old Hammer

London Bridge
Amazing Grace

Major tonal patterns in familiar order

Duple rhythm patterns, familiar order


Diagnosing Instrumental Problems: Band Triage

Read&Rehearse Toccata for Band (see R&R schedule)

Arrangement Assignment, due Feb. 12


Starting Beginners: Brass & Percussion

Students will need a minor brass instrument and drum sticks for this class.

Read&Rehearse Toccata for Band

Erie Canal

Student rote songs

Triple rhythm patterns,

familiar order




Continue with PAP Debriefing from Monday...

Minor tonal patterns, familiar order

Student rote songs



Performance of Student Arrangements


Starting Beginners: Woodwinds

Students will need a minor woodwind instrument for this class.



Read&Rehearse piece in class 


Repertoire Search Project due

March 5-9



Guest Speaker: Dave Rogers, Walled Lake

School Instrumental Program Design & Balance

14 @PDP site

Read: Find a band/orchestra handbook online and reflect (guide given in class)

19 @PDP


Guest speaker: ?

Warm-Up/Tune-Up Assignment (due March 26)

26 @PDP

Rehearsal Techniques & Strategies

Warm-Up/Tune-Up Assignment due

28 @PDP

Rehearsal techniques & strategies

Choose one improv article to read and introduce to class





Intro to Improv

ELPS Spring Break

Cover Tune Arrangement (due April 4)

4 Lab Band

Jazz Ensemble Basics

ELPS Spring Break

Cover Tune Arrangements performed in class

Jazz Ensembles and Improvisation in the School Music Program

Read: “Alternative Assessments” (Robinson) for Tues. 4.9.13


11 @PDP

16 on campus

Making the Grade:  Assessment Practices in Music Education

18 on campus

Rating scales, pass-offs, chair tests—pros and cons

23 on campus

Class and Seminar

The Job Search: Resume/Cover Letter, Credentials, Interviews, Placement Services


Teacher Evaluation

25 on campus

Miscellaneous: advocacy, teacher research, cross-curricular collaboration?


All assignments are to be completed on time and are due at the beginning of class.  Due dates are included on the course calendar (above), and below.  Written work is to be typed, error-free, and in proper essay form.  You may revise written work one time before the end of the term, attaching copies of the previous version.  All written work must be submitted electronically (preferred format: Microsoft Word) via email ( or, unless arranged otherwise. Corrections and edits will be made electronically and returned via attachment.


Rote Song Treasure Hunt (due Jan. 17)

Method Book Review (due Jan. 22)

Pedagogical Analysis Project (due Feb. 5)

Arrangement Assignment, (due Feb. 12)

Repertoire Search Project (due Feb. 28)

Warm-Up/Tune-Up Assignment (due March 26)

Cover Tune Arrangement (due April 4)

Attendance and Participation:

Class members are expected to attend all classes, as learning in the class is enhanced by the attendance of all. More than two absences may result in the course grade being lowered .5, and .5 for each additional absence beyond that. There is no such thing as an excused or unexcused absence, so save your absences for when you really need them. I appreciate knowing why you miss a class, but notification is not required. If you have an unusual situation that results in extended absence, please contact me so that I am aware of the situation and can make arrangements to meet your instructional needs.  

There will be frequent class activities based on the readings and class discussions that require participation, and students are expected to be prepared. Class participation will be factored into grading. This means doing the required reading and actively participating in class every day so that discussion can be as meaningful as possible.

Student work must be turned in on time. Grades on individual assignments and projects will be reduced by .5 for every day that they are late.


Class participation and discussion 20%

Professional Development Site responsibilities (planning, teaching, conducting) 30%

Assignments 50%

Failure to complete any portion of the above requirements may result in failure of the course.

Professional Expectations:

I view you as professionals, expect you to view yourselves as professionals, and, therefore, to act as professionals. Just as you will expect your students to attend class regularly and arrive on time, I expect the same from you. This is an interactive class, and we will be learning from each other. At this point in your education, you should prepare yourself for the professional world. I would not expect a professional to skip work; therefore, I do not expect you to skip class. Other expectations include, but are not limited to, full preparation and participation in class, appropriate professional attire when teaching or at observations, cell phones/iphones/blackberry/pagers that are turned completely OFF (you may not use these devices to take notes in class), and prompt and regular attendance. You are now making impressions on your instructors that will persist throughout your professional preparation and career. 

Academic Honesty: 

Article 2.3.3 of the Academic Freedom Report states that, “The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards.” In addition, the School of Music adheres to the policies on academic honesty as specified in General Student Regulations 1.0, Protection of Scholarship and Grades; the all-University Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades; and Ordinance 17.00, Examinations.  (See Spartan Life: Student Handbook and Resource Guide and/or the MSU Web site: Therefore, unless authorized by your instructor, you are expected to complete all course assignments, including homework, lab work, quizzes, tests and exams, without assistance from any source. You are not authorized to use the Web site to complete any course work in MUS455. Students who violate MSU rules may receive a penalty grade, including but not limited to a failing grade on the assignment or in the course. 

Accommodations for Disabilities: 

Students with disabilities will need to contact the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (353-9642 or and work with me to arrange any needed accommodations, per the Center’s recommendation. It is the student’s responsibility to register with the RCPD and to inform faculty of any special accommodations needed by the student as determined by Disability Specialists at the RCPD; Faculty do not determine accommodations.


The College of Education’s Professional Criteria for Progression to Student Teaching require that all education students be reliable in terms of attendance and punctuality. Students with unexcused absences and frequent tardiness may be withdrawn from the teacher certification program.

*I would prefer not to have a final examination, but will be happy to do so if the class desires one or if it becomes clear that class assignments and/or readings and assignments are not being done or taken seriously.


Course readings will be taken from a variety of sources, including the journals below. Also, become familiar with the locations of the following journals in the library’s holdings, as some of our readings will be drawn from their contents:  Music Educators Journal (MEJ), Update: Applications of Research in Music Education, Journal of Research in Music Education (JRME), Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education (CRME). 



Selected scores and other materials (TBD)

Erickson, Toccata for Band, score

36 Chorales for Band, score and parts below (also available at


Grunow, Gordon, and Azzara.  (1999).  Jump Right In: The Instrumental Series—Teacher’s Guide, Books 1 and 2, 2nd edition.  Chicago:  GIA Pub.  

Miles, R., et al.  (multiple). Teaching Music Through Performance in Band. Chicago:  GIA (I have these texts in my office, available for loan)

Froseth, J. O., and R. F. Grunow.  The MLR Instrumental Score Reading Program, Compact Disc, set (4). 

Gordon, E.  (1977).  Learning sequence and patterns in music. Chicago: G.I.A. Publications. 

This syllabus is a guide. It may be varied as needed.

Last spring I incorporated composition in my 7th grade instrumental music class. This class met twice a week for 50-minute periods. Fourteen students participated in the class; seven started playing new instruments (including flute, percussion, alto saxophone, and guitar) at the start of the semester. With varied instrumentation and performance ability, I focused on small group learning, which allowed composition assignments to be tailored to individual needs and interests. Objectives for the class included: (a) learning a variety of repertoire in major and minor tonalities, (b) learning music in a variety of styles, (c) improvising on tonic and dominant harmonies, and (d) composing melodies and arrangements following specific guidelines.

To provide a musical environment that would promote creativity and understanding, students sang and performed by ear and with notation: (a) melodies and roots of chords; (b) harmonic, rhythmic, and expressive elements; (c) improvised melodic patterns and phrases; and (d) improvisations, modeled on Developing Musicianship Through Improvisation (Azzara & Grunow, 2006, 2010a, 2010b).

Students focused on three composing/arranging assignments related to repertoire performed in class. Compositions were evaluated using additive and continuous rating scales, which included tonal, rhythm, and expressive dimensions (Stringham, 2010). To receive a top score in tonal and rhythm dimensions, all pitches and rhythms are correctly notated given the harmonic progression. To receive a top score in the expressive dimension, students notate time signature, clef, stem directions, articulations, and phrasing correctly.

In their first assignment, students were asked to compose a melody to the harmonic progression of “Frère Jacques.” One student’s composition appears below. In this example, the composer demonstrates understanding of tonic and dominant harmonies by choosing appropriate melodic pitches, and shows understanding of form and reuse of material found in “Frère Jacques” with repeating two-measure patterns.

In the second composition, students were asked to arrange a familiar song, such as “Eency Weency Spider” or “London Bridge.” Arrangements contained four parts: melody, bass line, guide-tone line, and counter melody. Below is one student’s arrangement of “Eency Weency Spider.” The composer correctly notates all pitches and rhythms given the harmonic progression, and demonstrates appropriate phrasing and articulation.

In the final assignment, students were asked to arrange or compose anything they wanted. Students had the option of using NoteFlight or writing by hand; each student-organized group performed at the spring music concert. Arrangements included: (a) “Lion Sleeps Tonight” (Solomon Linda), arranged for piano, violin, and guitar; (b) “Disney Medley” (Elton John, Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Leigh Harline, and Ned Washington), arranged for alto saxophone, guitar, violin, viola, and two flutes; and (c) “Drops of Jupiter” (Train), arranged for two guitars, drums, piano, and violin.

While introducing composition in my instrumental classroom was successful, there were bumps along the way. Students expressed frustration with the unfamiliarity of composing and arranging. However, by the end of the semester, students demonstrated skills and understanding that contributed to their overall musicianship, proficiency on instruments, and success at the spring concert.


Azzara, C. D. & Grunow, R. F. (2006). Developing Musicianship through Improvisation, Book 1. Chicago: GIA Publications.

Azzara, C. D. & Grunow, R. F. (2010a). Developing Musicianship through Improvisation, Book 2. Chicago: GIA Publications.

Azzara, C. D. & Grunow, R. F. (2010b). Developing Musicianship through Improvisation, Book 3. Chicago: GIA Publications.

Stringham, D. A. (2010). Improvisation and Composition in a High School Instrumental Music Curriculum. Doctoral dissertation, University of Rochester.

-Leslie J.B. Hart, Castilleja School

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