In our course, “The Fundamentals of Music,” we teach a novel called The Music Lesson by world-renowned bassist, Victor Wooten.
There are two provocative parts to that opening:
1) Fundamentals of Music? Yes, they take place in both Grade 11 and 12, split into Fundamentals I and II. While they started as a theory and performance course (as a buffer to the performing ensembles), we’ve geared it more towards musical philosophy, ear training, responding to music… and yes, theory and harmony. It is, probably, the strongest course in our Music program because really teaches students how all of the spokes of the Music wheel go together – not just theoretically and not just in regards to performance, but in the cognitive and emotional elements as well. If you want to talk about it, contact me and I can send you everything we have to make it run – I’m happy to share the love 🙂
2) Yes, novel study in Music. Every program builds literacy: If it’s translating a word problem in Math, studying maps and legends in Geography or connecting with text in Music, literacy needs to be built from every angle because words (and their power to change the world) are never, ever going away. That’s a whole post in itself.
Anyway, The Music Lesson is about Victor learning the bass as he is just starting out in Nashville, where a mysterious man enters his apartment and challenges his views on all things music. Each chapter is set as a musical element (i.e. Tone, Space, Key, Dynamics, etc.) and focuses on one thing for the reader to think about. The text is very accessible and challenges some of the thoughts that we, as musicians and life-long learners of music, think about each element, which makes a great critical thinking resource for students.
While Michael Brandon teaches the Grade 11 section (where the book is taught), we’ve been building and constantly re-imagining the course for three years. The final assessment is a reading response to the work, but one of the prompts is this: “If you were to personify music, what would your relationship to he/she be? Explore and describe that.”
I’ll upload a sample from one of our Grade 11 students, but for this week, let’s think about what you would write. What is your relationship to Music” Remember: Music is a person!
Explore and good luck!