On this second day of exploring the minor mode, the skill I want to tackle is being able to identify which version of scale degrees 6 and 7 a composer uses. This song, an example of early reggae written by Bob Marley, has limited pitch material. It’s also highly repetitive. These two factors combine to make it a good teaching example. Here’s my plan:
- This will be mixed in with other minor-mode examples, most of which will come from our Classical canon.
- We will listen with the intention of finding tonic and discovering the scale of pitches used.
- We will then focus on which notes need accidentals.
- I will write short excerpts on the board for them to copy to their notes or handout.
I will definitely report that I am a little intimidated to teach a reggae song. The context surrounding reggae’s birth and growth is complex and nuanced. I am grateful to have a textbook that provides the most important points and will be reviewing it in the morning before I teach…
POST CLASS UPDATE:
This activity worked very well today. I had about 20 minutes for it in my second two sections. Part of its success was due to the handout. Since I identified accidentals in the minor mode as the goal of the activity, I got more bang-for-the-buck by doing all the other work for the students and just leaving the accidentals out. I also (accidentally) made some other mistakes in the notation from misremembering the pieces (Eroica Symphony, mvt. 2 in particular), which provided the opportunity for further error detection practice. And, I used an additional outside-the-canon excerpt: an old recording of a famous tango, La Cumparsita.
This particular example (“Get Up, Stand Up”) was on the simple side, but it gave me room to point out about how most pop/rock/blues/jazz music in the minor mode does not use a leading tone. The notated rhythm also looks a lot more complex that the music feels, so it was good to have extra brain space available for processing the rhythm.
Here’s how the order of events went in class
(1) Passed out worksheet, having students tell me/them what to write in the blanks I left (^6 and ^7). This was one small way to make them be active.
(2) Before each excerpt give them time to identify which pitches were ^6 and ^7 and circle them.
(3) Play the excerpt twice, having them sing along after the first iteration.
(4) Walk through strategies (that they wrote down) for figuring out the version. For some students, this was very easy, but for those for whom it doesn’t happen naturally, they needed specific guidance. We worked with contouring, having just presented an assignment where students led the class through versions of minor scale by contouring what they wanted (half steps occurring closer together than whole steps). Working on embodying this relationship (half or whole step) pays off in the context of this worksheet, which sets the foundation for all notation in the minor mode. I had students test both versions of ^6 and ^7 with the contouring, both silently and out loud.
After the front side of the worksheet, I gave them time to write down some strategies that were working for them
The Beethoven 7 excerpt was good to do last. There’s a lot of nuance and harmonic complexity in this one and in classes with more time, I got to go into it.
I don’t think I would change much the next time I do this activity.