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FORUMS (Free and Open Resources for Undergraduate Music Study): Lesson kernel: Xylophone in the forest

FORUMS is a collection of free and open online materials to support undergraduate general education music courses internationally.

How does music relate to other topics, ideas, disciplines....?

We look at music through different lenses and listen to music with different objectives and for different reasons (different "ears" or ways of hearing and listening).  What do our students hear when we simply ask them to listen?  And how do they listen if their listening is not directed?  What lenses do students use to describe and experience music?   

Do we--and should we-- encourage gen ed students to relate music to other fields and disciplines.  Music is important for its own sake, and deserves to be learned and experienced for its own value and its place in what makes us human.  And music study is related to many other areas. Do we make our teaching objectives clear?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of open-ended vs. specific objectives and questions?    Should we--and how can we--link music content and experience with other knowledge and experience of our gen ed students?

If music occurs in a forest and no one is there to hear it....

Teaching ideas for the Xylophone in Forest video

A few possible related topics for discussion and study:  What roles does music play in advertising? The video tag identifies this as a Japanese commercial.  Would this commercial be popular or effective in another culture or age demographic? For another product? This commercial re-imagines a piece of Baroque era music (Jesu, joy of man's desiring). Would this version still be considered Baroque music?  Look up this piece of music and listen to the "original."  Is J.S. Bach the composer, or did he also re-imagine the music?

Most of us would recognize that the wooden ball striking the wooden bars is creating music.  Are the ambient nature sounds music? Why or why not?  What are the relationships of physical and temporal properties in creating this music (bar length and density, horizontal and vertical spacing).  Is there a performer of this piece?  If so, who?    

As a class or in teams or groups, have the students perform this music (or a shorter or more familiar piece of music) with each student "playing" (singing, chinning, or patsching) the part of one xylophone bar.  What do they experience and learn through active learning that they do not learn or experience through listening alone?

As a class or in teams or groups, have the students create and perform (using found sounds or instruments) a similar piece of music. It can use (or not use) electronics, gravity, inertia, other principles as determined by the teacher or the class.