One of the best ways to meet students on their level is to talk about music they know. It removes entire steps; getting students used to the music they are hearing, explaining context, and more. Movie songs are especially poignant and can be a great lesson or unit for your classroom.
An easy way to begin integrating vernacular music is to introduce movie music or songs from movies. It prepares students for listening to music they are unfamiliar with by focusing on a movie song – be it in the movie or simply from the soundtrack. This list from Billboard can be a starting point for a movie music unit. If you’re looking to transition from classical music, you can parallel it to opera and oratorio or more contemporary operetta or musicals. How do these movie songs help tell the story or set the mood like those older types of songs?
If you would rather do just a single assignment on movie music, have students pick a song from the list and discuss how it fits the movie’s theme. Connect it to music of their choice (and the new core arts standards) by having each student pick a song from one of their favorite movies and do the same assignment.
You’ll see the students get more excited about your class while focusing on the music and the meaning of it in context. You’re building lifelong music appreciation.
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