Aleut Music Lesson Plan

Music_Composition_through_the_Lens_of_the_Aleutian_People

Excerpt 1-War Song

Excerpt 2- Song of the Birds and Waves

The cultural standard my unit is closely linked to is Standard A-Culturally knowledgeable students are able to build on the knowledge and skills of the local cultural community as a foundation from which to achieve personal and academic success throughout life. From a Western music standpoint, the songs in my lesson of the Aleut culture are very difficult. My lesson looks at the content and elements of Aleut music from a music theory and aural skills point of view. Students also get to transcribe the music (like the Russian Orthodox missionaries) and consider whether the music would be harder to learn aurally or by sheet music. I believe this lesson is a window into why music of the Aleuts was taught aurally.

While students get to examine their own strengths in music, whether they are more comfortable with reading music or learning by ear, they also get to compare the musical strengths between Western European music, their own culture, and the Aleuts. Therefore, they will recognize and build upon the inter-relationships that exists among the spiritual, natural, and human realms in the world around them, as reflected in their own cultural traditions and beliefs as well as those of others (from the Alaska Standards for Culturally Responsive Schools). The activity where students ponder a significant object or event related to their own culture and write lyrics to a song combines two (or more) cultures into one song.

8 thoughts on “Aleut Music Lesson Plan”

  1. Hey, Lindsay!

    Thanks so much for sharing your detailed lesson plan! It was neat to see how you incorporated listening skills (which is super important for musicians, as we both know), transcription (it would be so cool to see students’ results!), and the cultural artifact activity we did in class! What a great way to tie together cultural story/identity and musical expression.

  2. Nice design, Lindsey! Your lesson turned out great and I can tell you have had some practice at this:) I like not only the format, but the activities……

    See you tomorrow!

  3. The music examples that you have included are amazing! I really like the sound of the gulls in the Song of the Birds and Waves. Nice lesson plan, I think it would be really challenging to transcribe the sounds in these songs, but writing the four measures of music opens up a lot of creativity for your students. Great lesson.

  4. I am interested to see how these aural skills and dictations go in our lessons, because I think it is not a skill that comes easy to many high school students. Obviously the point is for students to gain experience with it and wrestle with some issues of Western notation and its shortfalls with non-Western music, but maybe its a case for working on those skills more in our classes!

    1. I agree, I am worried that this lesson would be too difficult for high school students…maybe some pre activities looking at identifying meter would help. I hope they would be able to at least recognize dynamics and tempo though!

      1. I was wondering about the task of composing a song in the style – You would need lots of different activities composing with different elements to get there! I think its do-able, tho. Maybe several stages – a composition in a compound meter, a compositing in a given mode, a composition using only certain instruments, and then your culturally relevant composition.

        Personally, I feel one of the reason high school musicians usually aren’t ready to compose on their own is they are rarely asked to understand music theory, perform aural skills, improvise, or create their own music! Heck, I’m not sure all music students are required to critically listen… If you were to make composing, analysis, and theory a part of your classroom – you would have some amazing musicians on your hands.

        Awesome lesson. I really like it!

  5. I love this idea! I come from a family that always listened to a lot of music but never took any formal music lessons and there is something to be said for learning music without sheet music. There seems to be a different connection with the music when you don’t understand/have the sheet full of notes in front of you. I hope the students get to that point with this lesson too!

  6. This is a very well-crafted lesson! Your lesson plan, activities, and information on incorporating cultural standards are all very detailed. I like that you provide so many opportunities for cultural connection in this lesson. The activities of transcription, aural learning, composition, thinking about personal cultural significance, and finding a cultural object all provide ways for the student to contemplate how culture colors one’s understanding and learning of music.

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