Discovering Identities Through Musical Performance

Nicholas Gattis, Band, Carmel MS

Curriculum Unit (pdf)


This curriculum unit has been designed for music students to explore their own identity through examination of trends in music composition and performance. The content research and lessons designed for teacher use are geared toward ‘classical’ Western music. It is the author’s intention to serve as a specialist for that genre while the students supplement each lesson with music from their own background and personal taste they are most familiar with listening to or performing. However, these lessons can be tailored to suit any genre or time period. The content research also outlines how a musical identity is formed including biological and psychological dispositions with emphasis on the development of the adolescent self-identities. Throughout the unit students will be guided through steps toward transitioning their musical identity from consumer or audience member to creator, performer or producer. Students will understand and be able to articulate the identity of a piece of music, composer, musician, etc. by investigating the external and internal influences that impacted the creation in comparison to their own background. The culminating activity will take the form of a group song. The students will compose a short melody and perform in a call and response fashion. During each response the students will have an opportunity to solo either with a prepared melody or improvisation depicting their identity. Students with synthesize their learning with a self-reflection to articulate how their perceptions of identity, including theirs, has changed over time.