Typhani Harris | May 2016

Week 15: The Major and Minor of Music

The Art of Curriculum Design: The Major and Minors of Music

We are about 2/3 through this six month series where we have been exploring the why and how of curriculum design, via an Arts Appreciation course created through arts collaboration.

During the current portion of the series, we are looking at weekly objectives, outcomes, and assessments designed for the Arts Appreciation course. (Links to the entire series can be found below.) The full curriculum, including daily lesson plans, handouts, and assessments, will be available at the completion of the series.


-When Planning Like an Artist, everything is designed with the end performance in mind. So, as the course was designed, we remained focused on our ultimate goal/aim of the course and the final assessment/performance task; how the students are going to demonstrate the aim.
-Aim: After this course, it is our hope that students are able to articulate an appreciation of all art forms, while defending artistic preferences.
-Final Assessment/Performance Task: Students will design an arts company. As well as, create a performance season utilizing a common theme based on their personal artistic preference. They will then present their performance season to a board in the form of a proposal for funding as a way to articulate an appreciation of all art forms.

In the current portion of the Arts Appreciation course, we take an in-depth look at the minors of Music unit. Throughout this unit, students should continue to develop their final project, which is a theme-based performance season for their arts organization.
Week 14: Introduction to Minors of Music

Week 15: Vocal Minors of Music
At the completion of week 15, students will be able to:

  • Identify emotions within minors of music selections
  • Articulate how tempo, volume, unison, consonant, dissonant, and harmony contribute to the emotion
  • Identify major and minor keys in various songs
  • Articulate how major an minor keys evoke emotion
  • Determine how major and minor keys help to interpret songs
  • Identify musical elements in contemporary songs
  • Justify what musical structures are most difficult to identify

Week 15: Vocal Minors of Music
At the completion of week 15, students will demonstrate:

  • How specific musical elements will evoke particular emotions
  • An understanding, via definition and identification, or tempo, volume, consonant vs dissonant, and major vs minor
  • A justification for a songs emotion based on the musical structures

Week 15: Vocal Minors of Music
At the completion of week 15, students will be evaluated on:

  • Discussion protocol
  • Identification and justification of musical elements and the emotions they evoke
  • Identification and justification of the musical elements in their favorite songs
  • Defense of the emotion evoked in contemporary songs due to the musical structures

Series Recap

The first few weeks were devoted to the how and why of the curriculum design process.
The Art of Curriculum Design
The Art of Curriculum Design: The “Why”
The Art of Curriculum Design: The “How”

We then looked at applying the Plan Like an Artist method of Curriculum Design to create a secondary level Arts Appreciation course.
Arts Appreciation: Planned Like an Artist

Arts Appreciation Weeks 1-5
The first 5 weeks of the Arts Appreciation course provided the foundational information for students to participate in viewing and discussing art in preparation for building their own arts organization. Week one built a class definition of art, the second week focused on applying the class definition to artistic work, the third week helped students to identify artist intent. Identifying the intent, defending the intent, and determining the effect of artist intent on the emotional landscape of the art as viewed by an audience and as viewed through the lens of the class definition of art.

Through the viewing of controversial art, students are continuing to defend what they believe art “is” and “is not,” and acknowledging the emotion behind the art as well as identifying the artist’s intent. The fourth week concluded the foundational information students need in order to actively view art by taking a look at theme. The ability to identify the theme behind the art will help students to create their final project.

The goal of the fifth week was to start helping the students to profile their arts advocacy, by brainstorming the ways in which they want to showcase art for their final assessment. This involved composing an artist statement, determining the theme of their performance season, developing their artistic brand, and drafting the mission and vision for their arts organization.

Arts Appreciation Weeks 6-9: Theatre
The Theatre unit was divided into 4 weeks.  The first week introduces Theatre, the second week looks at understanding theatre through scripts and structure, the third week walks students through how to view and critique Theatre, and the final week of the Theatre unit helps students to design their Theatre portion of the performance season for their arts organization.

Arts Appreciation Weeks 10-13: Dance
The Dance unit was also divided into 4 weeks.  The first week introduces students to dance as art, the second week takes a look at the history and foundation of the oldest codified dance forms, Ballet and Modern.  The third week takes a look at the more contemporary forms of Jazz and Hip Hop.  The final week  helps students to bring all of their dance knowledge together to determine what they will include in their performance season for their arts organization.

Next Week: Week 16: “Viewing” Minors of Music
Week 16 of the Arts Appreciation course, including lesson plan objectives, outcomes, and assessments.

About the Author

Dr. Typhani Harris, author of Putting the Performance in Performance Task and Stop Teaching, brings over 2 decades of educational experience to The Institute. Originally a high school English Language Arts teacher, Dr. Harris transitioned into a dance educator who cultivated an award-winning collegiate style dance education program at a public school in California. Prior to joining the Institute, she was an educational leader and instructional coach specializing in preparing new teachers in secondary urban schools.  As the Chief Academics Officer, Dr. Harris maintains courses, conferences, and the accredited certification program at The Institute.