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Driving Question: 

How do students find a musical piece that is interesting and at their ability level to perform? What performance skills do students need to communicate and connect with an audience?

Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 8

The solo contest was the culmination of a unit of individual choice. The students learned how to choose a piece that was of interest and of a level that was right for them. Guest artists came and worked with students individually and as a class.  Everyone played their self-selected piece for the class and then five in each class went on to compete in a contest adjudicated by guest musicians.  The guest musicians reinforced performance etiquette and critiqued each student gently pushing them and giving accolades. The parents enjoyed the contest and efforts and the students learned to deal with competition within music that is often a collaborative effort.

Student Reflection

“I became more confident on stage, and I feel that I have more control over my tone under pressure.” - Yi Su

“I think the main point I improved upon was my musical tone, because in this piece I tried to put as many emotion and feeling as possible.” - Bill 

“I did a better job incorporating emotions into playing my music. I closed my eyes playing most of the time during the final contest. Furthermore, online music sheets lack dynamics, articulations, and certain expressions, so I added my own into the music.” - Ryan

Student Products
  • Videotape self for critique and revision
  • Write a justification for choice for musical selection
  • Engage in peer critique of other student performances
  • Write a self-reflection after the contest. 
Teacher Reflection

“I learned more about our parent community and it reinforced my understanding of the value of this project.  The effort for individual music pursuit is very valuable and that competition can enhance the learning if presented in the right way. The contest was a time for students to take their music learning into their own hands.” - Christy Wanamaker


Christy Wanamaker