Unit VI Louisiana's Musical Landscape
Lesson 2 Listening Logs
I remember the first old radio we had in our home. At first it had earphones--that was the only way you could listen to it--was plug the earphone in it. Then later on somebody got smart and invented a speaker, and it looked like a great big tuba that you see in these brass bands. Boy, they really had something then, but you still had that wolf howl when somebody down the road was tuning his set in; boy, it would knock your ears off--oooooh! That'd go on for hours, and static! You never heard as much static in your life as it was on the radio. And the only stations you could get really was at night, and then WLW Cincinnati, and then you had WSM in Nashville which everybody favored on Saturday night because of the Grand Old Opry.
--Eddie Raxdale, North Louisiana String Band fiddler, Rapides Parish
English Language Arts, Music, Social Studies
Purpose of Lesson
Students hone their listening skills, develop tools for approaching research into their own musical traditions and those of community and state, and learn different ways of recording data.
Lesson Objectives/Louisiana Content Standards, Benchmarks, and Foundation Skills
1. Students improve their listening skills and ability to analyze sounds and music.
2. Students investigate how their community and regional soundscapes contribute to a sense of place and to local history.
3. Students learn to design different types of research tools.
4.Students acquire new data analysis skills.
2-3 class periods
Materials required to establish listening and resource centers or archives will vary in depth; or you may choose simply to have students keep listening logs or build larger music portfolios. If you set up a classroom center, consider tape players with headphones, acquiring recordings, materials for student listening logs and portfolios such as folders or binders, paper, perhaps software, commercial and personal cassettes and CDs. You may also include a tape recorder with handheld mike, CD player, VCR, videos, and publications. See the Louisiana Music Recordings: A Select List of Recordings, Louisiana Folklife Recording Series, and unit resources for good examples. If your students will be doing fieldwork, you may need digital cameras, audio recorders, or video recorders in addition to notepads and pencils as well as appropriate fieldwork forms. Print out and duplicate any worksheets or rubrics that you will be using from Unit II.
Background Information for the Teacher
Young people seem to possess an intuitive need to vocalize, sometimes even in nonsense syllables. They sing, whistle, hum, babble, wiggle, dance, beat out rhythms, and sometimes explode in complicated movement. Listen carefully to students in the halls and on the playground, and you'll hear song parodies, popular music riffs, rapping, hymns, and nonsense noises. They possess innate fondness and talent for music and movement, yet ask them where music or dance occur in their own daily lives, and they may pause. They will probably overlook the songs in their heads as well as movie soundtracks, radio, and video games.
In this lesson, students will be asked to complete two listening logs: the first one will hone their listening skills by asking them to tune into the "community soundscape." By logging what they hear in some part of the day, students will grow more aware of the musical sounds that are around them in everyday life, their personal aesthetics, and local music styles and tastes. In various settings and folk groups, all of us in a day might sing along with an oldie on the car radio, sing "Happy Birthday," hum an old hymn, attend a classical music concert, or go line dancing. Young people are no different and experience music every day.
The second listening log asks students to tune into the traditional music around them, specifically the music described in Unit VI Lesson 1. Their age, gender, family, religion, ethnicity, language, and region are among the factors influencing the folk songs they sing, how they count rhythm, where they encounter folk music.
Because of the visual emphasis in contemporary society and popular culture, students' abilities to sit still and just listen might need improvement. Incorporate some strategies from Improving Listening Skills into this lesson as students begin to consider musical landscapes and practice some listening strategies yourself. Sit for five minutes at school or home and just listen to the sounds in the environment. Write down sounds that you hear. What is the soundscape of your neighborhood? School? What was your childhood soundscape? What are your own music and dance influences, preferences, and talents?
Think about how much we take listening for granted and try to concentrate on overlooked sounds and music that you heard as a child or might hear today. Look at the Sample Listening Logs Worksheet in this lesson to see if it is appropriate for your students. Decide whether you want to develop or improve a student listening center and begin to acquire resources. Students, their families, and the parent teacher association may be of help. Talk with your school music teacher and media specialist, who may already have resources in the school library or know of used equipment or small grant opportunities from local media, for example. If you want students to develop soundscape portfolios, gather supplies they will need such as folders and audio recording equipment.
4th and 8th Grade Activities
1. Discuss the role that music plays in your students' everyday lives. They may use the worksheet Music in Everyday Life to answer the following questions. What different kinds of music are important to them? Where do they hear it? What kinds of instruments or vocals are involved? How might social music differ from religious music or patriotic music? Do they sing or hum or whistle while working and playing? Do they hear others do so? Do they listen to special music around holidays? Do they make rhythmic noises with hands, mouth, feet, or other parts of the body? Do they make up songs? What musical sound do they hear in nature? Discuss answers in groups or as a class as they discover differences and similarities.
2. Distribute copies of the Listening Log - Community Soundscapes worksheets for students to take notes as they listen. Complete one or more sample entries together to help students understand what they should be listening for. Have students listen to classroom sounds for a few minutes and record what they hear on the worksheet.
3. To prepare students for careful
listening, choose one or more of the strategies in Improving Listening Skills. (Remember that
listening well is a skill.) For examples, students should take notes on
notebook paper about a short audio recording. This might be an
excerpt of a book, sounds of nature, or music. Another option is
to listen to the Louisiana Voices
Traditional Music Examples and have students identify what
instruments they hear.
4. Discuss the data that students have recorded. How might they organize their findings? How would they design listening logs to organize information as they hear it and to note questions and observations? Ask students to refer to their Listening Log - Community Soundscapes worksheet and discuss whether it meets their needs. Then distribute copies of the Sample Listening Logs worksheet and follow the directions. They will also need copies of the Listening Log - Music Around Me worksheet for this activity, and can refer to the Data Charts worksheet for more ways to display data. They may work in groups and may want to adapt one for their own use. Use the Listening Logs Rubric to assess students' final products.
Technology Option: Students can create their own listening logs for organizing and displaying data. Allow time for experimentation and multiple options for organizing the data, as well as opportunities for group work.
5. Ask students to use the listening logs they designed in a homework assignment. Students can also use copies of the Listening Log - Community Soundscapes or Listening Log - Music Around Me worksheets for the assignment. Examples include:
6. As a class or in small groups, compare listening logs. What data is most interesting? Students may create a chart or graph of some categories of data. Use the criteria from the Listening Logs Rubric to evaluate students' work.
7. Extend the listening log activities over a period of time, perhaps for the length of this unit or even a semester. At various times give students listening assignments that relate to your curriculum. They may keep their logs in personal portfolios or a class notebook in the listening center.
4th Grade Explorations and Extensions
1. Ask a friend or older person to keep a listening log to compare with your own. You may decide what to ask them to listen for and how long you want them to keep the log.
2. Team up with another class in your school or in another region of the state to keep and compare listening logs.
3. Choose your ten favorite word strings or word combinations from your listening logs. Listen carefully to a selection of music and describe what you are hearing, using your word strings or combinations to create a poem. Share your poems within small groups or as a class. The Found Poem - Found Song worksheet could be used for this activity.
8th Grade Explorations and Extensions
1. Choose one of your listening logs as a starting point for a visual art lesson. What image does a particular sound or song inspire, for example? Or what visual landscape expresses your personal soundscape? Draw or paint a picture about one of these topics.
2. Expand the variety of things that you are listening for. See how many different languages, types of music, media, and so on you can collect. Edit fieldwork audio recordings to create your own or a class community sound collage.