What is the Greatest Purpose of Music?

Ages: 10-13
Suggested length:1 class period (45-55 minutes) 
Device accessibility: 1 device per 1-2 students

Lesson Information

At a glance

In this lesson, students will contemplate and articulate their personal opinions about the greatest purpose of music. As a whole class, students will expand on a partly developed Kialo discussion on this topic, giving them the opportunity to formulate their own thoughts and engage with those of their peers.

Students will be individually assessed on a subsequent project. First, students will each collect 5 pieces of music they think exemplify the greatest purpose(s) of music. Students will then write a paragraph for each piece, explaining why they think that the piece is a good example.

Optionally, students can also be assessed on their participation in the Kialo discussion.

Learning objective(s)

In this lesson, students will:

  • Develop and apply personal criteria for evaluating pieces of music.
  • Articulate and defend their personal evaluations of pieces of music.

Prior knowledge

No specific prior knowledge is required for this lesson.

Teacher preparation

  • Make 1 clone of the discussion for each class.
    • In the provided Kialo discussion, there is a default discussion task for students to add 3 claims below others’ claims (this is to ensure that students are engaging with others’ ideas). You can alter discussion task settings in your own clone and then use it as a template for any subsequent clones you wish to make.
  • When inviting students to their clones of the discussion, give them either Writer or Editor permissions.
  • This lesson suggests that students discuss the purpose of three pieces of music: Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” the iconic work of Chinese classical music “High Mountain, Flowing Water,” and a performance of Balinese Hindu kecak (a music and dance drama). You may find it useful to familiarize yourself with the background of each work to facilitate a discussion among students:
    • Background on Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.”
    • Background on the Chinese classical piece “High Mountain, Flowing Water.”
    • Background on Balinese Hindus’ kecak music and dance drama.

Provided materials

  • The Kialo discussion, “What is the Greatest Purpose of Music?” This consists of:
    • A brief background on the purpose of music.
    • A partly developed Kialo discussion for students to expand on. The discussion invites students to contemplate the greatest purposes of music.
  • Lesson plan for educators (.docx / .pdf).
  • [Optional] Suggested rubric for grading students’ participation in a Kialo discussion (.docx / .pdf).
  • Click here to view individual file download links.

Lesson Plan

Suggested length: 1 class period (45-55 minutes)

Lesson components:
– Opener (10 minutes)
– Activity
– Part A: Developing the Kialo discussion and having a follow-up conversation (focus of 1 class period)
– Part B: Introducing the song collection assignment (7 minutes)
– Optional closer (6-10 minutes)

Assessment
Students will each collect 5 pieces of music they think exemplify the greatest purpose(s) of music. Students will then write a paragraph for each piece, explaining why they think that the piece is a good example.

[Optional] You can also grade students on their participation in the Kialo discussion. (see suggested rubric in provided materials)

Opener (10 minutes)

  1. Tell students that in today’s class, they will discuss the purpose of music. Tell students that there is no one correct answer to this question, and people have many different opinions on this question.
  2. Play a clip of Marvin Gay’s 1971 hit, “What’s Going On” (recommended stop at 1:38), and ask students to pay attention to the lyrics. Then ask students what they think the purpose of the piece might be.
  3. Play a clip of “High Mountain, Flowing Water” (recommended stop around 1:40), an iconic work of Chinese classical guzheng (GOO-jung) music that dates back to the 4th century BCE. Then ask students what they think the purpose of the piece might be. Ask students if the purpose of this piece overlaps at all with Gaye’s song: Why or why not?

Activity

Part A: Developing the Kialo discussion and having a follow-up conversation (focus of 1 class period)

  1. Inform students that the entire class will work together to develop a Kialo discussion on the topic, “What is the greatest purpose of music?”
  2. Display the topology diagram of the Kialo discussion (this can be found by clicking the mceclip0.png button in the top-left corner of the discussion), and go over the 4 theses (in blue). Ask students which purposes “What’s Going On” and “High Mountain, Flowing Water” might exemplify.
  3. Instruct students to log into the Kialo discussion and begin working to each add 3-4 claims to the discussion that respond to others’ claims.

Tip: You can keep track of how many claims each student has added by pressing the    button in the top-left of the discussion and looking at the “Tasks” tab.

  1. When students are finished adding claims, browse the topology diagram of the Kialo discussion (click the mceclip1.png button) to informally review the discussion, taking time to discuss interesting claims.

Part B: Introducing the song collection assignment (7 minutes)

  1. Share the following assignment prompt with students: Collect 5 pieces of music that you think exemplify the greatest purpose(s) of music. Write a paragraph for each piece, explaining why you think that the piece is a good example of the purpose(s) of music.

Tip: You can decide whether and how students should turn in the pieces of music themselves. Including links on a document is a simple approach.

Optional closer (6-10 minutes)

Show a clip of kecak (keh-CHA), a music and dance drama performed by Balinese Hindus. Ask students what they think the purpose of the piece might be, and facilitate a discussion around their answers.

Related Kialo Discussion

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