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(Music): In a senior music class (12th grade), I created a lesson based upon the choral repertoire which was being studied as a component of the class. As we were studying and performing the music of living composers, I thought that it would be informative for students to learn more about the composers, their styles, and their musical influences. In addition, I hoped that students would realize that the availability of social media and the World Wide Web has made it much easier to contact a living composer directly in order to communicate with them about their work.

As part of the lesson, students were asked to identify specific musical characteristics in each selection that they felt were representative of the composer’s style. To further reinforce their suppositions, they were asked to locate additional works by the same composer to determine whether or not the same characteristics existed in other works by the same composer. In some cases, students were able to locate unique characteristics which existed in multiple works by the same composer. In other cases, a composer’s style was more difficult to pigeonhole as different works by the same composer exhibited vastly different musical characteristics.

Because the thrust of the lesson was for students to learn more about the composers whose music we were studying, students were then given the opportunity to connect more directly with the composers. As I expected when designing the lesson, the initial inclination of almost all of the students was to immediately use electronic means (email, social media, etc.) to make contact with the composer. Very few even considered trying to locate a phone number or mailing address for the composer, opting instead for the more immediate gratification of electronic communication.

Several students made contact the same day with composers and were able then to ask direct questions of the composers regarding their process, their intentions, their influences, and their perception of their own characteristic style.

A secondary benefit realized as a result of this lesson was an increased awareness on the part of the students as to the deliberateness with which composers communicate their intentions in printed music.