What Are Students Like at This Learning Level?

High school students are required to take one year of music to fulfill their graduation requirements. Students can often select from subjects such as General Music, Music Appreciation, choir, band, orchestra, piano lab, string ensemble, and others. In some cases, depending on the theme or focus of the school, freshman are not allowed to take music classes. In other high schools, students who have gained and mastered various musical skills in elementary school music programs can continue their studies through all four years of high school. High school music coursework does not directly correspond to grade levels, however. A sophomore may find herself sitting next to a senior in a General Music class. The following is a quick look at the characteristics and abilities of students in early high school.

Early high school students can absorb complex ideas without a lot of explanation. Their abstract thinking skills are continuing to develop and sharpen. Instrumentalists begin to understand the mechanics of their instruments and how they function as simple machines. Students have greater knowledge of how the body functions in order to produce vocal sounds as well as the technical aspects of how sounds are produced on various instruments. This is a great time for students to incorporate classroom strategies and lessons into their performances. Whether students are leaning toward actual musical performance or just an appreciation of music, this is a key time for them to develop and refine their personal aesthetic. Encourage independent study to supplement structured lessons.

Many freshman and sophmores are not confident and this can reflect in their musicianship. Students can be easily distracted and sometimes lose focus in playing or singing the correct notes and observing the dynamics required during practice sessions. Be firm, and positively reinforce

the concept that students need to be disciplined and focused when learning music, because incorporating this work ethic will reflect in their musicianship. Instructors must find innovative ways to motivate students to practice outside of class since parents tend not to be as involved at the high school level.

Freshman and sophomore boys are still experiencing changes in the timbre of their voices and they can be apprehensive about singing alone and in a group. Instructors should adopt an encouraging and reassuring attitude. Girls are still maturing physically. Some girls may already be convinced that they sing soprano or alto based on previous vocal experiences in or outside school. It may be difficult to convince them to sing in a different section, but they should understand the value of trying something new and gaining a fresh perspective, even if they eventually return to their previous section. They should be assured that approaching something from a different musical perspective will make them better musicians.

What Students Can Do at This Level

The learning outcomes below are based on the Scope and Sequence, which builds instruction sequentially across these levels. Keep in mind that students of different ages may be at the same level.
High School Level I Students Can… High School Level II Students Can…
sight-read melodies and harmonies of an easy to moderate level of difficulty

sight-read complex musical selections

improvise stylistically appropriate harmonizing parts

improvise stylistically appropriate harmonzing parts in a variety of genres

identify major scale degrees by number (I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii)

read and write major and minor I, IV, and V chords

evaluate a musical performance, composition, arrangement, or improvisation by comparing it to similar or exemplary models

evaluate musical performances and compositions by comparing them to similar or exemplary models and offering constructive suggestions for improvement

listen to and classify music from a variety of cultures by style and/or historical period

classify by genre or style, and by historical period or culture, representative aural examples of music and explain the reasoning