Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My Favorite Time of Year

Today began what is my favorite time of the year, er, rather semester.

It is the time when my students share their personal playlists in class.

No, it is not because this is the time of the semester when I get to sit back whilst the students "teach" the class.

Though that is a perk! :)


At the beginning of each semester, when talking about the general overview of the course, I tell my students that I will teach the lessons about the musical trends in history.

THEY will teach the lessons about current music trends. I tell them that who better than they, the young listener, to teach about the music that they are listening to. 

While I do keep up with the trends on my own, since I have begun requiring this project I have learned so much more. 

From my students!

(I learn from them every day!)


The personal playlist project requires the students to select 10 songs that mean something to them.

(Often the hardest part of the project is limitation of 10 songs.)

For each song they find a picture of the album cover, choose a favorite lyric then write three paragraphs. 

  • Paragraph One is about the song itself - background info such as who wrote/performed the song, the story behind the song, any awards it might have won, etc.
  • Paragraph Two is a musical description of the song. In this paragraph I want the students to describe the timbre, genre - generally, what they hear in the music using musical terms.
  • Paragraph Three is a explanation about why the song means something to them. It is this paragraph that the students share with the class.
For the class presentation the students read paragraph three then play the a brief sampling of the song.


This third paragraph is often very revealing about the student.

I have had students cry whilst telling why the song means something to them. One student got so choked up he couldn't speak and I just quietly told him to play the song and let the music speak for him. 

I've heard students tell of a death of a loved one or friend and how the song helped them through the grief. 

I've heard a girl reveal that she had been raped and that a song had helped her to overcome the painful memories.

I've heard songs that were played before sporting events that were meant to motivate the team.

I've heard fun songs that the students love to play whilst hanging out and having fun with friends.

I've heard the songs that brought my students closer to God and encouraged their spiritual relationship with Him.


For the entire hour of class time we listen to music and learn a little bit about the students from what they share about the song.

There are obviously recent hits, but also classics and oldies.

There are songs from childhood. Songs from Disney movies are favorites.  Some boy band songs. Even the Barney theme song has shown up.

There are religious songs.  Contemporary Christians tunes, old gospel tunes, and even Latin Catholic tunes.

There are American songs, yes, but also songs from the homelands of foreign students or from places students have traveled to.

There are movie theme songs, TV theme songs.

There are instrumental works. True classical works as well as contemporary instrumental music.


Music is plays a vital role in my students' lives.

This project allows them to share a little bit about themselves through the music that speaks to them.

Because of this sharing and the listening to hundreds of new songs (as I grade their projects)

....this is why this is my favorite time of year.


  1. What a wonderful idea and experience!

    1. Thank you! Try it. You'll find you and your students will enjoy it.