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 Problem Solving Plan #12


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Laurel Leder, ED 381 

 Musical Instruments

AIM:  To show students that music is all around us and can be created using any items and can be done by anyone

GOAL:  To allow students to use their creativity to create a musical instrument and to use their musical knowledge in doing simple compositions

GRADE LEVEL:  General music classes for 8 through 12 grades

PROBLEM:  The Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra is looking to replace all of their instruments with new, innovative instruments, which have nonstandard notation.  The symphony will be auditioning inventors/composers of these nonstandard instruments in two weeks.  To audition an inventor/composer must have the following prepared.  1)  A prototype of an instrument that is in good working order, and can be used in performance.  2)  Notation for the instrument that is complete, nonstandard, and written down, which will be used for playing the instrument.  3)  A short musical composition using nonstandard notation.  The composition will be performed on the instrument by the composer/inventor. 


The students will each invent a musical instrument, which can be played by them

The assignment will be due on __________ which allows two weeks for completion

The students will each write a short report on what the instrument is made of and how the instrument was put together

The students will each invent a new nonstandard notation for music which can be used to perform pieces on their instrument

The students will each compose a short piece which uses their new notation and perform it before the class

The report will be typed while the notation and musical composition will be neatly handwritten

Students will not be able to invest money in their instruments, they must use items they own already

This project will count as 25% of their grade for the current grading period


 1.  The instrument can be made of anything(s) used by the inventor/composer in everyday life, but it cannot be of an offensive nature.

 2.  No extra money can be spent on the instrument.  It must be made of an item(s) found in the inventor/composer’s possession.

 3.  The notation must be written down, it cannot be standard musical notation, and must be readable so others can follow it.

 4.  The musical composition must be at least 30 second in length, but not more than two minutes long.  It must be written down and use the nonstandard musical notation developed by the inventor/composer.

 5.  The nonstandard notation and musical composition must be written down neatly so it can be photocopied and handed out to the class.

 6.  The inventor/composer must present the following at the time of their presentation:

An instrument they created with standards in Number 1 and 2 above

A half page typed report explaining how the instrument works and what it is made of

A sheet containing the nonstandard notation used for playing the instrument

A written out composition for the instrument using the nonstandard notation

Note:  The inventor/composer must perform the composition on their instrument for the class. 


Performance skills and self-confidence

Reading and writing musical notation

Creativity and imagination

Evaluation: If students are not prepared for the class when they are asked to play, an automatic letter grade will be deducted from their final grade for this project.   

All reports will be typed and ready for handing in.  A handwritten report or a report with excessive spelling and grammatical errors will be marked down. The nonstandard notation and the compositions will be checked for accuracy and neatness.  These three items together will count for 1/2 of the grade.  The instrument itself will count for the remaining 1/2 of the grade.  Performance, while expected to be rehearsed and well done, will not count in the final grade.  There will be a possible total of 100 points for the entire project with each of the two sections each having 50 points possible.

Teacher will be available to help with ideas and projects on a limited basis.  Please ask for help if necessary, but the imagination used must be your own.  Limited class time will be used on solving this problem.