Teacher Experience: “Video Game Designer: Creating Virtual Musical Instruments” Task for 6th Grade Music Students
A Defined STEM Learning Experience From:
6 th -Grade Music Teacher
St. Maximillan Kolbe School (MN)
Video Game Designer: Creating Virtual Musical Instruments
Here’s What We Did:
Each year, every class learns some aspect of tone color in music. As a different way of teaching about the instruments, I incorporated this performance task into the unit on tone color. First we discussed and reviewed the various aspects of tone color and how students would describe the sound they hear from an instrument. After the introductory lesson, I introduced the Defined STEM performance task. As a class, we watched the various videos that accompany the task, and each week students worked in groups to create a multi-player, rock-and- roll video game. Students researched various guitars, basses, and drum sets to determine how they were going to create scale drawings and models of each instrument. The students even experimented with various instruments in the classroom so they could experience how the instruments are played and gain understanding of how the instrument produced sound. Students used their research to help create the video game. They had a choice to create a model, an e-portfolio, packaging for their game, a technical report on the game, or a graph/ scale drawing to show what they’ve learned.
Why Defined STEM Was the Perfect Fit:
Defined STEM works in my classroom because music itself opens up all the other subject areas, making it very cross-curricular in nature. The students enjoy doing projects and lessons that are challenging and interest them—and are outside the standard model of research and writing a paper on what they learned.
Overall, most of the students really got into this project. One group even asked if they could actually program their game, and created a working demo of the guitar and bass. This Defined STEM project prompted a positive learning environment and effectively helped students gain understanding of tone color.