Five grade levels within three elementary schools in the Natrona County School District (NCSD) participated in long term Ideas to Inspire™ projects during their Discover program days.  The overall theme was Innovation.  The goal was to develop, write, rehearse and record a song from scratch.  Each school had a different take and approach to the theme.  A new rock and roll instrument was introduced at each session.

Daydreaming to Innovate

The University Park 5th grade is a playful group who made the case that great innovation often starts with a daydream. This group resonated with the drums. Beyond creating lyrics and melody in their writing groups, University Park recorded many of the beats using non-traditional percussion from found objects.

Project Timeline

Process: Introduction to the project and objectives, learn about acoustic guitar, brainstorm song ideas and begin writing groups Presenters: Inda Eaton & Jeffrey Smith

Key Concepts:

  1. Why is the acoustic guitar so versatile?
  2. How is melody expressed on the acoustic guitar?
  3. How is rhythm expressed on the acoustic guitar?
  4. How does the acoustic guitar make you feel?
  5. Can you play the acoustic guitar and sing at the same time?

Process: Songwriting process begins, learn about the drums, review melody ideas, song structure, beat patterns and song tempos Presenters: Inda Eaton & Jeffrey Smith

Key Concepts:

  1. Name three drums typically included in a standard drum kit.
  2. What is the role of drums in rock music?
  3. How do the drums make you feel?
  4. Are there other objects that can be used to keep a beat?
  5. Why is tempo so important?

Process: Songwriting progression continues, learn about hand percussion, review melody ideas, song structure, beat patterns and song tempos Presenters: Inda Eaton & Jeffrey Smith

Key Concepts:

  1. How does hand percussion differ from the standard drum kit?
  2. What is the role of hand percussion in rock music?
  3. How does hand percussion make you feel?
  4. What everyday objects can be used to make a beat?
  5. How is percussion used to create sound effects?

Process: Songwriting progression finishes with lyrics, melody and beat. Learn about electric guitar, final editing and recording sessions. Presenters: B. Rehm-Gerdes, Jeffrey Smith and Inda Eaton

Key Concepts:

  1. How is the electric guitar different form the acoustic guitar?
  2. What is the difference between melody and rhythm in electric guitar?
  3. How does the electric guitar make you feel?
  4. Why is an amp needed with the electric guitar?
  5. What is an effect pedal?

Process: Listening and discussing mix of final project using digital audio software with a closer look at multi-track recording. Final synthesis of song writing and storytelling while breaking down elements of Oral Tradition, Myth & Metaphor, Music, Hypothesis & Conclusion and Signs & Symbols. Presenters: B. Rehm-Gerdes, Nancy Atlas, Jeffrey Smith and Inda Eaton

Key Concepts:

  1. How does our project look pro tools?
  2. How is mixing different from editing?
  3. What are the elements of our story when we step back and listen to the entire project?
  4. How does our project relate to our overall theme?
  5. What can we do moving forward to keep making creative projects?