Today I worked on the overall structure to my new high school class, “Contemporary Music.” The impetus for the class was to utilize our new recording studio while also exposing the kids (eek…😬) to the modern music industry.

In case you were curious of how I’m going to run the class, especially in this new all-virtual ecosystem (barf…), I’m posting some of the document here for your perusal.

As an aside, in the grading sections, you’ll notice “5” is the grade for “no attempt made.” 50% is the lowest grade we can give in my county. While I appreciate the thinking behind this, in my experience the kids definitely take the wrong message from it, which outweighs the benefits… but that’s another story for another post…

What Are We Doing?

9295R Contemporary Music

1 Credit Prerequisite: Acceptable level of skills.

Ever wanted to record an album or write a major symphony? Ever wanted to perform as a singer/songwriter? In “Contemporary Music,” Students will explore and create music of various genres using a variety of composition, arrangement, and writing techniques. Each individual in the class will collaborate to produce a final project that might include an EP, an LP, the creation of a major work, and/or a culminating project dealing with an aspect of the music industry.

Materials and Expectations

What you’ll need (items with * can be provided by Mr. Szuba if necessary):

  • Internet connection
  • Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)*
  • Microphone*
  • Audio Interface* 
  • Idea Scratch Pad (physical notebook is ideal; not every idea can be typed into a computer)
  • Pencils/Pens (just remember, ink is forever…)

What to expect from Mr. Szuba:

  • I am learning alongside you.
  • I will give you my best effort.
  • If I don’t know something, I will say so and then research an answer.  
  • I will listen.
  • I will push you to be and do better.

What Mr. Szuba expects from you:

  • Excitement for this learning opportunity
  • Aggressive learning posture
  • Meet and exceed your goals
  • If you don’t know something, don’t wait for me to “teach” you; figure it out!
  • Listen to others.

Mr. Szuba’s Main Goals for the Semester:

  1. Students will create at least one professional-grade piece of content by the end of the semester.
  2. Students will take advantage of opportunities to develop healthy habits and build confidence at least once a week.
  3. Lay the foundation for a larger Music Industry program at Strasburg High School.

One Semester Project

**Projects will be graded based on rubrics released later in the semester.**

Student Levels
Beginner exploratory freedom and skill development.
Novice – developing craft while shifting focus to content creation.
Advanced – focus almost exclusively on content creation.
Professional – it’s not just a class anymore, bruh. 

By the end of the semester, students will complete one of the following options (select a project appropriate for your existing skill set and level of commitment): 

  1. Single – Beginner
    1. One to three (1-3) Tracks 
    2. Typically all based on one piece/song with various remixes or arrangements
    3. Each track is written and recorded by you
  1. EP – Novice 
    1. “Extended Playlist” or “Extended Play”
    2. A collection of tracks usually less than 30 minutes in length
    3. Each track must be Mixed
  1. LP/AlbumAdvanced 
    1. “Long Playlist” or “Long Play” 
    2. A collection of tracks usually more than 30 minutes in length)
    3. Must be Mixed and Mastered
  1. Mixtape – Professional
    1. A collection of tracks that can be distributed showing your best work.
    2. Must be Mixed and Mastered
    3. Must be Published and/or Distributed by semester’s end.
  1. Research Project – Beginner, Novice, Advanced
    1. Focus on career or topic within the music industry 
      1. Topics might include copyright law, music industry journalism, music industry trends, business analysis, etc.
    2. Become semi-expert on the subject 
    3. Present to a Panel (may include industry professionals) 
  1. Creation Project – Advanced, Professional
    1. Start an online business, blog, podcast, radio show, etc.
    2. Must somehow fit within the audio/music industry paradigm.   
    3. Must demonstrate significant uploaded content by semester’s end.
    4. Must develop marketing and growth plans.

Three Weekly Assignments

Each week, students will complete each of the following three tasks for forty (40) points per week:

  1. Goal Posts (ha)
    • Discussion board participation
    • Update on previous week’s goal (success and failure; we’re all learning here!)
    • State current week’s goal
    • Update on long term goals
    • Graded
      • 5 – Did not attempt
      • 7 – Weak attempt
      • 9 – Strong interaction
      • 10 – Contributed to class/program in an exceptional way 
  2. Progress Report
    • Upload video, audio, or text file explaining/ demonstrating your current project 
    • Graded (2x weighted):
      • 5 – Did not attempt
      • 6 – Poor attempt/no progress demonstrated
      • 7 – Met minimal expectation
      • 8 – Significant progress demonstrated
      • 9 – Excellent progress demonstrated
      • 10 – Outstanding progress demonstrated
  3. One Additional Interaction (at least)
    • Student must interact on Schoology each week in at least one of the following: 
      • Participate in discussion boards (even the fun ones!)
      • Collaborate on another student’s project 
      • Interact with weekly content uploaded by Mr. Szuba
    • Graded
      • 5 – Did not attempt
      • 7 – Weak attempt
      • 9 – Strong interaction
      • 10 – Contributed to class/program in an exceptional way 

Clearly I need to flesh this out more, but what do you think? Any ideas? Email me. 🙂

God bless!