The What / Why / Where / When and Project Ideas

Due Date

Tips for Getting Started

Rubric for Grading


Why: To give you an opportunity to learn about something that instersts you, but that you might not otherwise take the time to delve into. To broaden your education as a musician -- if you don't know anything about the music you are playing except where to put your fingers, you will never really appreciate the music or understand it in any kind of intellectual / emotional way.

Where/When: Most of these mini-projects are intended to be done in workshop time and should take about 30-60 minutes or so. You may do them at home and the time counts as part of your practice time.

What: Almost anything!! There are some suggestions below, but you might have a better idea for a project you are really interested in. If it is a big project, you can use it for more than one term's mini-project. Talk to me about your proposal and how you think it should be evaluated (see generic rubric grading sheet). Some things you can do:

  • A mini-bio of a classical or jazz musician (see sheet)
  • A mini-research project on something having to do with music (see sheet) It could be on:
  • An era of musical history (European periods such as: Renaissance, Baroque or Romantic, or music of a specific country and time like Chinese music of the Ming dynasty or music of the native tribes in central Africa) (use mini-research project sheet)
  • The history of Boston's symphony hall or the BSO (use mini-research project sheet)
  • The history of your instrument (use mini-research project sheet)
  • The science of sound (use mini-research project sheet)
  • If we are playing a piece originally for orchestra or piano, listen to the original and compare it to our arrangement.
  • Listen to a recording or go to a concert (not pop/rock) and do a write-up (at least 3 paragraphs) about the music. (use concert/recording review sheet)
  • Watch a video from our video library. If it is over an hour, just have your parents write a note that says you watched it. If it is an hour or less, do the video sheet.
  • Meet with me during a couple studies or after school to learn about score reading and conducting
  • Work with some of our music theory software (see sheets at computer stations or talk to me if you have your own software)
  • Read an article from our files and do the article sheet
  • Create your own composition. See composition sheet for more information. Click on manuscript paper to print some music lined paper.
  • Listen to "From the Top" on WGBH (Sunday, 6:00 pm) and do the activity on the website (
  • Learn a new instrument (larger version of yours doesn't count - ex: bass clarinet is the same as clarinet, likewise the sax family) and play for your workshop group.

DUE DATE: Two weeks before the end of the term.
In a way, the mini-projects are optional, but you will not get
an A or A- term grade if it is not done & done well.



Step 1 - Decide what you are interested in learning about:

  • A person (composer you know, performer on your instrument, conductor, or someone else)
  • Your instrument or some other instrument
  • A particular style of music (time: baroque, renaissance, etc., or type: jazz, classical, etc., or culture: Chinese, Latin, Indian, etc.)
  • A particular group (Boston Symphony, The Count Basie Orchestra, etc.)
  • Music theory, conducting, or something else having to do with music

Step 2 - Draw a web or some other kind of graphic organizer & write down everything you already know.

Step 3 - Make a list of things you don't know.

Step 4 - List any sources for information that you know right off the top of your head.

Step 5 - Where can you look or who can you ask about more sources (you need at least two)

Step 6 - Find your sources, read (or listen or watch), and add information to your web or graphic organizer - use a different color so you remember what you already knew versus what you just learned.

Step 7 - Do your bibliography NOW while you have the book or source in hand & you have your information. It is a real pain to have to go back and find it!!!

Step 8 - In what format are you going to present what you have learned? A poster, a mini-bio, a collage, a review or article for our WMS newspaper, a "radio" review that you record and pass in, etc.

Step 9 - BEFORE you start creating your project, read the rubric for grading. Make sure you know what an excellent project will look like, and then read the incomplete column so you have an idea of common pit-falls. (Each project has its own rubric. If your idea doesn't have a rubric attached to the directions, use the generic rubric below.)

Step 10 - Create your project

Step 11 - Proof your project and go over it with the grading rubric. See if you included everything in the excellent column and check for the pit-falls in the incomplete column. Take pride in your work, it is a reflection of YOU!

Step 12 - Make sure your name is on your project, attach the bibliography and turn in your work!


This rubric will be used for any project not covered by another grading method and can be used as a basic guide for ANY project. Read the Excellent column for tips on an excellent project and read the Incomplete column for common pitfalls.


The most common problem in the mini-projects is an incomplete or incorrectly formatted bibliography. Being able to write a correct bibliography is an important skill for well educated people to have, so I am making it important toward your grade in our projects. Check the WMS bibliography sheet for exact formats for each type of source (book, encyclopedia, Internet), but generally the book format runs:

Author (last, first name). Title. Place of Publication: Publisher, copyright date. Page numbers used.

Notice the strange punctuation!!!

If your source is from the Internet, include at least, the title of the page and its address (http://www. -etc.). Also look for who wrote or maintains the site & a date.

If you use two Internet sources, be sure that the addresses don't begin with the same address - then they are part of the same site, but different pages within that site.

Here is an example of a complete bibliography with six different kinds of sources (including an interview). Notice how the combination of having the author's last name first, alphabetizing by author, and having the citation in hanging indent form, makes it easy to find a particular author's work.

Bowles, Richard W. "Where Have All the Marches Gone?" Bandworld. January-February
   1999, Vol. 14, Number 3: p 8.

Coker, Jerry. Listening to Jazz. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1978.
   p 19-42.

Muffitt, Diane. "WMS Tidbit: Fall 1999." muffitt/tidbits/tidbits-
   99fall.htm. September 20, 1999.

Oneschuk, Joseph and Diane Muffitt. Interview at Wayland Middle School, Wayland,
   Massachusetts. May 14, 2001.

Osborne, Charles, editor. The Dictionary of Composers. New York: Taplinger Publishing
   Company, 1981. p 42-43.

Schmid, Ernst Fritz. "Mozart and Haydn." The Creative World of Mozart: Studies by
   Eminent Scholars in Mozart's Style, Technique, Life and Works. Paul Henry Lang,
   editor. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1963. pp 86-102.


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