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My Musical Heritage Project

What better way to celebrate family during the holidays than with a quest. In My Musical Heritage Project, students asked open-ended questions to discover how music influenced their parents and grandparents. Technology helped  record student discoveries and enhanced the learning experience. Using their iPads, they took a picture and recorded or filmed the interviews with their family members. My Musical Heritage Project is a perfect way to use technology to do more than my students could have ever done in the past. There were several ways students went above and beyond pencil and paper. If you are planning a research project like this for your students, consider the various ways learning can go deeper and wider using technology.

My Musical Heritage Project Announcement

I created an interactive flyer using SMORE (https://www.smore.com) The flyer contained information about the project and a funny video to “hook” the adults’ attention. An ordinary announcement via paper would not have the same effect as a SMORE flyer. Plus, I receive feedback on how many hits my flyer receives by my audience and beyond.

My Musical Heritage Project Goal

Students used their iPads to do something amazing. They  interviewed their parents, grandparents and maybe even uncles and aunts. The goal was to discover as much as they could about the musical experiences each family member had growing up and what music they enjoy today. My students always want to share the stories of their musical family members and this was the perfect project for documenting this information in an official way.

My Musical Heritage Project Prep

In preparation, we used the Shout Out Activity in SMART Lab in SMARTNotebook 17. I created an activity and gave the students a QR code to join my class online. They typed in the #code and their name popped up on the SB as a member of my class. After a little bit of discussion, I had the children text three open-ended questions they might ask their family members to discover how music was part of their lives when they were younger. It was like the room was filled with candy and they couldn’t type fast enough. What a cool feature of SMART Lab!! It takes under 5 minutes to create an engaging activity using Shout Out.

Questions to ask?

Students came up with many questions, but they narrowed it down to five essential questions that should be asked of every family member in My Musical Heritage Project.

  1. What kind of music lessons did you have growing up?
  2. When you were my age, what type of music did you enjoy?
  3. Have you ever heard a famous musician in person?
  4. What type of music do you enjoy listening to today?
  5. Are there any musicians in our family?

My Musical Heritage Project


Shout Out SMART LAB activity

The Shout Out activity completely changes student engagement in my classroom. Using their individual devices, all of my students have a voice at the same time; they can “shout out” their answer and it is recorded on the SMARTBoard for all to see. There is “buy-in” because they have a say in the activity. Once all of the questions were on the board, we sorted them and voted again on the ones students thought should be asked of every family member. We talked about open-ended questions and how to get interesting answers during an interview.

Book Creator ePub guide

Using Book Creator, I created a My Musical Heritage Project template that was air-dropped to each student during class. It served just as a guide for conducting the interviews. Here is the epub in image format:

My Musical Heritage Project

Grandparent’s Day

Grandparents’ day was the perfect opportunity to get the ball rolling for my students. I created a simple My Musical Heritage Project wall display, and as the grandparents walked through my music room on their special day, I pointed them to the wall and encouraged them to share their musical story with their grandchild. The sparkle in their eyes as they told of first one and then another who loved music was just priceless.   Singers, pianists, bass players, jazz lovers, an opera aficionado, a country singer who gave up touring due to a bad back, etc. Amazing stories that brought generations closer together and embedded their love of music all the more. My students couldn’t believe that their grandparents actually knew Elton John and Billy Joel. One grandpa couldn’t wait to tell me that he had once ridden in Elvis’ pink cadillac!

My Musical Heritage Project


My Musical Heritage Project and Technology

Students worked on their projects for several weeks. If their relatives lived out of town, some called or skyped them to conduct the interview. Thanksgiving was the perfect time to meet cousins and aunts and uncles. Most students put together a video of their interviews. Some simply put it on each page of their Book Creator file. As you can tell from the two examples below, technology is a tool  students feel comfortable using to do things that we could never have done before.

 My Musical Heritage Project Bridging Generations

Discovering our musical heritage creates so many opportunities for bridging the generational gap because  it gives us identity within the framework of family. We need those connections today more than ever before. If you haven’t challenged your students with a  research project like this, consider the various ways learning can go deeper and wider using technology that’s available right now. Let your students investigate their musical heritage and compare the results with their peers.

How are you using technology to make connections between generations? What can you do today that was never possible or practical before?

By the way, I discovered that my grandfather and his brothers taught singing schools all over Mississippi and read shaped notes. My mother was able to play any hymn in any key by reading shaped notes. I still have his baton and the music books he used for teaching and singing.

What is your musical heritage?