Project Description
During the first semester, students are responsible for learning to read traditional notation, tablature and basic chord symbols. They demonstrate their understanding through a written test and by performing a 5-10 minute presentation including music from the method book and of their own choosing. They are assessed using a rubric based on the state and national standards for musical performance.


Second semester begins with a unit on major scales and the chords created in those scales. Students begin to experiment with original chord progressions (using very specific rules designed to "guarantee" success) They are required to write and perform these progressions for the class. We continue with a short description of form in music, and segue into expanding our progressions into a song. The rubric is an easy way to track the progress of each individual student without compiling an excess amount of paperwork. Using a rubric at all stages of the project also allows the student a clearer understanding of the expectations and goals.


Students take approximately 4 weeks to complete the project, with checkpoints at each weekly lesson. They perform the completed piece (in two contrasting styles) as part of their final exam for the class.


The project is assigned to individual students, but they are encouraged to collaborate on their work. They have small group lessons once each week (on a pre-determined, assigned day) and are responsible for practicing in small groups or individually during class for the remainder of the week. We also meet as a large group to discuss and review the lesson for the week. At that time student shave the opportunity to get extra help.


An understanding of basic musical form and tonality is integral to any music class. Even though guitar is a "non-performance based" music elective, performance is an important part of our daily routine. This project is an easy way to cover a great deal of material and is easily adaptable to meet the needs of a diverse student population who come to class with widely varying degrees of prior experience.

Rubric Information
Rubric Title Guitar Songwriting
Rubric ID 1440457
Teacher Name Catherine DePentu
School Plymouth Canton Educational Park
Subject Music
Grade 9-12

Project Includes
Standards The three standards or "strands" of a music class are performing, creating and responding. This project meets all of them. Using the Michigan Department of Education Guidelines for Visual, Performing and Applied Arts Guidelines; this project meets C.1-C.5, P.2 and P.4, and to a lesser extent, R.1-R.2.

Teacher Tips

This project has been "evolving" over the past three years. Using a rubric has made the entire process smoother, more effective and easier to assess. I am constantly revising what I do in all of my classes, usually with input from my students.

I have found many helpful examples in RubiStar and have been able to set up several rubrics in both my guitar/piano classes and my performing ensembles. They really help classes become more student directed and increase student accountability.

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