** Has the ability to meet ALL nine National Music Education Standards (with teacher creativity).

** Degree level: Any and can be adapted to the specific needs of students or private studies.

OBJECTIVE: To teach the basic fundamentals of music (band, orchestra or private students) through reading of notes, rhythm, embouchure, fingerings, basic theory, sight reading, scales and information of individual instruments.

MATERIALS: Fourteen “Obstacles” posted throughout the classroom and characters from “Far Side” (by Gary Larson) (or other cartoon characters of the class’s choice).

  • The obstacles consist of pieces of paper taped (in order) around the classroom. On each sheet of paper, the specific requirements for that level are written.
  • Each “character” must be no less than 9 inches tall, but must be less than 12 or 13 inches.
  • Photocopy the characters to make them the correct size. Have a class coloring day so the kids can customize the characters.
  • Use contact paper to protect the finished character. Number each one and keep track of which student is which number. Students can help with this.
  • Cardstock with all the numbers listed in column “A” and the levels listed at the top. The numbers represent each student. As a student completes a level, they can put a sticker next to their number (under each obstacle) to show that the level has passed.
  • “Sticky Tack” or non-abrasive or rubbery substance that will allow characters to stick to the wall but not damage the wall.
  • Award certificates at the end of the year.

OBJECTIVE: Teach students the basics of playing a musical instrument and make the characters in obstacle n. 1 pass through obstacle n. 14.

  • As students reach level 8 (or earlier if desired), prizes are awarded (candy, pencils, reeds, valve oil, etc.). Consider asking music stores (or parents / administrators) to donate to the fund to pay for prizes.
  • Some levels are done as a class and others must be done individually.
  • Students MAY NOT skip levels. They must do it in order.
  • In the event that a class obstacle is cleared (for example, a test with the name of a note), students can jump to that level ONLY when the previous levels have been completed.
  • The goal is to finish all levels by the end of the school year. The further a student advances, the better the award.
  • Award certificates for each student who completes the Band Olympics at the final concert of the year.
  • The exams can be administered as a class, but again, students cannot go directly to that level unless they are already there. Students can place a sticker in the appropriate space (on the poster) but must leave the character at the correct obstacle on the wall.

PROCEDURE: Prepare a packet for each student that explains each level. Suggested levels for beginning students are as follows:

  • Level ONE: Random five-note scale test. Long tones on a five-note scale with good mouthpiece
  • Level TWO: Demonstration of proper articulation (language proficiency or other game)
  • Level THREE: Write down the name quiz! Group written test to be administered as often as necessary. Students must be able to make one grade per second to pass.
  • Level FOUR: Clap of rhythms (have a rhythmic practice sheet of half notes, quarter notes, quarter notes, pairs of eighth notes, and four sixteenth notes)
  • Level FIVE: Playing trial time! Choose a piece of music that students should play with good tone, correct rhythm, and correct notes. They CANNOT write the names of the notes below the notes.
  • Level SIX: Enharmonics. Group written test to be administered as often as necessary.
  • Level SEVEN: Individual instrument warm-ups. Examples: low note exercises on clarinet and saxophone, playing in the proper register for flute and brass (proper harmonics that match fingering), etc. Students must demonstrate good playing technique (embouchure, articulation, tone) to pass this level.
  • Level EIGHT: Group written test in order of sharps and flats. Have the class create their own slogans.
  • Level NINE: Playing trial time! Choose a piece of music (concert music?) Students must be graded for pitch, correct notes, language, rhythm, and all other basics to play their instrument correctly.
  • Level TEN: chromatic scales (drag one octave) with chromatic fingerings
  • ONCE Level: More warm-ups for each instrument but at a more advanced level. Example: lip insults for flute / brass, reviewing pause for clarinet, etc.
  • Level TWELVE: Playing trial time! Choose another piece of music that works specifically with chromatic notes, more difficult rhythms, a greater range of instruments, etc. This should be a final test and could easily be a specific solo for each instrument.
  • Level THIRTEEN: F sharp (dragged) major scale with correct fingerings
  • Level FOURTEEN: D-flat major scale (dragged) with correct fingerings

EVALUATION: The evaluation for the Band Olympics is that each student passes the appropriate obstacle. This is demonstrated by a written test or a performance.

CLOSING: The closing of this activity would be the delivery of certificates / qualifications for completing the different levels.

  • First place prizes go to anyone who completes ALL levels. Second place awards are for any student who finishes up to level THIRTEEN. Third place awards are for any student who finishes up to level TWELVE.
  • Additionally, end-of-year grades may be partially based on the level a student completes. For example, to earn an “A”, students must complete level THIRTEEN or FOURTEEN. To earn a “B” grade, the student must complete levels TEN through TWELVE. A grade of a “C”, a student must complete up to levels EIGHT through NINE.

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