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Social Justice Band Lesson Plan

Grade Level: ​7-8

Topic: ​Disagreement and Cooperation
Musical Focus: (Concept or skills to be emphasized)
Rhythm Melody Theory Expressive Qualities Form
Harmony Style Listening

Social Justice Standards and Outcomes:

● Diversity 10
● Justice 11
● Action 19

Vocabulary: ​Justice, equality, stereotype, patriotism, cooperation, conflict, envision

● Students will be able to discuss musical characteristics of a piece of music in respect to
their historical and political functions.
● Students will be able to reflect on the historical implications of the piece of music and its
relation to present day.
● Students will be able to discuss and critique current conflicts and envision resolution.
● Students will be able to musically represent a conflict and imagine a resolution of their
own choosing.

Materials and Equipment:

● A House Divided-Brian Balmages (Parts and Score)
● Paper for journaling
● Composition paper or a notation software/website
● Copy of Abraham Lincoln’s “A House Divided” speech

Strategies throughout Unit Plan:

1. Begin study of A House Divided with a discussion on the meaning behind the title before
sight reading.
1. What do you think it is referring to? What in the music provides evidence for your
thought process?
2. Once the topic is revealed to the students, discuss what it means to them and their
current knowledge of the topic.
2. Discuss how Balmages creates the emotion and historical significance contained through
the piece:
1. What musical devices are used? Does he use any pre-existing songs? How are
they used? What new material does he use and how does he use it to portray the
3. Discuss the historical significance behind the piece by reading Abraham Lincoln’s speech
in which the piece is based off of.
1. What was the purpose of the speech? How did Abraham Lincoln approach the
conflict? What were his solutions?
i. Ask students to journal on what its meaning is to them and its relevance in
modern day society
2. How is this captured within the piece of music?
4. Explore the conflict that serves as the foundation for the piece.
1. What was each side advocating for? How did they do it? Does one side promote a
stance that is more social justice? Why or why not?
2. What examples do we have today of conflict?
i. What are the different sides to the conflict? How do they choose to
advocate for their position? Are both sides being true and just? Why or
why not?
ii. How can the sides work together? What qualities represent moral and just
iii. What effect does the conflict have on our current nation? How do you
envision our future nation looking?
5. Ask students to composer a piece of their choosing, describing a current problem and
advocating for its solution.
1. Have students include a description of the musical elements and what they
represent within the piece
i. Students may partner and critique and discuss their solutions throughout
the process
ii. Discuss with each student the musical elements that can be used to show
cooperation and solution
2. Perform and share the pieces for each other to share each students conflict and
6. Engage in further strategies and scaffolding as needed

● Observation of students in class
● Journal Reflections
● Teacher and student created criteria for composition project