1) Divide the students into cooperative groups. Distribute a new “Music Experiment Writeup” organizer and a new “Music Response Survey” organizer to each group (note – if distributed to the students electronically, the RTF files can be modified by the students using word processing software, if desired).
2) Tell the students that they will be conducting their own experiments on a research question of their choosing. They will also choose the music samples (these may be from their own collection of music, for example on an mp3 player, or from online sources – see the “websites” section of this lesson plan for examples of free streaming music samples. They can make their own recordings by playing selections themselves). The subjects may be other students in the class, or alternatively might be students in a peer class, or younger students (if this has been arranged).
3) Remind the students that their research question should in some way relate to the feelings evoked by changes in different elements of music. For example, their question might be:
a) Do first-graders think minor chords sound more “sad” than major chords?
b) Do students in our class associate music that has a faster tempo with happier mood?
c) Do eighth-grade students think “Amazing Grace” sounds more solemn when played on an oboe or on a violin?
4) Allow the students some in-class and homework time to devise their research question and select their sample sounds. Make sure to help them come up with a question and procedure that is testable (while this experiment may not control all variables, the sound samples should still be somewhat similar, in order to reduce confounding variables).
5) Prior to collecting data, have students submit their Research Question, Hypothesis, Materials and Procedure for teacher approval. Once approved, the students should schedule time to conduct their experiments and collect data.
6) Have each student group analyze the data and write up the Results of the experiment (remind them that the Results can include things the students would do differently if they were to run the experiment again). Each group should orally report their Results to the class.