M.E306

Improvise Basic Harmonic Accompaniments

Improvise Basic Harmonic Accompaniments

Working in small groups, students will be assigned a three-chord folk song (I, IV, V) that is approximately 8-16 measures long. The teacher may use the example folk song, “Ally Bally,” or an appropriate song of his or her choosing. This assessment has three parts to it. Each part is summarized below:

Part 1–Sing a Melody with Chord Roots—Students will figure out the chord roots and changes by singing. Some of the students in the group will sing the melody while the remaining group members will determine and sing the chord roots using the solfège syllables “do” (tonic), “fa” (subdominant), and “sol” (dominant).

Once students have determined the correct chord roots and changes, each student will write the tonic, subdominant, and dominant chord changes in his or her Student Booklet. Students will do this by writing beneath the song lyrics “do” to indicate tonic chords, “fa” to indicate subdominant chords, and “sol” to indicate dominant chords. This will be used as a framework for their accompaniment improvisation. Students should practice singing the folk song with the chord root accompaniment, taking turns singing both the melody and the chord roots.

Part 2–Improvise an Accompaniment—When students can confidently sing both the melody and the chord roots, they are ready to move on to the next part of this assessment. Students will use the work from Part 1 as a framework to improvise variations of their accompaniment. Students can either vary the rhythm or replace chord roots with other chord members.

Part 3–Recording—Individual students will take turns improvising an accompaniment while the other group members sing the melody. Student performances of the improvised accompaniments will be audio recorded and scored using the Teacher Scoring Rubric.

This item has not been field-tested by Michigan teachers.


This is an analytic rubric. The column on the left shows the dimension that is being measured in the student’s performance. The levels across the top row indicate the performance level in the dimensions. Occasionally all dimensions and performance levels are exemplified by multiple students in a single recording.

TEACHER SCORING RUBRIC

  • Dimension
  • Chord Changes

  • Rhythmic Variation

  • Tonal Variation

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • No chord changes are correctly identified.

    N/A at this time.
  • Some chord changes are correctly identified (less than half).

    N/A at this time.
  • Most chord changes are correctly identified (more than half, but not all).

    N/A at this time.
  • All chord changes are correctly identified.

    N/A at this time.
  • Student does not attempt rhythmic variation in the improvised accompaniment.

    N/A at this time.
  • Student demonstrates limited rhythmic variation in the improvised accompaniment.

    N/A at this time.
  • Student demonstrates adequate rhythmic variation in the improvised accompaniment.

    N/A at this time.
  • Student demonstrates extensive rhythmic variation in the improvised accompaniment.

    N/A at this time.
  • Student does not attempt to use different chord members in the improvised accompaniment.

    N/A at this time.
  • Student demonstrates limited use of different chord members in the improvised accompaniment (changes 4-5 pitches to other chord tones).

    N/A at this time.
  • Student demonstrates adequate use of different chord members in the improvised accompaniment (changes 6-8 pitches to other chord tones).

    N/A at this time.
  • Student demonstrates extensive use of different chord members in the improvised accompaniment (changes more than 8 pitches to other chord tones).

    N/A at this time.
Having trouble viewing videos?

Leave Feedback for this Assessment

What did you like? Did you need to revise anything? How could we make this assessment better?
Our Assessments are written by teachers for you, so your feedback is important to us!

Comments about items may be moderated and/or reposted in the forums or blogs to aid item improvement and teacher learning. By leaving a comment, you agree that we can use your comment without attributing it to you.

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date with all of our assessments.

Sign Up Now!