M.E205

Improvise—Embellishments to a Familiar Song

Improvise—Embellishments to a Familiar Song

Students, through exploration and improvisation, will play or sing embellishments on a familiar melody. This assessment can be done using instruments or voices. The teacher will make this decision based on the abilities and previous experiences of the class. Students need to know the definitions of the words “embellishment” and “improvisation” in order to be successful in this assessment.

Each student will be asked to improvise variations on the second phrase of a short melody (e.g., a four-measure phrase followed by another four-measure phrase for a complete song). Students will be given the opportunity to practice this song as well as experiment with possible embellishments at the beginning of the class period before the start of the assessment.

Possible song choices include: “Hot Cross Buns,” “Gently Sleep,” “Merrily We Roll Along,” “Frog in the Meadow,” “Pierrot” or any similar song that is currently being studied in the music classroom.

Students can be seated in a circle for this assessment. The piece they are singing or playing should be memorized; rote instruction is advised. If choosing to sing, use a neutral syllable.

The students will play or sing the complete song once as a class with the help of the teacher. The teacher will model embellishments twice at the beginning of the assessment before asking individual students to play or sing. Then the class will play or sing the first phrase while individuals improvise embellishments on the second phrase. This will continue until each student has improvised individually.

This item has been voluntarily field-tested by Michigan teachers with a non-representative sample of students.


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–PERFORMANCE

  • Dimension
  • Length and Accuracy

  • Creativity

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • Student does not maintain proper tempo. Improvised embellishments consistently lengthen or shorten the duration of the song

    N/A at this time.
  • Student occasionally maintains proper tempo. Improvised embellishments often lengthen or shorten the duration of the song.

    N/A at this time.
  • Student usually maintains proper tempo. Improvised embellishments seldom lengthen or shorten the duration of the song.

    N/A at this time.
  • Student consistently maintains proper tempo. Improvised embellishments do not lengthen or shorten the duration of the song.

    N/A at this time.
  • Student does not add embellishments to the song.

    N/A at this time.
  • Student attempts to add embellishments to the song.

    N/A at this time.
  • Student successfully adds embellishments to the song.

    N/A at this time.
  • Student adds a tasteful amount of embellishments to the song.

    N/A at this time.
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