M.E305

Improvising Accompaniments

Improvising Accompaniments

Working in small groups, students will be assigned a two-chord folk song that uses only tonic and dominant chords and is approximately 8 to 16 measures long. The teacher may select from the list of suggested songs on page 7 or may use an appropriate song of his or her choosing.

Part 1–Sing a Melody with Chord Roots—Students will determine 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) and “sol” (dominant).
Once students have determined the correct chord roots and changes, each student will write the tonic and dominant chord changes in his or her Student Booklet under the lyrics of the song, writing “do” to indicate tonic chords and “sol” to indicate dominant chords. This will be used as a framework for the accompaniment improvisation in Part 2. Students should practice singing their 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 might vary the rhythm or replace chord roots with other chord members.

Part 3–Recording—When students have completed Part 2, 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 according to 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 chords are correctly identified. (Less than half)

    N/A at this time.
  • Most chords are correctly identified. (More than half but not all)

    N/A at this time.
  • All chords 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 exemplary use of different chord members in the improvised accompaniment.
    (Changes more than 8 pitches to other chord tones.)

    N/A at this time.
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