M.E412

Theme & Variations

Theme & Variations

Year 1 (Level 1) – These students will take a single, prominent theme that is 8–16 bars in length from a piece of music that they are currently studying (e.g., an ensemble performance piece, an excerpt presented to a music theory course). Within the class period, the student will create a variation on the theme that is both similar to and different from the original source theme. The student’s original variation must be notated. The created variation must be in the same tonality and meter as the original theme, but it should differ in use of other elements of music (e.g., rhythm, pitches, intervals, contour). The variation should also be the same number of bars as the original theme.

Year 2 (Level 2) – These students must change both the tonality and the meter, vary other elements of the music (as listed above), and extend the length up to twice that of the original theme.

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
  • Relationship to Theme

  • Diversion from Theme

  • Presentation/Clarity

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • Variation appears to be completely unrelated to theme.

    N/A at this time.
  • Variation shows some relationship to theme but seems mostly unrelated.

    N/A at this time.
  • Variation demonstrates some relationship to theme through similarity in ONE aspect, such as the pitches, intervals, rhythms, or overall contour used.

    N/A at this time.
  • Variation demonstrates strong relationship to theme through appropriate similarity in pitches, intervals, rhythms, and/or overall contour..

    N/A at this time.
  • Variation is not at all different from theme, or differences are extremely minimal; student appears to have copied original theme.

    N/A at this time.
  • Variation shows minimal differences from the original theme and differences seem random and not purposefully chosen.

    N/A at this time.
  • Variation demonstrates some differences from the theme, through change to ONE aspect (such as pitches, intervals, rhythms, or overall contour).

    N/A at this time.
  • Variation demonstrates purposeful and effective differences from theme through changes in pitches, intervals, rhythms, and/or overall contour.

    N/A at this time.
  • The student’s final product is very unclear; notation contains many errors, making interpretation very difficult or impossible.

    N/A at this time.
  • The student’s final product is somewhat clear but contains numerous errors; notated music is somewhat difficult to interpret.

    N/A at this time.
  • The student’s final product is mostly professional and clear with few errors; notated music can be easily interpreted.

    N/A at this time.
  • The student’s final product appears professional and clear; all notated music is without error.

    N/A at this time.
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