Music History Project for Middle School Music

As my nephews slowly inch their way into middle school, I’ve been thinking more about the kind of music projects they would enjoy. Like all students, they love choice and autonomy. More than that, learning needs to be relevant to their life. With that in mind, I’ve put together a free resource that features choice, imagination, and western art music history. Think of it as a “choose your own adventure” story, except that your students will be devising much of the plot along the way.

  1. As the introduction, I wrote a scenario that involves time travel, in which a composer from the past is transported to present time. Because who doesn’t love time travel?
  2. Students choose the composer they want to write about, as well as what happens along the way as they struggle to fix the timeline.
  3. I give few details about the composer, aside from the fact that they’re not from present time. So, students can use any composer from the past that they choose.
  4. If your intention is to have them explore composers from Western Art Music History, you can use my Music History Quick Guides as a resource for specific time periods.
  5. Students should read through the prompt, then follow the instructions to finish telling their story.
  6. They’ll use a separate piece of paper or a word processing program to complete their actual story.
  7. You can download the free prompt shown below HERE.

I’ve made this resource editable to fit your needs. Here are some additional ideas, tips, and resources:

  • Do you have a student who loves to draw?
    • Have them create illustrations for their story, with the details in their drawings counting as proof of their research.
  • Do you have a student who loves to compose?
    • Have them compose a piece of music in a style similar to the composer, with a written explanation of the methods they used to achieve that style.
  • If you have students researching composers from Western Art Music History, these quick guides can help them narrow down their choices and provide background info for their project.
  • is another great resource for searching composers.
  • If you have students researching composers from popular music, Musicmap is a fantastic tool for them to better understand genres.
  • Take notes as you read through your students’ stories.
    • Chances are, you’ll learn a lot about their interests inside and outside of music class. It’s a chance to connect with them on a deeper level.

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