Be a Star – Part One

Be a Star (part I)

Jesse Mell
[email protected]
Gideon K-8

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Electronic Musical Instruments
Music Production


Middle School




Mac computers, Garage Band


45 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Beginner level of performance on instrument, very basic facility with a keyboard, basic facility with Garage Band

NAfME Standard of 1994 Addressed:

NAfME Standard of 1994: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

NAfME 2014: Performing 

NAfME Standard of 1994: Improvising melodies, harmonies, and accompaniments.

NAfME 2014: Creating 

NAfME Standard of 1994: Listening to, analyzing and describing music.

NAfME 2014: Responding 

NAfME Standard of 1994: Understanding Music in Relation to History and Culture

NAfME 2014: Connections


Midi controller/synthesizer interfacing with computer, two to four listening examples of “straight-eighth” funk utilizing an eight bar song structure, stereo system


Students will compose an eight bar loop on Garage Band including the following components:
Root motion of chord changes
Bass line with root notes arriving on downbeats of chord changes
Drum ostinato
Students will identify a repeating eight bar song structure, indicating the return to its beginning upon its occurrence
Students will be able to identify a “straight eighth” funk feel and understand its basic drum accompaniment
Students will be able to construct this drum accompaniment on Garage Band using one-three tracks
Students will identify
the root motion of the chord changes and its accompanying bass line Students will construct a bass line of their own on Garage Band using roots and their fifths, having the roots arrive in time with the downbeat of each chord change


The lesson will begin with students listening to a song utilizing a repeating eight bar chord structure with a “straight-eighth” funk feel. Teacher will have students focus on the drum part and will help by identifying the sound of the drum set. The drum set part will be broken down as a mixture of hi-hat ostinato (eighth notes), snare, and bass drums. Using a quarter note reference, students will understand the hihat part as a fundamentally eighth note voice, and will understand the snare and bass drums as fundamentally quarter note voices. Students will tap toes, clap, or use any other body percussion to play along to the recording in time with the different voices of the drum set. Using Garage Band, students will construct a two bar ostinato utilizing the basic tenets of a “straight-eighth” funk groove; this ostinato will be copied and pasted to create the foundation of their eight bar loops.

Students will listen to the recording again, identifying the bass voice. Teacher may play along with the bass voice to reinforce its presence. Teacher will tell students to focus on the downbeat of measure one of eight as the resting tone for the phrase, and may have students count the measures the first few times. It is important, however, for students to use tonal recognition to identify the beginning of the eight bar loop, so students should be weaned from the counting process as quickly as possible. Students should indicate the arrival of the beginning of each phrase by singing the resting tone or playing it on their instruments. Students will then focus on the chord changes between the resting tone; teacher will play the root notes of each change upon its arrival on the piano to strengthen its presence. The other recorded examples will then be played, with the process of recogizing the chord changes and resting tone (hopefully) taking much less time. Students will devise a set of chord changes of their own, recording their note choices by name and measure number.

Finally, teacher will explain the concept of root-fifth relationship and will review the concept of whole and half steps to provide an empirical approach to this idea. The idea of tonal recognition should be stressed, however; the teacher should instruct students to play a fifth from a root note on their instrument using different root notes before finally performing the root-fifth idea on their keyboards. Once the students have achieved a comfort level with this skill, they will record their bass lines into Garage Band, using their written changes as a reference for consistent performance.


1. The ability of students to identify a recurring resting tone on measure one of eight each time it occurs
2. The ability of students to construct a drum pattern with even eighth notes, bass drum on beats one and three, and snare drum on beats two and four
3. The ability of students to perform a fifth aurally and theoretically
4. The ability to correctly place these roots and fifths into their eight bar loops, with root notes arriving on the downbeats of chord changes

Follow Up:

Part II – choosing correct chord qualities and performing these chords in root position to add another voice to their eight bar loops
Part III – composing a melody on their instruments and adding these melodies to complete their eight bar loops

Items to Purchase:

4-12 mac computers with garage bands, midi controllers and/or synthesizers, stereo, recorded examples of funk performances

When budget should be submitted:


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top