Bulb Archived: A/R Partners 2016-2017: Fuess & Malley

Please respond to the prompts below with your partner. You can upload images, videos and weblinks to enhance your responses to the prompts.

1. How did you and your teaching partner decide to do this project? (Please describe the context of your project, this can include influence from previous projects, context of your school, community, etc.):

Please insert your response here

In the past, we have led students to compose original music themselves as a response to social-cultural ideas and issues. In these projects, the focus was largely on the generative process that students undertook. For this project, we wanted to focus more on refining a performance, so we decided that Ronnie would do the heavy lifting of arranging a song outside of class so that our class time was focused more on learning and refining students’ performance of the songs. We also hoped that this project would help students understand and positively respond to the ongoing crisis in Syria. Rather than present a set of open-ended thoughts, we were more direct about declaring our goal of supporting those affected by the war in Syria.

2. Big Idea:

How to use music and art as a vehicle for cultural learning and presentation. 

3. Inquiry:

What can we learn through the process of investigating unfamiliar cultures through music?

4. Grade Level:

10th-12th grade

5. Academic Subject(s):

Choral Music

6. Artistic Discipline(s):


7. How many years have you worked together as partners?:


8. Please describe your project:

Students learned and performed a medley of four Syrian and Iraqi songs that Ronnie arranged. Students learned about the cultural context of the songs, the music history and theory of the region, and authentic performance technique. We traveled to the Mosaic Music recording studio and made professional recordings of the medley and an accompanying music video. The students also performed the medley live at Lindblom’s spring choir concert on May 25, 2017.

9. What were you hoping the students would learn during this project?:

We hoped students would learn about music history, music theory, and performance practices from an unfamiliar region (i.e., the Middle East).

10. What surprised you during this project?:

Students’ surprised and impressed us with their maturity, seriousness, and commitment to the project throughout the entire process.

11. What worked in this project and why?:

The quality of the performance and recording was very high. We are excited that the piece turned out so nicely, and we’re optimistic that there will be interest from other choir directors if we are able to publish/share the arrangement.

12. What didn’t work and why?:

We didn’t make as many in-person connections with Syrian refugee and community organizations as we would have liked. This was due to a lack of time and a delay in the production of our music video, which we hoped would be the catalyst for forming new connections with local Syrian communities.

13. What was your approach to assessment for this project?:

Students were assessed on the quality of their singing, on their professionalism and poise, and on their understanding of the meaning and cultural context.

14. How did you share your student’s learning process with others? Who did you share it with?:

Students performed this medley of songs at Lindblom’s spring choir concert in front of an audience of about 500 people. We also published a music video on YouTube which we hope will eventually reach hundreds or thousands of additional people.

MUSIC VIDEO: “Indigenous Songs of Iraq and Syria” – Lindblom Varsity Singers (arranged by Ronnie Malley)
LIVE PERFORMANCE: “Indigenous Songs of Iraq and Syria” – Lindblom Varsity Singers (arranged by Ronnie Malley)

15. Did sharing your students’ learning occur according to your plan for social engagement in your proposal? Why or why not? Please explain.

Yes it did with the exception of not making as strong of an in-person connection with local Syrian community and refugee organizations.

16. How are you as teachers, artists and students social engagers through this work?:

This work was entirely focused on understanding musical styles and history of an unfamiliar region–by nature, it is entirely an act of social engagement. We also performed the medley in a large public forum and included discussion of our process and intentions in our introduction of the piece.

17. Did sharing your project with others influence how you will approach future projects?:

It did, but the largest lesson was that we need to be more purposeful about planning our connections with community organizations earlier in the process.

18. Standards Addressed: (Common Core, Next Generation Science, National Core Arts):

The following standards will be covered: Music and language arts will be used to explore cultural and social studies topics.

National Association for Music Education Standards –

1. Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

2. Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

3. Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments.

4. Reading and notating music.

6. Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.

7. Evaluating music and music performances.

8. Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.

9. Understanding music in relation to history and culture.

Core Arts Standards:

MU:Cr2.1.E.IIa Select and develop arrangements, sections, and short compositions for specific purposes that demonstrate understanding of characteristic(s) of music from a variety of cultures studied in rehearsal.

MU:Pr6.1.E.IIa Demonstrate mastery of the technical demands and an understanding of expressive qualities of the music in prepared and improvised performances of a varied repertoire representing diverse cultures, styles, genres, and historical periods.

Knowledge of Language:


Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.