25 February 2014

Singing for Their Supper: Song Selection

I get to take my Spanish I, II, and III kiddos to compete at a local university's annual language festival in April, to be followed immediately by a celebratory meal at a Mexican restaurant (as in yay! We survived our first language festival! Actual prizes are optional.) 

The Spanish II/III mixed class is planning a skit involving gossip and their possibly celebrity lookalikes, but that's all a bit beyond Spanish I. So instead, my little newbies will be preparing a musical number, so they will at least be relieved of the pressure to compose something impressive in Spanish. 

They have up to 10 minutes on stage, including set-up, and the group has to sing--no soloists, no lip syncing, and ALL memorized.

They will be evaluated on...
  • memorization
  • pronunciation
  • expressiveness
  • dress/special effects
  • musical quality
  • overall impression
So I figure my job is first to pick a BUNCH of songs they 1) might like and 2) be able to handle and 3) make look cool. 

They then have three jobs as a class: 
  1. pick two songs
  2. plan the performance
  3. rehearse
I feel the first task must be a whole-class effort, and so we'll start off with a class discussion of some of their favorite songs and artists and how they would describe it. Then (gracias a #langchat) we go into station mode to discover and discuss the artists and songs I manage to scrounge up. I have 4 discovery stations that they cycle through as much as they can (at least 3 times) while I do some collaboration conferencing. I'm experimenting with the flexible time discussed in Thursday's #langchat, and I think it went well, but letting it go on an hour might have been a bit much.

At the discovery stations, they can either focus on a single song or previewing 30-second samples of 5 different songs. For the single songs, they'll evaluate them based on criteria related to our judging criteria, and for the samples, they'll just pick their favorite.

Station 1: Music videos
Search LatinGrammy.com nominees, search Vimeo for nominated songs/interpretations, pin
Google videos (search tool, anything but YouTube) for "Premio lo nuestro," "Latin Grammy," "Billboard Latino" + 2013, 2014, etc.,  pin

Station 2: Spotify genre playlists: reggaeton, pop, rock, salsa, corridos, bachata
Search Spotify by genre name and year, choose playlists, open play list, check for popular artists/titles and explicit tags (I'm looking at you, corridos), tweet to get links (I ended up logging on to Spotify and having students log in to a few computers and pulling up a different playlist on each computer.)

Station 3: Amazon artist samples
Search LatinGrammy.com nominees, search Amazon MP3 for nominated artists, albums, bookmark and tag "preview" on Diigo

Station 4: Throwback jukebox (my old CDs from the turn of the century)

After stations, their mission is to find two more songs the class might like to share with class the next day. They can go on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, LastFM, or simply borrow a CD or two from me if they don't have internet access (incidentally no one needed to borrow a CD).

Finally, the class will discuss songs, artists, and genres that their classmates that they discovered and enjoyed. Students will nominate their favorite songs, giving nomination speeches explaining what the songs have going for them while I play the nominee. After nominations, the class will evaluate nominees based on things like vocabulary, simplicity, dramataic potential, and quality, then vote, debate, and perhaps vote again until we have the songs narrowed down to two.

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