Group Projects (Proyectos en grupos)

Ideas from Brian and Catherine:

1. Have students collaborate on an introductory presentation about a particular geographic region or country. Extra points for a creative presentation that doesn’t put you to sleep!

2. Have groups of students discuss the various ways in which music is used in their own day-to-day life. This could help facilitate discussion of different ideas and functions of music in different cultures.

3. A collaborative “found music” performance. Students work together to perform some sort of musical experience using instruments/objects/voices found around their homes/holes/caves/throats. Try to avoid using conventional performance mediums (common “Western” instruments and songs). The group should draw up a short paper explaining their process and describing the way that musical elements came together in performing and rehearsing.

Ideas from Sarah and Jade

1. Have a group of students come up with thesis or problem they would theoretically want to research. The group will have a total of 10 questions that will survey different aspects of the problem. Each student (depending on the group size) should have 2-3 questions. The group as a whole will present these questions in class, each student will be the discussion “leader” of their own set of questions.

2. Split the class into groups, assigning them to regions. Have them come up with a presentation (length of time depends on number of regions and size of class) to present to the class. They can be creative with the medium – power point, lecture, play, song, etc.

3. Have groups of students students list ways that "other" music has influenced their own personal tastes. They should do between 7 and 10 (or whatever number you want.) For example, a paragraph on how blues and Creole music both influenced jazz, how Latin American music has made an appearance in popular music in the USA and so forth.

4. When discussing instruments, have the students break into groups and discuss different individuals who are well-known for playing that instrument and/or syncretizing the music of that instrument into their own idiom. Each group will focus on one instrument and will discuss three to four individuals.

5. Have students break into groups to compile a list of ethnomusicologists (or anthropologists) that have completed work in a region. Each person within a group of 3-4 will should discuss one or two ethnomusicologists, where they did their fieldwork, and what problems they discussed.

6. Similar to number three, but different: Have the students break into groups of 3-4 and pick a region that is not discussed in the book and teach it to the class. Have them take the same “Traditions and Transformations” approach: One student will give an overview, another student will present a narrow, indigenous focus, and one student will present “Traditions and Transformations.”

Ideas a la Dani and Matt

1. Create a print or online zine (or blog) about a particular genre or mix of genres – this can also be done as an entire class. Give students specific guidelines about posting: i.e. length/grammar/etc.

2. Recreate an American popular music video with a world music twist (or recreate a world music video).

3. Group documentary project of a local area from an ethnomusicologists’ point of view: choose a particular soundscape, venue, musician, genre, etc.

4. In groups of 5-10, students can pick several world music instruments (cheap ones, or things you can build at home), learn how to play them throughout the semester (if there are teachers/videos available), and play a piece as a group for the class at the end. (Would be more appropriate for majors).

5. (Twist of #2) Music video Choreography Project – On stage, recreate a world music video that includes dance. (i.e. learn the choreography for a Bollywood music video).

Maybe could be suited to a world music class:

6. Music in your community project – would be good with a “music and identity” structure.. have students collaborate by interviewing local musicians and creating a neighborhood/city musical ethnography. Final can be a paper/presentation/video/audio album archive of interviews & conclusions.

7. Service Learning project: Have students (as a group) volunteer somewhere related to the musical arts for 2-3 weeks in a row (perhaps a community music school), then write about the experience.

8. In groups, have students invent a syncretistic genre of music. What kind could you combine to make this new genre? Rhythmic and melodic elements, instrumentation, language, personnel, style, should all be considered. Also, who would listen to this music, and how would you market it?

9. Allow groups to present on the different chapters in whichever book you are teaching from. Before a test, groups will be assigned a chapter, and be required to summarize the main points and teach them back to the class.

10. Using Blackboard, or other online tools, open up class discussions in which students can discuss world music that they like, which has not been discussed in class. Then, the students form their own groups and prepare a presentation in which they discuss the main characteristics of the music, and why their classmates should listen to it.

11. After a discussion of ethnocentrism, allow students to form their own groups. Then, the groups watch television or movies (preferably something they can show in class), and find examples of ethnocentrism. The groups should discuss issues that help understand why it would be considered ethnocentrism: the contextual plot elements, implications of the event, what stereotypes are being presented, and what the reality of the stereotype is.

12. In groups, have students make a list of possible group projects relating to world music.

*Ideas from the two most awesome people in the class: Megan and Elyse*

For Groups of 2

1. Interview one another about what music they listen, what music their family listens to, and what they consider their "musiculture."

2. Talk about quick responses to video clips.

For Groups of 5-6

1. Put together a 5-10 minute presentation about the history of country.

2. Try Kecak or Fontonfrom drumming.

3. Create a documentary or film ethnography of local culture your group is interested in. Everyone in the group should be assigned a specific role in the making of the film (editor, producer, director, etc.).

4. Create a song or musical piece that is influenced by one or more musical cultures we studied.

5. Create a 10 minute dramatic scene that shows the challenges in studying music and cultures.

Ideas from group "The Brain" (aka Tony and Christian)

1. For smaller classes, assign "guest lecturer groups" for the day; instead of having the professor talk, let the group research and present on a unit. (This works best halfway through the year, when the students know something about the class format/expectations, and are tired of hearing the professor's voice.) If anything is missed, the professor can always chime in later.

2. Let students design their own tests/have students get together and brainstorm possible overarching essay topics for the final. Bonus points could be given, or students could just be satisfied by knowing their input is valued (and they now have a clue as to what to study).

3. Have groups research extra-musical aspects of a culture and present to the larger class. This could include dance, religion, lifestyle, food…

4. Assign groups and have them make travel brochures for various countries. Tell them to specifically target the "musical sightseers" segment of the market.

5. Have groups design a "World Music Concert" to be held on campus next semester. Make them choose an overarching theme, justify which pieces they would include in the program, write the actual program notes, and prepare a poster for the event.

Paired iPod Ethnography Project (Lindsey Macchiarella and David Knapp)


  • class is divided into groups of 2
  • the partners should be chosen randomly, and should not have previously known each other outside of class


  • the partners should meet with each other outside of class and conduct a musical interview
  • in the interviews, they will examine each other’ s musical tastes as seen on ipods, cds, or lists of favorite music
  • students will question each other on how they use music and relate to it


  • the partners will present each other’ s musical ethnographies to the class
  • they will report a summary of the interview, and the conclusions they drew about their partner’ s relationship to their music


  • Each student must write a one to two page paper summarizing their partner’ s tastes and their interview
  • papers must utilize vocabulary from class