8th Grade Curriculum


Unit on Contemporary Popular Music (1950-2018)

Eighth Grade

Music arises out of the times in which it was composed;

It both reflects and influences other art forms.

Overview: Why do people listen to a particular style of music? Why do people like a particular artist? What is an artist trying to communicate with their music? How has contemporary music both shaped and influenced our society, and how does it continued to do so?  Can an artist have both positive and negative contributions to music and society? What does it mean to stretch our musical appreciation of various styles?  Students will review, listen, and learn of the many different styles of contemporary popular music. Students will explore and examine the different exhibits within The Experience Music Project in Seattle. Finally, the students will research the life and contributions of a contemporary musical artist and present their findings using Power Point presentation or other visual means.


  1. Students will identify the different genres or styles of contemporary popular music.
  2. Students will understand the importance of music to society, both historically and in modern times.
  3. Students will identify the variety of purposes for which music is written and describe the various roles played by music today.
  4. Students will examine what songs/music reveal about their writers.
  5. Students will use research material to enlighten the understanding of the artist’s history, influence, and their artist process.
  6. Students will demonstrate critical thinking and aesthetic observational skills as they view and participate in the exhibits at the Experience Music Project.
  7. Students will communicate learning by using auditory, visual, and written means.

Connections to the Archdiocesan Curriculum Guidelines:

  • The student will recognize different musical styles to cultivate personal aesthetic appreciation.
  • The students will analyze and compare the use of musical elements representing various genres, styles, and culture.
  • The students will demonstrate thinking skills using an artistic and aesthetic process.

3.1     The student will use music to express and present ideas and feelings.

4.3      The student makes connections within and across The Arts, to other disciplines, cultures and work.


Contemporary Musical Artist Presentation:

With teacher and parental approval, please choose a musical artist, who wrote after 1950, and preferably, writes their own music. Please research their life and their musical contributions. The presentation will have the following components:

  1. A written component that will include: a short biography, the identification of the characteristics of their musical style, and their musical contribution and/or influence. Please also include why you chose to research this artist.
  2. A timeline of their life; listing important events, musical works, and accomplishments.
  3. Pictures or Visuals of the artist, their family or friends, of events, and accomplishments.
  4. A CD or another auditory example of the artist’s music, preferably with them performing.
  5. A three minute verbal presentation of the material.
  6. A citation of the references used in the research.


  1. Work behavior: Did you stay on task? Did you work at solving problems? Did you respect the work environment and the focus of the other students and the teacher? 20 pts
  2. Content: Did the content cover all the areas? Did you give details or examples? Did you use your own words, use quotations properly, and cite your references? 50 pts
  3. Presentation: 30pts.

Verbal Component: Was your presentation well organized and rehearsed? Were all the words pronounced correctly? Did you use eye contact, facial expression, and adequate volume to help engage your audience, and not just read the material? 15pts

Visual Component: Did the visuals give specific information that was thoroughly proofread? Did it use pictures, maps, examples or diagrams? Was it neat and visually appealing? 15pts

  1. Extras: 10 pts Extra points will be given for use of technology, any other form of creative expression that adds to the presentation!

Due Date: February 1st