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Learning Module Eight: The Evolution of Written Music & Notation

By Connor Armbruster

Watch Mr. Connor's Video | Monday, November 9, 2020

Activity One | Tuesday, November 10, 2020

If you play in an ESYO ensemble or in CHIME, you have probably spent a significant amount of time reading music on a staff, sometimes referred to as classical notation.

Today, try to read a chord chart. (You can look up a song you like on sites like If you are not sure how to play chords like you might on a guitar, play the root of the chord on your instrument. For example, if you see “Em,” play an E.

Activity Two | Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Watch these video representations of two pieces that Connor mentioned in the video: 

Activity Three | Thursday, November 12, 2020

Create your own system of written music.

Consider the following: Should the player read this music from left to right and from top to bottom, or is there a different path across the page?

What symbols will you use to indicate dynamics? How will the player know the tempo and style of the piece?

What else would you like to communicate to the player, and how will you convey that message?

Activity Four | Friday, November 13, 2020

Over the course of his three videos, Connor has explained the history of written music and challenged us to think outside of the box when it comes to musical symbolism. It’s time to take this knowledge off of the page! See if you can play this piece: 

  1. Turn your head from left to right. As your eyes scan the room, clap when you see the color red. Snap when you see the color brown. Make sure you go in order of what you see from left to right!
  2. Now touch an object close to you. If the object is soft, hum one note. If the object is hard, sing one line from your favorite song.
  3. If you can hear sounds from outside (cars, birds, etc.), tap a steady beat with your foot.
  4. Create your own next part of the song by assigning a musical action to something you see, feel, or hear, just like in Steps 1, 2, and 3.