Composing Biographical Rap Songs

Today I'm writing about one of my favorite projects that my middle school general music students enjoyed, “Composing Biographical Rap Songs.”  When I have used this project, the students were always super excited about the prospects of writing and recording their own rap songs. I would have students work in teams to research the music and life of a classical composer. Then, they would learn to write a rap song and perform the song for the class. This project gives the students the opportunity to bring the classics into the 21st century. This lesson is also a great example of incorporating Twenty First Century Learning Skills in the music room. In this post, I have organized the project in terms of the three basic Twenty First Century Learning Skills.

1. Learning And Innovation Skills

Creativity & Innovation, Critical Thinking & Problem Solving, Communication & Collaboration

Organize the students in groups of no more than 2-3 per group. Small groups ensure that all group members take on a role in the project. Aask the students to work together in their groups to select a composer from a list to research. Then, have the students collaborate to collect biographical information about the composer and work in teams to compose a twelve line rap song.

Photo by  Marvin Meyer  on  Unsplash

2. Information, Media And Technology Skills

Information Literacy, Media Literacy, ICT LiteracY

Have the students research their composer in search of biographical information by sorting through online peer reviewed resources found in the school’s library media center. Next, have the students work collaboratively to select and record informational facts about their composer by answering questions found in the biographical organizer. Assist student groups with selecting appropriate references and recording biographical information for their composer into the biographical organizer. Later, the studens would record their raps using Garageband.

3.  Life And Career Skills

Flexibility & Adaptability, Initiative & Self Direction, Social & Cross Cultural Skills, Productivity & Accountability, Leadership & ResponsibilitY

Once the students have conducted the research and completed the biographical organizer. Review each groups compiled facts for content. Next, explain the formula for writing rap lyrics and help each group to write a twelve line rap song using the formula. When their song is completed, have each group select a backing track and give them time to practice performing the rap. Finally, have each group perform their song for the class. This project is a fun way for each of the student teams to learn about a variety of classical composers, while developing important “life” skills, such as teamwork and the ability to manage time.