Theresa, OK, let's try this again. During my last year in the classroom, I was working with the fifth grade teachers on their "States" project. When the students came to music class, they researched the state they had been assigned. I then had the students pick a song of their choosing and then they rewrote the words to the song with information about the state. I got permission to download Karaoke music from iTunes for this. I even had one very talented young man compose his own music and then accompanied his group on the piano. I then had the students lay down an audio track with them singing the words to the Karaoke music. Once that was done, the students created the scenery for their video, brought in or created costumes for the video and finally created the video. We turned up the music really loud and the students lipped synced to the music. After that, we made a DVD for the kids. It was great fun.
The second project was to have the students research "music careers". What they found out was that there are a lot of other people involved in the music industry, and it's not just the performer. They researched the different careers, manager, truck driver, roadie, sound tech, etc, and created a presentation about that career. They advertised, sold tickets, and basically did all of the things that it took to produce a show. The final project was to hold a "World Tour" with their "Musical Group". Both were a lot of work, but well worth it.
Neil hit a homerun on this one.
My experience is working with my Choir teacher to design collaborative projects with science. We were successful when I was teaching 8th grade. My students were studying wavelength and sound. Our projects were nothing like what Neil describes. I would have enjoyed collaborating with him on this project. (I'll probably suggest it to my choir teacher - not sure if she has the time with what she already does ... but what can she say? Worst thing I can think of is ... NO.)
I'm taking off on your idea about the series "Glee" in which students are asked to do research. Certainly, any choir director (or music director of any kind) just do plenty of research prior to preparing for a large concert. Conductors need to find primary sources related to the culture of the time and place in which the compose lived, traveled, and worked. They need to read letters between the composer and his/her contemporaries. They need to find out about what the critics said after the premier. They need to know whether the composer was influenced by others, by the culture of the times, and by personal issues such as mental illness, homosexuality, and a myriad of other personal qualities which affect individuals.
Conductors don't just read the music and rehearse it the way they think it sounds best. They will try for authenticity. They may try something new, which makes it relate more to the current culture. Imagine if Leonard Bernstein had not known the Shakespearean play: Romeo and Juliet...how could he have written West Side Story?
If a choir director wants to take students to a much higher level than simply singing parts, the Intel Program is a wonderful way to have her think more deeply about how to give students a much deeper understanding of the music they are performing. They may even end up composing or at least writing new lyrics for songs they know, or re-arranging the pieces to become more relevant to their own lifestyles. they are learning the beauty and satisfaction of performance, but there is so much more to performing, and she may be cheating students out of this deeper learning and satisfaction...
I'm just saying'
By the way, my first degree was in voice...
Wow! What great ideas! You made me think about how essential and unit questions could be used throughout the year as a means to tie global themes as well as open the window to multiple perspectives and a deeper understanding of the music they learn about. While I am not a music major, I do see the need to affectively involve the students in order to generate relevancy and creativity in the music they create or learn about.