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Songwriters of Cat An

Songwriters of Cat An

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Published by John Paul Sharp

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Published by: John Paul Sharp on Oct 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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March 11, 2011 JOHN PAUL SHARP
Songwriting is all about building, sampling and trading!
This modification of the classic game,
Settlers of Catan
, enhances new and veteransongwriting students’ experiences by introducing basic contemporary song formsin a fun and unexpected, yet relatable way.
This article isintended to empower you to create your own modification of 
Settlers of Catan
or experiment with themodification that Icreated. You are freeto print out the visual materials provided in thisdocument and try it out yourself!
Three Needs
The needs I established in my modification for teaching a new learning domain are:1.
The game must be playable as a 2 player game.
 Rationale: Songwriting is often most likely a oneor two-person process at most. Also, the amountof cards needed to build the new song formulasrequire each player to control two of the four available colors.2.
The game must be fun in the way that theoriginal game is fun.
Rationale: Don’t fix whatisn’t broken! I wanted to find a learning domainwhere I could teach fundamentals, but not requirea lot of additional rules in order to actively engagethe material with the students. Songwriting is agreat subject because the simple act of buildingsong parts is profound in and of itself.3.
Modifications must testable by others.
Rationale: Why leave the experiment to my ownshort time schedule? All modifications must be printable and testable for others.
The Author
John Paul Sharp is agraduate student atthe School of Education andHuman Developmentat UCDenver,studying Informationand LearningTechnologies. He isalso a long-time songwriter and graduated
 summacum laude
at the College of Arts and Media with aB.S. in Vocal Performance. For more information, gotowww.johnpaulsharp.com 
Songwriters of Catan
Three Modifications
, I had to modify the game so it could be played as a 2-player game. 2
, I had toreskin the game. 3
, I had to change the rules ever-so-slightly. Then I called it quits.
Modification One
2 Player
The first option I tried was to have each player take turns controlling athird player. Since my partner (Josué) and I are relatively new to playingthe board version of this game, we decided to try our 2-player modification first, without trying to figure out of my ‘reskin’ would beeffective. The biggest issue we had playing with this first option was thatwe could not remember whose turn it was to manipulate the player.There were times when it was great fun to use the third player to create adisadvantage for the opposing player, but we realized we had to taketrading with the third player out of the rules. After all, how can you tradewith someone who isn’t there?The other option was to have both of us control two colors each and takecards for both colors at every roll. Josué felt very frustrated at having tomanage so many cards. I wasn’t so much frustrated with the amount of cards as I was with how long the game was taking.Turns seemed to takeeven longer than normal and that became an issue when we first decidedto make the goal of the game to get 20 Song Points. We ended upkeeping the 10 Song Point objective. By forcing each player with 14 or more cards to get rid of half of their cards when a player rolls a ‘7,’ wewere able to alleviate some of our frustrations with the secondmodification.Ultimately, I ended up going with the second option. I felt that thelearning curve for managing more cards was much more achievable thantrying to remember which turn was yours to manipulate a third player.Also, because I would eventually be changing the formulas for how to build the individual pieces, having more cards made it easier to build aBasic Hit, Love Song or Masterpiece. I imagine that the game wouldhave gone much longer trying to win the game with half of the cardsavailable. Also, trading became a more effective mechanic in the gamewhen all the cards were going to just two players and not an imaginarythird. Overall, the second option is the best.
Modification Two
I really struggled to choose a learning domain for modifying
. My biggest issue was trying tofigure out a way to keep the game fun but also be ableto teach real terms and concepts in something that Iteach: acting, singing, performing, songwriting. Itwasn’t until I had a conversation with an old classmatefrom my college days, who loves to play the originalgame, that I realized what a great fit songwriting, or song-building, would be for this game modification.My friend suggested, “Why don’t you just build songswith song parts?”This made me consider how I could translate theresources into song parts.There are five basic parts of asong and five resources! Perfect!The basic hit was the first song form I thought of  because it already resembled what was called for to build the original road. I had to get a little creative withnaming the other two song forms, as there are really nonames for them in the contemporary music world. Ifigured that songs with bridges were usually lovesongs. And most songs that had all the song parts Icalled Masterpieces because usually these types of songs you hear on the radio have a greater, grander feel.
Victory Point = Song Points, Victory Cards = ‘Gigging’ Cards
One aesthetic change which is especially important is the new ‘gigging’ cards. I chose various typical venuesthat performing songwriters may find themselves in. The point of doing this was to show that the quickest wayto ‘win’ as a songwriter is to get out in the real world and perform your songs to the people.
Progress & Special Cards = Music Business Cards
Instead of drastically changing the rules of how the game works, I chose to reskin these types of cards byintroducing students to music business terms (i.e., “sampler, copyright © protection, prolific artist, record label, publishing house). Because the craft of songwriting is truly a commodity-based art form,
is especiallyappropriate because of the trading, stealing and monopolization of song parts, or, more accurately, ideas.
Use of Terms & Questions to Encourage Metacognition
Starting questions are placed on each resource card to encourage students’ metacognition on what it means towrite, build and own songs. Players should be encouraged to explore why The Longest Road is called RecordLabel! and why The Largest Army is called Publishing House! Why is the robber called a Sampler and whatdoes it mean to sample someone else’s music to create your own? How does a songwriter own a piece of music? These are all the types of questions that should be explored both before and after gameplay sessions.

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