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Title of Lesson: The Pulitzer Prize, Then and Now

Teacher Name:_____________________ Grade Level:____

Learning Goals

What Learners will…

Be able to do ​(behavioral): By the end of the lesson, students will be able to name

multiple Pulitzer Prize winning compositions and their notable characteristics at a success

rate of 80%.

Understand ​(cognitive): Students will interpret a piece, or portion of a piece, that has

won the Pulitzer Prize.

Encounter ​(experiential): Students will attend the concert given by the Westminster

Choir and Bang on a Can of Julia Wolfe’s ​Anthracite Fields​.

Construct meaning ​(constructivist): Students will appreciate the musicianship and

artistry of pieces that won the Pulitzer Prize.

Focusing Question

In what ways ​(complete the sentence): do Pulitzer Prize winning pieces show their



Computer, Speaker System


(​​)-Copland, Appalchian Spring, Movement VII

(​​)-Reynolds, Whispers out of Time, Movement V

Formative: ​Teacher will monitor the students’ comprehension of material by observing the

quality of discussion and getting all students to participate.

Summative: ​The teacher will apply a rubric to the final project performed by the students in

regards to creativity, use of non-traditional musical effects, and their explanation of the piece.

Integrative: ​The teacher uses a journal to keep track of what students responded the best and

will adjust future lessons accordingly.


Partner: ​Students will bring in pieces that they find to be exceptional. Not necessarily a piece

that they just enjoy, but one that they think has an exceptional amount of artistry, creativity,

musicianship, or innovation. The students will have to explain themselves and talk about why

they think the piece is so exceptional, give specific as well as general comments about the

composition’s musical significance.

Present: ​The teacher will then take a particular song from the student’s that they also found to

be quite artistic. They will go more into that piece and start analyzing what made it so great.

Especially focusing on something that is innovative and/or tied to some sort of strong story. This

will then tie directly into “Anthracite Fields”. Next, the teacher will play “Appalachian Spring”

by Aaron Copland for the students (winner of Pulitzer Prize in 1945). It is suggested to play

Movement 7 (Variations on a Shaker Melody) as it may be most familiar to the students. The

teacher will then talk about what makes this piece special. Ex. it’s influence of American nature,

his ability to create such fine and complex textures with only a 13-member chamber orchestra,

the story of the ballet. (Be sure that students keep in mind that it was 1945 and innovation then

was different than it is now). After doing this, students will listen to a recording of “Whispers
Out of Time” by Roger Reynolds, Movement V (Prize winner in 1989). The teacher will talk

about Reynolds inspiration that came from John Ashberry’s “Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror”

and how this could have affected the way he wrote his piece. Ex. That’s where he got the names

for each movement, what makes Movement V sound like “A Chill, a Blight Moving Outward”.

What makes the piece Pulitzer Prize worthy? Innovation, use of instrumental sound effects,

extended techniques (harmonics), non-traditional harmony. The teacher will end this portion of

the lesson talking about how the Pulitzer Prize awarded very different music in 1945 compared

to today. Ask students to keep in mind what an award winning piece might consist of today, and

why Anthracite Fields may have been chosen for the prize (for when they go to the


Personalize: ​Students will be assigned to create a short composition that uses non-traditional

harmony and/or sound effects to depict a landscape or other natural picture. In this exercise,

students could use a piano, percussion, their voices (with sound effects like “whoosh” sounds for

wind, tongue clicking, clapping), or any other instruments that are available. Students may work

in groups or alone. Students must also do a write-up that explains their piece and talks about how

they used different sounds to create a certain atmosphere.

Perform: ​Students will perform their compositions for the class.