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Experience Design: Dont Stop Believin

Designers: Erin Dixon (Bass), Howard Kim (Electric Guitar), and Ailish Hall and
Vanessa Siracusa (Acoustic Guitar)

Summary/Overview: This activity is designed for Gemeinschaft residents to learn four

basic chords on the guitar and four basic notes on the bass guitar and play Dont Stop
Believin by Journey on the guitar and bass using the chords learned. The experience
will begin with the four student leaders demonstrating what the end product will sound
like (by demonstrating both the first verse and the chorus). Each of the student leaders
will guide the residents through learning the chords/notes needed to play the songs,
then the entire group will come back together to play all the songs. During the group
sessions, residents will also learn appropriate strumming/plucking patterns for each
song and learn how to read guitar tabs so they will be able to refer back to the handout
and understand what it says, or be able to look up tabs online and understand how to
play a new chord. Residents will also practice transitions between chords so they can
learn how to move their fingers in a timely manner before the next chord needs to be

With the increasingly hectic nature of everyday life, many people struggle to find time to
learn a new instrument, even though they may have a desire to do so. General music
education in American public schools is only widely offered in elementary school, then
performance-oriented ensembles take over the music curricula starting in middle school.
This activity is designed so that the Gemeinschaft residents are given an opportunity to
play a new instrument, in a fun and creative way (rather than just learning scales or
western rep). We are hoping that the song we have chosen best represents a general
liking of music, thus leading to an opportunity that they may not have encountered
frequently in their lives. Although they may be learning just a few chords, there are
many more songs that utilize no more than the four chords we will be teaching them. In
addition, and perhaps more importantly, the experience and skills learned from this
activity may inspire the residents to continue playing the guitar and learning more
chords and skills to enhance their music making experiences in the future. Due to the
fact that these residents have been incarcerated in the past, some doors in life have
now been shut for them, and a few of them for good. This activity can help these
residents reopen or discover new doors and find a positive outlet to express themselves
in unique ways.
EI.10 The student will demonstrate preparatory instrumental basics and playing
procedures, including 1. identification and selection of an appropriate instrument;
2. identification of the parts of the instrument; 3. procedures for care of the
instrument; 4. proper playing posture and instrument position;
EI.11 The student will demonstrate proper instrumental techniques, including 1.
finger/slide placement, using finger/slide patterns and fingerings/positions; 2.
production of tones that are clear, free of tension, and sustained;
EI.14 The student will begin to use articulations and dynamic contrasts as
means of expression.
EI.15 The student will perform simple rhythmic and melodic examples in
call-and-response styles.
Maybe we could do something along the lines of: EI.20 The student will
investigate aesthetic concepts related to music by 1. proposing a definition of
music; 2. identifying reasons for preferences among works of music, using music
terminology; 3. identifying ways in which music evokes sensory, emotional, and
intellectual responses, including ways in which music can be persuasive; and 4.
explaining the value of musical performance to the school community.

I Can Statements:
I can play the full chords of I, IV, V, and vi in the key of G Major
G Major, C Major, D Major, and E Minor
This will be taught by first demonstrating what the chords will look
like (based on finger/fret position)
I can demonstrate basic strumming patterns representing the boom-boom-clap-
percussion sequence of classic rock music
I can name the strings of the acoustic guitar
I can understand what the frets mean in regards to the acoustic guitar
I can read guitar tabs
I can play the bass note of I, IV, V, and vi in the key of G Major by method of
G, C, D, E **The pattern used in Dont Stop Believin is I-V-vi-IV
In terms of the bass guitar, students will play the previously listed notes by
playing an open G, open D, open E, and by placing their first finger on the
third fret of the A string to play a C
This will be taught by first getting the students to PLAY, use a
mixture of instruction and asking them to show me where different
roots are located-- then by explaining which fingers will go where
(or wont go if theyre playing an open string)
It is important to remember to constantly ask What questions do
you all have for me frequently so that the students feel safe and
comfortable to ask any questions they may have, even if they arent
necessarily confident in them
I can understand that that the chords the guitarists are learning are all major with
the exception of the minor vi chord, E minor, in the key of G major
Hear the difference between major/minor--major triads are built upon one
major thirds and one minor, while minor triads are built upon two minor
I can also understand how common chord progressions are used and that the
chords can be switched around to play nearly every early classic rock, pop, or
rap songs
Via Common Chord Progressions handout
I can name the strings of the bass guitar
E (lowest in pitch)-A-D-G (highest in pitch)
I can understand what the frets mean in regards to the bass guitar
One fret=one half step: For example, if I want to play an C, then I would
bar the A string on the third fret
I can demonstrate correct plucking of bass strings (index finger vs. thumb)
There is an idiomatic pattern of ta-ta-ta-ki-di-ta that any beginning bass
player can learn that will set the classic rock nearly effortlessly.
I can understand how the bass works (basics of strings, how to play different

Materials and Visual Aids:

(For bass) diagram of the strings/frets
Common Chord Progressions Handout

Detailed process:
-hand out handout
- All four leaders demonstrate what Dont Stop Believing will sound like as a
finished product (5 min)
- Hi we are music education students from JMU - were going to play you an
example of what youre going to learn today. Take notice out our fingers and
hands. Also listen to the changes in the music.
- Ask students to sing along and to notice when the chords change (when
our fingers move position)
- Ask What else they notice
- Break up into four small, even groups BY numbering the handouts 1-4. Each
leader will take a group of 4-5 residents...two groups will go with the acoustic
guitars, one group with electric guitars, and one group will go with bass
- Briefly go over the basic parts and playing techniques of the instrument
- **If you are teaching bass it is explicitly important to be sure the students
fully understand and recognize the four strings of the bass guitar (as the
will frequently be playing open strings)
- Go over, in detail, what the frets mean in relation to the chord: represents one
- Be sure to give an example here, and be prepared to further explain what
a semi-tone means in relation to notes if necessary
- After asking What questions do you have for me at this time and lead them
through the chords needed for each song (about 10 mins for each rotation). After
20 minutes, (groups 1 and 2 will begin with acoustic for 20 minutes) then the men
will rotate counter-clockwise to a new group--this way the men dont have to
worry about repositioning their amps and instrument and everyone gets the
- Teach each chord by first demonstrating what the chord will look like, then
jumping into the logistics of which fingers go where
- Though this could be seen as direct instruction students will be
encouraged to add any suggestions
- Be sure to observe each of the students and look out for
problems...if students are having trouble getting the hand of
chords/notes, break it down again and adapt if necessary
- Demonstrate ONE EXAMPLE OF an appropriate strumming/plucking
pattern for each song...make it extremely aware that students can feel
free to experiment with and try any sort of strumming OR plucking pattern
theyd like
- Practice transitions between each chord by running the order of chords
once or twice before switching rotations again

- Closing group activity: PLAY AND PERFORM!! (15 mins)

- Stay in the last groups that their in
- Be sure to shout the chord changes right before they change

Look back at the I Can statements, are these true at the end of this experience?
If the participants can do at least 4 of the I Can statements, they have
passed through the experience successfully.
Were students allowed to experiment
The leaders of the experience should also assess themselves:
Did we teach in a fun, yet, informational way?
Did we help the participants fulfill some I Can statements?
Did we lead well?
Did we have an enjoyable lesson?
Were the leaders all working together?
Did the participants seem confused? How did we help them?

One way to extend the activity would be to simply over-prepare the amount of songs we
could learn, and teach them more songs based on the amount of time left. Another way
to extend this activity would be to include more songs and chords. For more songs, we
can either preemptively prepare songs with more chords in them or we can ask the
residents what kind of songs they would like to play, and we can quickly look up the
chords needed. The latter could lead to a loss of significant time if appropriate songs
are not quickly chosen. Handouts will be given out so the residents can refer back if
they need to remember a particular fingering. In addition, there are many websites
available online where the residents can look up the chords and theoretically be able to
play any song they want.
Dont make the handout too small or complex--have it simple enough so
they can read off of it, but not be distracted.
Include a few images/visual representations of the experience
Color coding bass strings: each of the open strings on the bass guitar is
given a different colored tab placed directly on the nut
Open G: PINK
C: A string with the third fret barred: GREEN
Color coding chords: For bass guitar, place another different colored tab
under the A string on the third fret to indicate the C chord
Color code handout
Going slow, but, not too slow--consistently asking for questions,
suggestions, or even comments that would allow the students to feel more
comfortable or free to make mistakes. For example, harping on something
for too long and losing attention from members. Keep the lesson moving
at a medium rate. Analyze how the participants are working and adapt
based upon their progress.