Jim Mansfield

Using Digital Drums, Found Objects and Samplers to Make Layered Ostinatos

Primary Subject and Grade Level: Music/8th Grade

Interdisciplinary Connections: In addition to music, this lesson incorporates ELA and mathematical elements. Please see the highlighted sections in attachment #1 for a more comprehensive look at how math and ELA are aligned with music.

Lesson Duration: 2-3 forty minute periods

Relevance/Rationale: This lesson is designed to reinforce the use of the song-writing app, Garage Band, as well teach how found objects can be used musically. This lesson illustrates how artists can uniquely make statements that reflect their environment.  Considering the school’s need to raise math scores on state and standardized tests, mathematical concepts such as understanding fractions, analyzing patterns, and counting sequences, among other standards, will be incorporated into this lesson.

Outcomes/Objectives:  Students will be able to count/perform rhythms, create multiple ostinatos using found objects, and track and edit on the songwriting app, Garage Band. Students will come to understand the significance of the Go-Go Street Music Tradition that originated in Washington D.C. in the early 1980s. Students will come to understand how artists like The Junk Yard Band, B.E.A.T., and Stomp used found objects to make musical statements that reflect the environment in which they live.  

Standards: Based on the following updated 2014 Music Standards by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME):


Generate musical ideas (such as rhythms and melodies) within a given tonality and/or meter.


Demonstrate understanding of the structure in music selected for performance.


Perform music with expression and technical accuracy.

Use of Formative Assessment to Inform Planning: Through prior formative assessments (classroom activities in jingle writing, identifying ostinatos, and classroom discussions),  it is clear that the majority of students can easily navigate on the songwriting application, Garage Band, identify ostinatos, and compose a basic rhythmic idea using a metronome.

Technologies and Other Materials/Resources: Smart-board, video of Stomp Promo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMCL4jsnwPo ; iPads equipped with the application, Garage Band, headphones, student folders, pencils, CD player, CDs with excerpts from The Junk Yard Band and B.E.A.T.

Grouping Strategy: Students will be grouped into one of two configurations to ensure differentiated instruction/tasks, cooperative learning, and independent learning. High-achieving students will be personally asked by instructor to complete a more sophisticated task that will involve more advanced rhythms and harmonic passages.

Academic Vocabulary: Go-Go Street Music Scene, Found Object, Ostinato, Multi-Layered Ostinatos, Sampler

Lesson Procedures:

Post on whiteboard: Essential Question: “How can I create multi-layered ostinatos using digital media and found objects?”

  1. 1.Distribute work folders and text books

  2. 2.Do Now: Watch video of Stomp!

  3. 3.After the video, students write the definition of found object in their work folder. Students then read excerpts from pages D-30, D-32, and D-33 in their textbooks.  Discuss and define Go-Go Street Music Scene, The Junk Yard Band, and B.E.A.T.  Point out how each group uses found objects to make music that resembles/reflects their environment. Play musical excerpts from both bands. Remind students how each group uses found objects to create and reflect their environments.

  4. 4.Reinforce the terms, ostinato, and sampler from prior units. Introduce the term Multi-layered ostinato - multiple ostinatos played at the same time.

  5. 5.Demonstrate how to create a multi-layered ostinato on Garage Band.

  6. 6.Demonstrate the sampler function on Garage Band.

  7. 7.Activity: students break into groups of 2 or 3 to create multi-layered ostinatos and recordings of found objects/voices in a 4 - 8 measure loop.


Differentiation: Six out of the 26 students in the class are either in band, bell choir, and/or take private music lessons. One student of the six is exceptional (Level 6 NYSSMA and SCMEA-All County Band). That said, they all have proficient skills in creating and performing rhythms and  melodies accurately; therefore, they will be personally asked by the instructor to add melodic and harmonic ostinatos to their projects using the keyboard function on the application.

Assessment: Students will be given formative assessments throughout the two-three lessons.   Students will have opportunities to play their recordings back to the instructor, which will enable facilitator to assess student understanding of the classwork.