A lesson plan based on the article “Behind our music” about a band’s progress in the May-June 2004 issue of L.A. Youth.

By Libby Hartigan, Managing Editor

Grades: 6-12
Subjects: Language arts
Overview of lesson plan: Students will discuss success, how it can be measured and achieved.
Suggested time allowance: 45 min.-1 hr.

Objective: Students will develop critical thinking skills while exploring new ideas about success

Resources and material:
— pens, paper
— copies of L.A. Youth May-June 2004 issue (one per student)
— blackboard or whiteboard

Write “Success” on the board. Ask each student to call out the name of someone whom they consider to be successful, whether they are athletes, musicians, scholars, politicians, or perhaps even a member of the student’s family. Write these names on the board. Discuss what makes them successful.

How do students measure or define their own personal success? Many youth feel that success is something they can only achieve in the far distant future. They dream of playing basketball, going to college, working, perhaps getting married. But can students be successful now? How?

Ask each student to write one sentence describing a goal they believe they can accomplish now while they’re still in school. Encourage them to be as specific as possible. You might want to offer a few suggestions:
“I can improve my grades.”
“I can learn to play golf.”
“I can help my parents around the house.”
“I can get a job and earn my own money.”

Reading. Have the students read the article about Mata Moska, a band, on pages 10-11.

Is Mata Moska a successful band? Ask students to find specific details which show it is or is not a successful band.

–played more than 600 backyard shows
–has played at well-known venues such as the Avalon and the Roxy
–has played with well-known bands like Maldita Vecindad, Salon Victoria and Voodoo Glow Skulls
–was selected for the Battle of the Bands
–has released several CDs which are sold in local record stores
–made a video and DVD
–appeared on Mun2
–has a Web site
–has built a fan base in the Los Angeles area (shows are crowded, a mosh pit forms when they play)

–Band members still don’t get paid
–Not played on the radio
–Some people call them “sell-outs”
–Not known outside the area
–Didn’t win the Battle of the Bands

Even though some people might say that the band is not that successful, John feels the band is a big success and he has not regretted the time he has devoted to rehearsals, recording sessions and playing shows. Why does he feel that way? Ask your students to find specific reasons why John feels the band is successful, such as:

–Instead of playing backyard shows, the band mainly plays better known venues.
–It was an honor to play at the Battle of the Bands.
–They have shared their music with a lot of people. Record stores have called to ask for more CDs.
–The band has a lot of potential; who knows where it could end up?

How do students feel about the way John has portrayed his band? Would they agree that it’s a success?

Writing. Ask the students to write a short essay about success. What do people need to be successful, as seen in this article about Mata Moska? John was helped by his supportive family, his willingness to take risks (such as contacting the band, and learning the trumpet on this own), his hard work and commitment. He also kept a positive attitude even when there were obstacles.

Extension activity:
Ask students to develop a plan to achieve their one-sentence personal goal. The plan should include specific actions they can take, as well as help they will need to ask for from friends and family members.