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Making the Band

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I came up with this idea on a whim but it turned out to work wonderfully in the college English classes I teach here in China. I usurped the title of the activity from the reality TV show that aired a few years back in the U.S. and gave us the frightfully sappy pop-group, "O-town."

Start by letting the students divide into groups of 3 to 5. Tell them that they are to be creative and form a fictitious music group. The style of music is their's to choose (although most of them all want to be like the Backstreet Boys.) After deciding on the type of music they perform they then have to make up their band's name, and each person in the group needs to come up with a on-stage persona that is different from their own name. This can take some explaining because most of my students didn't initially understand what a stage name was.

"At school, your class moniter goes by the name of Lucy, but when she's on stage rocking the mic, she goes by Red Lotus."

After they have created their band and stage names I tell them to come up with a background story explaining their band's roots. Where did you guys meet? Why did you start playing music? etc. etc.

Lastly, they need to come up with the titles of their "hit" songs. They can be whatever they like as long as they are original. When all the groups have completed the preceeding I explain they have five minutes for preparation before they present their musical group to the rest of the class. At this point I inform them that if they sing they will get extra credit (and sometimes I'll dance), though there is no penalty if they do not as long as they cover all the above parameters. My normally very shy students all began to frantically prepare songs off the top of their heads, some performed traditional Chinese songs and danced as well, while some even tried hand at rapping!

This excercise worked great with all my classes and allowed my students to be creative and have fun while practicing their English. I hope it works for all of you as well.

Greg Kummery
Hangzhou city, Zhejiang Province

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