The ability to keep and maintain good records is an essential skill for many music educators. It is also one that is rarely covered in any kind of music teacher curriculum. There are simply too many other things to cover and skills in how to keep and manage records doesn’t usually fit neatly into a music education curriculum. Unfortunately, administrative duties ends up being a big part of the job for many music teachers. This is where understanding a database program like Microsoft Excel can be very useful. By learning to organize and add to an existing database, learners should successfully move through knowledge and comprehension to application within Bloom’s Taxonomy of Skills and be well on their way towards having the practical administrative skills they will likely use in their careers.
The purpose of this project is take a messy database and then clean, organize, and add to it. Below is a messy database for an imaginary choir, made up of some characters from the TV show, The West Wing:
We will use this database for the purposes of covering some excel basics. The goal is to take this messy data and transform into a clean & professional looking spreadsheet, that organize all performers by their graduation year. We will also want to add one more character, Charlie Young, who sings the Bass part and is assigned the imaginary graduation year of 2023. Finally, we want to add a title and format it to print in landscape view. By completing these tasks, learners should understand the following concepts:
- Data entry
- Formatting basics
- Page layout
- Text formatting
- Sorting & hiding
- Predictive copy
By the end of this lesson, the spreadsheet should look like this:
An excel file of the messy database can be found here for you to work through as well as a file of what the end product should resemble here. In the video below, we will work through the unfinished file until we have a clean, professional looking database that can easily be shared and understood:
An extension of this project could be a Backwards Design approach where learners construct their own roster of an imaginary (or actual) ensemble that similar to the example above that includes the following fields:
- First Name
- Last Name
- Instrument / Voice
- Part Assignment
- Audition Group
- Audition Time
The idea behind a Backwards Design approach is to clearly define an “end point” that effectively frames learning goals, ensuring that content remains organized and focused. This allows the teacher to be more focused on promoting better understanding of the content or processes to be learned and where gaps in understanding remain.
Once learners have a clear understanding of the fundamental concepts of how to enter and organize data in a spreadsheet, they can begin applying these skills in projects like organizing expenses, transforming data through mail merges, and creating administrative databases.