This is my FAVORITE project to do with middle schoolers. I have seen other adaptations of this, but this document is created by me with my own original ideas, sequence and rubric.
In my 'Soundtrack of my Life' unit, we begin a 4 day course with an introduction where we listen to the song 'I Was Here' by Beyonce. I give students a sheet with the lyrics printed on them and ask students to, as we're listening, highlight/underline/circle/star one or more important verse that stands out to them. After a discussion on Beyonce's song, how it connects to her life, experiences, and what she wants to 'leave behind', I connect that to our own unique experiences and how they define us, and how music can often help describe these life experiences.
After the listening activity, we read through the project packet and I explain its various parts. I show students my example where we start off listing 5 meaningful life events or experiences (I give a number of examples on the description page). We then spend time discussing how different songs could connect to the experiences we have had. The 'Connections' page helps students briefly describe how the song and life event connect to each other, and finally, students write a written narrative telling their life stories through the scope of the songs they choose.
For the final part of this project, I have students design their own 'albums' (I buy cheap Target paper CD cases) and they can use any materials or graphics to make these unique and descriptive of their music selections.
** I wanted to add here that over the course of this unit, I play 3 videos for my students about artists sharing their life experiences and talking about how they connected with the music that was inspired by them. After the video we discuss the life experiences these artists talked about and how they connected to the songs they wrote. Really meaningful discussion from these YouTube videos. Here are the 3 I use, and I would love it if any of you have other videos to share about musicians/bands/artists talking about the inspiration of their music:
Sara Bareilles: (Sara has actually written an incredible book titled 'Sounds like Me' talking in depth on her many hit songs and the story that went along with them. Great read and this video references it.
Eminem: (There is a SMALL part where he says a few bad words in the middle during the interview, usually I just turn the volume down for that part)
Taylor Swift: (We discuss here the comment she makes about her sharing her relationships being brave vs. sexist, since she's a woman)
I can't tell you how much I love this unit, and how meaningful student reflections have been. (I am often moved to tears when reading about some of my kids and what they've been through in their lives.) I stress to students that they don't need to share anything they are uncomfortable sharing, and read student examples from the past to help my kids get a grasp on the project. (Students who have given me permission to read their work.) I highly recommend this unit for any junior high or high school music class (I do this with my 7th graders) and am available to discuss the execution of it with anyone interested!