Music History Webquest
Photo by Shermeee


Because of budget issues at McKeand Music School, the decision has been made to limit the amount of music history that is taught. Rather than doing a bad job of teaching the entire history of music, we have decided to focus on one time period in our music history classes. The problem is that we are not sure which time period to focus on. Which period of time is the most important?

You have been selected to make the decision. To do that, you will have to learn as much as you can about the different time periods so you can select the most important one. You will be asked to report to the owner of the music school on your findings.


In order to make the best decision, you will need to research six different time periods to learn about their music. The six time periods you are being asked to investigate can be found at Music History. You should use the information presented there as the foundation of your investigation, but you are also expected to bring in information from at least two other sources.

You will complete a chart that lists various aspects such as composers and characteristics of the music of each period. After completing your investigations, you will submit a written report on your findings to the school's owner.


Step 1:

Using the websites listed under “Resources”, you will complete this chart. Once that has been done, you are to write a memorandum to the school's owner in which you summarize your findings about each period.

For information about how to write a memo, look here.

Step 2:

You will decide which time period will be the focus of music history classes at the school. You will write a detailed report about the period, building on what you included in your summary. You will discuss the reasons for your selection. You should include both information about why you chose that time period and why you did not choose others. This should e written in the form of a formal report.

Your report should include the following elements:

  • Background: why you are writing the report
  • Brief overview of all periods
  • Your selection
  • Reasons for choosing that period
  • Why the other periods were not chosen
  • Bibliography

Step 3:

You have presented the formal report to the owner of the school. After reading it, she wants to talk with you further about your choice. Please meet with her to present and defend your choice.


Basic Information on all six musical periods

Music of the Medieval Era or the Middle Ages

Music of the Renaissance

Music of the Baroque Period

Music of the Classical Period

Music of the Romantic Period

Music of the 20th Century


Each part of the WebQuest will be graded separately.

The chart will be graded on a total of 30 points. Each time period is worth a possible 5 points:

  • Dates: 1 point
  • Composers: 1 point
  • Instruments: 1 point
  • Facts: 2 points

The first memo will be graded on a total of 15 points.


  • All the required elements are there. - 5 points
  • Most (76-99%) of the required content is there. - 4 points
  • Approximately 75% of the required content is there. - 3 points
  • Some (50-74%) of the required content is there. - 2 points
  • Less than half of the content is there. - 1 point


  • Content can be easily understood with no difficulty. - 5 points
  • Content can be understood with minimal difficulty. - 4 points
  • Content can be understood with some difficulty. - 3 points
  • Content can be understood with considerable difficulty. - 2 points
  • Content is almost impossible to understand. - 1 point


  • Evidence of thinking can be seen throughout the document. - 5 points
  • Some thinking is evident. - 3 points
  • No evidence of thinking is present. - 1 point

The final report will be graded on a total of 30 points.


  • The paper had a clear focus and all the necessary details. - 9-10 points
  • The paper had a clear focus, but there were unnecessary details that should have been cut. - 7-8 points
  • The focus was pretty good but it wasn't developed evenly. Some parts were good and others needed more. - 5-6 points
  • There was an attempt at focus, but it was not developed sufficiently. - 3-4 points
  • The paper did not seem to have a focus and was not developed. - 1-2 points


  • The organization was appropriate. The beginning, middle, and ending are well developed. - 9-10 points
  • The organization is appropriate. One part (beginning, middle, or ending) needs better development. - 7-8 points
  • The organization fits the essay's purpose. Some parts (beginning, middle, ending) need more development. - 5-6 points
  • The organization doesn't fit the purpose. - 3-4 points
  • There is no real organization. 1-2 points


  • The presentation had a few errors that did not interfere with understanding. - 9-10 points
  • There were a number of errors, but overall it was understandable. - 7-8 [points
  • There were some errors that made it difficult to understand. - 5-6 points
  • The number of errors made it very difficult to understand. - 3-4 points
  • There were so many errors that the presentation could not be understood. 1-2 points

The oral presentation will be graded on a total of 10 points:

  • Excellent, engaging presentation that met all the requirements - 9-10 points
  • Good presentation that was pretty engaging. - 7-8 points
  • Good presentation but could have been more engaging. - 5-6 points
  • Presentation was OK, but there was almost no attempt to engage the audience. - 3-4 points
  • Presentation was not complete. Presenter could not present or defend her position. - 1-2 points


Now that you have investigated the different periods in the history of Western music, I hope that your Music Literature class will be easier to understand.


Thanks to Dr. Tracy Carr for sharing her course syllabus and presentations. These served as the inspiration for this WebQuest. Thanks, too, to Xiaodan for piloting this activity and helping me see its strengths and weaknesses.

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