Scouting/BSA/Music Merit Badge

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Requirement 1[edit]

Sing or play a simple song or hymn chosen by your counselor using good technique, phrasing, tone, rhythm, and dynamics.. Read all the signs and terms of the score.

See Learn to Sing Better How to Play Music How to Play Guitar How to Play the Piano How to Play Basic Piano Chords Advanced Piano Playing Modern Musical Symbols List of Musical Symbols Musical Terms Key Signature Reading Music 101 Learning Music Symbols and Terms

Requirement 2[edit]

a. Name the five general groups of musical instruments. b. Create an illustration that shows how tones are generated and how instruments produce sound.


a. The the science of musical instruments is called organology. It embraces the study of instruments' history, instruments used in different cultures, technical aspects of how instruments produce sound, and musical instrument classification.


Musical instruments are frequently classified by the way they generate sound:


  • Woodwind instruments generate a sound when a column of air is made to vibrate inside them. The frequency of the wave generated is related to the length of the column of air and the shape of the instrument, while the tone quality of the sound generated is affected by the construction of the instrument and method of tone production. Vibrations are created by blowing air across a single reed, double reed or across a sharp-edged hole opening at or near the end of the instrument. The clarinet and saxophone families are examples of single reed woodwinds. The oboe and bassoon are examples of double reed woodwinds. Flutes produce sound when air is blown across the embouchure hole.


  • Brasswind instruments generate sound by sympathetic vibration of air in a tubular resonator in sympathy with the vibration of the player's lips which are “buzzed” in the instrument’s mouthpiece. There are several factors involved in producing different pitches on a brass instrument. One is alteration of the player's lip tension (or embouchure), and another is air flow. Also, slides or valves are used to change the length of the tubing, thus changing the harmonic series presented by the instrument to the player. There are two different kinds of brass: low and high. The tuba, baritone and trombone are examples of low brass. The trumpet and French horn are examples of high brass.


  • Percussion instruments generate sound, with or without a definite pitch, when hit with an implement, shaken, rubbed, scraped, or by any other action which sets the object into vibration. The shape and material of the part of the instrument to be struck and the shape of the resonating cavity, if any, determine the sound of the instrument. The term usually applies to an object used in a rhythmic context or with musical intent. Examples of definite pitch percussion are chimes, glockenspiel, handbells, marimba, steelpan, gong, timpani and xylophone. Examples of indefinite pitch percussion are bass drum, castanet, cymbal, slapstick, snare drum, tom-tom drum and tam-tam.


  • String instruments generate a sound when a string is plucked, strummed, slapped, etc. The frequency of the wave generated (and therefore the note produced) usually depends on the length of the vibrating portion of the string, the diameter of the string, the tension of the string, and the point at which the string is excited. The tone quality varies according to the construction of the resonating cavity (size, shape and wood used), the material the string is made of, how the string is excited into motion, and the expertise of the musician. The guitar, violin, mandolin, ukulele, harp, autoharp, harpsichord and piano are examples of string instruments.


  • Electronic instruments generate sound through electronic means. Such an instrument sounds by outputting an electrical audio signal that ultimately drives a loudspeaker. They can mimic all of the other instruments or create very unique sounds. The digital piano, electronic keyboard, organ, analog synthesizer, digital synthesizer, MIDI instruments (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), wind synthesizer, digital drums and virtual musical instruments are examples of electronic instruments.


Many alternate divisions and further subdivisions of instruments exist. See also Classifying Musical Instruments. To learn about a specific instrument, consult the list of musical instruments or List of archaic musical instruments.


The human body, generating both vocal and percussive sounds, was the first human musical instrument. Most likely the first prehistoric rhythm instruments or percussion instruments involved the clapping of hands, hitting stones together, or other materials that are useful to create rhythm. The oldest flutes discovered thus far were in the Hohle Fels Cave in Germany and were dated at about 35,000 years old. All classes of instruments, other than electronic, are mentioned in ancient historic sources, such as Egyptian, Chinese, East Indian, Greek and Roman inscriptions and the Bible and have actually been recovered from historical archaeological sites from around the world.


b. See Sound is Energy Vibrating String What is Sound? Changing Sounds Sounds and How Instruments Work Making Sounds With Musical Instruments

Requirement 3[edit]

Do TWO of the following:

a. Attend a live performance, or listen to three hours of recordings from any two of the following musical styles: blues, jazz, classical, country, bluegrass, ethnic, gospel, musical theater, opera. Describe the sound of the music and the instruments used. Identify the composers or songwriters, the performers, and the titles of the pieces you heard. If it was a live performance, describe the setting and the reaction of the audience. Discuss your thoughts about the music.

If there is a program, make good use of the notes.


b. Interview your parents and grandparents about music. Find out what the most popular music was when they were your age. Find out what their favorite music is now, and listen to three of their favorite tunes with them. How do their favorites sound to you? Had you ever heard any of them? Play three of your favorite songs for them, and explain to them why you like these songs. Ask them what they think of your favorite music.


c. Serve for six months as a member of a school, church, Scout unit, or other local musical organization, or perform as a soloist in public six times.


d. List five people who are important in the history of American music and explain to your counselor why they continue to be influential. Include at least one composer, one performer, one innovator, and one person born more than 100 years ago.

See Music of the United States American Popular Music Before 1900 American Popular Music From 1900 to 1950 American Popular Music From 1950 to 2000 Google Timeline 1760-2011 American Music Timeline 1640-1890 American Composers List of American Composers List of American Songwriters

Requirement 4[edit]

Do ONE of the following:

a. Teach three songs to a group of people. Lead them in singing the songs, using proper hand motions.

  • Teaching a Song. These tips will get you started and help you relax and have some fun, too.

1. Practice the words and the melody of the song you will teach until you know the song by heart. 2. Smile at the group. Be enthusiastic and act confident, even if this is your first time teaching a song. 3. Start with a lively, well-known warm-up number, so everyone (including you) can sing with confidence. 4. Tell the group the name of the song, and provide copies of the lyrics. Use songbooks or song sheets, or write the lyrics on a blackboard or large sheet of paper. 5. Sing the song through alone or with a small group that already knows it. 6. Then sing phrase by phrase and have the group repeat after you. If the song has several verses, teach one verse at a time. 7 When the group has learned the phrases or verses, sing the song all together. If the song is fast or difficult, sing it slowly at first, then pick up speed as the singers master it. 8. Musical accompaniment helps. Piano, accordion, guitar and harmonica are good accompaniments because they can play harmony, not just the melody. 9. When the group has sung the song a time or two, stop. Do not work so hard that it is no longer fun. Go all at once to a familiar song.

Boy Scouts of America Merit Badge Series, Music, #35921, page 49, 2010.


  • Leading a Song. Because teaching is a part of song leading, many of the previous tips apply to both. Here are a few more hints to help you lead songs successfully.

1. Give the starting note. Sing or hum a few bars of the song. Or, have a few bars played, if an instrument is available. Be careful not to pitch the song too high or low. If you start the group on the wrong note, stop and start over. 2. Start with a slight upward arm motion followed by a decisive downward motion (a downbeat), and begin singing. Do not worry if some don’t start with the first note. They will join quickly. 3. Beat time with a simple down-and-up motion of the arm. Hold your arm high enough for everyone to see, and make your gestures definite and brisk. You are in command. 4. Control volume by raising your free hand for loudness and lowering it for softness. 5. Move around a little, put some energy into it, and smile. 6. Stop while everyone is still having fun. Leave the group wanting more.

Boy Scouts of America Merit Badge Series, Music, #35921, page 50, 2010.


See Conducting Tips Learn Music Conducting Techniques Conducting The Conducting Beat Patterns Conducting Music Conducting Interactive Conducting Course Interactive Conducting Course PDF


b. Compose and write the score for a piece of music twelve measures or more.

See MusicTheory.net Music Theory Chord Chart In Sequence Chord House Money Chords Free Printable Staff Paper More Free Printable Staff Paper


c. Make a traditional instrument and learn to play it.

See Kinder Art Wanna Learn Building Musical Instruments


d. Catalog your own or your family's collection of 12 or more compact discs, tapes or records. Show how to handle and store them.

  • Classifying Your Collection. Classify (organize) your recordings in a way that suits you, but keep your system simple and flexible. You can classify recordings in several ways:

• In chronological order of the periods during which the music was written. • In alphabetical order, by names of performers, composers or titles. • By category—classical, folk, jazz, country, rock, etc. • In numerical order, by catalog numbers. • In combinations of these or according to your own numbering system.

Boy Scouts of America Merit Badge Series, Music, #35921, page 62, 2010.


  • Caring for Compact Discs (CD) and Players.

1. Handle CDs carefully by the edges. 2. After playing, store each CD in its protective plastic case. CDs can be stored horizontally or vertically in storage units. 3. A carrying case is good for organizing CDs as well as for transporting them. 4. Wipe carefully handled CDs with a soft cloth, stroking from the center to the rim. If a CD has been soiled, you can clean it gently with soap and water. 5. Place a CD on a level surface, away from dampness, high humidity, and extreme heat. Protect it from strong vibrations or jolting. 6. CD players ordinarily need no maintenance. If the player malfunctions, consult your dealer or a repair shop. Repair requires a trained technician and specialized tools.

  • Handling Records.

1. Handle records by the edges. Avoid touching the grooved surfaces. Use a soft brush or cloth to keep them free of dust, making strokes in a circular direction along the grooves. 2. When you play the records manually, lower the tone arm onto the record gently. A bumpy landing can scratch and injure the record and damage the needle. 3. Be sure the needle (stylus) is in good condition at all times. A worn needle can ruin your records. Replace diamond needles after every 1,000 hours of play. 4. Discard records that are cracked or full of nicks. They can damage the needle.

  • Caring for Tapes and Tape Players.

1. Clean and demagnetize the tape heads after at least every 20 hours of use to remove tiny particles that tapes leave behind. Do this especially before you plan to record an important program or play a valuable tape. Use cotton swabs soaked with denatured, not isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. You can buy denatured alcohol or a special cleaning solution from an electronics or music store. Allow the heads to dry for 30 minutes before inserting a tape. 2. After you have cleaned the heads, use the swabs to clean the metal guides along the tape path. 3. To avoid erasing a cassette tape by accident, remove the small plastic tabs on the back of the cassette. Use a small screwdriver to pry out the tabs. Commercially recorded tapes already have he tabs removed.

  • Storage.

Store record albums in an upright position and fit snugly against each other. Flat or slanted storage will cause the records to warp. Store tapes and CDs in a cabinet or case that protects them from dust and allows you to keep them organized and safe.

Boy Scouts of America Merit Badge Series, Music, #35921, pages 66-67, 2010.


See Manage Your Growing Disc Collection – Tools and Tricks Storing Your CD Collection Shelving Your CD Collection Organizing and Storing Your CD and DVD Disks More Storage Means More Freedom


e. Give a brief history of the bugle, and explain how the bugle is related to other brass wind instruments. Demonstrate how the bugle makes sound, then explain how to care for, clean, and maintain a bugle.

See Bugle History of the Bugle Evolution of the Bugle How to Play a Bugle How to Blow a Bugle How to Tune a Bugle How to Play a Trumpet How to Take Care of a Bugle How to Clean Brass Instruments


f. Compose a bugle call for your troop or patrol to signal a common group activity, such as assembling for mealtime or striking a campsite. Play the call that you have composed before your unit or patrol.


g. Sound the following bugle calls: “First Call,” “Reveille,” “Assembly,” “Mess,” “To the Colors,” and “Taps.” Then explain when each of these calls is used.

“First Call” is generally used to just get everyone’s attention that something will be happening soon (like assembly) and is sometimes used at race tracks as the “call to the post” (horses get in line to start the race). “Reveille” is used to awaken people and lets them know it is time to get up and about. “Assembly” is used to call everyone together, for everyone to “fall in”, often at a designated place. “Mess” signals that it is time to eat. It is also used at times at athletic events to stir up the crowd. “To The Colors” is a bugle call to render honors to the nation. The most common use is when the national flag is being lowered at the end of the day (where everyone may be assembled as well). It commands the same courtesies as the National Anthem. “Taps” signifies “lights out” at the end of the evening. Lyrics can be sung to it called “Day is Done”. It may also be played during flag ceremonies and at funerals, particularly for veterans.


Bugle Calls Music More Bugle Calls Music and Listen to Bugle Calls Listen to Bugle Calls

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