Saturday, November 6, 2010

Turkey Day is coming!

Thanksgiving is coming soon. what are YOU thankful for. I, personally, am thankful that my theory teacher is at a conference and we missed two days of theory class. Ha ha! Just kidding... So here are a few Thanksgiving-oriented activities for your classes.

If anyone knows the origin of this song, please let me know. To be honest, I can't remember from whom or where I learned it.

The next song is obviously based on the tune of Zum Gali Gali. The change in text and the accompanying plate game I learned from my good friend, Dr. Michele Paise who is now a professor at Cumberland University in Tennessee. So all kudos for this one go to her. Thanks, Michele!

Another extension could be the typical Orff idea of using word chains to create a larger rondo form. So small groups of children could create food word chains (Example: Turkey, mashed potatoes, hot biscuits, corn) to perform with body percussion and then with un-pitched percussion as small group compositions. The word chains are short, so they would have to repeat the chain at least 4 times to make it more substantial. So for instance a group could perform the chain twice with words and body percussion sounds, and then twice with only un-pitched percussion playing the rhythm of the word chain. Or they could layer in their words perhaps. One student could say and play corn over and over, then the person playing turkey could join in, then mashed potatoes, then hot biscuits. Let students be creative and come up with unique ways of performing their words chains. Don't insist that every group must do it exactly the same way. In what other subject in school can students be creative and make their own choices? The final performance would alternate singing the song with group 1 performing their word chain, then the song, then group 2 performing their word chain, and so on.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Sorry it's been a long dry spell from me with the blogging thing. As some of you my or may not know, after many years of teaching full-time and going to grad school part-time, this year I have become a full-time graduate student at Arizona State University to finish my doctorate.  October was my month 'O travel, too. I've been in Minneapolis, Fresno, and Denver in the last month. So, Travel + Grad school = no blogging from me for a while. Sorry about that!!! I promise to post more often when I catch a few minutes between theory homework and philosophical readings. Foucault, Marx, and Green, Oh, my!

I'm back just in time for Halloween, one of my favorite holidays of the year. Why, you ask? Because my birthday is in October and I have fond memories of having Halloween-themed birthday parties as a kid. So here's a few Halloween activities for your classroom this week...or next year, since I'm late. :-) As usual, I'll put the visuals on my website linked at the right.

Miss White Had a Fright

I tend to stretch using a song or chant over several classes, but if you prefer not to, you are the queen or king high poobah of your own music class. So, I'm just sharing the steps I take over several lessons below.

Lesson 1: Class echoes the poem by phrases using different silly voices. While they echo a student draws a ghost song on the board. The class then sirens the picture drawn. Add instrument parts such as rhythm sticks play the rhythms of the words throughout, while drums play all of the words that rhyme with "White" and triangles play all of the words that rhyme with "ghost." Practice saying it with the chant, and playing it without saying the words, etc.

Lesson 2: Review the poem. Say the poem with different voices, and as they say it, they make “ghost songs” with their pipe cleaners. At the end of the poem, all sing their ghost songs together. After they’ve had some practice, individual kids can sing their songs for you. (Good assessment of understanding high and low and using the head voice) and they can make "ghost compositions by combining their pipe cleaner shapes with those of other students.

Lesson 3: Kindergarteners find the rhythms with the ghost icons. 1st graders transfer this to tas and ti-tis.

Lesson 4: Students get baggies with the icons or ta ti-ti patterns and they must show you they can put them in the correct order to fit the chant.

Pumpkin, Pumpkin and Pumpkin Man

OK. Here's something for older students, although you can use the song Pumpkin Pumpkin with younger students, the combination of these two songs is really more appropriate for older students.

If you want another extension on this game, you can have students switch which of the two songs they are singing when the teacher hits a hand drum. Or, have students switch from singing the words of the song to saying the rhythms of the song when the teacher hits a drum...or switch to melodic solfa. Students switch back to words again when the drum is hit again. Very challenging!
I hope you try these activities and find them successful. Happy Halloween, everyone! May your students nots come to school next week hopped up on Halloween candy. ;-)
Pumpkin, Pumpkin

Lesson 1: Learn the song and game. Stand in a single circle facing a partner who is beside you. Pat clap pat clap pat clap out on, “Pumpkin, pumpkin, round and fat.” Grab hands and switch places with partner on, “Turn into a jackolantern.” Jump and turn backwards to face a new partner on the word, “that.” Continue the game until you make it back to your first partner.

Lesson 2: Use the song to practice tika-tika rhythms in 2nd grade or older students for review once they know the song well.

Lesson 3: Use the song to practice d m d m d m s (notice, the hand clap movements mirror the melodic contour). Older students can use the song for fa.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ah! Summer...

I know it has been a while since I have had a chance to post. Sorry! Here in Arizona the school year has ended and we are a few weeks into summer. Yahoo! In the weeks since my last blog post I have had my end of the year school concerts, entered 650 grades into the computer, gotten strep throat and a sinus infection simultaneously, and packed up my entire classroom and dragged it home and into a storage unit. It's amazing how much teaching "stuff" one accumulates over the years. Now we are heading into the second week of the summer Kodaly levels course here at Arizona State University.

To make up for leaving you high and dry for several weeks, if you follow the link to the right to get to my meyersmusic website, you will be rewarded with a plethora of visuals to peruse in the next few weeks. I am beginning to post visuals and activities we have used in the summer course at ASU with our level I and II students so they have easy access to them and we don't kill a small forest printing everything out for them. Keep checking back in the next week or two because I will continue to add things in as we use them in class and I realize I haven't posted particular items yet. I'm not going to bother with directions here on the blog because I attached directions to each set of these visuals on the website already.

For those of you already on summer vacation, I hope it is wonderful and relaxing. For those of you still in school, may the coming weeks fly by and the joys of summer find you quickly. Take care!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A musical challenge, tap your head and rub your belly...

OK, so most of you have probably seen a version of this activity if you have taught in a Kodaly-inspired general music class for any length of time. Still I am always amazed when I present clinics that there are teachers who have never seen activities that I thought were old standards, or that I somehow have put a Liza-esque twist on it that they have never seen. Or perhaps if you have done this activity exactly as I have written it, you will at least enjoy the fancy-schmantz visuals I have included for your use. :-)

Beat/Rhythm Puppets: Students pat the beat or clap the rhythm of a known song following the sign that the teacher shows (or you could have a student leader). Change in easier places, like the ends of a line or phrase with younger students. Change in more difficult places, like in the middle of a line or phrase, or switch more quickly back and forth for older students.

Sing/Think (Inner Hear) Puppets: Students follow the signs to either sing a song phrase out loud, or put it inside their heads and think the words. When the sing sign is shown again, the class must come in singing at the correct spot in the song. Change difficulty based on age and ability as suggested above.

Combining the Beat/Rhythm and Sing/Think Puppets: For an added level of difficulty put the Beat/Rhythm on one hand and the Sing/Think on the other hand. Students must then follow both plates at the same time no matter what combination is showing. For instance, they may have to sing and pat the beat, sing and clap the rhythm, inner hear and pat the beat, inner hear and clap the rhythm, etc.

Words and Solfa(do re mi)/Rhythm Syllables (ta ti-ti) Puppet: With younger students you may want to perform the two cards seperately so that they switch between the words of a known song and the rhythm perhaps on one day. On another day you may have them switch between the words of a known song and the solfa syllables.

After practicing these seperately as you do with the younger students, older students should be capable of doing all 3, switching between the words and either the solfa or rhythm syllables. To do this, you may want to create a seperate set of puppets so that one hand holds a sign that ONLY says words, and the other hand has a sign that has the rhythm syllables on one side and the solfa on the other side. This will save your sanity. But if you want to, you can use the puppets as is, you just have to remember which hand is showing which direction and only show one hand at a time.

EXTREME MUSIC CHALLENGE: To really mess with their minds, combine all of the puppets above for interesting combinations like pat the beat and say the melodic solfa, or clap the rhythm and say the rhythmic solfa, etc. I have done it with adults and children, and it is possible, but you have to think it though.

I usually pick two very smart students to help me challenge the class by being the holders of the puppets. Have student A hold the beat/rhythm puppet on one hand and the sing/think puppet on the other hand. Have student B hold the words puppet on one hand and the rhythm (ta ti-ti)/solfa (do re mi) puppet on the other hand. Then I instruct these students that I will be controlling which hand they are to turn and when by tapping them on the shoulder when I want them to flip the sign that they have in that hand. (student B must also know to put down the words sign when using the rhythm/solfa and vice versa). I then stand behind these two students in order to tap their shoulders more easily. When using all of the cards, you REALLY need to choose a song they know very well, and you need to choose a song that is long or has multiple verses. I have used it with Rocky Mountain, which has 3 verses plus the chorus each time, and it worked out.

That's about as clear as mud, I know. It's so much easier to demonstrate this than to try to clearly put it into words! Experiement on your own and you will find out what works for you. Don't forget to start easier even with older students who haven't done this before and work your way up to the harder challenges. Too many times teachers try an activity, it bombs, and they never do it again because they think it won't work, when in reality the teacher hasn't gone through all of the necessary steps and practice for their students to be successful with a difficult activity. When I find something not working in a lesson, I almost always realize it's my fault one way or another. Instead of scrapping the activity, I go back and find out what I need to do to better prepare the students to succeed.

My kids love challenges and are thrilled when they can pull of something tricky. I hope yours will enjoy these activities, too. Go to the website to download a PDF with all of the visuals for this activity. All you need to do is print each page out on cardstock, cut each pace in half and staple the two halves together all around the top and two sides of the paper. Leave the bottom of the paper unstapled because you can then stick your hand into the "puppet."

Sunday, April 4, 2010

See the Rabbit Running...

Ok. So I figured you might want a bunny song appropriate for older kids, so here goes...My older students love the game that goes with the song, "See the Rabbit Running." Pedagogically I use this song  for low la since it only appears one time at the very end of the song.

Have the students stand in a circle and hold hands. One child (rabbit) stands in the middle. Another child (fox) stands on the outside. As the song is sung the “trees,” or students in the circle, decide if they will open or close their branches at the end of the song. At the end of the song the fox chases the rabbit. They may go around the circle when chasing, or they may cut through the middle of the circle as long as they only duck under arms that are raised. Remind the students in the circle that once the song is over and they choose to put their arms either up or down, they may not change their arms until the reace is over. This will prevent a student from getting clothes-lined by accident. The fox takes over as the rabbit if he catches the rabbit. The rabbit takes over as the fox if he doesn’t get caught. I usually give a 10 second countdown for the chase and no more. The rabbit is considered safe if not caught by the end of this time. After the students know the song well enough to sing the song well independently of the teacher, then the song can be used for low la.

I have a small-ish music room, but all of my furniture is against walls, so we are able to play this chase game without too many problems. If you have no movement space, consider taking your class out into the beautiful spring weather to play the game. Or, I have seen a similar song/game in which the game involved the fox and rabbit having to weave in and out of the windows without skipping any of the windows, and the first one back to their original spot in the circle wins the round of the game. This might be a good alternative if you have little room. Have fun!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hop, hop, hop...

Spring is here and the weather in Arizona is gorgeous! For those of you that can use holiday-oriented song material in your schools, I thought you might enjoy this song and related activities for your classroom.

Despite this song having the descending sfmrd pattern, the lyrics are obviously most appropriate for younger grades. I use this song with kindergarteners for melodic contour (the first 2 and last 2 measures of the song) and for beat and rhythm with both movement and with icons. In first grade the song can be used for ta, ti-ti, rest rhythms.

To help the students learn the song, I created a few different activities. Students can play a hide and seek game using those brightly colored plastic Easter eggs that can be found at the dollar store on the cheap. Have all students hide their eyes and sing the song (the teacher can sing the first several times until the kids learn the song), and the teacher hides 4 or 5 eggs in the room. When the song is over, have all students open their eyes and search the room for the hidden eggs. The students who find the hidden eggs then get to hide the eggs before the next round of the game. I know this seems like an amazingly simple game, but the kids really love finding hiding places for the eggs.

On another day, have students hop on the beat, but on the rests they wiggle their bunny ears (fingers at head) to show where the rests are. You can also have them practice hopping the rhythm of the words rather than the beat if you would like. You can use the bunny and egg icons to show the rhythm of the song. (ta=single bunny, ti-ti=double bunnies, rest=egg) Go to my meyersmusic website linked at the right to download these icons.

I often pair this song at a later time with first grades with color word chains. Give partners of small groups of students Easter eggs and tell them they must decide the color of eggs the Easter bunny will leave, but that they can only choose 4 colors. Have them put the eggs on the floor in a line in the order they want the words to appear. Have the class sing the song and then have 3 or 4 groups say and clap their color word chain. Have each group figure out what the rhythm of their words would be. For example, red, yellow, purple, blue would be ta, ti-ti,  ti-ti, ta. Pick a color word chain to use as an ostinato against the song.

If older students learned this song when they were younger and you have had them in music for several years, you can bring this song back for fa ascending and descending in 4th and 5th grade. Then you can extend the color word chain activity into a rondo activity would be good for the older students.

Happy Easter, everyone! Now hand me my chocolate bunny. Yum!


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sight-reading made fast and easy...

Hi, everyone. As we approach spring break (here in Arizona, at least, where the weather is already quite spring-like) life has gotten busy. So, since I missed posting last week, I'm going to do two entries this week to make up for it. Visuals have been on my mind this week because I just had a Promethean board installed in my music room on Tuesday, which excites me more than you know. I'm just beginning to learn how to use the thing, but can envision how much easier it will be to keep visuals and manipulatives visually on a laptop. Yahoo. Too bad we got the boards about 2 months before the end of the school year.

My 4th graders are moving right along learning how to play their recorders, but every year I get frustrated by the students who simply memorize the songs instead of truly learning how to read the notes. If we practice the song enough times in class, they can memorize the sound of the song and the matching fingerings for that song, but are at a complete loss when a new song appears in front of them. So, every year I think about new ideas or new ways to get them to practice sight-reading. This year I have been using a set of recorder sight reading cards that I can adjust for difficulty and tone set by using velcro (or in my case, now, by using the Promethean board). Maybe this idea will be helpful to you as well.

♫ Go to the website linked at the right of this block and download my sight reading card templates. I wanted a short sight-reading time to begin almost every music class, but don't want it to take up very music class time, so I only chose to make 12 rhythm cards. As you can see, you can print out the rhythm pages on card stock and then cut the rhythm cards in half (2 cards per page). Then print out the letter name pages and cut the individual letters apart.

♫ Buy some stick on velcro, or the stick on velcro dots. On the rhythm cards put a piece of velcro underneath every note of the rhythm card (use the rough part of the velcro). On every letter name card put a piece of velcro (use the soft part of the velcro).

♫ When beginning with students, place only one letter name at the beginning of each card, so if the first card says B, they will play the entire rhythm card on the note B. Give them some think time between each card to determine the correct note and fingering before the class plays. Each time they come to class and they read through these cards, swap around which note is played for which card so they can’t simply memorize the cards like many of them try to memorize the songs.

♫ If they get very good at doing this simpler sight-reading activity, then challenge them by having one rhythm card using 2 different pitches on it, then 3, then 4. You can make use of whatever tone set they happen to be working on, so start with BAG at first, and add in other new notes as they progress. You can always add in more difficult rhythm patterns as well if these become too familiar for them.

♫ If you have access to it, I make all of my rhythmic things for visuals using Finale. The newer versions of Finale have a graphics tool that allows you to create music, click on the graphics tool, put a box around the music you want to save, and then it lets you save it as a tiff picture file. I am then able to take these tiffs of individual rhythmic notes, rhythmic patterns, songs, etc., and put them into Publisher to make worksheets and visuals easily.

Try the sight-reading with your students and let me know how it goes. If you discover anything that makes it work better in your classes, or you have any great additions, let me know! Have a great weekend. Spring break, here we come!

♫ Using the velcro letters means that you can use whatever tone set they currently are working on (BAG, BAGED, BAG C’D’) and you can increase or decrease the difficulty as needed.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Heartbeat cards and rhythms..not just for Valentine's Day.

I happened to think of posting these visuals because it's Valentine's Day. Heartbeat cards. You know. But, unlike the last lesson idea, the heartbeat cards and the rhythms that go with them can be used throughout the school year and with any grade from first up, so I thought you might find them handy. Putting them together yourself can be a bit of a pain, so I saved you the time and effort and just gave them to you already formatted.

Take note...If you use cardstock of whatever colors you choose, you can print the whole rhythm pack out on your computer on cardstock, or if your school's Xerox machine allows for cardstock you can print multiple pages out there, which saves your in in your home printer. When cutting the heartbeat cards apart, just cut the page of cardstock down the center lengthwise so there is a line of 4 hearts on each of the 2 resulting cards. When cutting the rhythm cards apart, be careful!!! The idea is that each rhythm card will take up the same amount of beats/hearts as the note requires. So a ta quarter note is the width of one of the hearts, the syncopah is the width of two hearts, the dotted half is the width of three hearts, and so on. I think you catch my drift. The easiest way to do this is to carefully cut them apart using one of those big choppers they tend to have in schools. I have no idea what they are technically called.

The heartbeat cards and rhythm cards can be used many different ways. Students each have their own 4 beat heart card and the necessary rhythm cards you will be using depending on their grade level and what you have covered in music class, or for younger grades, you could have partners work together.

1. One way I use these manipulatives are to have students figure out the rhythms of a song they already know well. Students will have to figure out how many beats the song is and how many phrases total. (As an example: Snail Snail is 8 beats long and two phrases). As we sing and clap the song, they place the cards they think match the rhythms of the song underneath the heartbeat card (first phrase right under the hearts, next phrase under the first phrase, etc.) Make sure you have them check their answers by singing and touching the rhythms to check for correctness. Younger students will take longer to do this, of course, or older students who are figuring out a longer and more difficult song will need more repetitions of the song to complete their answers. When finished, have the whole class say the rhythm solfa together to check their answers.

2. These visuals can also be used for rhythm dictation in which the teacher claps a 4 beat rhythm and the students "write" it with the cards.

3. They can be used as a means of composing with rhythms, with students creating their own 4 beat rhythm patterns. They can either create multiple patterns to make their own song, or they can combine their rhythm with that of other classmates to create a longer song. Have students perform their rhythm compositions with unpitched percussion, or later add melody to create a complete song.

4. They can also be used to teach older students about meter. My students have found them a great visual reminder of the difference in meters. The heartbeat cards I have given you are for 4/4 meter. You can create other heartbeat cards for other meters, such as a strip of 3 hearts to show 3/4 meter, or 2 hearts to show 2/4 or 6/8 meter. If you stick with duple meters like 4/4, 3/4, or 2/4, the rhythms I gave you will work. Obviously, if you decide to branch our into triple meters, like 6/8 or 9/8, you will have to create some new rhythm cards that fit with triple meter rhythms.

I usually put together sets of heartbeat cards and rhythms in gallon size bags. I adjust what rhythms are in the bags based on the grade that will use them. I hope you find this as useful as I do. To download the heartbeat cards and rhythm pages you can print out on cardstock and cut out, please go to the website linked on the right. Hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

February, the month of love....ah!

Valentine's is fast approaching, so I thought you might enjoy some "love"ly activities for use in your classroom. I hope you find something your students will enjoy.

I use this simple rhyme with kinder and first graders, and alter the game and activity for the students' age and ability. With kinders I often play a counting out type of game with them in which I walk around the outside of a standing circle and I tap students on the shoulder to the beat. The student who is tapped on "you" is eliminated and must leave the circle, choose an unpitched percussion instrument I have set out, and play it during the rest of the game. You may choose to have all students play the beat, all play the rhythm of the chant, or allow them to choose to play either the beat or the rhythm (if I choose this option, then I have 2 types of instruments available, such as hand drums for the beat and rhythm sticks for the rhythm). Play the game until all but one are eliminated if time permits. End with all students practicing the beat and rhythm on their instruments.

On another day in kindergarten, after they know the rhyme and have played the game, we use icons with single hearts, double hearts, and lips to make patterns. The first time I do this, it is a whole class activity in which the chant is said while one child makes a 4 beat pattern on the board, and then the class "reads" the pattern using the word hug for the single heart, kiss-es for the double hearts, and a silent hand kiss (think the motion you make when you blow a kiss) for the lips. We cycle through several different students making patterns for the class to read. On another day for a greater challenge, I give each kindergartener a baggie that has single and double heart  and lip icons and each child is asked to make their own four beat pattern using the icons. We then go around the room and alternate saying the chant and having individual students read us their patterns using "hugs," "kisses," and silent blowing kisses. I can then asses which students are able to correctly create 4 beat patterns and read their patterns. At this point, I have found that a few students still have problems remembering to read from left to right, but because I have done a lot of icon work throughout the year, there aren't too many problems.

In first grade I play a similar elimination game, but at this point in the year, students are generally able to pass an object to the beat with some accuracy if we practice a bit first. If I have a particular class having problems, I will play the beat on a hand drum at first to help them. I just use a squishy, fuzzy pink ball as the object we pass, and eliminated students again play an instrument as the game progresses. You can also use the above kinder activity using icon patterns with first graders as a review. By February, my first graders have learned quarter note, eight notes, and quarter rest, but if yours have not, you can still use this chant. After students have played the game and perhaps mades some 4 beat patterns with the icons, on another day I will have them help me put the icons in the correct order to fit the rhythmic phrases of the song. They then tell me what the icons represent. One heart is ta, two hearts is ti-ti, and the lips are the rest (because cause we do the motion for blowing a kiss but make no noise). Or instead of having the class figure out the rhythms for the song together, you could give pairs of students baggies containing the rhythmic phrases and they have to put them in order to fit the chant themselves, and we check the answers as a class.

A further extension for first grade or older would be to create a rhythmic ostinato using the icons and the words that go with them, "hugs," "kisses," and the silent blown kisses, then have the class perform the chant with the ostinato.

Color and black and white icon visuals of the double heart, single heart, and lip cards can be found in color or black and white on the website linked to the right.

OK. Gotta run. Dinner time.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"My Little Sister Ate One Hare" by Bill Grossman ISBN 0-517-88576-X

I use a lot of children's literature in my music classes, and am regularly spotted in the kids section of our local Half Priced Book store, or Bookman's perusing the shelves for books that can be used not only to teach musical concepts, but books that grab the attention and interest of my students. This book is definitely one of them. It has a mild gross out factor that will appeal to your boys, and has humorous illustrations with details that can easily be missed if you fly through the pages. My students, as a matter of fact, are the ones who began to point out things in the book's illustrations that I, as the adult, had completely missed. Ah, to have the mind of a child again. I decided to use this book for my 3rd graders because of the aforementioned gross out factor my 3rd grade boys would love, and because the activities I envisioned would be difficult for younger children, but it could be used in other grades if you so choose. You will find all of the visuals for the following activities by going to my meyersmusic website which has a link on the right hand side of this page. Ostinati and illustrations for the visuals I came up with and drew myself. My drawings of shrews aren't stellar, but honestly, how often do you have call to draw a shrew during your lifetime?! I'm going to walk you through the sequence of activities I used for this book, as well as give you suggestions on extensions that could be added, or other approaches that could be used.

The first time I introduced this book to my class, we first started with a short book walk-through in which we looked at some of the pictures, discussed what the class noticed of interest, and made predictions about what would happen at the end of the story (I didn't show the last page). Then, we read the book with the class joining in on the repetitive words, "We thought she'd throw up then and there, but she didn't." The reaction you get when we reach the last page is always entertaining.

Another lesson I pulled out the book again and told the class we would be adding instrument parts to the story. I asked them if they could predict what we would do with the instruments. Correctly, they guessed that there would be a different instrument for each creature the sister ate, and that at the end of the book when she really did throw up, all of the instruments would play at one time. It was then that I showed them the visuals with the words of the ostinati I had created for each creature and we chanted them as a class. We then split the class to cover each creature's part and chose instruments, then practiced each ostinato both saying the words and only playing the instruments with no words. Last, we did a final performance of the book with each instrument part playing only when their creature first appears in the story (I gave a "one, two, ready, play" cue each time, and each ostinati was repeated 4 times), and then all ostinati playing at the end of the book together. In one class I had to remind students to play their correct ostinati at the end of the book and not just random noises.

The next class I again put the visuals with the words for the ostinati on the board, but beside them I placed the visuals with the music notation for each ostinati, but I had scrambled the order so the rhythms didn't line up with the correct words. The class said each ostinati and then placed the rhythmic notation for each ostinati beside it. Last, we read each ostinati followed by the rhythm solfa for each to check our answers. My 3rd graders at this time had just learned syncopah, which is why I chose the "Bats in the belfry" ostinato.

Because my purpose in creating this activity was to review specific rhythms (ta, titi, rest, tikatika, syncopah) I decided in this lesson to create the ostinati myself. Another option would be to divide the class into groups and allow them to come up with their own ostinati for each creature, and perhaps to add creative movement for their chosen creature as well.

I hope your students enjoy this book as much as mine did! Have a great week. :-)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lines and Spaces Rap and Game

In my own classroom, my students begin learning to read and use rhythmic solfege and simple melodic solfege in first grade. They aren't introduced to absolute note names (letter names) until about 3rd grade, when they have mastered at least do pentatonic (d r m  sl), and from then on they learn to read notation flipping back and forth between solfa and letter names.

Here's an idea for helping your older students review the letter names of the notes on the staff. First, teach them the chant below with a pat-clap-pat-clap beat throughout (except the first line in which you clap only on the Xs shown). Of course, show the lines and spaces on the staff to the students. This chant is attributed to Tara Kissane, my wonderful Fine Arts Coordinator, who gave me permission to make use of her chant.

Can Do X X, Can Do X X,
FACE in a space, FACE in a space,
Every Good Boy Does Fine on a line,
Start at the bottom and now you've got 'em.

Once the students can say it independently to the beat, play this simple passing game for repetition and memory of the chant. Have the class sit in a circle on the floor with each student pretending to glue his/her left hand palm up to his/her own left knee. Practice saying, "grab, pass, grab, pass," while making a passing motion (grab out of your own upturned left hand and pass into the upturned left hand of your neighbor to the right). Continue this motion as all say the chant (I usually remove the first phrase while learning the beat passing). Try the motions with one actual beanbag moving around the circle. I often begin every repetition of the chant with saying and doing, "grab, pass, grab, pass, grab, pass, grab pass." All students do the grab pass motions throughout.

Once this is solid and students are successfully staying on the beat, begin the game in which the last child holding the beanbag is out and must sit to the side. For a challenge, if students are able to stay on the beat, I begin to add multiple beanbags into the circle so more students are eliminated each time. Once the number of students is large enough, we also begin playing the game in the 2nd circle, and sometimes even make it to a 3rd circle playing simultaneously. Once the students are able, I add back in the first phrase, which is more difficult because it requires students to do the claps and then immediately glue their left hand back down to begin passing.

If you want to print out visuals for this activity, the chant, the lines and spaces on the staff, and note name flashcards, go to the meyersmusic website in the links at the right hand side of this page.

And it begins...

I have decided to get my feet wet in the world of blogging, but decided that doing a personal blog wasn't something I felt drawn to. It would be hard to find things in my mundane life interesting to others, and what's the point of posting a blog if nobody is interested it following it? Uh...that would be a diary. So I said to myself, "Self, what talents and interests do you have that might be of interest to others?" Well, I love music, I love teaching, and I love being creative, and I get a charge out of sharing my wacky ideas with my own students and with other music teachers, so maybe a blog on classroom ideas is a good idea. Can I generate enough ideas to share with other music teachers to keep them coming back for more? Well, I guess we'll find out. If you find my ideas useful to your teaching, then become a follower of my blog and let me know to keep the ideas coming. Happy teaching!