Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lacey Walker book and singing tips for Kinder

I have an obsession with owls. They are all over my classroom (luckily they haven't migrated home yet).

For Christmas, my mom bought me this great little book: Lacey Walker, Non-Stop Talker.  It's very cute! The book also addresses the whisper, shouting, singing, and of course, speaking ( well, talking) voices - great for Kinders.

The puppet, named Amanda, is a great tool to use for young singers in solo singing situations. Usually, I'll have a puppet sing a question, and a student sing an answer (using pitches So and Mi).  It's a great, non-threatening way to assess your students.  Many students can synthesize a correct response while singing, but sometimes these modifications help:

* If a student doesn't use a singing voice, I have the puppet ask them to repeat their answer, saying, "Can you tell me again in your singing voice?" We all need a 2nd chance sometimes.
* If a student still doesn't use their singing voice, I select a few others to try, and compliment them on their singing voices. I'll often say, "Doesn't she have a nice signing voice?" Sometimes, I'll even ask good singers to repeat their answer.  Afterwards, I can call on a student who struggles to song and, after hearing peers accomplish this comfortably, they are more successful.
* Sometimes, a student struggles with coming up with a response. I like to brainstorm out loud together, before choosing soloists. For example, if we are answering the question, "What's your favorite candy?" - we'll list many favorite candies so students have a reference.  If your students are bilingual, brainstorm responses in their native language.  You may also need to ask the question in their language as well.
* Record your students. Let them listen to how their voices sound. Often, reluctant or shy singers will offer to participate if you  use this easy incentive.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Snowball Songs - for Kinder and 1st

This activity is perfect for kinders and first graders.  Here's what we did:

First, the students selected one of four sets of word cards.  We put the words in order to create the sentence.  I labeled the words as "lyrics" and we read them.

 Next, a student added the steady beat plates.  We practiced tracking the plates as we said the words.  Then, we practiced keeping the steady beat by patting on our knees while saying the words.
Then, we clapped the rhythm (the way the words go).  For each beat, we figured out if one sound was there and put one snowball (labeled it as the quarter note, or ta) or if two sounds were there and put two snowballs (labeled them as the eighth note pair, or titi).  We practiced clapping the rhythms using both the words and "ta" or "titi".
Next, the students had to place each beat and word on a two-line staff.  The higher line was So and the lower line was Mi.  We sang the song on the solfa (using handsigns), then we sang the correct lyrics (using motions the students created).
Here's a look at the poster by itself (this is why I don't teach art).
I really want the students to make connections between the lyrics, the rhythms, and the melodies.  I always reiterate that the rhythms are the short and long sounds and silences and the pitches tell us how high or low to make our sounds when singing or playing.

Musical Terms Stoplight Activity

Here's my latest idea for using musical terms...the Musical Terms Stoplight Game.

I printed out the background on cardstock and laminated it.  The students then get a back of six green lights (the symbols/pictures), six yellow lights (the definition) and six red lights (the term).  They have to match all sets of six correctly.  I also created a checklist so they can track their progress.

The students work in groups.  They rotate when finished with each stoplight (there are four - Dynamics, Tempo, Articulations/Style, and Misc. Terms).

You can download the game here (check out the preview - it has the Articulations/Style set and the checklist) Musical Terms Stoplight Activity

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Snowmen Melodies - d m sl

My older students have been using Pentatonic Snowmen Activity.  Soon, I'll be able to post a bulletin board created with their snowmen.

My 2nd graders are ready for low do.  I decided to adapt the activity for them.  You can download it here: Snowmen Melodic Activity - Do-Mi-So-La.  We'll be using it in January.

First, we read the following song on the board.  We add instruments and come up with creative motions (2nd graders are great at this - they are very creative.  My only problem is I have to remember which motion goes with what class when we sing it again!)
I have styrofoam balls that I used in the Winter Program.  I'm thinking we'll create the following form:
A. Sing song with instruments
B. Throw styrofoam balls around while instruments improvise
The balls are really soft and won't hurt anyone.  I'll probably have only a few "throwers" at a time and take volunteers to be targets (kinda like dodgeball).

For the next lesson, students will be in groups.  They will have four lyric snowmen bottoms (the words) that they'll need to match with four rhythm middles (quarter notes, quarter rests, eighth note pairs) and finally four melody heads on top (d   m   sl).   They can then use the hats to create their own original order of the phrases, although they'll need to ignore the double barlines when they sing them all together.  This activity uses vocabulary too, such as: phrase, melody, lyrics, rhythm, double barline, time signature.  After finishing, the students can add instruments (you can also use boomwhackers) and movement.  They'll perform their composition for the class.
For the last lesson, students create their own lyrics on a blank "bottom" snowman piece.  We'll do this as a group, after brainstorming words to use.  The students will see that they have four steady beats to use.  Then, they'll add corresponding rhythms (quarter note, eighth note pair, quarter rest).  Lastly, they'll add a melody on the music staff.  (I model this whole process first, and am on hand to help struggling students).  Glue them on a blue paper, add the students' names, and maybe a squirt of "Santa Snow" paint to add a little snowfall look, and there you have it!  Cute!
Snowman Middle and Head

Snowman body and hat

Carol of the Bells

This carol has always fascinated me.  As a student performer, I've sung and played it.  As a student teacher, I taught it to a high-school choir.  As an elementary teacher, I've used it within the Orff ensemble.

Kids love it too.  The ostinato is easily distinguishable, although some can't exactly pinpoint where they've heard it.

Previously, I used this carol in the 5th grade Winter Program.  I had a class of above-level 5th graders who really enjoyed learning to play it on our Orff instruments.

Well, this year I made the mistake of diddling out the melody on the glockenspiel a class of my 5th graders were coming down the hallway to my room.  They were instantly asking about it and complementing my playing (bahhaha - we need more listening examples, clearly).  I told them that if they'd like to meet me after PE during their recess time, I would be happy to let them try it then.  Well, the interest was overwhelming (recess this time of year is a cold affair - I know I'd rather hang out in the music room) so now I have to weave it into next week's lessons.

Therefore, I'll begin with a bit of history about the carol.  The 5th graders were using my Spooky Music Unit this year, so they're pretty savvy with musical terms, learning about the composer, and appreciating the history of a piece.  Here's the slide I'll use:

We'll also listen to these two performances on Youtube.  The first is from the lovely boys' choir, Liberia.  I love the style of the video.

And the second is a video most of the kids have already seen.  My mom always played Mannheim Steamroller around the house during the holidays.  This particular video has a Christmas-light adorned house and the lights are choreographed to the music.
After viewing and comparing the videos, we'll use this PowerPoint: Carol of the Bells.  I have enough instruments that the students can work in pairs and trios.  However, only my glockenspiels are chromatic, and include the necessary G#.

Using each slide, we'll read the music, sing the music, "air mallet" the music, using correct hands, and then play.  I like to keep the tempo using claves so the students don't rush.

Yes, the runs are ridiculously hard, but not impossible.  This is more of a "just for fun" lesson.  If you're looking for a more realistic version with complete instrumentation, I'd suggest this version, created by Laurie Zentz.  It is fantastic!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Santa's Bag

Our school has a little store during the holiday season called "Santa Shop".  The students can buy little trinkets for their family there at a cheap price.  They're really excited about it!

In Kindergarten, I am a huge fan of Denise Gagne's Music Play Series (check it out: Music Play Kinder).  She has a cute re-write of "She'll be Comin' Down the Mountain" - she changes the words to: "He'll Be Comin' Down the Chimney".  She's written three cute verses.

Before we learn that song, the students learn the poem "Santa's Bag" (I made it up, which is probably why its terrible, haha).

Then, we click to reveal various gifts in Santa's Bag.  The students can also talk about which gifts they are hoping for. 


Then, we sing the song tracking the "chimney beats".  I've even used this song in a program, where that particular class dressed in western attire.  Cute stuff!

You can download the Power Point here: Santa's Bag

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Music Listening with Paint Swatches

My 5th graders are working on expanding their musical vocabulary. They will be using these music listening paint swatches this week. On the front are the Italian words and on the back are the English translations. The students slide the paperclip (or clothespin) to the correct word. This is a great way to assess understanding without using a worksheet!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Santa Songs - Do Pentatonic (G Major) - more to come!

Another folder game for you!  (I just love them).  My awesome first graders were working with Holiday Rhythm Folder Games last week while I fitted them for their costumes for the Winter Program (I need a sewing machine - it was sooo time consuming).

Anyways, I'm working on a set of holiday melody folder games (including Do pentatonic in various keys, Mi-So-La in various keys, and So-Mi in various keys). 

This one, Santa Songs is a lot like the Turkey one I posted around Thanksgiving time.  I like to pair it with the song, "Up on the Housetop" - the verse of that song is also in Do pentatonic.

Tip: If students finish early, you can ask them to time themselves (have timers or use a clock) and have them try the task again (or you can simply ask them to try it again and see if goes faster/more smoothly).  You can also sing a pattern and have students find it (or select a student to sing).  You can even play a pattern on the recorder and have students find it.  My students work in pairs for this activity.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Jolly Old Saint Nicholas

While rummaging around, looking for Christmas songs using the half note (for 2nd grade) I found, duh, "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas".

As usual, I created a Power Point.

First, the students read the lyrics.

Then, we add the rhythms, showing the quarter notes tied together.

Then, I present the half note.

Lastly, the students will add jingle bells to the half note.  We also practice "skating" or "gliding" around while doing this.
You can download this short Power Point for free here: Jolly Old Saint Nicholas

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Go Tell It

While working on piece to connect a second grade class to their "Freedom Riders" social studies lesson, I came upon "Go Tell it on the Mountain".  There are many versions of this great spiritual, but this version is awesome for the following concepts (for 4th and 5th graders):

tim-ka (dotted eighth sixteenth)
syncopa (eighth quarter eighth - also known as ti ta ti)
low La
low So

You can download it here for free: Go Tell It

Musical Breakfast

While looking at my lesson plans for "Bee, Bee" I came up with this idea.  We've all seen those pancake activities on Pinterest - I was inspired by those as well.

For the first lesson, students learn the lyrics, add rhythms, practice using the rhythms with a rhythm tracking page, and add unpitched instruments.

For the second lesson, students learn the melody, practice singing the melody with a tracking page, and add pitched instruments.

For the third lesson, students can play the musical game and create their own compositions.  They'll make a great bulletin board, if I can find the time to get them up!

You can download it here: Musical Breakfast