Saturday, March 9, 2013

Old Mr. Rabbit

One of my favorite songs for Spring/Easter is "Old Mr. Rabbit".  I've taught it many time to younger students (kinder/first), but this year I decided to incorporate it into my recorder lessons for my older students (3rd/4th) following a similar format they've already been using.

I created this PowerPoint, Old Mr. Rabbit, to aide in teaching the song.  I've stuffed it full of vocabulary because I'm really working on this with my 1st graders (I discuss it with kinder and my older students already know it).

The PowerPoint includes notes and tips in the notes section.  Sometimes, I need to review them myself to make sure I'm addressing everything I want to!

The PowerPoint begins with a lyric slide.  Students love creating motions for the lyrics, and I've created my own just in case.

Then, we add the steady beat and time signature/bar lines/double bar lines.  Students like to play "whack the screen" - which is basically them taking one of my pointers and pointing to the thing (for example, "time signature") that I'm asking them to locate.  When discussing measures and bar lines, I used the analogy of my instrument shelves.  If we didn't have individual shelves, the instruments would be very unorganized.  In music, the wooden shelf dividers are the bar lines and the shelves themselves are measures.  The time signature tells the measures how many beats to contain.

Here's an example of the rhythmic preparation slide.  As soon as my students see the steady beat slide, many of them are ready to tell me what rhythms will go where.  This slide helps struggling students see what advanced ones can already tell from the way I've grouped the words alone.  I like to have students come up and "whack the staff" to show me which pictures they think will "transform" into, say, the quarter note, on the next slide.

This is the rhythm slide.  I like to have students chant the lyrics while pointing, then chant the lyrics while using body percussion.  Then, they keep performing the body percussion while they say the words.  I've noticed (as my husband pointed out with some 3rd graders in their recent Cowboy Program), that when I do transfer students to percussion instruments, most of them will continue to sing the song while playing the instrument.  With recorder players, we add more steps. We sing the rhythm on "doo" while tapping our recorder mouthpiece (simulating the movement of the tongue when playing).  This is great for me to assess who "gets it" and who needs help.  Tonguing can be a difficult concept for beginning recorder players, so this steps helps them kin esthetically (moving the finger), aurally (singing "doo"), and visually (watching their finger move).  Then, they play the rhythms on "doo".  I often select students to play alone because this helps me assess them, helps the student who is playing gain confidence, offers more advanced listeners the opportunity to identify and fix problems/mistakes, and offers less advanced students the opportunity to follow along and silently practice themselves.  It is a win-win-win-win (can you tell we're getting into the 7 Habits?).

The PowerPoint includes a solfa slide (for the older students).  I have the students discuss the pitches (who is highest, who is lowest), sing on solfa with hand-signs, sing the song on the lyrics while using hand-signs, then sing the song with movements they've created.

This is an example of the absolute pitch slide (for older students).  We discuss what absolute pitches are (at the top of the screen) then review the pitches we will use (at the left of the screen - including these really helps struggling students gain enough confidence to play along).  We sing the song on the pitches while moving our fingers.  We sing the song on "doo" while moving our fingers.  I demonstrate the song.  Students play the song (many times).  I choose "Recorder Senseis" (see this post: Recorder Group Jobs) to play the piece alone and "Recorder Doctors" to diagnose the mistakes of the senseis and the class.

Then, we sing the song again, this time using the music staff.  Then, we play the song using the music staff (the advanced students love this step - they love reading "real music" - but you can easily refer to the previous slides for struggling students).  We also play "whack the screen" again - pointing out specific solfa and absolute pitches, the time signature, bar lines, measures, the double barline, etc.  By now, almost 1/3 to 1/2 of the class has go to "whack the screen".  I swear, the longer I teach, the more questions I ask!  This PowerPoint will probably take us at least two class-times to get through!

Of course, I am big into printables.  I like to use these on subsequent lessons to assess my students' progress.  Here's an example of a printable:
Younger students can match the lyrics printable to the rhythm printable.  I'll have the students turn over their answers and perform from memory (they love it), I'll give them an instrument to play the rhythms on, and I'll even have them turn all the cards face-down and play a matching game.

Here's a movement activity I've used in the past.  It is really simple, but the younger students love it and erupt into laughter anytime a naughty rabbit is caught.
This song also pairs very well with Bunny Bop.  Although I geared "Bunny Bop" toward younger students, I played the game with my choir (3rd-5th graders) at the end of one of our rehearsals.  They LOVED it.

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