Friday, November 17, 2017

Canons for 2nd Grade

 I love doing Canons in 2nd grade.  I usually start them right around winter time as a way to challenge my students in the long winter months.  At this point we have done a lot of ostinatos on top of songs so that my students are ready to sing in multiple parts.  This canon is very easy to start with because it has a familiar tune that the students have probably heard before.  It also works well if you change the words of the tune and use it for multiple canons, so that they students get the idea of a canon and how it works while also being successful with an easy song.
I have 2 versions of the "Are You Sleeping?" canon that I use (in addition to the original).  I have the Hot Chocolate version and the Star Wars version.  Check out both below:

If you would like to download the images of these songs to use in your classroom, check them out here:
Star Wars PDF
Hot Chocolate PDF

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Matt McCoy the Body Percussion Man

This past weekend I had a great time attending the Greater Cincinnati Orff Workshop featuring Matt McCoy.  Matt is elementary music and choir teacher from Ann Arbor, Michigan.  He focused his workshop on the process behind teaching students.  How to work from the simple to the more complex through easy methods.  I had some great thoughts and tid bits during the workshop that I wanted to share.  Sorry if they are slightly scatter-brained, let me know if you want to know more about any of them.  Matt was an awesome clinician and I would highly recommend him to any chapter or organization that needs a clinician.

Overall Teaching:

  • Have them listen to a song/chant at least 2 times before starting to teach.  Engage them in active listening by asking questions about the song.  "How many phrases do you hear? Are any of the phrases the same?"
  • When performing have them practicing saying the poem/song to each other.  The student's voices will become more alive.  The make a connection to other people rather than performing for the teacher.  They are able to use expression in their performance.
  • If teaching ostinatos/canons, be playful with the students.  "I'm going to try and trick you/mess you up.  See if you can keep your part without getting tricked".  This allows the students to actively listen and they can hear how the parts fit together.  Then have a group of students join in and help to try and "mess up" the first group too.
  • Give students an opportunity to have practice time.  Even if it is 10-20 seconds.  This allows their brain to process what they are working on and figure it out. 

Using Body Percussion:

When Matt was teaching his songs he liked to have us start by doing the contour of the melody or the rhythm through body percussion.  We started off with simple rhythms on stomp, patsch, clap and/or snap.  Then once we had mastered the simple level he began to change one simple thing in the way he presented the body percussion to us.  For example we could change a single Pat to 2 pats (eighth notes) in the pattern.  We would continue practicing and adding smaller changes until we came to how the song should sound.  I liked the idea of the body percussion to show the contour of the melody because it allowed us, and in return our students, how the melody should look when transferring to instruments.  
We also took some time to learn how to do this from the teacher's perspective.  We took a melody and broke it down into a super simple form.  Instead of lots of eighth notes we made them quarter notes.  Then we put the contour of the melody into body percussion.  We decided how we would teach, and what "small changes" we would make when teaching to eventually make it to the actual melody of the song.

Working on Improvising:

When we would work on improvising it helped to work it out in simple steps, using a partner.  We began in Question & Answer form and moved on from there:
  1. Question & Answer - Question improvise, Answer Echo
  2. Q & A - Teacher question, student improvise answer
  3. Q & A - Student improvise question, teacher answer
  4. Q & A - Students working together (partners) take either role, switch
  5. Q & A - Talk to self
  6. Q1 A1 Q1 A2 = ABAC form - student do themselves or with partner
  7. Other Elemental Structures - AABA, ABAB, AAAB
    1. Work on own
    2. Show to partner, let them listen and see if they can guess pattern
    3. Work in group and see if they can find pattern
    4. Create pattern with group

Overall, this was an awesome workshop.  Matt demonstrated a lot of ideas I use in my classroom but also gave me some new insights.  He was an engaging presence.  He made a lot happen with very little.  Awesome job Matt!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Miss White Had A Fright

This week I began teaching the Miss White poem to my 1st grade students.  They have been working on steady beat vs. rhythm and we are just starting to label our rhythm notes.  This song is perfect, I think, because it has a lot of different rhythms throughout the whole song.  The students can't just memorize one pattern and repeat that, they have to concentrate on each line of the song.  Feel free to use any of these ideas in your classroom.  If you would like a copy of my powerpoint with manipulatives, worksheets, and other extras check it out in my TPT Store:  Miss White

Here is how I use the song in my class:

Day 1:

  1. Teach song while patting steady beat.  Students and Teacher can take turns tapping the beat icons on the board and patting the beat.
  2. Introduce the rhythm icons students notice how the words with 2 sounds have 2 icons and 1 sound words have 1 icon. 
Day 2:
  1. Review the steady beat and the rhythm
  2. Introduce the rhythms notes you use.  For me this is Ta and Ta-di.
  3. Practice clapping the song with the rhythm notes, saying both the song words and the rhythm words.
  4. Use extra sheets to practice more rhythm note patterns.

Day 3:
  1. Review all of the above steady beat and rhythm concepts.
  2. Working either has a whole group or small groups, have students work to put the song rhythms in order.  As a whole group I do this on the board with my powerpoint, in small groups I print out the rhythm cards and the students have to put them in order.  We still do it step by step as a class, I say a sentence of the song and they have to find the rhythm that matches.  Going one at a time helps the students to grasp the concept better since this is the first time we have done something like this.
Extra things that you could do:
  1. Rhythm Composition:  I made little ghost rhythms.  The students work in groups to create a B section of the song.  Perform the original chant as an A part, then have different groups chant their rhythms.  Giant Rondo form!!! 
  2. Icon Worksheet: If you haven't started working on the rhythm notes yet students can use simple icons to show the beat.  I made a worksheet with the words to the song on it.  Then I printed out a cutting page for each student.  If the word has 1 sound they place the single icon in the box, and if it has 2 sounds, the double icon.  
  3. Rhythm Performance:  I made large ghosts with 4 beat rhythms on them.  I print these, laminate, and cut out.  Then I place them on the floor around the room.  Students creep around the room while saying the poem, then at the end of the poem find a ghost.  They read their ghost rhythm then repeat the process.  Great for a rhythm performance assessment.

Feel free to use any of these ideas in your classroom.  If you would like a copy of my powerpoint with manipulatives, worksheets, and other extras check it out in my TPT Store:  Miss White

Monday, October 9, 2017

Skin & Bones Mad Libs

For an fun extra activity, that also can connect to other subjects, I use the song Skin and Bones, but make it into a Mad Libs activity.  For the first day I teach my students the song.  We go over how the song uses a Low La in it.  We read the words and even try to act out the story. 

Then as a whole group we create new words for the song.  I show them the "Mad Libs" version of the lyrics.  I have blank spaces with how many syllables can fit there.  We work together to find new words for the blank spaces.  Once we have the new words in place we try to sing the song again with the new words.
On the second day we begin by reviewing the song.  Then I have students split into groups or partners to work on making their own Mad Libs version.  After a few minutes of creating we come back together to share what their version is.  The students can either sing or speak their version.  If there is an extremely well done one, we might even try singing it as a class.

Here is a link to the powerpoint and worksheet that I use with my students:

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Spooky Sounds Are Here

It's October!!! I think Halloween/Fall music is one of my favorite seasons to teach in the classroom.  There are so many things that can be done and so much that can be listened to.  Students love playing games with pumpkins, ghosts, and all kinds of creatures.  I'm going to share today one of the story-songs I do with my younger students, but the big kids love it as well.

 I adapted this idea from Beth Nelson's workshop I went to last year.  For her workshop she used a story about fairies and giants and played some music for the 2 different types of movement associated with both.  I wanted to use it around Halloween so I changed the story to be about Frankensteins and spiders, but you could change your characters to fit your needs. 

Here is my story:
Once upon a time there was a haunted forest where spiders and Frankensteins lived.  The Frankensteins were big, huge creatures who moved very slowly.  All day long, they would travel slowly through the haunted forest in search of spiders to crunch and munch on.  The trouble was that they were really too slow and too tall to ever find any.  At night, the Frankensteins would fall asleep right where they were standing, frozen right in place.  This is when the spiders would wake up and scurry around the forest.  They moved very fast, but were very quiet.  When morning came, the spiders quickly slipped underneath a leaf, acorn, or mushroom to safely sleep hiding from the frankensteins.  

While I am telling this story I am playing Dance Macabre on the piano and the students are creating movements to match.  I have the students split between Frankensteins and Spiders.  The Frankensteins are only allowed to move slowly on the big slow parts, while the spiders are frozen.  Then while the fast, jumpy parts are going the spiders are scurrying around while the frankensteins are frozen.  I pause in-between the 2 contrasting sections of the music to tell bits of the story and then continue the music so that they students can move like their characters.  It creates a wonderful musical story through movement.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Music Around the World

I love to use songs, games, and activities from cultures all over the world.  I try to help my students learn as much as I can about the world outside of their school district and state.  When we learn a song or game from another country we use the Music Around the World board to learn more about that country.

Either after or before learning a song from another country I have students come sit up by the board.  We place a small post-it note by or on the country where the song is from.  I try and give the students a little history about the piece, or some cool facts about the country itself.  Each time we go back to that song over the course of the next few classes we remember what we learned about that song or country. 

Besides songs I will also post on the map where composers are from.  When singing, listening, or moving to a song by a famous composer I will recognize what country they are from and put their name on the map as well.  I use composers in my "Music of the Month" category so we can also do a whole month using music from one composer.  

This bulletin board was super simple to make ( I bought my map off Amazon, already laminated so it was easy to use).  Then all I needed was post it notes and a pen.  

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Let Us Chase the Squirrel

Fall is here!  I love fall weather and all things fall.  Except for Pumpkin, I'm one of those few Americans who doesn't like the flavor of pumpkin.  But give me some apples and I will go crazy!

I love doing songs that can be used multiple years with the idea of spiraling the curriculum.  One of the ones I use in the fall for this concept is Let Us Chase the Squirrel.  The simple melody and rhythm can be used for so many different activities and lessons it is great for different age levels.  Here are some basics of how I use it in my different classes, if you would like to find out more you can always check out my version on my Teachers Pay Teachers site : Let Us Chase the Squirrel

1st Grade:

At the beginning of the year I like to start with how voices and melodies move up and down.  Having a squirrel climb up and down the tree is a great way for students to visualize this.  When we sing the song and have our squirrels chase up and down our "tree" arms.  Then I take the students to the barred instruments and we look at them like they are trees and play a glissando going up and down when the squirrel goes up and down.  Then we move the instruments so that they are sideways, like normal, and see if we can still go up and down the tree as before.

2nd Grade:

After reviewing the song from 1st grade, even taking some time to review up and down on the instruments, we move on to doing the song with new rhythm notes.  At the beginning of 2nd grade we are reviewing ta, ta-di, and rest, but also getting ready to introduce half notes.  I use this song to introduce those half notes to my 2nd graders.  Since there is only 1 half note and it is at the end of the song it is easy for them to find.  I use icon symbols first when finding the rhythm then transfer it to notation for them to learn.  We even practice putting the rhythms of the song in the correct order.

3rd Grade:

Our review at the beginning of 3rd grade centers around the Pentatonic scale.  We review Do, Re, Mi, So and La.  This song uses DRM & S.  After reviewing the rhythm, we then can place the notes on the staff using icons or notation.  I also have my students transfer the "Let Us Chase the Squirrel" melody to the barred instruments.  We play the 1st and 3rd phrases and then just sing the 2nd and 4th ones.

I love songs that can be used multiple years because the students already feel successful when they are starting out and then you can see the lightbulbs light up when you show them something new about the song.  Have a great week and a happy fall!!