Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Recorder Composition


I saw a version of this via Buchanan Music on Instagram and tweaked it to fit my classroom.  It includes so many concepts my 4th graders have been working on and was so easy to fit it all into one simple thing.  Here is a link to the paper I used: Recorder Composition

Here is the way I used it in my room:

My 4th graders have been working on recorders for awhile so this combines all the topics we have been covering.  Rhythm writing, notes names, fingerings,placement on the lines and spaces, and playing.  But, now the students had to put all their knowledge together to create their own melody.

We started out by doing the paper as a whole group.  I projected a copy of it on the board and used my dry-erase markers to fill in the answers.  Here are the steps:

Write a 4 beat rhythm at the top. 
On the lines in the next box write the letters of the notes you are wanting to play. 
Fill in the fingerings for the recorder on the blank recorder picture.
Write the rhythm note on the correct line or space.
Practice playing the simple melody. 
Play the melody together.  Can repeat if desired.

Some helpful tips I told my students:
  • Stick to rhythms that were 1 beat in length (quarters, eighths, rests, sixteenths) to keep it easier.  Some asked to use Syncopa but I told them to K.I.S.S the music *Keep It Simple Silly* instead.
  • When picking your notes, think about how those notes would be on the recorder.  Don't jump all over the place and make the fingerings tricky for yourself.
  • You can always make changes.  If you don't like how something sounds, change it!
Students then completed this on their own.  They practiced their melodies and played them for me.  I graded their playing and their writing on the paper.  Once they had played for me, I told them they could show and play for their classmates and even try to add some of the melodies together to make longer songs.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Great Big House

The month of February brings many celebrations; Groundhog's day, Valentine's day, President's day, MY BIRTHDAY!!!, and sometimes Mardi Gras!!  Although my birthday is my favorite holiday in this month, this week we are working on a song I use to "celebrate" Mardi Gras.  I like to use the first verse from Great Big House in New Orleans only during this lesson.  I use this lesson with 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders.  They all do different things, but it is nice to bring the song back again and again.  It is a favorite of mine and theirs.

For all the classes we start by learning the body percussion accompaniment.  I start with the students doing a simultaneous imitation of me stomping on beats 1 and 3.  Then I add the single clap on beats 2 and 4.  If students feel comfortable with it, I give them the option to move the motion back and forth, stepping to the side and then clapping when their feet come together.  For the older grade levels, if they have a handle on the basic stomp clap, I add the option of a double clap on beat 4 ( it's really the up beat of 3 and then beat 4).

From here, students do the body percussion and I sing the song.  Then we go through the process of teaching the song by rote, echoing parts back and forth.  Finally, students try to sing and do the body percussion all at the same time.

Sometimes I stop here with 2nd grade or I do the rhythm composition coming up next, it depends on the grade level and their abilities.  If I stop here, I just use it as a fun song with some body percussion to get them up and moving.  We talk about New Orleans and where it is.  I give them a watered down version of Mardi Gras (it's a big party with parades, food, and dancing).

For 3rd grade (or even 2nd grade depending on your student's ability levels) we do some rhythm composition and then even some melody composition.  Students used different kinds of pies to create rhythm sentences.  My pies are 2 beats long, and they end up doing 4 pies, for a total of 8 beats.  I have my students create their sentences in either ABAB or ABAC form.

If desired students then compose melodies to their pie rhythms.  We have been working on playing simple melodies on the barred instruments.  Students accomplish their goal in 2 ways.
  1. Write melody notes underneath their rhythms.  Then figure out how to play the melody on the instruments.
  2. Play around on the instrument, experimenting with different ways to play their rhythms.  Once they have found one they like, then they write it down.
Depending on the time of the year, and the grade level I am doing this with, will determine what melody notes they are using.  If I do this with 2nd grade, 90% of them keep to using Do Re and Mi.  I only let a few choice students add So to their melodies.  This is a great easy way to differentiate for the high kids.  In other grades, maybe doing the whole pentatonic with the added High Do for the advanced kids.  It just depends on where your kids are.

Finally when we come back to this in 4th grade we add some more composing to the mix.  I start with reviewing the song and body percussion.  Then I add a B part about the pumpkin pie.  We do the song in ABA form.  Then I ask the students what else they might want to bring to this Mardi Gras party.  We work as a whole class to create w short, 4 beat sentences about whatever they are bringing.  This becomes the C section.  We perform the piece in ABACA form.  Then we repeat and add one more section for D.  

The next class students work in small groups to create their own sections of what they are bringing to the party.  I don't have the kids write down the rhythms associated with their sentences.   I just have them write out the words and make sure it fits into 8 beats total.

I love the feel of this song, and how many times I can do it with my kids. Feel free to use as you wish!  Or check it out on my TPT (for Free!!):  Great Big House

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

6/8 Land

Over the past few weeks I have started talking about 6/8 music with my 2nd graders.  We have done numerous 6/8 songs over the past 2 years but we never discussed the “theory” behind the music.  We would skip and move and play the steady beat, but now we are identifying notes and labeling them.

When I teach 6/8, especially the notes, to my students I have them travel to “6/8 Land”.  We teleport ourselves from the music room there.  In 6/8 land the steady beat is different, instead of making us march/walk it makes us want to skip.  Also the notes are different.  Ta’s and Ta-di’s don’t exsist in 6/8 land, they are replaced with different notes.  By teaching it this way, it helps to make sure students don’t mix up the rhythm notes when composing.  

When I introduce the dotted quarter note and 3 eighth notes I relate them to the notes the students already know. The dotted quarter starts off as a Ta then because it traveled to 6/8 land it gets a dot next to it. Once the dot is added we also have to add a letter to it's name and it has now become "Tam". When I clap Tam I add a circle motion to my hands after the clap to make it slightly longer than a normal Ta. Also by telling my students the dot makes the note a little longer, they might (in a perfect world) transfer that knowledge to dotted half notes when we do them in 3rd grade. I draw out the 3 eighth notes and talk to my students about my favorite sport Baseball. When you hit a ball and make it to third base it is called a triple because you touched 3 bases, and since there are 3 notes it is called a "Triple-Ti". I tell the students there are other notes in 6/8 land but right now we are just going to worry about Tam and Triple-ti.

For my first and second lessons in 6/8 I have a drumming activity I do with the students which has
them playing, composing, and decoding. Here is a link to that LESSON PLAN.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sea of Songs

I know concert planning can be a struggle.  I use to always dread it, thinking about all the curriculum time I was giving up.  I know that I was covering important topics and some curriculum, but not in the way I did the rest of the year.  Then a couple years ago I began to create my own concerts and plan them according to what the students would be studying at that time.  It does take more time to prepare on my part but at the same time I can use these songs like normal lessons and then just fit them together in program form.

A lot of time I use many songs that I would normally use in my classroom and then create a theme around them.  I have done many concerts on books and nursery rhymes in 1st grade.  2nd grade is always during the winter months so that can help to plan their concert.  3rd grade falls during the fall season and I like to use my songs about pumpkins and apples for them.  I have my 4th grade concert at the end of the school year and just pick some of their favorite things from throughout the year.

My 1st grade concert this year all began with one of their current favorite songs, Merrily We Roll Along.  I thought about what other "sea" inspired songs I could add to the concert.  Immediately coming up with Ickle Ockle Blue Bottle and My Blue Ship (a simple english poem great for beginning rhythms).  But then I got stuck.  So I turned to my favorite inspiration my Orff-Schulwerk materials.  Especially for younger students I like to use the Erstes Spiel and Rhythmisch Ubung supplementals.

I took some time to create lyrics and process for 3 new pieces for this concert.  It did take some time, but this way I not only have cute songs and lessons for my concert; I could always use these lessons in the future even when I'm not prepping them for a performance.

I have bundled all of my upcoming concert together on my Teachers Pay Teachers site, if you are interested in purchasing it for your classroom or performance.

Sea of Song

Here is a basic look at what Sea of Song has in it:

Ocean Fish: A fishy fun unit or performance piece for younger students. This song uses the melody from the Orff-Schulwerk supplemental Erstes Spiel. It is melody #33. Utilize this unit to teach about 4 different kinds of fish. Learn about Clownfish, Blue Tangs, Angelfish, and Pufferfish. Students will learn facts about each type of fish. There are also beginning rhythm chants to accompany each type of fish. These chants utilize main ideas about each fish.

Sea Turtles: An easy Do Re Mi song for younger students. This song uses the melody from the Orff-Schulwerk supplemental Erstes Spiel. It is melody #45.   A great lesson to teach or reinforce Do Re Mi. Students learn the melody through body percussion for easy transfer to solfege and barred instrument playing. Once solfege is mastered students add lyrics. Adding movement to the lyrics can help students to show glide/skate/float in the music classroom. You can also transfer the melody to the barred instruments and add other accompaniment parts.

Ickle Ockle: This song is perfect for teaching La and Rest. This song is great for practicing steady beat, rhythm, so/mi, and presenting la and rest.

Sea Creatures: Fun and informative rhythm rondo for elementary music classrooms.  This song uses rhythms from the Orff-Schulwerk supplemental Rhythmische Ubung. It uses patting rhythms #2, 11, 12, 13, and 14.   Three pages of lesson plans help your students to discover different sea creatures. For each section of the Rondo you can teach the students the lyrics and patting technique. You may also choose to decode the rhythms of the piece as a class.  This is a great piece for a performance. Have different classes perform the different sea creatures for a fun inclusive piece!

My Blue Ship:
 A Traditional English poem used to practice beginning rhythms. Students will learn lyrics and work to discover the rhythm of the poem.  Students can also use rhythmic building block manipulatives to create their own rhythm patterns. Then you can use these rhythm compositions for different sections in a Rondo form.
Merrily We Roll Along: This classic children's song to practice beginning music concepts. In this lesson pack students can:
- Learn song with lyrics
- Add movement to the song
- Practice echoing, reading, and writing rhythms using quarter note, eighth note, and rest.
- Read solfege on the staff
- Add various un-pitched percussion parts.
- Play piece on the recorder
- Improvise or read various melodic patterns on the recorder.
This pack includes:
- Powerpoints in both F and G Pentatonic.
- 3 Pages of Lesson plans
- Student worksheet to write melody
- Student manipulatives to read rhythms
- 10 Pages of student manipulatives to practice Recorder

Ickle Ockle Rhythm Fish:  Rhythm fish manipulatives & games that can be used with the prior song

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Snowball Fight

Here in Ohio there is soo much talk about the upcoming winter storm and how much snow we are supposed to get.  We have had weather models show anywhere from 1-30 inches of snow!!!!  We'll see what Mother Nature has in store for us in the next couple days. 

It is fitting that we are getting some snow, considering I have been doing my Snowball Fight lesson with my first graders in the past couple days.  They always love this lesson, mainly because they get to throw wads of paper across the room, but I do believe they like the rest of the lesson also.  Here is a basic idea of my lesson, the entire thing pus visuals can be found at my Teachers Pay Teachers store: Snowball Fight

Snowball Fight

I love this lesson because there are "snow" many great concepts to cover and it works as a great review after winter break.  We begin with some movement and form identification:

Movement - Waltz in A flat, Johannes Brahms

The form of the piece is AABABA.  For the A sections students will ice skate around the room (you can use paper plates under their shoes to help facilitate this).  For the B sections students pack a snowball tight and then on the final phrase of the B section throw their snowball in the air.

We continue with the "snowballs" when we learn the song:


Teach the song by rote using sol and mi.  Then teach words to song.  
Once song has been learned, then students can play the vocal exploration game.  While singing the song, students find a “snowball” (crumpled up paper) and take it to the “snow fort” (one side of the room).  Then once the song is over, one student at a time (going down the line) will toss their snowball to the other side of the room.  While their snowball is flying they have to track it with their voice.  Repeat as many times as desired.

From there we work on rhythm and solfege identification on the board. I also have the students practice keeping the steady beat on the barred instruments.

Feel free to use the piece of the lesson I gave you and if you would like more ideas for this lesson make sure to check it out in my TPT store: Snowball Fight

Have a fabulous day!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Dances for Those Long Winter Days

When students begin to get wiggly and have tons of extra energy leading up to Winter break, I bust out some of my favorite Holiday and Winter themed dances.  I have found these dances on Youtube and Pinterest, but written down the dance moves for you to enjoy as well.  Have fun!

Jingle Bell Dance:
During the verses students walk around the square/circle with their partner.
On the chorus students do the following:
  • Jingle Bells - clap 3 times
  • Jingle Bells - belly pat 3 times
  • Jingle all the way - stomp rhythm of words
  • Oh what fun…. - switch places with partner
  • When words repeat, repeat above motions
Repeat dance over and over until the end of the song.

Ho Ho Ho:
        To the tune of Bow Wow Wow:
          Ho Ho Ho
           Look at Santa Go
           Bringing toys for boys and girls
           Ho Ho Ho

1 Giant Circle with partners next to each other, facing each other
HoHoHo - make Santa belly
Look at Santa - look around
Bringing Toys- hold hands and switch spots
HoHoHo - Santa belly
Then jump and turn completely around to face new partner

Nutcracker (Trepak, Russian Dance):
     This works great with a parachute or giant stretchy band
 A: up and down with the music, shake in between. Repeat
B: Walk around Right 16 counts then Left 16 counts, shake remaining time
A: Repeat
B Repeat, then for the end a big lift up and if desired, get underneath parachute and sit down.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Snowflakes: Orff Based Winter Unit

As an Orff Schulwerk teacher I try and utilize the Music for Children Volumes in my classroom as much as I can.  All of these pieces and melodies work great for young students.  When working with the Volumes I try and be creative in the lyrics and process I write for my students.  It also is helpful in my teaching when I can use the same some in many different grade levels.  This cuts down on the planning time in a huge way.

One of my newer songs I have used in my classroom is called Snowflakes.  My 2nd graders are even doing this song in their concert next week!  I have many ideas on how to utilize this song in a classroom so use as little or as much as you would like.  If you would like to purchase any of the visuals you see visit my TPT store: Snowflakes

The melody for this song can be found in Music for Children Vol. 1 pg 104 #15. Lyrics and process by Allison Croskey


For my 2nd graders I use this song to teach or reinforce the half note.  We start with the steady beat and then move to identifying the different notes.  Once we find the rhythm of the whole song students can then find the form.

2nd Grade and beyond can work with the solfege of the song as well.  Depending on where you are with your curriculum you could use this to teach DRM with 2nd grade or even just practice a good pentatonic song in 3rd grade.  We practice looking at the notes on the staff and then finding the melody on the staff.  I kept my version in the given key of C, but it could be transposed to another key if you would like.

For rhythm composition, I start students by practicing 4 beat rhythms that I have created.  Then there are multiple versions of some worksheets or activities for the students to create their own rhythms.  These worksheets work for any grade level.  Keeping first grade with just the basic 4 snowflake worksheet:

4 Snowflakes:  Students fill each snowflake with 1 beat (no half notes). Then decide which direction through the snowflakes their song should go.  Students then perform their rhythm composition

AB writing:  Students compose 2 different writing patterns creating an AB, or ABAB pattern.  Good reinforcement of the pattern of the song.

Snowflake Manipulatives: print, laminate and cut each paper in half so you have 1 snowflake.  These are rhythm building blocks of 2 beats.  Students can use 2 snowflakes together to create a 4 beat rhythm.  Students can do and A and a B pattern to create an entire song.

I have also taught my students how to play this basic melody and accompaniment parts.  These parts are located in the Music for Children Vol. 1.  My visuals and lyrics for these parts are included in the Teachers Pay Teachers purchase.

Finally, for 3rd-5th grade, or even beyond, students can compose their own melodies.  You can teach them the basic melody or not.  They might get hooked on making their melodies too much like the original if taught the melody first. Versus if they don't know the original melody they might be more inclined to have more creativity in their writing.

I teach the rhythm of the song.  We review the melodic notes and how they correspond to the letters on the barred instruments.  We first do this process as a whole group, then smaller groups or individuals.  Students follow the basic directions for composing.  As they compose a measure they should try and play that measure before moving on.  This way they can check their work as they go along.  Students love this project based learning and as a teacher I love all the different ways I can assess their learning during this.
Lots of ideas here that you can use in your classroom!  Feel free to use these ideas when you find the melody in the volumes.  

Also if you would like the visuals or even more process make sure to check it out in my Teachers Pay Teachers store: Snowflakes