Let's Sing 3 Column

Friday, November 8, 2019

Third "Week" (rotation) in Music October 7 - November 8, 2019

In the specials rotation at GRE this year, each class comes to music on alternating days for two weeks (opposite days they are in PE).   In music in our third rotation together, here's what we did:

All students Kdg - 5th grade learned two songs for our first ever Veteran's Day assembly:

  • We Will Not Forget  by John Riggio
  • A Grateful Nation by Teresa Jennings

Kindergarten: (continued focus on beat and timbre)
  • Kindergartners continued to experience and learn about the UnPitched Percussion instruments we have in the music room.  In this rotation students reviewed the Click Family of instruments and were introduced to the Jingle instruments:
      • jingle bells
      • sleigh bells
      • cystrum (from the Middle East)
      • tambourine
      • caxixi (from Ghana)
      • Indian dance bells
      • jingle tap
      • Students were introduced to the names of the instruments and playing technique for each particular instrument.  We passed them around the circle, matching the beat.
    • Using the instruments of the timbre family - we played a game called, "Listen"
        • Students had to identify the instrument they heard - by sound only.
  • Kindergarteners also learned a singing/movement game:  Old King Glory of the Mountain
First Grade: (focus on rhythm)
  • Reviewing sound / silence patterns
    • Using 8 paper plates to represent one beat each, students read patterns with the word "yum" each time an apple was on the plate.
    • The pattern changed each time as students were invited to "add or subtract" an apple from the pattern.  
  • Singing Game - Apple Tree - 3 versions (Sol-Mi-La song, introducing low Do)
    • We played this game in all 3 versions - a bean bag passing game, a version like London Bridges where the student that gets trapped at the end of the song switches place with one of the 'tree' makers, and a cumulative version where each person trapped makes a new tree in the 'orchard' for the traveling students to go under.
    • Students worked together to figure out the rhythm of the song
      • The words of each beat of the song were notated on one side of a paper apple and on the flip side the rhythm was written - tah or tee-tee (quarter note, pair of eighth notes)
  • Creating and Reading Rhythms
    • We read the book "Ten Apples Up on Top" by Dr. Seuss
    • The 'upset the apple cart' page was inspiration for creating new 4 beat tah tee-tee patterns with the rhythm/word apples from "Apple Tree".
    • Students created 4 different 4 beat patterns
    • We flipped the words over and read the scrambled sentences that appeared - and laughed about the silliness.  It's different each time.
  • Rhythmic Dictation
    • Students notated 4 beat rhythms using craft sticks - tah, rest, tee-tee patterns

Second Grade: (Focus on Rhythm) Tah, Rest, Tee-tee, and the new note Ta-ah
  • Pumpkin Patch
    • We learned the first verse of the singing game, Great Big House in New Orleans
      • Students improvised on glockenspiels on the B section based on the rhythm of the poem for that section ("Pumpkin pie, Pumpkin pie!  I just love that pumpkin pie!  Love the whipped cream piled up high.  I just love that pumpkin pie!").
      • We extended the piece with a reaction game - the first person says pumpkin pie, and then names another kind of pie.  Their next door neighbor repeats the last kind of pie they said, and then names another.  For example, "pumpkin pie / apple pie; apple pie / blueberry pie; blueberry pie / mince meat pie, etc."
      • Students discovered the half note which is part of the singing game and practiced rhythmic dictation (4 beat patterns) using quarter notes, half notes, pairs of eighth notes and rests.
  • Each class had their first "Talent Time" of the school year, with an opportunity to share performances suitable to perform on the stage (singing, instruments, dance, comedy, etc) with their class as the audience.

Third Grade:
  • We continued working toward our upcoming "Rock Concert" - a parent sharing that ties in with a classroom Science unit.
    • Rock Concert - opener and reprise
    • Earth Changes (a new one this rotation)
    • Rock Rap 
    • My Favorite Rock
    • Obwisana -  a rock passing game from Ghana
    • Rock Rondo
      • Students brain stormed rock words to fit 2 beat rhythms
      • Students worked collaboratively in groups to create a word chain
        • two phrases each made of 2 rhythmic building bricks - rock words
        • given an elemental form students worked to say their rhythm, then play their rhythm on rocks 
      • Students learned the A section on xylophones
      • We worked to put together a rotating rondo so that all students play the xylophone melody and also get to share their rock word chain

Fourth Grade:  (Focus on Melody)
  • Recorder
    • Students reviewed the fingering and technique for B, A, G
    • Students learned a piece for the Colorado Connection Concert, Stegosaurus Stomp
  • Each class had their first "Talent Time" of the school year, with an opportunity to share performances suitable to perform on the stage (singing, instruments, dance, comedy, etc) with their class as the audience.

Fifth Grade: Focus on Rhythm through Rhythmic Canon
  • Students reviewed reading and writing 4-beat rhythm patterns using quarter notes, quarter rests, pairs of eighth notes, half notes, four sixteenth notes, and syncopated patterns,
  • Students were introduced to a Rhythmic Canon through listening and identifying the form of the piece with rhythm cards.  We played the piece in unison on hand drums and worked to identify the best place for the 'interruption' of the 2nd voice in the canonic form.  The piece we played was "Simple Canon in 2" by Shirley McRae.  This piece is constructed entirely of the standard 2-beat rhythmic building bricks.  We deconstructed the canon to notice that.
  • Student Compositions
    • Students were tasked with creating their own rhythmic canon (at least 8 measures long in an elemental form) using simple rhythmic building bricks in 2 or 4 beats per measure.  
    • This is a work in progress and the project will continue into the next rotation.
  • Classes which had 5 days enjoyed another "Talent Time"


Friday, October 4, 2019

Second "Week" (rotation) - September 9 - October 4, 2019

In the specials rotation at GRE this year, each class comes to music on alternating days for two weeks (opposite days they are in PE).   In music in our second rotation together, here's what we did:

Kindergarten: (focus on beat and timbre)
  • Continued opening song / gathering routine to start each class period  "Such a Makin' a Circle
    • Exploring new verses with physical motions to show the 'heart beat' of the song
  • Continued exploring the space with different locomotor (traveling) steps, without bumping into others - navigating through shared space
  • Kindergartners began learning about the UnPitched Percussion instruments we have in the music room.  They are learning about them in timbre or tone color groupings.  In this rotation students were introduced to the Click instruments.
      • claves
      • woodblock and tone blocks
      • temple blocks and piccolo blocks
      • tap-a-taps
      • tongue drum or slit-log drum
      • whip / slap-stick
      • rhythm sticks
      • castanets
    • Students were introduced to the names of the instruments and playing technique for each particular instrument.  We passed them around the circle, matching the beat.
    • Using the instruments of the click family - we played a game called, "Listen"
      • Students identified the instrument they heard - by sound only - to get a turn to be the next instrument player
  • All Day Kindergartner classes also learned a singing game called Jack-in-the-Box.  This is a game encouraging creativity.  As each student has a turn to be wound up with the song, they pop out of the Jack in the Box in a new/different way than all the other Jack-in-the-Boxes.  In this toy store every Jack-in-the-Box is unique.
First Grade: (focus on melody / pitch with experience playing the tone bars)
  • Students learned important ways to care for our tone bar instruments and explore how they make sound.  
    • Students discovered the sound is in the bar itself and when tapped the sound is released.  
    • We discovered the importance of the rubber nails that hold the bars in place and how to remove bars without damaging the nails.
  • Students learned a song I wrote called, "Autumn Leaves".  This is a pentatonic song with emphasis on Sol-Mi.  Students learned to sing the song, noticing repetition.  Each day students were introduced to a different timbre of the tone bar instrumentarium.  
    • One day everyone had a turn to play the metallophones on the color words of the song: "Red, Gold, Orange, Brown".  They played any notes of the pentatonic scale, with two mallets simultaneously (like a jump).
    • Another day we extended the piece as everyone took a turn adding movement with colored scarves and a glockenspiel part on "swirling all around" and "falling to the ground".  The glockenspiels played swirling glissando music and then from high to low for the ending.
    • On the third day we added an alternating low/high beat accompaniment on the bass xylophones to the "autumn leaves" patterns in the song.  Students rotated so that everyone got to play this new part, and we brought back the layers from the previous days.  
      • This piece allowed the students to focus on each type of tone bar instrument we have:  Xylophones (wood bars), Metallophones (metal alloy bars) and Glockenspiels (steel bars).  Students sang, moved and played instruments.

Second Grade: (Focus on Melody and care for instruments) Sol-Mi-La and Mi-Re-Do patterns
  • Students learned important ways to care for our tone bar instruments and explore how they make sound.  
    • Students discovered the sound is in the bar itself and when tapped the sound is released.  
    • We discovered the importance of the rubber nails that hold the bars in place and how to remove bars without damaging the nails.
    • Students learned and practiced routines for taking instruments out and putting them back safely.
  • Students were introduced to a song called "Autumn is Here" - which is a pentatonic song.  The melody works in canon and can be sung and played on instruments.
    • Students sang the song and played an alternating beat ostinato on the octave, and then the bordun (open 5th) as accompaniment to the singing.  As students became secure in that pattern, they had the option of expanding the pattern to 'walking up the instrument' - low c, g, high c, g - still on the beat.  The most challenging pattern students explored was the cross-over bordun - C - G - C' - G while singing.
    • Another day we added a rhythmic ostinato to our singing and xylophone accompaniment.  The pattern introduced a syncopated rhythmic figure:  "Autumn is here again" (Tee - tah- tee tee-tee tah).
      • Half of the class whispered the ostinato and played the pattern on colored shaker eggs, while their partners sang the song and played the beat accompaniment on xylophones.
      • Students rotated to play on all sizes of xylophones and have multiple turns.
    • Another day, students discovered the melody of the song (melodic direction, steps, repeated notes and the phrase form) in order to play the melody on xylophones.  
    • As this piece works as a canon, students were challenge to sing and maintain their part as a whole class while the teacher came in as a 'interruption' on the 2nd entrance of the canon.  Once students discovered where the interruption - 2nd entrance - came in relation to the first, they took over that part.  Eventually we may play this piece as a 2 part instrumental canon.  

Third Grade:
  • This grade level began learning songs and pieces for their "Rock Concert" - a parent sharing that ties in with a classroom Science unit. 
    • Rock Concert - opener and reprise
    • Rock Rap 
      • Students chose one of three parts that layer together and the corresponding verse
    • Obwisana -  a rock passing game from Ghana
      • Students have worked on passing rocks around a community circle to the macro (big) beat in different directions; the goal being that all start with one rock and end with one rock - trying to bring the same rock back to where it started
    • My Favorite Rock - a song we sing while taking the rocks for Obwisana
Fourth Grade:  (Focus on Melody)
  • This grade level began learning songs and pieces for their "Colorado Connection Concert" - a parent sharing that ties in with a classroom studies. 
    • Symbol Song - students self-selected groups for 5 verses within this song and began learning that part of the song; we worked as a whole group on the parts that everyone sings, too.
    • Cheyenne Hand Game Melody
      • Students heard the song, which is in vocables, while practicing the passing of a small rock in a beat pattern, allowing the rock to move - undetected (?) around the circle.  Later this becomes a guessing game between two teams.
  • Students reviewed treble clef note names - lines and spaces were introduced in 3rd grade, and we extended our knowledge of notes using the music alphabet pattern to apply to notes outside of the staff  - from the b below the staff to the b above the staff
      • Students completed their first try at the 50 in 5 challenge - a 5 minute timed note naming challenge
      • The feedback from this first round can help students do even better on the next go-round.  This assessment occurs 4 times each year. 

Fifth Grade: (Focus on Melody)
  • Students re-discovered important ways to care for our tone bar instruments and explore how they make sound.  
    • Students discovered the sound is in the bar itself and when tapped the sound is released.  
    • We discovered the importance of the rubber nails that hold the bars in place and how to remove bars without damaging the nails.
    • Students learned and practiced routines for taking instruments out and putting them back safely, and which mallets go with which instruments.
  • Students were introduced to a piece called Syncopation Step-Wise Motion  through body percussion.  
    • Students noticed patterns and the form.  
    • After 'playing' the piece with body percussion and trying it out as a canon, we moved the patterns over to xylophones.  
      • The syncopated patterns were played with octave jumps and repeated tones.  The other phrases were made of ascending and descending scale patterns
      • After becoming secure with playing the piece in unison from C-C (using a major scale), students were introduced to the modal scales (ionian, dorian, phrygian, lydian, mixolydian and aeolian) as we moved the scale set from C-C' (ionian) to D-D' (dorian), E - E' (phrygian), F-F' (lydian), G-G' (mixolydian) and A-A' (aeolian).  Each scale has a different feel or flavor and just by moving to another scale and playing the same patterns, students were able to experience this.  
    • Students created a collaborative composition based on the patterns we discovered in Syncopation Step-Wise Motion:  repeated notes, octave jumps, and scale patterns.  Each group chose a scale or tone set, and notated their pattern graphically.  Groups performed their creations for each other.  Even with these limited fragments to choose from, each piece was unique and amazing.
  • Students reviewed treble clef note names - from the b below the staff to the b above the staff
    • Students completed their 1st take on the 50 in 5 challenge - a 5 minute timed note naming challenge.  
      • The feedback from this first round can help students do even better on the next go-round.  This assessment occurs 4 times each year. 



Friday, September 6, 2019

First "Week" in Music (August 12-September 6, 2019)

The first four weeks of school have come and gone!   Each class comes to music on alternating days for two weeks (opposite days they are in PE).   That's why this post is called - Week 1.  I have a total of 9 instructional weeks with students.

In our first musical week together, our focus was building community and establishing ways of working together in learning and making music.  It is a challenge to instantly recall nearly 700 students plus teachers, but I think it's really important so I work hard at that.

Our musical headline was beat/pulse and rhythm.  In music in our first rotation together, here's what we did:

Kindergarten:
  • Opening song / gathering routine to start each class period  "Such a Makin' a Circle
    • Explored new verses with physical motions to show the 'heart beat' of the song
  • Over time each individual student had a turn to take their solo walk / run to the poem "Let's Go Walking" and then we figured out how many "claps" (syllables) are in their name and added their name to our class chart.  Every student had a turn.
  • We began exploring the space with different locomotor (traveling) steps, without bumping into others
  • We also learned a Finger-play poem "Here is the Beehive" and took turns singing our names with "Bee Bee Bumble Bee"
In the coming weeks Kindergarten students will be introduced to the various un-pitched percussion instruments by timbre groupings - and use this to reinforce matching the beat.


First Grade:
  • We began with a movement/listening game Move and Stop.  
  • We established some expectations for working together in the Music Room and did some Name Game activities so I could learn and re-learn everyone's names.
  • Exploration of hand drum sounds and technique
  • Drum Game Song - alternating singing / stepping to a drum beat, traveling in the shared space, playing a hand drum while stepping the beat (8 beats) and then feeling the pulse 'on the spot' in a stationary bounce during 8 silent beats.
  • Speech and Hand Drum piece, Big and Small in an ABCA Form (look for a video clip on the In the Spotlight page)
    • Learned the A section through reading and listening - matched up with notation.  Said it and then played it on hand drums.  Students played both the large/big/low drum part and the small/little/high drum part.
    • Students learned the B and C sections through reading the words and rhythmic notation.  We said it and then played it.
    • We put the whole piece together in our final form and played it for their classroom teacher - who also video recorded it for this blog.
  • Used music symbols (tah / rest / tee-tee) to practice Rhythmic Dictation with stick notation and Rhythm Reading patterns.
In the coming weeks our focus will shift to melody and students will be singing and playing the tone bar instruments using an autumn theme.

Second Grade:
  • We began with a movement/listening game Move and Stop.  
  • We established some expectations for working together in the Music Room and did some Name Game activities so I could learn and re-learn everyone's names.
  • Exploration of hand drum sounds and technique
  • Drum Game Song - alternating singing / stepping to a drum beat, traveling in the shared space, playing a hand drum while stepping the beat (8 beats) and then feeling the pulse 'on the spot' in a stationary bounce during 8 silent beats.
  • Speech and Hand Drum piece, Big and Small in an ABCA Form (look for a video clip on the In the Spotlight page)
    • Learned the A section through reading and listening - matched up with notation.  Said it and then played it on hand drums.  Students played both the large/big/low drum part and the small/little/high drum part.
    • Students learned the B and C sections through reading the words and rhythmic notation.  We said it and then played it.
    • The C section allowed us to learn a new note - the half note - known in rhythm speak as "ta-ah".
    • We put the whole piece together in our final form and played it for their classroom teacher - who also video recorded it for this blog.
  • Used music symbols (tah / rest / tee-tee and taah) to practice Rhythmic Dictation with stick notation and Rhythm Reading patterns.
  • Students took a first "snap-shot" assessment of rhythmic dictation.  This was a paper / pencil assessment.  Students heard a 4-beat rhythm clapped and tried to write it down using the notes and rests (tah / rest / tee-tee and taah = quarter note / quarter rest / pair of eighth notes and half notes).
In the coming weeks our focus will shift to melody and students will be singing and playing the tone bar instruments using an autumn theme.

Third, Fourth and Fifth Graders all began with the movement/listening/reaction game Move and Stop - exploring the space, with various steps and tempos.  Our first day together we sorted ourselves on a continuum based on our preferences (ranging from a strong like to strong dislike) to various prompts - such as singing, drumming, moving to music, listening to music, performing, working in groups, and working alone.  We discovered that no two people are exactly alike.  We had a circle talk about what rules or structures help us as learners to enable our best learning and working together.  We also played a listening/movement game called Beat You Walk, Rhythm You Drop.  The majority of our work together for week one involved creating musical components to go with a poem:
  • Good, Better, Best - Never let it rest - 'Til your good is better and your better is your best.
    The first time, after warming up with Move and Stop in two teams - one moving only to quarter notes (tah/walk) and one moving only to eighth notes (run / tee-tee), students were asked to work with a partner to create a 4 beat pattern body percussion pattern using only those notes.  Somewhere within the 4 beats there needed to be a partner clap of some kind.  The four-beat pattern was then extended to 8 beats.  We shared those patterns so that we could extend our movement vocabulary by watching others' ideas.  The first 8 beats were stationary and only used movements done from the knees up.  Next students created an 8 beat traveling pattern (away/toward or around/turning) to do with their partners.  The poem, "Good, Better, Best" was added to go with this created choreography.  The next day after reviewing the poem and created choreographies with their partner, students stayed with their partner, but the whole class was divided into 3 larger groups.  Following a mini-lesson on creating a Word-Chain with Rhythmic Building Bricks, the larger group worked to create two or three phrases (made up of two 2-beat blocks or one block repeated) and to structure that into a 16 beat phrase using an elemental form - aaab, abab, aabb, aaba, abca or abac.  These became contrasting sections within a larger Rondo form in a speech and unpitched percussion piece.  The word chain rhythms were transferred  to untuned percussion instruments (rhythm sticks, jingle bells, maracas or guiros).  The next day after reviewing each of these previously created components (the choreography, and the word chain), students reviewed the poem and learned to play the rhythm as a drum circle piece on our tubanos. We put together the word chain rhythms with the poem text played on hand drums.  The final take was structuring a performance plan to bring all of these parts together.  Each class's final 'performance' was their own structure / form for linking all of these components.  Although some were not recorded there are many class examples which may be seen on the In the Spotlight page.  Some groups even added in a 3-layer drum ensemble with the main rhythm and two layered rhythmic ostinati!  Students were rocking it in just one week!
In the coming rotation 'week 2' (September 9 - October 8)   the Musical Headline will be Melody . Third Graders will be getting started on songs for their Rock Concert.  Fourth Graders will be getting started on songs for their Colorado Connection Concert  and learning more about notes of the treble clef.  Fifth Graders will review treble clef notation and work on some melodic canons on the tone bars.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Ready, Set, Go!!!

Hooray - Let's Get this Party Started!

It's so exciting to be at the start of a new school year here at Gold Rush!
I trust it's going to be an amazing year - full of learning and making great music together.    
I am delighted I can continue to be a part of such a great school community!

I  plan to post a new blog at the end of each four week cycle
with the highlights of those weeks in music - including details for each grade level.

Along the way I'll add pages with links to the work we're doing in class 
(video, audio and photos), plus information about specific programs and events.

Cheers to a terrific school year.  Whoo-hoo!