Friday, September 28, 2012

Musical Family Tree

I thought I would expand a little on my Musical Family Tree project that was mentioned in the Popular Music Post (read the whole post here).   This is a project that I do at the beginning of every year in 5th grade.  I have students make a MUSICAL FAMILY TREE and write a small report explaining their musical background.  This helps me tremendously in choosing "popular" songs to sight-read or read from handsigns in general music or chorus.  I also get to learn a lot about students and their families which is super fun.

Students are asked to make their Family Tree just like a normal one would look.  Then under each name in their family they put that persons musical background- Were they in chorus? Do they play an instrument? Did they go to Julliard? Did they play a concert with Prince? Do they just like to listen?  They are required to go back to grandparents- but many choose to go back further.  I tell them they can choose to be artistic or not. Some choose to make it really elaborate- while others make it more like mine.  I am not grading artistic ability- so as long as I can read it, I am happy :)

The report questions they must answer in their report are the following:
                           1. What type of music do you enjoy the most?
                           2. Who is your favorite musical artist?
                           3. What musical instruments do you play or wish to play? This includes your voice!
                           4. Who is your musical inspiration- who would you like to play/ sing/ dance like if you could choose one person in the world- this could be a family member, famous
person, a teacher- anyone!
                           5. Which family members musical experiences surprised you the most?
                           6. What would you like to learn in music this year?

This project is always so much fun to grade- I learn so much- and the kids do too! Uncles, Aunts and Grandparents are always more musical than we though!  It takes up only 5 minutes of class time to explain, yet kids always enjoy it a lot.

Check out a picture of my musical family tree below (yes, both of my parents were not allowed in chorus, and I became a music teacher :) funny huh... also- sister Gena is in a got cut off)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Teacherkit and Pitch Matching Assesments

One of my goals this year is to better assess my students.  I found this really cool APP for IPAD that I have been using and I LOVE!  It is called TEACHERKIT and you can type in classes, assignments, behavior note, and more.  It even weights assignments if you so choose.  Check it out if you have an IPAD- I LOVE IT!

The 1st assessment I have started this year is pitch matching.  I assess pitch matching in different ways.

One is just singing a greeting to a student and having them sing back.  The question at the end is always different.  This also helps me get to know a little about my students.
       Hello Susie                                  Hello Miss Jencson
       How Are You Today?                 Awesome
       What did you do this weekend?    I got my ears pierced

The 2nd way is call and response or repeat after me songs.  At first, for these songs, I am the leader, but later, the students become the leader.
       One of my favorites for 1st grade is: This is my Singing Voice
              The teacher chooses different types of voices for the students to echo - being sure to do a lot of
              singing voice.
              When the students are the leader I let them choose 3 different voices to lead- but they MUST do
              singing voice at least once.

       Another is Doggie Doggie- The class the first two lines- Doggie Doggie where's your bone? Someone stole it from my home? The doggie (who had their eyes closed) sings "Who stole my bone?" and the person with the bone sings "I stole your bone."  The doggie must then guess who took the bone from them.  I give my first graders 3 guesses, and my 2nd graders 2 guesses.

Doggie Doggie Where's Your Bone
  s    s    m    m       s          s      m

Someone Stole it from your home
  s   s         m    m   s      s       m

Who Stole My Bone?
   s       m     m   s  m

I Stole Your Bone?
s   m       m    s   m

A third way is to have the students "perform" a song we learn.  We all sing it a few times and then those who choose can perform it for the class- complete with bows and clapping.  Many, but not all, students LOVE to get in front of the class- if I have a student who doesn't I never force them.  

This can also be done with a story such as "Mary Wore Her Red Dress."  Read the book, and then have students come up so the class can sing about some of their clothing- Gena wore a purple skirt, purple skirt, purple skirt... etc.  Be sure the person you are singing about is standing right next to you so can assess them, even while the rest of the class is singing.  You can get the book here


These are just a few ways I assess pitch matching.  When I grade it is on a 1-3 scale.  1 is monotone/ speaking voice.  2 is headvoice with the right contour but not matching the pitches and 3 is matching exactly. For the 2s I am sure to note if they are higher or lower than the pitch I am singing in my notes.

Monday, September 17, 2012

6th Grade- YAY!

I have to admit- 6th grade has always been a challenge for me.  In my school, elementary is K-6 ( I teach 1-6) and by the time students get to 6th grade they are ready to leave.  That's why I was SO EXCITED when each time I taught my lesson last week a 6th grader stopped me to say "Hey- that was a really fun music lesson!" (Don't worry they learned too). Many of these activities were learned this summer in my Level 3 Kodaly Pedagogy Class at Capital University (thanks Joanne!) and I am so excited to try out more! I am going to copy a short version of the lesson below with all the songs, transition games, and everything below.  This is a 55 minute class.

This is a practice all notes (s,-l,-t,-d-r-m-f-s-l-t-d') and prep tom ti (or dotted quarter-eighth)

Here is a list of everything I did- in order - see below for more detail
Sing songs in Lesson
Al Citron
Liza Jane
Change the Rhythm
Our old sow
Read from solfa ladder
Ebeneezer Sneezer (some classes added instruments)
Haydn 94th Symph (surprise), try tennis balls again

I ALWAYS start with the students warming up.  They stand as if they are a choir and sing some songs from the lesson, not in order. This not only gets their voices warmed up a bit, but also gets some of the songs in their heads to prepare the subconsciously for mystery songs later.  This time they sang all the songs listed above except Liza Jane because that was the new song.   

Al Citron: I had the rhythm and solfa written on the board like this (with no words and the dotted quarted- eighth written as ------ -): 

The students took 15 seconds to read it in their head and then we sang it together out loud.  Once they figured out the song, we sang it on words, then rhythm, then words again as we moved to a circle to play the game.  They are still learning the game- which is passing the rhythmsticks to every other beat- but on Triki Triki- taping both sides of your knees before passing again (delaying passing by one measure).  Hopefully soon we will be able to make it faster and maybe add an elimination component. 

 Children are seated in a circle. Each child has a pencil on the ground in front of him or her. On the upbeat each child picks up the pencil. On the first beat of each measure the pencil is put down with a bang on the ground in front of the neighbor to the right, who on the following beat picks it up.  This continues around the circle.  At the words “triki, triki,” it is held and banged on the ground to the right and left of the child; on the word “tron,” it is passed on to the right. Any child breaking the eliminated, until only one is left. 

*When students are out, have them choose an instrument to play the downbeats of the song to help with the passing and give them something to do! Idea from Brian Petit, 2012

After the game they all turned to the SMARTboard and we played KOOSHkwest with ------  - long short (what we are calling dotted quarter-eighth rhythms right now).  Students throw a koosh ball at the smart board and each circle has a rhythm attached- they read the rhythm that pops up.  If you have a SMARTboard and have never used this game go to SMARTexchange and look it up right now or email me!  The kids LOVE it! 

We ended koosh rhythms on the rhythm ------ - ta ta and I asked the students to find that rhythm in my next song- Liza Jane.  Once they found it, we learned the words by me continuing to ask questions about the song- how many phrases total, how many DIFFERENT phrases, etc.  By the time I was done they knew the words.  I then gave them a preview of the hand clap game that goes with the song.   

Game: Handjive Pattern learned from Bruce Swank who learned it from Rose Castleberry

X  R  X  L  X  F  B  F (2x)

X  R  X  L  X  ^  v   ^ (2x) 

X= clap own hands    R= pat partners R hand with your R hand    L= Pay partners L hand with your L hand 
F= pat palms with partner    B= pat back of hands with partner 
^/v = pat right hand palm down on partners upturned left hand, then switch

While they were practicing the hand clap game, I changed the Liza Jane rhythm to the 2nd half of Our Old Sow.  They read the rhythm and figured out what song it was.  We then sang on words, rhythm, and figured out the solfege together to sing that as well.  We played the remote game where they start on words and when I hit a drum they switch to either rhythm or solfa syllables.  We did this 3 times, and then went to the fence game (which they LOVE) and played that 3 times.  

Class stands in several straight rows, all facing same direction with both hands on the shoulders of adjacent pupils.  (They are the fences.) At each rest, the whole group turns 90 degrees (switch from facing “front” to facing “side”.) During the singing of the song, sung at least 3 or 4 times, one pupil (farmer) attempts to tap the “old sow” who is moving among the class. Neither “farmer” or “sow” is allowed to duck under the arms of the class (fence). 

Advanced: Instead of turning on rests, students turn when T. or chosen student taps drum.  

After the game we turned to the solfa ladder and did some scale patterns (drm-rmf-mfs- etc) until we settled on the pattern for Ebeneezer Sneezer.  Some classes had time to add instruments (xylophones) to this- today just playing along with the notes were singing.  We have also done boomwhackers in the same way with this song.  We will soon be making up an accompaniment to go with it.  

Next came S-L-M.  This is basically poison pattern. I loo a pattern and they sing it back on Solfa UNLESS my pattern has the notes s-l-m in it (salami)...   They love this game when they learn it in 2nd grade and I continually make it harder.  During the game I did the pattern dd-mm-ss-m a lot which led us to our final activity.

Haydn's 94th Symphony- Andante- the Surprise Symphony.  This is our listening example for the month.  We have listened to the song many times by now and have figured out the rhythm and solfa to most of the A section and will be looking at the rhythm of the B section next week. We have added a Tennis Ball activity to it where the students are in groups of 5 and they bounce the ball to each other in the pattern of a star.  They start with one tennis ball and if their group is successful, the can get all the way up to five.  They LOVE this activity.  They HAVE to bounce to every other beat to make it work.  

Try out some of these Activities- or the whole lesson.  They were all a hit- which as I said, is rare for me in 6th grade!  More to come soon!  Have a great week! 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rhythmic Manipulatives

Wow, last week was Crazy!  I had no plan time at school *(well very little) because I was administering AIMSweb testing (a reading fluency test) and had either a May Festival Rehearsal or Concert every night.  It's always the short weeks that feel the longest.  I can safely say now though, that I am finished with AIMSweb and my concert is over.  We still have our once a week rehearsals, but it's not so stressful with my school plan time back. :) 

Now onto some ideas I have for rhythm manipulatives.  Just some pictures of a few things I do:

Foam Hearts- right now I only have ta/ti-ti hearts (quarter note on one side, paired eighths on the other) but I plan on making rest/ tika-tika hearts and ti-tika/tika-ti hearts as well.  These are great because students just put them in order, rather than having to take time to use a marker to write out their rhythms.  It goes MUCH faster.  They are also great for students with special needs- really easy to work with and hold, even if writing is a problem.   (oops, the pic is upside down!)  These I made with hearts from Michaels or Joann Fabrics. They were super cheap!


Popsicle Sticks- I am sure you all use popsicle sticks too, but I decided that I would use Big sticks for ta and little for ti-ti.  This helps with the visual of Ta being longer (a full beat) and ti-ti being two half beats.  

Note Blocks- These are stackable notes where the height corresponds with the note value.  ti-tis are half the height of a ta, half notes are twice as tall as a ta, etc.  Only down fall with these is that the eighth notes are never paired- only with flags, which can be confusing to some kids the first time they are used.  They are great because the students can check if their answer is the right amount of beats by stacking their answer next to the correct time signature.  If they are the same height- they have the right number beats. You can order them here.

Note Magnets- Also from the notelogic company, I have note magnets.  These do not show the beat in any way.  You can, however, find magnets, where they do show the beat in that the size of the box that the ta, ti-ti and tika-tika, etc. are all in.  All one beat rhythms have the same size square, with the half note magnet twice as long etc. I have sets of both.

I use all of these things for diction as well as composition.  Sometimes I clap or play a rhythm and the students "write" it, other times they compose their own rhythm and the class reads it.  We also do rhythm worksheets, and of course, rhythm SMARTboard activities ALL THE TIME!