Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Apple Tree

One of my favorite songs to do in the spring with 1st and 2nd grade is Apple Tree.  I use this song for ta/ ti-ti in first grade, then bring it back for do in 2nd.  I don't teach kindergarten, so I am typically just presenting these concepts in the spring.

WORDS AND SOLFA                                     RHYTHM
Apple Tree, Apple Tree                                     II  I    II   I
  s   s    m      s    s    m

Will Your Apples Fall On Me                            II   II   II   I
  s      s       l    l       s    s    m

I Won't Cry and I Won't Shout                          II   II   II   I
s     s      m    m  s     s        m

If Your Apples Knock Me Out                          II   II   II   I
s    s       l     l       s        s      d

The game is super fun and I use the song to teach a lot of concepts. For the game, which is played much like London Bridge,  students stand in a circle and the teacher and one other student make a bridge (or arch) by connecting their hands and holding them up in the air. The other students march in a circle to the beat of the song and on the last word of the song "out" the bridge lower arms to trap someone in the bridge.  That person then becomes a new bridge.  You can play where there is always one bridge and it changes every round OR play with cumulative bridges where each time a new bridge is added until all students are caught.  My students prefer the latter.

For first grade I have a SMART file that uses pictures for the rhythm and then we convert to stick notation and compare the lines discovering the 1st line is the only one that is different.  We read the rhythm, memorize the rhythm and do things like partner rhythms (where student A taps the beat in student Bs hand, and student B taps the w/r in As hand), circle rhythms where we tap the rhythm on the shoulder of the person to our right and group rhythms where 1/2 of the class says the tas and half the tit-tis to isolate the differences.

For second grade, we do similar things with Do.  The SMARTfile uses icons to show the contour of the song (mostly s-m-l with only one do at the end).  For this we use the same isolation technique as the rhythm, but each row (I have 4) has a different solfa syllable to sing.  We also fill in the missing or write out a line using both solfa notation and staff notation using manipulatives, magnets etc.

Check out the SMARTboard file here:
Emily's Wix Site

Reminder: Even if you don't have a SMARTboard (or other interactive whiteboard) in your room, you can still get the software if you can get a SMART product key.  I know many teachers who have gotten the software and then projected onto a regular projector screen and had the kids manipulate the files using the computer rather than an actual interactive white board.  They were able to gather data to show their school how useful this teaching tool can be and ended up with a SMARTboard of their own after writing grants, etc.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Special Finds- Music Books From Decades Past that you can still get today!

 I just wanted to share some special finds that have come up over the past 4 years either hidden away in a file cabinet at my school, or found at an antique store.  All of the books mentioned in this post are AT LEAST 35 years old- the oldest is almost 100.

Starting with the oldest, I got for Easter last year (2012) this Third Year Music from from the Hollis Dan Music Course, published in 1915. My mom found it hidden away in a resale shop for $3.99.  The book is split into ROTE singing songs (with accompaniments for the teachers), and SIGHT-SINGING songs.   The sight-singing songs are mostly diatonic, but also typically move stepwise.  Some have lyrics with them, and some just the starting solfegge. (I use them more for 5th grade and 6th).   Some of the songs are cross-curricular and some are used to teach specific pitches or musical concepts, while others just have fun lyrics (many are about or mention fairys) :)  This a great little book- so great, in fact, that it was reprinted last year! You can get all the levels on Amazon here.

The next oldest is the Fireside Book of Folk Songs edited by Margaret Bradford Boni, published in 1947.  This one was found hidden in the back of a filing cabinet in my classroom- a gift from a professor to the past music teacher at my school .  It is split into a few chapters: Ballads and Old Favorites, Work Songs, Marching Songs and Songs of Valor, Christmas Carols, and Old Hymns and Spirituals.  There is also an index in the back listing songs in alphabetical order by song title AND first line.  I recognized a a lot of the songs in this book, unlike the Hollis Dan one- where I didn't recognize any.  All of the songs have the melody as well as a simple accompaniment part.  This book is available on AMAZON if you want to check it out.

Sing It Yourself is a book of 220 Pentatonic American Folk Songs, published in 1978.  This book splits the songs up by the range- it starts with songs with notes in the range of a third or fourth, and goes all the way up to songs with a range of a tenth or 11th.  There is also a song index and a subject index.  many Kodaly favorites are in this book.  There are no games listed- but it does give a list of sources and place of origin for all songs.  Amazon sells this one both in paper back AND as a kindle version! Get it here.

All three of these books I try to use as often as I can.  I have analyzed songs from all of them and put them into my folk-song collection to teach a variety of musical concepts.

Fly Swatter Game- review terms, rhythms, and solfa patterns!

One of my favorite new review games is the fly swatter game.  I saw a version on pinterest for sight-words in reading and have adjusted it for the music classroom.  I have done this game so far to review music symbols as well as rhythm patterns.

I wrote on the board various symbols or patterns and split the class into two teams.  The teams stand in a line and the 1st student in each approaches the board with fly swatter (or foam rhythm heart attached to a popsicle stick) in hand.  I then say a definition of a term (or play a rhythm pattern on a drum) and the 1st to find it gets a point for their team.  Students only get 2 slaps per turn (hopefully only 1) so that they are not just slapping every word, symbol or pattern up there until they get it right.

Sometimes to help with the rhythms,  I have the class repeat my pattern using rhythm syllables.  Not only does this give the slappers another listen, but it also keeps all students fully engaged in the activity the whole time.

For the symbols, I give the definition and then the students slap the symbol and are also asked to name it.

I think I may use rhythm/ symbol/ sight-reading cards stuck to the board (either with tape or magnets) next time because the symbols and patterns tended to erase as students slapped them.   A large laminated poster would work too. Feel free to project these pictures to use for your own version of the fly swatter game.  I found though that it was tricky with the projection because sometimes the bodies blocked the projector light and then I couldn't tell what the students were pointing to.

Friday, May 3, 2013

New Room

Wow! The end of the year is near! I just realized today that even though we have 4 weeks left of school, I only see some of my students 1 more time.  This is due to assemblies, field day, and a wedding I have to attend.  Crazy! I feel like I need more time!

I found out last week that next year I will have a new classroom.  I am excited for this move because overall it should be a good change, but there are still a few worries I have.  I am super ready to redecorate, move furniture, and get everything set up- too bad I have to wait another month until school is out!

Things I am excited about for the new classroom:
1) Total, I have almost double the space.  Technically it is one entire modular classroom set- two rooms connected by a door, but even just one side is about 20 square feet bigger than what I currently have.  One side will be General Music and the other Chorus.
Chorus Side 1
2) I can make as much music and noise as I want and not have to worry about disrupting anyone.  Testing week? Doesn't matter.  Being in a modular classroom outside the gym, it will be very hard for me to disrupt anyone else.

Chorus Side 2
3) I don't have to have chorus in the Cafeteria or Gym! In one of the two rooms, our risers will be set up and chorus will have its own space! I won't have to worry about lunch times, or have students sitting the wrong way on picnic style tables.  Our riser etiquette will be much better because we will be practicing on actual risers every rehearsal!
Chorus Side 3 

4) When orchestra or band is cancelled for whatever reason (teacher sick, high school trip, etc) I will be able to let the students still practice in the chorus room and be able to keep an eye on them through the door.  This year we had disappointed students when they had to stay in General Music because the orchestra or band teacher wasn't there and I couldn't send them to a classroom all the way across the building to practice with out an adult.

General Music Side 1

Things I am worried about:
1) There is not a lot of storage space in these rooms.  I am going to be moving a LOT of furniture and shelving units.  My current room has two sets of counters with cabinetry underneath and I am going to have to find a spot for all of that stuff! Shopping here I come!

General Music Side 2
2) Being outside I am worried I will have less of a connection with what is going on inside the building.

General Music Side 3
3) Bad Weather! Anytime there is a wind warning or thunderstorm warning anything of the sort I have to teach inside the building in teachers classrooms. Also- I hear it is really loud when it is raining because the modular classrooms have a metal roof.
General Music Side 4
It is going to be crazy getting these rooms ready because I will be in Hungary most of the summer but I have 6th graders lined up to help me move stuff (and move stuff for the teacher moving into my current room.) and I have friends and family who I am sure will be willing to help :)

I can't believe school is almost out! Stayed tuned for a song post this weekend!