Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Tuesday Book Club - The Nutcracker, A Pop-Up Book

It's exactly 6 months til Christmas Ya'll!

This summer, I came across this AMAZING Nutcracker Pop-Up Book by Jenni Fleetwood and Illustrated by Phillida Gili. The Nutcracker is my favorite and this book will be my new go-to for telling the story to my classes.

WOW. That is all I can say.  I was literally gasping every single page.  The pop-ups and illustrations are multi-layered and perfect. Every time I look at the book I find more to be excited about. The story is also just-right for kids. It tells the story in a beautiful way without being super long winded or leaving out important parts.

The Nutcracker and Mouse King actually fight! 

The Dancers move! 

I cannot wait to use this in my classroom this upcoming year. Check it out!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Summer 5's

School is out for the Summer! I had a great first year at Liberty Union and I am excited to get time for rest, family, and fun this summer.  I know I will come back to LU feeling refreshed and ready to go next school year.  I thought I would share my summer to-do list in a fun way.  My Summer 5s! 5 lists of 5 things each that I hope to do/read/complete this summer.

Classroom Organization 5
1. Make new fabric shelves for my classroom- DONE!

2. Complete Year-Plans for next year
3. Add more of a Jungle Theme to my Classroom for next year (we are the Lions!)
4. Catalog my Classroom Library- I am using the BookOrganizer App and it is awesome!
5. Organize the REST Area Better (bean bag, pillows, etc)  I made one pillow cover to match the above shelves and bought this awesome pillow. I am still looking for more fun things!

Professional Development Books 
1. Teach Like Finland - Timothy D. Walker
2. Troublemakers - Carla Shalaby
3. The Teaching Text - Douglas J. Robertson
4. Compassionate Music Teaching - Karin S. Hendricks
5. Go See the Principal - Gerry Brooks

1. Update Back-2-School Stack Products- DONE!

2. Over in the Meadow Program Starter Pack
3. More Vocal Exploration Files- Sloths, Summer, Fireflies, and more!
4. More Hello My Name Is games (treble and bass clef matching!)
5. Carnival of the Animals Movement Bundle!

Family 5
1. Columbus Zoo
2. Cosi Science Center
3. Music Classes for my kids (mommy and me!)
4. Watch an Outdoor Movie
5. Take a mini-vacation with my husband to NYC

Ice Cream 5
1. Jeni's
2. Graeters
3. Shaffner's
4. Make our own
5. Ice-Cream Truck

What are your goals for the summer? (Don't feel bad if they are just to rest and rejuvenate- I will be doing PLENTY of that!)

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Tuesday Book Club - Vocal Exploration Books

I just wanted to quickly share 3 great books that I use for Vocal Explorations in K and 1.

1. SAY ZOOP! by Hervé Tullet
This book is amazing.  Each page has another fun thing to say.  The pictures correspond with the words, and sometimes even encourage you to get louder/ quieter or higher/ lower depending on how the picture is drawn.  For this one, I pick a section at a time because it is quite long. Students love the silly words! 

              Make some noise! Shout "OH!" Whisper "oh!" 
              Say "Zoop"? Yes! "Zoop!" "Zoop!" "Zoop!" 
              The newest book from Hervé Tullet magically 
              responds with bursts of color and moving shapes, 
              empowering children by letting their imaginations 
              liberate and direct each page's reaction.

2. The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak
This book is another great one with silly words.  I have the students repeat some of the silly things after me while reading the book. They LOVE all the silly noises and sounds- especially hearing me say them!

             You might think a book with no pictures seems boring 
             and serious. Except . . . here’s how books work. 
             Everything written on the page has to be said by the 
             person reading it aloud. Even if the words say . . .

             BLORK. Or BLUURF.

             Even if the words are a preposterous song about eating 
             ants for breakfast, or just a list of astonishingly goofy 
             sounds like BLAGGITY BLAGGITY and GLIBBITY GLOBBITY.

             Cleverly irreverent and irresistibly silly, 
             The Book with No Pictures is one that kids will beg to hear 
             again and again. (And parents will be happy to oblige.)

3. Hoppity Skip Little Chick by Jo Brown
A great little story, with super fun pictures. I read each page and then have students follow the path of the animals (represented by dotted lines in the book) with their voices.  We make the animal sounds, too! This one is perfect for Spring!

                While Little Chick's Mom keeps her eggs warm, 
                Little Chick is sent out to play with all of his
                barnyard friends, and when he returns home at 
                the end of the day, he gets the best surprise ever
                --new brothers and sisters!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Upper Elementary Music Concept Project

My fourth graders have just completed an awesome project on BIG musical concepts. It was a two part group project explaining a chosen concept like Dynamics, Tempo, Harmony, Lyrics, Mood, etc.

Part one was a Flipgrid video explaining their concept. Students had to research facts and information about their concept and put it together in a short "music minute" video a la Meg's Music Room on youtube. Students gave information like definitions, abbreviations, and examples in the songs in their videos. Most videos had at least 5 facts or informational tid-bits.  If you have never used flipgrid, see THIS POST for more info. See below for Meg's Music Room Music Minute on Dynamics.

After students were done researching their concept/ making their video they had to come up with an activity to PRACTICE that concept as part two. Most groups were able to come up with something on their own, but if students were stuck I had them search "Music Class Activities to Teach..." We had so many great activities - question wheels, kahoots, rhythm reading with instruments, dynamics flashcards, mood worksheets, lyrics mad-libs (more on this one in another post- I loved it so much!), lyrics tag and more!

To present the projects, students showed their flipgrid videos to the class to give info on their topic, and then taught their activity as further practice to solidify the knowledge learned in the video.  Groups had to practice explaining the directions, plan for questions classmates might have, and really break down their activities so all understood. They had so much fun being the teacher!

I loved seeing the students personalities and creativity come out through this project. Students were building, using computers to create, drawing, writing, and more.  The best part was watching them work together teach/ learn from their classmates.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Tuesday Book Club- Amy's Brass Band

For this Tuesday Book Club I am so excited to be featuring my Phi Beta Sister as a Guest Blogger. Amy wrote an awesome music book about Brass Bands. The book will be released April 8th, 2019 and is currently available worldwide for presale on Amazon. If you prefer to shop directly from the publisher, you can purchase it through Bookbaby at https://store.bookbaby.com/book/amys-brass-band. Until April 30th, 2019, enter the code “Tuesday” at checkout to get 20% off when you purchase the book. Check out the story about why she wrote the book below.

Hi everyone! I’m Amy Schumaker Bliss and I’m honored to be contributing to the Tuesday Book Club blog. I was asked write a guest blog post about a new book I wrote called, “Amy’s Brass Band.” I wrote the book because I found a big gaping hole in children’s literature. You see, when my son Simon was born, tons of people gave him books about music since I’m a musician. When I looked at them, I noticed one thing they all had in common: they were all introducing the orchestra. While the orchestra is certainly a very important part of our culture, I as a euphonium player don’t frequently play in the ensemble. My instrument wasn’t in a single book and neither was the tenor horn I gave him to play with while I practiced. While I don’t usually play in orchestras, I occasionally play in a professional wind ensemble in the area and I play regularly in a championship brass band called Atlantic Brass Band. I also help conduct a youth brass band (middle school through high school) and a university-level brass band at Rowan University. I’ve written scholarly articles on the subject and even travel around the US sometimes to work with other brass bands. Most of my professional work is connected to the brass band ensemble in some way, so I started searching for a brass band children’s book. I wanted my son to grow up knowing what I do professionally. I looked everywhere. I even posted to Facebook groups asking if anyone remembers a children’s book introducing the brass band. Not a single person could ever remember a children’s book ever existing on the subject. So…I decided to write one.

I had no clue what I was doing at first, but I figured it out quickly! I started by contacting a friend that I had met in an online mom’s group I had started before my son was born. Allie Geddert is an excellent graphic designer, illustrator, and children’s boutique clothing store owner. She gave me some drawing samples and when we settled on a style we liked, we got to work. I took a ton of photos of my own brass band to send to her and she did a great job of bringing them to life as characters. We worked in our spare time because at the time, we both had little babies. We worked almost exclusively in google docs, passing work between the two of us during late night work sessions once our babies had gone to bed.

Rowan University's Director of Bands Modeling a Conductor Stance

Illustration of Conductor
We decided early on that we wanted to feature a good amount of diversity among the brass band members. Classical music certainly lacks in this area and we wanted wanted every child to be able to see him or herself playing in a musical ensemble, whether it is a brass band, wind band, or orchestra. I also contacted Boobs and Brass (https://normalityaftercancer.com/2018/10/09/boobs-brass/), an all female brass band that raises money for breast cancer research and Brass For Africa (http://brassforafrica.org), a charity that operates primarily in Uganda, to get permission to use their likenesses for the project. This helped us to increase the visibility of such worthy endeavors while depicting members of an all-African brass band and an all woman brass band.

Photo of a Brass Band
Illustrator Sketch

Final Illustration in book
The book discusses a basic overview of the history of the brass band, the instruments of the brass band, and the purposes of the ensemble. It is primarily written for early to mid-elementary school age and would be perfect for an elementary school general music classroom. The book could be developed into a whole class with some youtube performances of some top brass bands and videos of soloists on different instruments. Eventually, I’d like to create a supplemental website with educational videos and make a classroom brass band instrument poster. All in good time, though, I suppose.

The book will be released April 8th, 2019 and is currently available worldwide for presale on Amazon. If you prefer to shop directly from the publisher, you can purchase it through Bookbaby at https://store.bookbaby.com/book/amys-brass-band. Until April 30th, 2019, enter the code “Tuesday” at checkout to get 20% off when you purchase the book. I sincerely hope that you enjoy my book. It has brought me great joy writing it. Nothing beat the feeling of bring the books home for the first time and giving the first one to my now toddler son. He sat down, opened the book, leafed through the pages until he saw the drawing of a euphonium, pointed to it, and said, “Mommy!”

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Folk Dance Collaboration with PE

Ya'll- My March has been SO FUN!

Grades 2-4 have been doing an awesome folk dance unit where we combine Music and PE and dance together in the gym.  Students (well, most of them) are LOVING it! We have danced a little in general music, but it was neat to be able to focus entirely on dancing- especially right before testing season starts. We are in our 3rd week now and our plan for the unit was as follows:

Week 1- Dances in Longways Sets
Week 2- Circle Dances
Week 3- Square Dances for 2-3 and Tinikling for 4th

For warm-ups each day we did a popular line dance or scatter mixer and those seemed to be favorites.  We did: Cha Cha Slide, Cupid Shuffle, Electric Slide, Sasha, Macarena, and more!

All of the folk dances we did come from the New England Dancing Masters Books. Each week- Monday was terms/ figures that students needed to know for the type of dances for the week, and then Tuesday-Friday was learning new dances each day (though sometimes a dance took 2 days to master)!

Next year, I want to be able to add Sicilian Circle Dances, as well as Contra Dances- Especially for the older grades.

Through our unit, students were able to master many of the common folk dance steps and figures like:
Casting Off
Two- Hand Turn
Elbow Swing
Right and Left Grand
Allemande Left and Right
Right Hand Star
Left Hand Star
and many more!

Dances in Longways Sets: 
Chimes of Dunkirk
Alabama Gal
Sweets of May
Kings and Queens

Circle Dances: 
Heel and Toe Polka
Lucky Seven

Square Dance: 
Simple Square

A few phrases I found that really helped when teaching/ learning were:

Connect Hands (instead of HOLD hands)- for some reason, lots of kids are ok with connecting, but not holding.

Face Your Way - When teaching circle dances, students were given identifiers *a bracelet or not* and then all partners with a bracelet faced one way, while those without faced the other.  Instead of having to say bracelet face right, while non face left, we just say "face your way" after explaining which way each group should start or stay.

Out of the Longways sets, Circle, and Square Dances- it seemed students like the Longways set dances the most.  They were the most requested when time was left after we completed the goals for the day.  We found that learning Longways Sets and Circle Dances first really helped with square dancing because we already knew many of the different steps and just had to figure them out in a new formation.

We plan on doing the same unit next year, but with slightly different dances for each grade (this year was both mine and the PE teachers first year at this school- so this was a new experience for ALL).  We also hope to coordinate a Family Folk Dance Night in conjunction with our schools Arts Night that happens in April to bring families in on the fun. What are your favorite folk dances?

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Tuesday Book Club- My Many Colored Days

My Many Colored Days- By Dr. Seuss     Paintings By Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

I LOVE this book.  It seems more and more that kids need to know that emotions are ok, but also find good ways to deal with those emotions.

Many schools are starting to talk about the Zones of Regulation and I think that the Dr. Seuss book- My Many Colored Days ties into Zones perfectly.

For my MCD lesson, first we read the book and talk about each of the feelings mentioned- mad, sad, happy, silly, etc.  We then listen to a song I picked for each color and act out the moods to the music.  All the music is instrumental to show students that you don't need lyrics to convey a mood.

Check out my youtube playlist for the songs I use, already in the order of the book.

Red- Theme song to Bonanza - students gallop around the room
Blue- Aviary from Carnival of the Animals- students fly around the room
Brown- Tortoise from Carnival of the Animals- students slow motion walk around the room as if it is full of jello
Yellow- Flight of the Bumblebee- students buzz around the room like busy bees
Grey- Moonlight Sonata- students sit criss-cross and rest
Orange- The Entertainer- silly dance time! I have had students pretend to be mimes, clowns, do their favorite silly dances, and more.
Green- Aquarium from Carnival of the Animals- students swim around the room like they are exploring the bottom of the ocean.
Purple- Chopin Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2- students walk around acting sad and alone
Pink- Carnival of the Animals- Finale- students hop and jump around similar to the Fantasia Flamingo Short.
Black- Beethoven's 5th Symphony - Students stomp around and glare at each other
Mixed Up - Mozart 12 Variations on Twinkle Twinkle (I usually only listen to about 2 or 3)

Obviously, any other songs you choose could also work.

After we are tired from acting out all the colors, we tie the lesson into Zones of Regulation and the 4 Zones that a student can be at school.

Zones of Regulation are:
Green- Ready to learn, calm, focused, happy
Blue- Sick, tired, sad, moving slow
Yellow- Worried, annoyed, silly, wiggly, frustrated
Red- Angry, out of control, yelling, terrified

No Zone is inherently bad. Let students know they will have days, hours, or minutes in every zone and that is OK!  Green is Ready to Learn and where we want to be mostly in school. Talk to your counselor about different strategies for when students are in Red, Yellow, or Blue to help get them back to Green without invalidating the feelings they are having. You can also get a great ZONES cheat sheet HERE

After we talk about the zones a bit, we go back to MCD and decide if the colors match. In first grade, because we are working on quarter notes and beamed eighth notes, students then compose a rhythmic pattern using the Zones colors (Red, Yellow, Green Blue or Green Green Yellow Green).  If students finish quickly, they are allowed to add their own B section explaining a zone or feeling.

Don't forget to check out other Tuesday Book Club posts using the tab at the top of the page!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Writing in the Music Room | An Easy Sub-Plan!

Do your principals ever ask you how you incorporate writing in the music room? Are you ever in a rush for easy sub-plans that ANYONE can implement? One of my new favorite activities is great for both!

For this activity, I read/ sing/ teach a folk song and then have students write the back-story based on the mood of the song. I typically do it 1x with my students, and then they are ready when a sub is asked to do it later in the year.  After having about 15 min to write or think of their stories, I always love to have a few share.  Some students have even taken their thoughts home and continued their story and made it into a book! So fun!

2 great examples:
I Got A Letter this Mornin', Oh Yes!  - After we learn the song (it's great for syncopation and whole note) I have the students discuss the mood of the piece and then write letters based on the mood. This song while there are not a lot of words, is often called "creepy", "scary", "uneasy" or "sad" by a lot of the students due to the minor mode.  Their letters can be to a real person OR a fake person.  I have had students write to the moon, made-up friends, or friends who were home sick. We are sure to have correct punctuation and all the components of a letter in our writing.

She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain - For this one I show a video (see below) of the song and then have the students answer the questions: Who is SHE?  Where is she coming from? and WHY? Is it is good reason she is 'comin' round', or bad?  Students need to listen and hear text clues from all the verses to determine their stories and what motivated the character to "come round the mountain". I like using the plain lyric video so students don't feel like they are stuck within a certain setting or look.

Little ones can also do a version of this activity- where they write only 1 or 2 sentences and then illustrate their thoughts.  For example, with doggie doggie, have students think about "Who really did steal the bone and why?" Was it another dog? Was it a different animal? Was it a human?

Other song ideas:
Dinah- Why is Dinah the only one in the house?
Great Big House- Why is the house full of pie?
Who's That Tapping at My Window? - Who is tapping at the window? Why?

What other song ideas and guiding questions could be used? Write your ideas below!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Tuesday Book Club- The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

Today's Tuesday Book Club is The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt. What an adorable book! This hilarious book gives you background information on how the game Rock Paper Scissors came to be. It is fiction of course, and oh so fun to read. After reading the story, there are so many ways you can incorporate Rock-Paper-Scissors into your classroom! 

Sei-Sei-Sei, from Japan, is one of my favorite songs to play this game. All children start with a partner and are standing on a large piece of paper.  At the end of the song- on HOI!- students choose Rock, Paper, or Scissors.  Which ever child looses folds their paper in half. If there is a tie- BOTH students fold their paper.  All students then find a new partner.  Once a student has folded their paper 4x they are OUT.  Continue play until you have a winner for the class! 

Also- Have you seen this video?
In my class, winners keep hopping trying to get through the course, and those who loose Rock-Paper-Scissors have to read a rhythm or solfege card before they get back in line.  The game ends when either someone has gotten all the way through the course OR all students have attempted and read a rhythm at least 1x. 

Another fun idea is Rock-Paper-Scissors composing. 
Disclaimer: I saw this idea on Facebook and fleshed it out, and am sharing my version.  Thank you to Shauna Slemp in the Elementary Music Educators Group for originally posting this awesome idea! She did it to have students record BAG recorder.

I did BAG recorder with my 5th graders and my 2nd Graders are working on DO right now. After reading the book we composed some So-mi-do songs using rock paper scissors.

Students got into pairs and played the game.  If Scissors won (or both students chose scissors) a SO was added to their song.  Paper = Mi, and Rock = Do.   I had students play 8 times for an 8 beat song of all quarter notes.  Check out this awesome student work!

You could also choose to have students first write a rhythm using known concepts, and then use the R-P-S to add the solfege, or as Shauna did add the notes B-A-G.  Working on a new rhythm concept such as tika-tika (beamed 16th notes)? Have students write a rhythm pattern where Quarter Note= Rock, Beamed Eighth Notes= Paper, and Beamed 16th Notes= Scissors (a rest could be when there is a tie.)

I have included 3 simple worksheets below that you can either print OR project to play as a class. They are super basic but get the job done :) Click HERE to access the google doc. When you click the link ,you will be prompted with a screen that asks if you would like to make a copy of the doc.  Click yes and you will be good to go! You can edit your copy, or just print a page as is, but you won't have to worry about messing up the original!

In addition to the activities listed above, you can talk to students about how Rock, Paper, Scissors is a great strategy to solve a conflict.  Partners can't agree? Play RPS.  Unsure of who got to the line first? Play RPS to see who gets to be in front, etc. etc.

Go Forth and Play RPS!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Paw Paw Patch (Pretty Little Susie)

I love this game and the activity that goes with it, especially because paw paws are grown in the town I teach in! It is an awesome song for teaching tika-tika, preparing for folk dances, and more.  However, lately, I am wanting to be more sensitive in regards to gender and gender stereotypes.  Calling the Susie pretty, and then having only the boys be the ones who go find her was bugging me a little.  First I made the easy change in the 2nd verse- instead of come on "BOYS" we have always sung come on "FRIENDS."  The first verse, however, has been more of a challenge to figure out an awesome way to change it without taking away from the original.

When I learned this song, to set up the long-ways set, we had the girls on one side, then the boys on the other.  The head girl skipped around the boys on the first verse (where oh where is pretty little Susie).  Then for the second, all the boys walked around the girls (come on friends, let's go find her). For the third  (pickin' up paw paws...), we cast off (or as some say, peel the banana) and get ready to start again with new people at the head of the set.

I still teach the song as the original but when we do the movement, I do not have students line up boys and girls, but rather just in two lines.  I try to avoid splitting my classes by boys and girls as often as possible.  School (even elementary school) should be a place where kids come to learn and grow, not to feel uncomfortable because they don't feel they belong.

I then let the first student in the line on my left (who would normally be pretty little Susie) choose an adjective to describe themselves and we sing that as we do the movement.  I have had "Strong Little Jack," "Cute Little Caitlyn," "Awesome Little Emily," "Smart Little Chloe," and more.  Once students get used to changing the first word, we can also change the "little".  Some of my favorites of this version have been "Xander, the Leader" and "Oaklee, the Brave." We are only changing the words, the movement stays the same. It is so fun to hear how students describe themselves. 

It would also be awesome to have the class come up with a positive adjective to build the head student up. How neat would it be for a student to hear 4 or 5 things other classmates see as positive traits and then choose their favorite?

PS- Never tried a Paw Paw?  Find out more information about this awesome fruit HERE

Friday, January 18, 2019


This post is all about clocks! Lots of ideas for a lesson using word rhythm vs beat, form, solo singing, expressive movement and more! Use this as one complete lesson, or pick and choose what works for you! I did this lesson in first grade last week and it was so fun! We got to do it all- sing, say, dance, and play! 

Vocal Exploration- repeat after me.  First Vocal Sirens, then clock sounds (tick tick tick tick, ding dong, Cuckoo Cuckoo Cuckoo Cuckoo etc.) 

Cuckoo in the Clock - Every time we sing this song, we sing, then play the rhythm on an instrument (or clap), then Cuckoo 4x. 

In this lesson, first I have students continue to tick on the steady beat as I sing the song.  We then switch parts and sometimes I split the class as well- some singing/ clapping and some ticking. (Yay Partwork) 

For the Game, All students close their eyes and start singing the song.  While they are singing and then clapping the rhythm of the song to "Knock" I choose one student to hide behind the piano.  The hiding student sings the cuckoo's on their own.  When they are done, the class opens their eyes and tries to guess who is missing. 

Hickory Dickory Dock Vs Tick Tock
This activity I learned from Lucinda Geoghegan when I was in Hungary a few years ago. It is GREAT for steady beat in both 2/4 and 6/8.  First, the class sings Tick Tock (see below) and adds a simple hand clap game to that (clap own hands, hit partners hands, repeat). Next we learn Hickory Dickory Dock, and say it with the same game.  Then we stand in a circle and first ALL say Hickory Dickory Dock with the handclap game.  During the rest at the end, we "Ding" and turn around to do Tick Tock with a different partner.  (I call this Level 2. Level 1 is just the hand clap game with a partner, not switching back and forth.) 

As a challenge (or Level 3) students can stand in a circle and try to have both the chant and the song going at the same time (every other pair sings Tick-Tock while the others say HDD).  The different timbres (singing and speaking) helped Ss to stay on their own parts.  This is great to start prepping 6/8 un-conciously even with little ones.  They love the challenge of part-work!

2/4 Tick tock, tick tock, goes my little clock
        s      m      s      m      s      l     s s     m

6/8 Hickory Dickory Dock, the Mouse ran up the clock.  

The clock struck one and down he came, Hickory Dickory Dock.

Syncopated Clock Scarf Routine

My students LOVE this scarf routine because it shows form, uses both hands, and they get to throw the scarves! I made it up, but being honest, I know I have done scarf routines to this song in many workshops so it may unconsciously be similar to another you have seen. 

A Section - Scarf in RT Hand and move rt arm around in a circle in front of your body as if it is a hand on a clock. 
When the A sections repeats, students switch the scarf to the left hand and do the same thing. 

B Section- Put scarf in both hands, wave above head for 16 beats, then down low for 16 beats 

C Section- Throw/ Catch to the steady beat! Be sure to have students switch hands. 

Viennese Musical Clock Scarves and Cups

For the Scarf Routine, it is mostly a movement exploration activity.  During the A Section, students must March to the beat, but can move the scarf however they want.  For the other sections of the rondo they get to move both their feet and the scarf creatively to match the music. 

For the Cup game, older kids to the typical "cup pattern" during the A section and then follow the leader for other sections of the rondo.  Leaders may choose to do activities to the beat using their cup, or just their hands. 

Typical Cup Pattern- Clap, Clap, Tap-tap, Tap.  Clap, move it, over, z. Clap, pick-it up (with your hand upside down), Hit your left hand (with the bottom of your cup), Down (tap the cup on the floor). Switch Hands, Tap, and Pass, z. 

At the end, we wrap up our lesson with a Time Telling Book. See a list of awesome time books HERE

Friday, January 11, 2019

Statue Game

Do you have movers and shakers in your music room?  Those that wander around, roll in their seat, and are always moving?  To help lessen the movement during "concentration" parts of the lesson, I love to play the statue game.  We use it when listening, singing, and more.

When listening to someone talking- students just choose a fun statue and hold it while the speaker says what they need to say. If the speaker changes, the statue changes.

During singing, I choose a time during each song to switch.  Working on time signature? Switch on the strong beats.  Working on quarter rest? Change statues during each quarter rest. Working on Low La? Switch every time a low la appears in the song.  When doing a solfege syllable, I tell students they do not have to change if the syllable appears multiple times in a row, but if you leave the note and come back, the statue should change. Students know that in my classroom, we are SINGING statues, but not TALKING statues.

For listening lessons, we can focus in on form and change statues when a new section of music starts. I love to have students then work with partners and create statues TOGETHER.  Kids are thinking about things like: Should they mirror each other? should they be different- but related? Should they be connected in some way?  I LOVE the creativity that comes out when working in pairs (or even small groups)!

Statues are an easy activity to add into any lesson and students LOVE it!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Tuesday Book Club- Rock What Ya Got!

So, I spend far too much money buying books that people recommend on Twitter (follow me @emilychurch86) but I am SO EXCITED about this one.

Get the Book HERE

Rock What Ya Got was written by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Kerascoët. 
Basically, an artist draws a picture of a girl, Viva, but doesn't quite like it.  However, before she can erase the picture, Viva comes to life and asks the Artist if she can just "Rock What She's Got" instead of being changed.  

This book has a wonderful message to embrace our individuality and 'Rock What We Got' and Viva speaks very rhythmically.  

To bring in the new year, I am reading this book in grades 2-4 and we are going to create a rondo using the following chant from the book for the A section, with an added orffestration by me. 

             Rock what ya got and Rock It a lot
             Don't let anyone say what you're not!
             Find what is yours, and carve out your spot
             Take it and own it and rock it- a lot!

Tambourine: Rock It! (on micro beats 1 and 2 in a bar of 6/8)
Hand Drum: Rock, Rock, Rock what ya got (in 6/8 |.   |.  |||  |. )
Glockenspiels: Play improvised pentatonic hands-together chord at end of each line
Alto Xylo: Play improvised pentatonic hands-together chord on each ROCK
Bass Xylo: Macro beat open 5th bordun

When teaching the poem, before transferring to instruments, I have been having students clap on rock, and snap on the last word of the phrases. The hand drum is pats, and the tambourine is stomps.  The first class that we do this lesson, I just teach the Glocks and AX while I play the bass.  The 2nd lesson we add in the Hand Drum and Tambourine.

See pictures for basic notation to help you out. My abbreviations for some reason didn't show up when I downloaded my song, but instruments are in the same order as listed above, with the vocal line on top.

The other sections of our Rondos will be chants students make about about what they hope to ROCK in 2019. They will each have 16 beats (but can choose to do 8 beats repeated).  Examples might be:

Multiplication is what I will rock
7s, 8s, and 9s, I won't stop
I'll learn all my facts and teach them to others
Maybe I'll teach something new to my mother!

I will rock music in the new year
I will sing, I will dance, I will play without fear
Learning, composing, and leading too
I will rock music- what about you?

Basketball is where it is at
Free throws, jump shots, and 3's- just like that! :||

As usual, students will be able to choose to work in a small group OR individually.  As briefly mentioned, in my class, this whole process will take 2 lessons (30 min each) but if my classes were longer, it could be done in one.  I think this will be a super fun way to get students lifting each other up and making music right away in the new year!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

#OneWord 2019 | Mindful

I have been thinking a lot lately about my #OneWord for 2019.

JOY was a great word for 2018, and I found JOY in lots of things and interactions.
I loved seeing the JOY on my 3 year olds face when we were playing, or he was discovering new things, or he got to "push my buttons" when getting ready for bed to make me talk in different accents.
I loved feeling JOY when my little girl was born.
JOY was felt when the family was together- my husband tickling our little one while the 3yo cuddled with me on the couch.
There were many times in my classroom when students learned a new song, or dance, or instrument part, or just had fun eating with me that JOY was present in the LU-E music room.

This year, now with 2 children, a new job, a new home, and more, I need to be more grounded.

My word for 2019, inspired by my 3yo, is MINDFUL.

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. ~mindful.org 

I am usually so reactive that I think 2019 will be a great year to step back and breathe.  

I need to be mindful of my own emotions- not that I don't want to FEEL big emotions, but that I will react to them in a way that is productive.  Whether that be channeling big feelings into a new project, taking 10 seconds (or 10 minutes) to focus on breathing, or even crying it out for a bit as a way to release negativity. I come from a family of yellers and stompers. We always let emotions out in a BIG, LOUD way. However, I find that if I focus in, breathe, and think about the strategies I already have in my "rest area" at school (like counting to 10 slowly, hugging myself or a stuffed animal, or stretching, etc.) that I am less stressed, can think of solutions to problems easier and I am happier all around.  

I need to be mindful of my family and how they are feeling and reacting. I hope to bring mindful strategies into my 3yo's life so that rather than hitting and kicking and screaming when he doesn't get his way, we can find solutions that work for him to calm down and communicate his problems. Maybe if the whole family has breathing time together, does yoga together, or just goes for mindful walks together, we will all be calmer and less stressed out in the new year. We need less tech and tv and more nature walks and play. 

I need to be mindful of my students. Their individual personalities, goals, backgrounds, and learning styles. 

I need to be mindful of my ability to say YES and push myself to step out of my comfort zone. 

I need to be mindful of my ability to say NO and realize when something will not be good for myself, my family, or my school. 

Again, from mindful.org, I am encouraged because when it comes to mindfulness: 
  • Anyone can do it. Mindfulness practice cultivates universal human qualities and does not require anyone to change their beliefs. Everyone can benefit and it’s easy to learn.
  • It’s a way of living.  Mindfulness is more than just a practice. It brings awareness and caring into everything we do—and it cuts down needless stress. Even a little makes our lives better.
  • It’s evidence-based. We don’t have to take mindfulness on faith. Both science and experience demonstrate its positive benefits for our health, happiness, work, and relationships.
  • It sparks innovation. As we deal with our world’s increasing complexity and uncertainty, mindfulness can lead us to effective, resilient, low-cost responses to seemingly intransigent problems.
In 2019 I plan to: 
~Take time each day to breathe before my 1st class, and after my last class leaves. 
~Make Gratitude part of my routine. I love these ideas from BUSTLE on how to Cultivate a Creative Gratitude Practice.
~Do my own Mindful Music Moments on the way to work. 
~Stretch, do yoga, and go on nature walks with my 3yo each week. 
~Begin each class with a short mindful moment- adding stretches into our warm-up routine. 
~End each class with a short mindful music moment where we listen to part of a song and focus in on our breath before we leave to complete the rest of the school day. Even just 30 seconds to a minute where the class can take time to breathe can be an amazing thing. 

Each of these are all small things, but I think they will make a big impact on 2019. 
Do you have a word for the year yet??