Thursday, April 26, 2012

For the Love of Music

I always think it's a bummer when students have to miss music (or art, or gym) for testing.  I know that testing is important but I wish there was a way to do it, and still get everything else in. The past 3 mornings for me have been either giving other teachers bathroom breaks or administering the tests myself to a small group.  Yes, I have been getting a lot of planning and program making done, but I still wish we could sing!

Speaking of programs- Today starts my 1 concert a week until the end of the year.  I decided I would outline each program- why I do it, who is involved, etc.

Tonight is the Glee/ Orff Movie Madness concert.  I have both a Glee Club and Orffestra for my 5th and 6th grade students.  Usually we supplement the regular chorus concerts, but the students asked if they could do their own.  We decided on a theme of "Movie Madness" and are doing Movie Theme Songs.  The Glee Clubs sing and dance- some dances I choreograph, some we collaborate on- while the orff plays... orff instruments. In orff we use not only xylophones, metallophones, and glocks, but also boomwhackers and drums. Each group is doing songs on their own, and we have two full group numbers.  I have many great Orff books that we can adapt for our group.

The next few weeks after this are concerts I myself am performing in. I am in the May Festival Chorus this year and we are doing 4 wonderful concerts with music by Beethoven, Brahms, Verdi, Durufle, Poulanc, Tchaikovsky, and Orff.  I love being in this chorus and giving myself an opportunity to challenge my musicianship skills and sing music that is more than pentatonic with simple rhythms.  This music is for ME and it is great to be surrounded by other like-minded people!

After May Festival is over I have a week with 5 performances for different groups of kids- Yes- 5 performances in 1 week.

1st is our Fourth Grade Multi-Cultural Showcase.  I use a lot of multi-cultural music in the fourth grade as we go through our normal curriculum of learning Low So and Fa and Rhythms like Ti-tika, Tika-ti, Syncopa, and others. Each class gets to perform a song or dance on their own, we have some combined numbers, and are even adding an Audience Participation line dance this year.  Songs this year include songs from America, Japan, China, the Philippines, Africa, as well as a Hello Song and Goodbye song that highlight the ways we greet in different languages. This is my favorite program of the year because not only is it easy to prepare because the songs are already in the curriculum, but it is fun for the students too as learn songs and dances from different cultures. All students participate in this assembly so they can get a feel for performing in front of a group before they have the opportunity to join Band or Chorus in 5th grade. Songs are listed below.

2nd is the 2nd Grade Musical that one teacher puts on every year called "A Book is a Magic Thing". It is a cute story about two kids who go on a magic carpet ride through Story land and meet lots of story book characters like Frog and Toad, Arthur the Aardvark, and Cinderella  We just go over the songs once or twice in music- they do most of the learning in class- and then I play the piano for them the day of. A few of the songs we sing more in music because they highlight the rhythms that we are working on (Half note).

After this is 2 performances of our 5th and 6th Grade Chorus Musical- THE BEST LITTLE THEATER IN TOWN.  This is our first musical here in quite a while and the students are having a great time.  Leads meet before school twice a week, and the chorus meets... well.. during chorus.  Parents are a HUGE help with this and I couldn't be more grateful.

Finally that same week is the 6th Grade Recognition Night.  Every year the students sing the chorus of Seasons of Love from Rent and recall favorite memories and teachers from each grade.  We go over it a few times in General Music and then I play for them the night of.  It is a cute tradition.

I know I will be busy and stressed out- but seeing the joy on students faces as they give a great concert or learn something new is the reason I am a music teacher.  I keep myself busy for the Joy of Music. And that is our main goal as teachers right- to give students the Joy of Music.  Not all will become performers or teachers, but I want them to LOVE listening and watching and hearing- and be able to sing Happy Birthday in tune- or sing to their children and not have the children tell them to stop :)

Here are the songs for the Multi-Cultural Showcase.  I can send lyrics, or the book I found it in if you would like one! Just leave a comment below.

Hello Song- This song teaches the students the way to say Hello in 9 Languages.  We open with this song.  It also has some Fas in it that we highlight.

Oki Na Taiko from Japan- This song has both Low So AND ti-tika.  We play "taiko drums" as well as sing this song- the drums are actually buckets I got from Home Depot that the kids decorate.

Chinese Ribbon Dance from China- The kids sing this song in Chinese, English, and on Solfegge.  This song utilizes Low La, which we review at the beginning of 4th grade.  I also have Syncopa in my orffestration for the song.

Alabama Gal: This song uses Low So and Syncopa.  We sing and do the dance from Chimes of Dunkirk for the program.

Banuwa from Liberia- This song has lots of Fas in it and it sounds really cool when layered together.  We talk about types of harmony as well.  This year I am pairing this with Pata Pata from South Africa and we will be having the Audience join us on the dance.

Tinikling from the Philippines- This is a fun dance to work on feeling 3/4.  The students LOVE this dance. We do it a little in class, and then those who want to perform the dance in the program come during recess to practice some more.

Goodbye Song- I use "So Long Farewell" from the Sound of Music- if anyone has a goodbye song that uses even more languages, let me know!


  1. A concert a week! You are going to be one busy lady, especially during the week in which you have five!

  2. Hi, I would love to know more about the resources/lyrics for your multi cultural celebration. Especially the hello song. Thanks

    1. I learned the Hello Song at a workshop- but it is also on a Wee Sing CD Alabama Gal and many other folk dances comes from one of my favorite books- Chimes of Dunkirk. Many of the others are from the Share the Music or Spotlight on Music series. I can look them up when back at school if you want.