Friday, November 22, 2013

Kid President- Pep Talk For Teachers and Students

Some of you may have seen this already, but even if you have, watch it again. This kid is great.  I love his movies (somehow I just discovered them yesterday, but watched about an hours worth).  After a long week, it's good to get a pep-talk like this.  Happy Friday!!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Steady beat- ways to change up the same activity

I LOVE 1st grade.  They are the youngest I teach and their joy and eagerness is so wonderful. They are willing to do anything and really wouldn't care if we played the same game 25 times so everyone got a turn (though I, of course, still limit games to 5 or 6 rounds).  This has got me thinking of how to change up "the same activity" so it look or feels different to them.  I have recently presented steady beat so we have been doing a lot of pointing at beat charts, marching, and moving our hands to the beat in different ways.  

Here are a few ideas to help change in up- including some of my favorite "extras" (props and puppets) that we have done.

Beat Chart Ideas:  Use SMARTboard (or other projection)  OR use magnets OR use individual paper charts.  Use Icons one week and Hearts another.  Check out some Beat Chart Files I made for TPT HERE. I use them ALL THE TIME!

Student wearing the crown
Specifically for Queen Queen Caroline-  I have a beat chart for Queen, Queen Caroline on my SMARTboard that is just 16 crowns (4 rows of 4).  All they do is point to the crowns on the beat.  To change it up from other beat charts we have done I found a crown from a musical I did in the past and pulled it out and pulled out a yellow rubber mallet to use as a "scepter."  My kids LOVE using these props!  I had a little girl today tell me, that while she has gotten to point to the beat for other songs- she was sad cause she hasn't gotten to do it with the scepter yet.    When they go up and point for this song, we also change the words to fit their name - eg.  King King Brenden-tine OR Queen Queen Allie-line.   They think it is so fun!   I am hoping to come up with more prop ideas for other chants and songs :)
Motions to the beat:  Have the students come up with new ways to move and make the patterns harder and harder.  I start with just tapping, then have students alternate movements (pat-clap), then I might do patterns of 4.  Students are great at coming up with their own ideas too!  I teach them about different non-locomotor movements like chop, sway, push/pull, bend, etc and they love coming up with new ways to do each of these to the beat.  We are often doing disco, chopping like ninjas, doing ballet steps like plie's and doing push-ups.  :) 

Instruments on the beat: We play so many instruments to the beat, and in a first grade brain it makes the activity totally different.  We have so far played glockenspiels for "star music" to Starlight Star-bright, Guiros to Charlie Over the Ocean and Ickle Ockle, triangles during many songs, apple shakers during I Climbed Up the Apple Tree and many more. 

Tapping/ Chase Games: All of my chase games involve tapping to the beat first while we sing and Bee Bee and Charlie Over the Ocean in first grade.  If students need help I tap with them on the inside of the circle, while they are tapping heads and walking around the outside during the song.  For Bee Bee I have a bee puppet they get to hold to tap heads and for Charlie Over the Ocean the tapper gets to come up with an ocean animal for Charlie to catch. 

Beat Ostinatos: For many songs and chants we do ostinatos.  I start with beat ostinatos (just a different sound on the beat) and then move into more complicated ones when we get to word rhythm (they way the words go).   During Bee Bee those that are doing the ostinato Buzz and during Engine Engine the students do either a Train Whistle (woo, woo) or chugging sound on the beat. 

Many of these ideas can also be applied to both word rhythm and high low concepts. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Student Learning Objectives (SLO) and Simple Assessment Ideas

There has been so much talk of assessment lately with states requiring SLOs (student learning objectives) or other acronyms from other states that I thought I would share a little about what my district came up with for 2nd and 5th grade, as well as two of my favorite informal assessments that can be done in any grade for any subject.

In our district, we just met this past Friday to discuss our SLO's.  The state says no teacher should have more than 5, and well, we teach 6 different grades, so it will be interesting next year when we are out of our practice year and into the "real deal".  Because many other schools in Ohio have already started implementing their SLOs and doing the pre and post tests we had a lot of ideas available to us to get started.  We decided to focus on one primary grade, and one intermediate grade this year and add more in next year after we see how our idea pans out.  Many of the examples we saw focused on one skill (rhythm reading, solfa singing, or vocab) but we wanted our assessment to be a true snapshot of all we teach throughout the entire year.  Therefore, we decided it would have elements of rhythm, solfa, AND vocabulary.

Our 5th grade assessment is basically a picture of a piece of music with instructions to circle one symbol (eg. repeat sign), put a square around another (time signature), define another (tempo or cresendo) etc. There are about 10 symbols they must identify/ define.   It also has a portion where students need to fill in missing beats from a rhythm or missing solfa from a song. After they fill in what is missing, they will come up to me and perform the example.  They also have to determine if the teacher is playing the melody or a harmony part for The Star Spangled Banner.  I hope to post the test as soon as we have it developed.  If you have any questions about my basic explanation, just ask in the comments!

Because we are required to assess as part of our teacher evaluation, I have been trying to figure out more informal assessments to keep my kids on track so that I can be sure they are improving from the pre- to post- test and I am not surprised by the results.  Not that I did not assess before, but I more hyper-focused on it this year due to the changes at the state level.

2 super easy informal assessments I am now using often are:

1) Fist to 5 self check. Many people in my school are starting to use this check in many ways. It is a just a simple way for students to self-assess their own knowledge.  I have them show me "fist to 5" as related to a certain subject.  Fist= I have no idea what you are even talking about and 5= I completely understand, I could teach it.   1-4 fall in between with 1 as the lowest understanding and 4 as very good understanding.   I have done this for new rhythms, new solfa, and especially vocabulary, when they are in line at the end waiting to be picked up.  I sometimes even jot down their answers (I now have them line up in alphabetical order). 

-Also in line I am starting to do simple exit tickets like a lightning vocab round (I say a word-they define, I say a definition-they say the vocab).  I also have asked them to clap a 4 beat pattern, or sing a phrase using certain solfa, etc.  Again, if they are in alpha order it is really easy to jot down who is on track as they are walking out the door. 
Check out this great poster from 

2) The Vote Game-  I have 5-6 clouds on the board or smart board with rhythm patterns, solfa patterns (both on staff and off) or vocab words.  I then clap/ sing/ give the definition of one and the students vote for which cloud they think I am referring to.  I have students vote in front of their body using fingers to minimize cheating.  If they raise their hand high in the air others can easily see and will either out-right cheat OR second guess their own answer.   Check out my wix sharing site to get a version of the Vote Game for prepping La in late 1st or 2nd grade.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

October Fun

October is my favorite month!  Not only does it have Halloween, but it also has United Nations Day (which happens to by my Birthday on the 24th) AND it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (I lost my high school chorus teacher/ 1st voice teacher to Breast Cancer my senior year so it is super important to me).  Therefore, I thought I would share a few things I am doing in October to celebrate with my students.

1.  Halloween Rhythm Cards
           Making the rhythm cards Halloween Themed seems to make them much more exciting than my regular ones. :)  The set you can get from my Sharing Site HERE is for prep of quarter rest.  There are ___  for the quarter rests (get it starting Monday 10/21/13... my new home computer doesn't have SMARTnotebook yet).  It may not come up on your computer if you do not already have the MUSIC ED font because that is what I used to make the cards.  If you don't already have it- MusicEdFont is GREAT for making worksheets, rhythm cards, etc.  It has notes, stick notation, piano keys, most musical symbols, handsigns and more!  Great resource for only $25.  You can get it here.

2.  A few of my favorite Singable Halloween Books:
Shake Dem Halloween Bones- Join all the fairy tale characters for a fun Halloween dance.  Students will love singing along to the chorus and shaking their own bones!    

Dem Bones- great for MRD practice!
(Shake Dem Halloween Bones... mm rrr d)

3.  This Fun Video called the Skeleton Dance- great for a brain break or an extra few minutes at the end of class. Uses a variation of DEM BONES. 

I also typically listen to things like In the Hall of the Mountain King and Dance Macabre.  My 1st graders also use ghost voices, and do Engine Engine like they are Zombies with a low voice, and Ghosts or Witches with a high voice.   That is super fun to watch.    Other fun halloween songs include: Pumpkin Pumpkin (tika-tika), I Heard a Horseman (6/8!), Mrs. White (ta and ti-ti), Which Witch (quarter rest), and of course many more! Share your favorite Halloween songs or activities in the comments section below! Also check out Teachers Pay Teachers and search Kodaly.  Many Kodaly Educators have some great Halloween songs, manipulatives, and games you can buy for a very small price-  All of the items I have gotten so far are VERY worth it!  Look up Lindsay Jervis and Aileen Miracle- both have great stores :)

Hope you are having a great October!  Check out the Wilson Staff in our PINK on our Passionately Pink Day- we raised almost $1,000 so far to donate to Breast Cancer Research Charities!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Solfege Fun! 3 solfege practice ideas

I am always looking for new ways to practice solfege with my students so I thought I would share a few of my SMARTfiles and other ideas I have used in the past week.

              On the SMARTboard (get the file Here and feel free to edit so it says your school name or is in your school colors)  I have made a Wilson Music Remote that has the channels Words, Rhythm, Solfa, and Inner-hearing.   I have the kids alternate between these TV "channels"  by moving the arrow to point to a new channel.  I tend to focus on only 2 or 3 rather than all four (I cover up those channels that are not being used).  Just words and rhythm, just words and solfa, etc.  The kids love it because a lot of times the phrases end up sounding funny when they are mixed up.  They also love to move the arrow themselves-  you just have to remember to remind them that they cannot switch the arrow too much so that the class has time to think.  The hardest thing about this game is not singing along with the kids.

2.  SOLFA Tic-Tac-Toe
Also on the SMARTboard  I make a tic-tac-toe board with a solfa pattern in each square and a
cover over each pattern. (Use the same link as above to get this file too!) Students are split into teams and choose a square.  I reveal the pattern and they have 2 tries to sing it accurately.  If they sing it correct, they get to put their X or O onto the square.  If they sing it incorrectly, It gets covered up and the other team can try for it.  I only let the class try a square 4 times (2 per team) before it is null and void and no one can use the square to get their 3 in a row.  I ALWAYS have a tie-breaker square for when it is a Cats game.  I pick a square with a pattern in our next song (Transition alert!) and whichever team got that square become the "winner."

               Because it is October I made these great song-match manipulatives.  The name just happened to work this month, but if I make stockings in December, it might not be such a cute name for the same activity. :)  Basically I made 3 sets of pumpkins, a solfa set, a staff notation set (this is for 6th grade) and a song title set. Total, it is 9 pumpkins for each song (4 solfa, 4 staff, 1 title)  Students are challenged to sort the cards (4 songs total) as fast as they can.  We have in the past just had groups do one song each to practice.  The activity is tricky for them at first, but as the students figure out, there are hints on the staff cards- Treble clef, Time and Key signatures on the 1st card of a song and a double bar line on the last card of the song- and they can use this to give them a springboard to be successful.  This really helps them get started.    This is a great one for stations!

I have also made a version that is matching solfege, to stick notation, to the song name and you can get it on TPT!  There are two versions- one for fall and one for winter- but you can use them any time!

Jack-o-lantern Stack
Do You Wanna Build a Snowman

Bonus Activities!

1.  Koosh Kwest Solfa -   On the SMARTboard, students see many
circles.  Each circle is attached to another slide with a solfa pattern (I have both solfa notation and staff notation examples) that the students sing.  Students toss a koosh (or beanbag) at the board and it takes them right to the attached slide.  This is a great one for assessment because you can have who ever tosses the koosh sing the pattern before the whole class does.   Unfortunately, I cannot link this file, because I did not make the file.  Check out the screen shots to see how you can make one yourself!  Kids LOVE this game- but you have to remind them to toss underhand. 
Home Screen
Example Melody (top circle links back to home screen)

2.  Solfa Texting/ Solfa Ladder-  I use the solfa ladder all the time, where I or my students point to notes on our solfa ladder and the rest of the class sings.  I have just started having my students also be the ones to give the feedback on the pattern they have shown.  Was the class accurate?  Confident?   This is great for a student led activity!    I can't wait to try solfa texting.  Check out a link to how to do this here:

Last Hungary Post- James Cuskelly Tips for Choir

Before I get into my post about Tips from James Cuskelly Workshop and 2 musicianship classes I took from him during my  3 weeks in Kecskemet, Hungary, I wanted to brag a little about my 5th + 6th graders.  I challenged them today to truly sight-read (on solfa, with accurate pitch and rhythm) a line of a song which was diatonic.  The 1st half of the line was the same as the example we did last week, but the 2nd half was different, and most of them got it on the first try (which I did not expect at all!) and by the end of our work, we were singing the entire verse of the song (4 lines) accurately on solfa.  I was happily stunned.  Usually we have to write in at least a few key pitches- but they didn't write in anything! WOW!  It really shows what using a Kodaly sequence in both choir and general music can do.  It also shows that when kids are truly "your own" you can push them and challenge them and they really are getting it - so new teachers, don't be discouraged!  Keep at it and one day, you too can be stunned! :)  ~ They have now successfully read the whole song and sing it beautifully on solfa with the accompaniment- we will be getting to words soon!

Now onto the tid-bits from James, an AMAZING Kodaly musicianship teacher from Australia (there will be a documentary coming about about Kodaly in Australia, focused on him soon- so stay tuned and as soon as I know it has premiered, I will let you know- I think late 2014 or 2015).  This is kind of an overview/ outline of his Keynote speech during the symposium, with a few practical examples from his musicianship class thrown in.

In his speech, James talked about the choral rehearsal and I have been trying to use his tips and wisdom a lot in my chorus classrooms this year (and it's working!) Obviously in a performance based class, a beautiful performance is the end goal- but how is that achieved? 

2 ways- Good Musicianship (both the chorus AND director)
             Folk Music and Art Traditions in Balance

Kodaly states that the "roots of music are in singing" and that singing would ensure a  more meaningful engagement with music for life.  The components of folk materials serve not only to comprehensively develop the musician, but they ALSO encourage the artistic sensitivity.

During a chorus rehearsal, to achieve good musicianship on the part of the singers, students should master the following in order:
           In tune unison singing (which actually can be VERY tricky)
           Partwork (both homaphonic and polyphonic by way of cannons and ostinatos first)                               Perfect Intervals (both harmonic and melodic).

I tend to focus on the 1st two in my 5th and 6th grade choruses, with some subconscious interval work mixed in by having students read from hand signs in 2 parts.  Kodaly has many 2 part examples that you can do with your choirs.  They also sight-read from the Kodaly 333 and add both pitched and unpitched ostinatos.

If you have a more advanced choir you can try some of these ideas from James:

Singing the tri-chords of a pentatonic scale up and down with interval names (ex. s,-l,-d-l,-s,   s,-l, major 2nd; l,-d minor 3rd; s,-d perfect 4th (then backwards))

You could also sing the scales (or scales with interval names) with different rhythm patterns like tom-ti ti-ti ta and then for an extra challenge do it in groups in cannon.  (this is HARD!)

One more idea is rhythm dictation in both 2/4 and 6/8 and speaking at the same time (this is big kid version of an idea Lucinda mentioned her workshop, check that out HERE).   Students need to dictate the rhythm and then when reading it out loud some start at the 2/4 while others start on the 6/8. Both are read simultaneously AND students have to switch back and forth keeping the macro beat the same. Below is the rhythm we dictated then read in the Musicianship class. 

Just remember that a music classroom should be both sequential and developmental.  Assist your students from moving from the simple, to the more complex and continue to choose a variety literature; some that they will be successful on quickly, and some that is more of a challenge that may take a few rehearsals to master certain sections all to reach the goal of a beautiful performance that leads to a meaningful engagement with music for life.

I will leave you with this WONDERFUL Kodaly quote about singing in a choir and a beautiful video of a choral flashmob in Budapest, Hungary that happened recently:

              Is there anything more demonstrative of social solidarity than a choir?  Many people
              unite to do something that cannot be done by a single person alone, however talented
              he or she may be; there the work of everyone is important. ~ Zoltan Kodaly

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My New Educator Website- a consolidated way to share files with students, parents, and colleagues


Hopefully this new way of file sharing works better.  I have started a new website both for friends and fellow teachers through

The domain is:

Screen Shot of the New Homepage!
If you go to the site and click on colleagues you can find a link direct to a special folder with all files I will ever share on my blog (blog domain stays the same).  I will still post the links here as well, but hopefully this alleviates some of the problems people have been having with getting to the files.   Right now there are only a few things in the BLOG FILES section: I will be going through old posts and finding other SMARTfiles and files that I have posted and adding those as well sometime this week.  This website is still under construction and I will be making improvements over the next few weeks, but wanted to make it live so I could start sharing files easier right away.  Ultimately, I hope to also post SMARTfiles that I use frequently.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, September 23, 2013

Linky Party- Manipulative Monday!

 Hey friends,

Here are some manipulatives I am using in my room this week.  Hopefully a at least a few are new ideas for you! If you want more ideas, click the picture above to be taken to another "Manipulative Monday" blog post from another great music teacher - Lindsay over at Pursuit of Joyfulness!!! She will post all blogs that are linked up.   Right now the picture links up to her blog homepage, which is last weeks Monday Manipulatives, which is linked to A LOT of other great blogs. 

1.  Solfa Popsicle Sticks.  I write patterns on the popsicle sticks and the students have to put them in order to write out known songs or write their own.  I try to keep the choices to a minimum.  Those in the picture were made pretty quickly- but I plan on making more- and making them much prettier! A great idea for ease of reading would be to type on the computer then modgepodge the paper to the popsicle stick-that is much more work though!

2.  Rhythm cards.  I got this idea from Tiffany Berting and even use her SMARTfile when I use these so my colors correspond to her file, which you can get HERE.  I printed off a page of each note using the MUSICED font and then cut them to size so that the size of the card corresponds with the number of beats the car equals.  Then I have beat strips that the students use in different time signatures so they can be sure their pattern is the correct length.  Students write out the rhythm of a song, do rhythmic dictation, or compose their own.  Once a student is right, they can go up to the SMARTboard and show the class their answer.  (This is very similar to the Legos I also use, which you can read about HERE)

3.  Staff cards with Bingo Chips.  Many of us use laminated or felt staff cards.  I chose laminated with see-through bingo chips because then students can see that "on a line" really means that the line goes THROUGH the note, rather than like in normal writing when "on a line" means, well, on top the line :) I sing a pattern either on solfa or a neutral syllable (or even the words of a song) and the students have to decode and write it out using their chips.  I tell them where do is for each question.

Enjoy these manipualtive ideas and stay tuned this week for more ideas from Hungary, and possibly even 2/4 Tuesday (if I get  myself together tonight) which is another "linky party" where teachers share 2-4 ideas they are using in their room that week and link to other great blogs.   Have a great Monday!!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hungary Workshop 2- Tips to teach boys

So, it just so happens this year that due to the way band pull outs work I have a 25 minute 5th grade class with ONLY boys.  The flute and orchestra girls join us halfway though making the full class 50 minutes long.  I can already tell this group will be a challenge, not because the boys misbehave, but because I have never taught a class of only boys before.  While I think it will be great to get them to sing out more (because they won't be embarrassed to sing in front of the girls) it also makes me nervous because I know that some of the games, song lit, etc. will be harder to sell to them without girls to love it first. 

This is the perfect year for this to happen because in Hungary, not only was my Musicianship teacher- Arpad Toth a teacher who typically teaches only high school boys, but I also went to a workshop during the symposium that dealt with this very subject.  Jason Goopy gave some great tips in his workshop for working with boys. 

Jason stated that boys elicit the pedagogy they need and they can respond to ineffective teaching with disengagement, inattention etc.  As teachers, we need to make positive trusting relationships with the boys so that they can learn to be the men they want to be. 

When teaching boys we must "Keep it Calm and Keep it Real"  - which reminds me of those Keep calm and... t-shirts and posters floating around.  Boys need literature that is not only interesting to them, but that is sensory, cognitive, and physical.  One tip I got was to use body percussion MUCH more- seems simple but it is a really easy way to get boys moving.  Finding different literature for boys that appeals to them from many musical identities is also very important- you may have rockers, theater kids, future politicians, or future sports players in your midst and music should appeal to ALL of them.  

Great lessons for boys have a transitive factor with lots of games, motor activity, team work, open inquiry, surprise AND personal realization ALL while keeping a focus on literacy- which is something we should insist on AND be persistent with.  With all of this said- remember music should be FUN and (at the VERY LEAST) we want our boys to grow into men who aren't afraid to sing Happy Birthday, or sing a lullaby to their new baby.  Of course we would love it if our boys grew into professional musicians, music teachers, or community choir members, but ensuring that they know that music can bring joy to their daily lives will leave a lasting impression on them all. 

A few specific examples of things Jason did in his workshop were the "Long-legged Sailor" song with motions on the descriptive word which changed each verse.  (Long, Short, Bow.  He also had some great rhythm dictation that turned into body percussion with multiple levels.  We wrote the simple rhythms down and then performed them in groups to make a really cool body percussion piece.  (see the picture below for what we did- I did this in my chorus and they LOVED it!)

I plan on extending this activity to include all different types of rhythms that my 5th grade boys know.  He also mentioned using songs from movies boys love like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, etc.  Using this music is also a great time to talk about careers in music ASIDE from professional performers. 

Things I am planning on doing for my all boys class this year are not only changing up the lit a little to work on the same concepts as the rest of the 5th grade- but with songs more appealing to the boys, but I also plan on bringing in a few extra speakers or skyping men who have music as a career or hobby to talk to them and sing/ play for them etc.  Hopefully I will have more boys than ever leaving my room saying "wow, that was fun today". 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

8 Elementary Pedagogy Week 2 Goodies

Yes, I am still going on about Hungary.  I seriously learned so much and am still trying share everything. 

Just a few more tips from the Elementary Pedagogy class I took. If you missed the first Elementary Pedagogy Post you can check it out here.   Some of these many of you may already know and they are just good reminders- while others may be brand new. ENJOY.

1. Everybody works all the time.  While one student is writing or decoding something on the board it is a great time for individual, small group, or whole group singing.  Keep all students thinking and on their toes! This is something I definitely need to work on. 

2. When sight-reading for the first time have students read using their "thinking voice" but be sure to keep a steady beat and have students all sing the last note.  Hopefully they all end together  :) I have tried this with a few classes (using songs they learned last year, but hadn't done in a while) and it worked better with each class as I learned to explain it better.  Be sure students are centered in the correct key and, if it won't be too confusing for them sing the beginning of each phrase or point to beats to help them track.  I love this because it gives students a chance to think through the song before putting sound with it AND having them singing the last note forces them to actually think through the song and be ready.  I challenge my students do "do it better than the class before them" saying things like "a few other 3rd grade classes had people late on the last note" or "some of the other 4th graders forgot to sing the last note- or they accidentally sang all of it- can you be the 1st class to do it right?" Just this little bit of competitive motivation encourages them to really try hard and they are super successful.  I even sometimes challenge them to do better than themselves.  This works really well too.

3. Also when sight-reading, practice rhythm and melodic difficulties BEFORE they read the song.  Use manipulatives, flashcards, solfa ladder, etc. so that when students read out loud for the first time they are still being musical and reading both the rhythm and solfa simultaneously.  Never have students just say the solfa- solfa should always be sung.   Once a song is learned on solfa- move to the intermediate step of singing LOO (or another neutral syllable) before you add text to be sure that the melody is solid in a students brain. 

4. Improvising in the music classroom can be easy.  Some of my favorite ways (reinforced by my teachers in Hungary) are to give students a specific melody and have them improvise a rhythm or vice versa- give them a rhythm and a tone set and have them improvise their melody.  For the latter, start out with a small tone-set like m-r-d or d'-l-s and slowly expand it as they get better.  This can also be transferred to orff instruments too. :)  Another way to improvise is to s/r a melody and then challenge students to change just one little part- change the rhythm or one measure to make it their own version.  Or have them s/r the beginning of a phrase and ask students to finish it in a way they think it should sound- you can start this with a neutral syllable and then push students to use known solfa. 

5. Folk Songs = fun and are for the Love of Music and to perform if your school does grade level shows.   Use things like Kodalys 333 book for technical practice.   This does not mean that students should NEVER analyze folk music for its rhythm, melody, or other musical aspects like dynamics, repeats, etc. 

6. Try to get kids to always give a reason for their answers.  Why are they answering that way?  This should alleviate the random answers kids start to yell when they are getting impatient- or just trying to be silly- and makes kids use critical thinking skills!

7. FUN rhythm practice! This game is great for partwork and individual assessment.  One student reads the rhythm  they see (a great song would be the first half of Tideo) out loud while another plays the triangle (or other fun percussion instrument) on the X's.  Notice the X's are not always on the same beat of a measure.  Students have to play close attention.  You could also have half the class read the rhythm out loud while the other half claps the X etc.  

8.  Early Partwork.  We did this sequence with Pease Porridge Hot in Hungary but it could definitely work with any song.   
             Class sings the song while the Teacher plays So on the downbeats
             Split the class so one half is singing words while the other is singing the So on the downbeat
             Change the So to a Do
             Alternate between So and Do with the song
             Have students try to follow handsigns in parts (at first keep one hand sustaining a pitch, while the other group moves- then switch.  Kodaly has many great 2 part pieces that are awesome for handsign work.)
             Feel free to use different timbers- T can play the accomp on orff instruments, recorder etc.
             Also try to use different timbers when introducing a cannon. 

Stay tuned this week for another post on tips for teaching a class of all boys (yes, I have one this year).  These tips are also great just to keep boys engaged during music even when both boys and girls are present.  :) 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Hungary Workshop 1- Even More Ideas from the Wonderful Lucinda Geoghegan!

While in Hungary, not only did I attend classes, but I also attended the International Kodaly Society Bi-Annual Conference.  I went to many workshops that gave me a LOT of great ideas for this year.

One of my favorite workshops was with the wonderful Lucinda Geoghegan who also taught my singing games class.  (See posts Here an Here to check out those games.)  She is so great that everything during her workshop was new ideas from the class.  Some ideas were "ah ha" moments, some were "how have I never thought of that?" moments and there were tons of new songs and ways to teach/ reinforce skills.

I decided to just list my 3 favorite ideas from this workshop.  No handout this time :( but I will do my best to describe everything in as much detail as possible.

1. LYCRA Have you ever wanted a parachute but either didn't have the space for it, or the funds to get one?  This was me until Lucinda's workshop.  She uses a big piece of Lycra (you can get it at any fabric store).  It stretches so a few, or a lot, of kids can use it at once and it is MUCH less expensive than a parachute.  I got my piece (a yard and a half) for about $20 which will be reimbursed by my PTA if I remember to turn my receipt in :)  It can do everything a parachute can do and you can get it in super fun colors or patterns to match your schools.  This was one of those "how have I never thought of that?" moments.
Swatches of the varieties of colors and patterns you can get of Lyrcra

While the lycra was out Lucinda did a few things with it.  One was just moving the fabric back and forth to the beat while a stuffed animal "sits" in the center of it- he of course likes to JUMP at the end of a song on a rest for example).  In between repetitions she told one special student that the animal was talking to him and asked if the stuffed animal wanted to do the song again faster or slower.  This gives students choices within limitations- which is a great way to involve students without them taking over the class.

She also demonstrated high low un-conciously with the following game: coo coo cheery tree, can you change place with me (s-m-ss-m-ss-m-ss-m).  During the song the students moved the lycra up (on the so's) and down (on the mis) to the heartbeat. After each round the teacher would choose someone to change places with OR call groups (boys, girls, 7 year olds, people wearing sandals) to all switch.  You can also have a special student choose who to change with.

To put it away she said "shake it, shake it, shake it, shake it, shake it, shake it STOP! (students freeze)
She did that a few times.  THEN she explained that when she says POP! instead of stop students are to clap their hands.  This forces them to drop the lycra and the lycra can be balled up quickly and hidden.

Rubber non-stick mat
2. FEET - Lucinda had these great large rubber feet that she used to help demonstrate beat, or phrasing.  She had some in Red and some in Blue.  You could get more colors as you get in to pieces with more complicated forms.  She used them with Queen Queen Caroline (see words below) and the RED feet marked the beats in the A phrases, while the BLUE marked the feet in the B phrases.  Students can use them to walk along a "magic path" to the heartbeat of a song, or as they start to learn more difficult concepts, they can lay them out to match the form of the piece.  It was just a great visual and physical way to show the beat or form, aside from the letters or fruit that we typically write on the board. Great for inner-hearing too because students can sing the red feet out-loud while putting the blue inside their head, etc.  You could make them out of foam, or even just laminated construction paper. If you put velcro on the back they will stick to the carpet so kids can walk on them without them sliding all over. Or you can get the one pictured here.

Queen Queen Caroline
Washed her hair with turpentine
Turpentine did make it shine
Queen Queen Caroline

To extend her Queen Queen Caroline Lucinda also changed the verse to King King Constantine at her signal (same chant, different name).  When Queen Caroline was around she loved polka dots so we painted the castle with spots to the beat, but when the King came around we showed phrases because he liked smooth lines.  Her signal was just "HERE COMES THE KING!!!!"

3. POLY-RHYTHMS- Even with the little ones Lucinda was already starting to do some 2/4 vs 6/8 work.  She taught Tick Tock (see below) and a simple hand clap game to that (clap own hands, hit partners hands, repeat) and then she taught hickory dickory dock with the same game.  As a challenge we stood in a circle and tried to do both at the same time (every other pair was a 2/4).  The different timbres (singing and speaking) helped us to stay on our 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.

A few gems to remember from Lucinda: Children don't always need the technical terms (especially the really little ones)- rather, they should experience concepts and get to be kids.  You can teach them the terms later.  Music should be taught from the inside out and children OF ALL AGES (yes, even middle and high-schoolers) should move and feel the music.

Tour of the new room!

A painting a family gave me last year
- I love it!
Welcome back to school! Wow what a whirlwind August!  I am finally settled into my new room and have a chance to give a virtual tour of my favorite things (and things that I hope to add super soon).  I am so excited for this bigger space for my students to Learn, Sing, Dance and Play!

I moved rooms this year, and this is what my room looked like before I left for Hungary in July.  It was a mess! I was super excited to have more space (including a chorus room) but not super excited to clean everything up.
What a mess!

Before I left I spent a few hours working and then when I got back used about 3 full days to get it all cleaned up and ready to go.  

Now I have 2 rooms (all in one modular classroom), one for general music and one for chorus (YAY no more chorus in the gym or cafeteria!) 

 The chorus side now looks like this:  I have my risers set up, as well as the piano in the center of the room and cabinets full of small instruments, classroom supplies, etc.  I am also storing a bunch of stuff in the closet and behind the risers as well.  
Front of Chorus Room (risers face this wall)
Right side of Chorus Room- My Desk!

Center of Chorus Room, looking at risers
Check out my
 chorus room!

It will be so awesome for the kids to practice on the risers every day instead of just the 10 minutes before each concert.  They are going to look so much more professional this year! I am also doing warm-ups for other grades on the risers during general music so that they are used to standing up there for when their grade does a show.  YAY risers!

Instrument Wall
The general music side is actually the same size as the previous room I had, but because I don't have the cabinets or bass bars in that side it looks and feels much bigger.  On one wall I have all my instrument shelves, including a few of many types of instruments I may use throughout the year while the rest are stored in the chorus side.  It will be so much easier to get the orff instruments out now because they are no longer blocked by dulcimers, or bass bars, etc.  I can also set them up before a class in the chorus side and we can just move over for those songs so I don't have to worry about students getting them out or putting them away quickly.  I hope to put a music history time line above the instrument shelves soon. 
Front of GM room

Along the front of the room is my bench, SMARTboard, and dry erase boards.  Just like last year, these will all be used often.  I love my SMARTboard!  I also have a huge grand staff that will be great for teaching staff anything because students can see from all the way across the room. 

The back corner of the room has my MUSIC IS "bulletin board".  My room has walls that you can staple into or push thumbtacks into so there really isn't a designated bulletin board area.  On my music is board I have an acrostic saying all the subjects music teaches, and then a smaller frame describing those subjects more in detail.  Music is:  Math, Physical Education, History, Reading and Writing, and Science.   My rules are also framed right around the corner.   Rather than saying "rules" they start with "In This Classrrom" and then I go on to list positive ways we can take care of ourselves, each other and the classroom (our Wilson Way) while in the music room.

The back wall will soon have a word wall- probably just a simple one with each grade having a ribbon that I can stick words to as we learn them using wooden clothespins.  Something that we can easily reference, but that wont be too visually distracting.  I will be sure to make another post just on how I decided to do the word wall- I can never quite decide how I organize it, teaching 6 grades but when I saw the clothespin idea it seemed to fit. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Singing Games Post 2

Hello- sorry for the delay in writing this second Singing Games Post.  I just got back from my whirlwind tour of Vienna, Salzburg, and Prague and we had kinda spotty internet.

This post will work the same as the previous Singing Games Post (see HERE).  All the songs listed are from our 2nd week of Lucinda Geoghegan's Singing Games class at the Kodaly Institute in Hungary.

I will list the song and some basic info, and then if you want directions, check out her book. The games for week 2 are definitely harder than those taught during week 1 so they are more for upper grades.  She was great at differentiation so be creative with the games!

Taking her class and workshops also inspired me to purchase one of Lucinda's books which you can get here.  It is also on Amazon (but much more expensive there- so buy it from Scotland!) Soon there will be another post with her great tips from the Workshop she gave at the International Kodaly Symposium my 3rd week in Hungary.  Lucinda is so wonderful that none of the info was repeated and she gave some great "ah ha" tips.

Now for the games!

Jump Down, Turn Around (Ti-Tom)- This is a circle partner game.  Great for the 1st week of school as your partner changes each round-  It is pretty simple to learn too!

Bim Bom {major} (Ti-tika/ tika-ti)- Partner hand clap game.  You do a different action on each word, and then try to put some in inner hearing.  Trickier than it seems- but fun!

Lil Liza Jane (syncopa)- Partner hand clap game- can be done in a 4 part cannon.  In a 4 part cannon, turns into a hand-clap dance.  Very fun version of this song.

Moses Supposes (beat, ta, ti-ti)- Counting "out" Game.  Students stand in a circle and say the chant while passing a ball around the circle.  Whoever gets the ball on the word "Moses" is out.

Ma Come Bali Bela Bimba- Ball-bouncing game OR Partner hand clap game with changing meter.  This game is very challenging- especially when you put words into inner hearing! I was much better at the partner version than the Ball-bouncing version.

Senua De Dende (Syncopa)- Ball passing game OR Partner hand clap game.   Both versions were very fun- but tricky.  This is a game I would suggest getting awesome students to come in for recess to learn and help demonstrate to the class.

Dipi-du (tom-ti or ka-tim)- Changing Meter ball bouncing/ passing game.  So excited to get a game for this song!  Students must be good at bouncing to friends!

Chevaliers de la table ronde- Changing meter cup game!  So excited to do a lot of cup games this year with all the hype from Pitch Perfect!

Tue Tue- Changing partner hand clap game.  Done in Circle Formation. Great for multi-cultural lessons

Bim Bom {minor} (Rest)- Students find rests by making "very interesting statues" on each one, or passing a stick on each one.  Also a fun partner game with beat actions.

Hulamakado- Partner stick passing game.  Start with passing and successful students can try to toss.  2 different patterns that fit with the 2 sections of the song.

Laughing Singing (ti-tika, tika-ti)- Circle Action Game.  Can be done in cannon- very cool!

Ludaim- Cup passing game with interesting meter.

Gut Shabes Aich- Ball passing game.  2 patterns for 2 different sections of the song.

Sto mi e milo-  Clapping game in 7/8 time.  Many stages- great for differentiation.  As students master one stage, they can move onto the next.

If you want directions for the games, these songs and games are copyrighted in the Singing Games and Rhymes Series published by the National Youth Choir of Scotland.  (See Link Above)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Singing Games post 1 :)

Lucinda, our WONDERFUL teacher
Alright.  So we had 6 hour long classes where Lucinda Geoghegan from Scotland taught us SO many games.   My plan is to give you two posts now (week 1 and week 2) with the song and game info as an index of all the games she taught- where they originate, basic info about them and attach her handout via dropbox. If I already use the song to teach a concept I have put the concept in parenthesis.  Some I have not retrieved yet so I haven't decided what element they would fit best in my classroom.  On the handout is staff notation of all the songs as well as game directions.  Then, as I teach some to my students I hope to post videos of us playing.  I think this will be the best way to get them all out there.  She gave me free reign to share any way I can!

Many of the games she taught and then we put them into cannon, put parts of the songs into our "thinking voices"or changed directions/ partners, etc.  She was great and continually making the games harder and harder for the kids so they don't get bored!  Kids don't always want to do the same thing over and over and she taught me so many ways to differentiate and continually challenge my kids.  Be sure to push the classes that can handle it.  These games are so fun!

Tip: For the tricky dances or partner clapping games I have eager students come in at recess to learn it first BEFORE I teach it to the rest of the class so they can help me demonstrate.

If you want directions to many of these games- check out her book! All of these songs and games are
copyrighted in the Singing Games and Rhymes Series published by the National Youth Choir of Scotland.  (Get it here).  I LOVE this book. Seriously. Get it.

Week 1:

Hi-Lo Chickalo- This is a partner clapping game.  First you sing it as written and then sing it "backwards"  To extend you can have students stand in a circle facing a partner, and then turning around on the last beat of the song to have a new partner the next time.  You can also have 1 student sing the Hi-lo version, while the other sings Lo-hi.

Double Double This This- Another partner game.  She had us standing in a circle and switching on a signal or saying certain words in our "thinking voice".

Apple Tree (do)- A circle ball passing game where students pass to the beat, but are to pull their hand away on the word OUT.   If they don't pull their hand away OR pull it away at the wrong time they go into the dungeon for one round.  Add more balls or put it into the thinking voice for more of a challenge.

Sheep in the Meadow- This is a game to get to know the students birthdays.  They sing the song then tap on their legs as they say each month.  They STOP tapping on their month.  Have the students put the months into their thinking voice then find others who were born in the same month as them by watching around the circle as they think the months.

Land of the Silver Birch (Low la)- This is a tricky partner clapping game that is REALLY cool when done in cannon.  I was really excited about this one because my students know the song but no game.

My Paddle's Keen and Bright (Syncopa)- Canada Same as Silver Birch in that it is a tricky partner clapping game that can be done in cannon OR you can have students stand in groups of 4 and each line is with a different partner (person to their right, person to the left, person across, etc.)  I am so eager to teach this one because my game for this song is a pretty basic passing game.

London Bridge- Very similar to what we all know and love instead of someone getting out, on the second verse those across from the arch (which was chosen during the 1st verse) walk under the arch never letting go of hands to turn the circle inside out.

Go Round The Mountain (m-r-d)- This can be a concentric circle song OR a stick game.  Both versions are very fun and take a lot of thinking for those in 3rd grade.

Hot Potato Pass it On- This is a stick passing game that changes directions.  Very fun!

Bells in the Steeple (3/4)- Double stick passing game in 3/4.  Always looking for 3/4 songs!

Naughty Pussy Cat (s-l-s or s-f-m-r-d)- Maze chase game- similar to Our Old Sow if you know that game.

Epoi Tai Tai (syncopa and whole note)- New Zealand Mauri SongSame version as I know only we stood in a circle facing partners so we could change partners on the last beat of the song.  This is a great one for putting certain words into a thinking voice.

Circle to the Left (tika-tika)- Circle Arch game.  Those who are caught under the arch become a second arch.  There are continually more arches each round until only 1 student is left who is NOT an arch and they get to run through the arches as fast as they can :)

Wash The Dishes- 4 person "basket weave" game.  Very cute for the young ones.

Four White Horses (low so)- Neat version of this game.  My friends and I changed it a bit so I will be posting a separate post on my new version that I will teach from now on that involves changing partners, etc.

Round and Round (bom makeleli)- Name game with ball bouncing.

Acha Bacha Chant- Ball passing game- ball changes directions at end of each line.

Good Day to You (dipi du)- ball passing game with changing meter (3/4 2/4)

Down the River- ball passing/ ball bouncing game.  Can be done in cannon with 2 circles.

Check back soon for a week 2 overview post and possibly one with info from the 20 minute session she will be giving later this week!

Again, if you want directions for all the games, instead of just an overview of what the game can teach, all of these songs and games are copyrighted in the Singing Games and Rhymes Series published by the National Youth Choir of Scotland  (Get it here).

Sunday, July 28, 2013

4 Games I learned in Musicianship/ Solfegge

Dr. Arpad Toth teaching :)
Bit of advice before I start this post.  If you ever come to Hungary and feel you were placed into the wrong solfegge class- SWITCH! I chose not to switch and the class was way too easy for me.  The test was based entirely on dictation which is not my strength, but the class moved pretty slowly for me. With that being said- I loved my teacher, Arpad Toth, the whole time.  He had a great personality and always told us Kodaly was crying in the Heavens when we couldn't get something (and then that he was smiling when we did get it). He was very good at differentiation and would make separate worksheets for those who needed more help on dictation, intervals, etc.  I got a lot of new Renaissance music I can use with my students AND the last 2 days of class we played games that worked on our gained skills and I had a lot of fun with them.  Some could be adapted for Elementary school- some are more suited for middle and high school, but I thought I would list my favorites here.

1.  Evolution
         This game is a variant on Rock- Paper- Scissors where everyone starts out as a plankton and has to work their way up to Human.  To do this, each "animal" has a melody.  You have to find someone on the same stage of life as you (singing the same melody) and play them in Rock-Paper-Scissors.  If you win, you evolve- if you lose, you stay the same.  At the end there should be one left of each of the 4 animals preceding Human because they won't have been able to evolve past this stage.  
The animals and 4 beat melodies are:         
        Plankton (d_-s,_)                          
        Fish (ss-mm-ss-mm)
        Chicken (s-sss-s-s s-sss-s-s)
        Monkey (s-s- d'_)
        Human (s-m-d_) 
To make it more fun (and easier to find someone in the same stage of evolution as you) you can add motions to each of the animals as well.   (Swimming for Fish, wings for chicken, etc.) 

This game encourages kids to sing "alone"- knowing their melody, and singing it loud enough to find a friend.  But really- it is everyone singing at once- just all different motives.  

2. Scale Snake
           In this game, you stand in a circle and sing scales up and down.  In my class I would probably limit to major and minor (la based).  Students each sing one note of the scale and sit down if they were the one to sing the 2nd half of a minor 2nd (t-d going up, but d-t going down, and the same for m-f).  Last person standing "wins".  This game is just to practice knowing where minor seconds fall in a scale and the winner is determined purely by luck.  It also practices inner-hearing, because students have to be able to find the next successive scale pitch without singing all of the notes. 

3.  Interval Dash
           Students are seated in a circle with one person in the middle.  The child in the middle is the leader and sings an solfa note (from a given scale) to someone in the circle.  The person sung to then has to sing a perfect 4th above the given note. If they are right- the person in the middle moves on to someone else.  If they are wrong 2 things can happen:  If the sung interval is totally wrong, everyone makes a mad dash for another chair, last in the middle is new leader.   If the sung interval is a perfect 5th rather than a 4th, just the 2 students on either side of the singer change places.  The person in the middle can try to dash for a chair ANYTIME one becomes free.  In this game it is important to tell students they MUST TRY to sing the correct P4 interval.  Even in my class of adults, we had students singing things like d-t, on purpose so everyone would get up and switch chairs.  

4.  Zip-Zap-Chords 
            Students are standing in a circle.  Prior to this game, the blues progression will be common knowledge.  To play the class collectively sings the blues progression (or just part of it, like the final 4 chords V, IV, I, I).   Here's how it works.  One student sings the root of the chord while pointing to a second (hands together above head, brought down as he/she sings).  The student pointed to (student B) sings the 3rd and puts his hands above his head (hands together).  The students on either side of student B then sing the 5th while "chopping" in towards student B.  Student B then sings the root of the next chord in the progression and points to another.  The game goes on in this fashion.  I hope to make a video of this game when I get back to school, because it is slightly confusing to just read.  The motions are not truly necessary, but give the game a ninja feel which the students have been pretty into lately.  They also help keep of track of who sings what- feel free to make up your own motions that work for you. 

Stay tuned for singing games posts- there will be a few because Lucinda taught us so much! 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

10 Elementary Pedagogy Week 1 Goodies

For the past week in Elementary Pedagogy in Hungary I have gotten so many new ideas!  Some may seem obvious but were light bulb moments for me and others I would have never thought of myself.
Below are a few of my favorites.

1. Felt Staff
         Why have I not thought of this before??? I use dry erase staffs and many other manipulatives, but a felt staff {with pockets} can be so much faster for simple melodic dictations.  The felt notes "stick" to the felt staff so the student can hold up their work to show the teacher and you don't have to worry about a marker being dried out, students taking forever to make sure their note heads are perfect, etc.  The pockets hold the note heads so you don't have to worry about plastic bags, etc.

2. Solfa Apartment Building
          For a while I have been using Solfa Street when presenting new notes.  Bori used a Solfa House/ Apartment instead and I love it.  Do lives on the first floor, re on the second, etc.  This really shows the relationship between notes (step or skip) and transfers right to a set of solfa steps because there is no elevator in the building.  :)  (The steps where half steps are in music are drawn smaller)

3. Cat and Fish
           This is a game for very simple pitch recognition after students have learned LA.  The teacher has a picture of a cat and another of a fish.  The Cat can only sing s-m-s and the Fish can only sing s-l-s.   The teacher sings 1 melody and the students have to say which animal is singing.  The teacher can then make it harder and make 2, 3, or 4 phrases in a row (cat, fish, cat cat [s-m-s s-l-s s-m-s s-m-s]).  Students can also lead.

4. Hot Crossed Buns
           Everyone knows this song, but Cyrilla added movements that help show the contour of the song and made it a little more fun.  Students clap above their head on HOT, pat a partners hands on CROSSED, and pat their legs on BUNS.  On "one a penny, two a penny" students roll their hands in front of them (getting slightly higher for the 2nd phrase when the pitch changes).  I love this because it is an un-concious way to show the changing pitches of the song.

5. Solfa Ship Distress Signal
          A classmate came up with a really fun idea for after students have just been presented a new note.  Students get into groups of 3 or four and they are the captain of a solfa ship.  They are required to come up with a secret signal to send to another ship using only handsigns.  The other ship must decode and sing the message, then send one back.  This is very similar to the way ships actually communicate with flags or morris code.  I have been trying to think of extending this and making it some sort of musical battleship game but have quite figured it out yet.  When I do there will definitely be another post!

Some other random things are:
1) Always tap the pulse when inner-hearing or playing a rhythm type game (or have a student do it) ESPECIALLY when passing rhythms in a "telephone" like way by tapping it on the shoulder of the person in front of you.
2) To not only sing patterns for students when looking for a new note, but play patterns on various instruments (piano, recorder, orff instruments, etc).
3) When asking students to figure out the solfa of a song- don't always have them start at the beginning- especially if the end is super easy and can lead them to be successful in the rest of the song.
4) Have students demonstrate A LOT.  Try to choose successful students to sing on Solfa alone, or read a rhythm aloud many times a class so they are used to it.  Have the whole class do it together, one or two solos, then the whole class again.   If the student is incorrect in any way you can ask the performer what they noticed about their version that is different from the teachers.
5) The question: WHAT COMES BEFORE SOUND??? (the answer is silence).  This is a great way to get kids to be quiet :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Musical Signals (Vocal Instruction Cues)

Yesterday in Elementary Pedagogy Cyrilla Roswell, an amazing Kodaly teacher from the UK taught her first mock lesson for us (check our her book series here. It is like GAME PLAN but Kodaly based). She used a really great tool for giving instructions that I will definitely be implementing into my classroom in the fall.  Musical signals were given as instructions and she can sing quite a long melody (on a neutral syllable) to her students and they know EXACTLY what to do.  It blows my mind.

I plan on starting this by singing the actual words, and slowing moving to a neutral syllable as they get used to them.  It also will help later with intervals and patterns because some will be recognized right away.   All of the signals are below.

s-d' ~ Stand up

s-d ~ Sit down

s-f-m-r-d ~ Come and sit by me

s-s-m-l-s-m ~ Find yourself a partner

d-r-m-f-s-s ~ Come and make a circle

d-m-s-d' ~ Find your own space

A longer post to come this weekend on more specifics of fun games and such that I have learned so far in Elementary Ped.  from both the teachers, Bori and Cyrilla, as well other other classmates.

NOTE:  In the picture of the African song in the last post (here) there was some incorrect solfegge.  What I typed works, but when we sang the song again in class today I realized there were a few mistakes.  Check it out again and be sure to catch the corrections at the bottom.  I was unable to change the picture at this time, but have given the word and new solfa below the picture.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

First Few Days in Hungary (and an African Song!)

Just wanted to give an update on Hungary so far.  Everything has been so great 

I arrived to Budapest fine, but when I got there I realized both friends I was 
supposed to meet had been delayed and I could not figure out how to get to the 
train station by myself with the language barrier (and not sleeping for 24 
hours).  I decided to wait about an hour and half for Krissy who was delayed and 
we figured it out together... kinda.  First the machine for the bus tickets to 
get to the train ate our money, and then when we finally got on the bus, we 
missed our stop so we had to walk along the side of the road about 1/2 mile to 
get where we were supposed to be.  Then, because of delays, the train tickets we 
had bought online were no longer valid so we had to get new ones, now without 
reserved seating.  We stood for a lot of the ride until some nice people let us 
into their car.  Turns out the were part of the program we are in! One is a 
student with me in all my classes, and another was the level 3 musicianship 
teacher.  They helped us get off at the right stop and then showed us to the 
Kecskemet Town Square.  From there, we were pointed in the wrong direction to 
our hotel by a local so we got a little lost, but found it fairly quickly and 
that detour helped us find the institute and church where our classes are.   
Since then everything has been awesome.  We have class from 8:45-6 (but with 2 
hours for lunch).  

I was a little discouraged at first because I tested into Level 1 musicianship, 
even though I have taken 3 levels in America already.  I was going to switch to 2 but my 
Level 1 Teacher, Arpi, is super fun and I am getting a lot of songs that I can use with 
my kids.  I work with a small range for my students (do, re, mi, so, la) and the 
Level 2 (which my roommate is in) is using the entire scale (do, re, mi, fa, so, 
la, ti, do plus altered tones) which wouldn't transfer back home well, even 
though it would make me a better musician.  SO, I am doing Katie's homework with 
her to get the Level 2 musicianship training, while still staying in level 1 to 
get songs and hone weak skills (like dication).  See the end of the post for a great African song we dictated in Musicianship! 

Elementary Pedagogy is super fun and I am learning new songs and ideas (and 
getting harder musicianship training than my musicianship class...).  There is a 
Hungarian teacher (Bori) and a teacher from England (Cyrilla) who team teach. So far in this class it has been a little lecture on the Kodaly Philosophy with some s-m, ta-titi teaching as well.  We do many handsign cannons in this class which I love! 

I am also in a Singing Games class with a woman from Scotland (Lucinda).  Most of 
the songs she taught today I knew- But ALL of the games were new and some more 
advanced than ones I know, so my students will LOVE them.  I also have choir and 
every other night there are lectures or concerts by local musicians or world 
class teachers.  Many of these will be posted at a later time, as she said she would email 
hand-outs so we should NOT write anything down.  Most yesterday were hand-clap games with 
songs like "My Paddle Keen and Bright" "Land of the Silver Birch", or passing games with 
songs like "Apple Tree." For my previous post on Apple Tree and a SMARTboard file see here.

The city is beautiful and we plan on doing more exploring this Saturday 
afternoon and Sunday (we have class Sat morning).  We want to go to the 
Hungarian Baths and into Budapest to explore the "big city".

Sineladu Banaha:  This is a 3 part African Song, but there is contention about exactly which language it is, and what the translation is.  I have seen that it is Zulu, Congoleese, and a few others.  The consensus seems to point to Congoleese, but I am unsure.  The song works great as a cannon.  It is super easy for part work, because it can also build parts (Some stay on line 1 while others (or teacher) sings line 2.  Then when that is solid you add in part 3. 

You can also do a 4 beat body ostinato with the song.  We did {chest, snap, clap, snap} as 
straight quarter notes.  At first we all performed all of it, then we passed the ostinato 
around the circle each doing 1 beat while singing our favorite of the 3 parts.  This would
obviously be a challenge to pass the ostinato around for young students, but with my 5th or 6th graders, it would be something super fun to work towards and it would be very rewarding 
when we all got it.  Enjoy!                                                                                        

Note: I typed in some wrong letters for the solfa.  What I wrote works, but is not exactly what I was originally taught.  Sometimes I make a song what I WANT it to be- not what it really is when I go home to write it down.  We sang the song again today and I realized I had changed some things in my transcription.  Corrections are listed below: 
In Line 1: Yaku  (2nd mm, beat 4)should be d-r 
In Line 2: 2nd Banaha should be r-m-f


Friday, July 12, 2013

Hungary Preview!!!

Rendering of the Kodaly Institute
I can't believe I leave for Hungary tomorrow!!!  I am so excited for the 3 weeks of intensive classes to better myself as a teacher! I am signed up for musicianship, choir, elementary pedagogy, and singing games!  I arrive in Kecskemet on Sunday, take a musicianship placement test, and classes start bright and early Monday morning.   I already got a PDF of songs to learn for my pedagogy class and at least half of them are new to me so I am really pumped.  

I hope to post at least once or twice a week (if not more) with new ideas/songs/ games I have learned.

One of the songs on our list to learn was this Squirrel song.  I am hoping it has a fun game or instrumentation, because I am always looking for more tom-ti songs.  If not, it will still of course be used, but my 5th and 6th graders are often a tough sell.  I will have to start coming up with my own "orffestration" for it, that my students can learn and then adapt to make it their own, just in case :)

With traveling, however, comes a few (tiny) downsides.  I realized this week that when I get back I will only have ONE WEEK to get my new classrooms ready.  Luckily my custodians let me in early to start getting furniture placed and instruments set up.  On Tuesday when I got to school, my general music room looked like this (and the big table covered in stuff is not even in the picture):

Now, a few days later it looks... better... but I am still a few hours of work away from being ready for students.  Command hooks are going to be my best friend as I lost a lot of storage in the move.  A full classroom tour will come in August, when everything is set up.  :)

I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer!