Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cincinnati Cyclones- National Anthem

I am so excited for tonight! My students in Wilson's 5th and 6th grade chorus are singing The National Anthem at the the Cincinnati Cyclones game tonight.  I love doing The National Anthem at sporting events because it gives the students a chance to connect with the community and sing for people other than friends/ family/ teachers.   They work really hard and have tons of fun at the game every year.

Check out your local sporting teams- many you do not even have to send in an audition tape if it is a school group.  With the Cyclones we just pick a game (first come first served) and then singers get in free, and family tickets are discounted (there is a minimum number of singers for these events).   I am hoping to send a tape into the Cincinnati Reds sometime soon so we may be able to do a baseball game as well.   My ultimate goal is to do Cyclones and Reds on alternating years so every kid in 5th and 6th grade gets the chance to sing at both.

Singing at a sporting event (even if it is just a football or basketball game in your district) is a great way to incorporate The National Anthem into any chorus or general music class and ensure that ALL students know the words by the time they leave elementary school.

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Blue (I Had a Dog) and Eyes of Blue

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Every once in a while I come across a song that I like, but that doesn't have a game or instrument part already with it. I love these songs because I, and more importantly, the kids get to be creative.  2 such songs are "Blue (I Had A Dog)" and "Eyes of Blue".

Blue (I Had A Dog) I use to teach half note.  I love the story that the verses tell (though I usually stop before the verse that mentions the dog getting sick and then going to heaven.). I typically teach my students to sing just the first verse.  We sing the song, while a few can improvise on the instruments, which are set up in F pentatonic.  The instuments players get a chance to practice landing on "do" on each half note in the song.  This not only helps me assess instrument technique, but also helps to isolate the half notes, during both the preparation and practice stages of learning. With the Es and Bs off the instrument, even if a kid forgets to land on "do", it won't sound bad.  I may eventually start to lead the students towards a coming up with repeated patterns and then have the class vote on favorites to be written down as accompaniment for the song- once it is written down, it is now composing! Yay! This song has been recorded by lots of children's folk singers like Peter, Paul, and Mary (hear it here), The Byrds (check it out here) or The Dillards (hear their version here- the song doesn't start til about 3:45 on this one).  It is also fun to have the students listen to it or sing along and discuss similarities and differences. 

Here are the lyrics, solfa and rhythm for verse 1 (note I= ta/ quarter note, II = ti-ti/ paired eighths, and d = half note.) 

I had a dog and his name was Blue          I ii I ii   I I d
m r    r   d     d    d    m      s      s

I had a dog and his name was Blue          I ii I ii   I I d
m  r   r    d    d   d      r       r     d

I had a dog and his name was Blue          I ii I ii   I I d
m r    r   d     d    d    m      s      s

Betcha five dollars he's a good dog too!   ii I ii ii  I I d
 s     s    s     s   m   d    r    m      r     d

Eyes of Blue I use to teach high do.  I have turned this song into a Rondo Rhythm or Melody Game.  The students sing the song while I choose one to pick 2 of the predetermined rhythms or melodies to say/ sing as an interlude. Each rhythm/ melody is 4 beats long. (Sometimes I add lyrics to the rhythms to go with whatever holiday is coming up.  This song works great for Valentines Day and Christmas.) The student says their 2, the class repeats, then we sing again.  All students are instructed to have their rhythms ready, just in case they get called on.  Level 2 of the game is the soloist claps the rhythm, or plays the rhythm / melody on a xylophone.  The class has to translate and say the patterns out loud.  Level two takes a few weeks to be really successful.  We do level one a lot before we even get to level 2 as well.  I will probably have the students compose an ostinato to play along with the melody as well.   This song comes from the Kodaly Context on pg 247. 

Eyes of blue, cheeks of red               ii I ii I 
  m     s   s         l       s    s

Eyes of blue, cheeks of red               ii I ii I
  m     s   s        m      r    d

Eyes of blue, cheeks of red               ii I ii I
  m     s   s         l       s    s

Lips as sweet as Gingerbread           ii ii ii I
  d'    l      s     m    r   d    d

Friday, February 22, 2013

Folk-Dancing: Chimes of Dunkirk

Before I decided to become a music teacher, the last time I had tried any type of folk dance was, well, when I was in my own Elementary Music class in 4th grade.  I remember loving them, but not the details of many.  I also remember that we had a square-dance night where you could bring a parent and teach them the dances.  I brought my dad and he ended up in the yearbook, but I was cut out of the picture (can you tell what I thought was important in 4th grade?).  I hope to start a night like that here at my school sometime soon.  

My first few years, I tended to shy away from folk dancing for the sheer fact that I was unsure of how to do and teach many of the dances.  Since then I have gotten a few ideas to help me along- as well as some great resources with GOOD directions.  I have been to workshops and classes and now have a lot of dances that I love to teach my students.

One of the books I love is CHIMES OF DUNKIRK.  This is a book published by The New England Dancing Masters and it has a CD and very clear directions. In the book there is a great intro, as well as a glossary with more detailed information on each of the steps.  There are diagrams to help you figure out exactly what they mean and even the melody written out for some of the songs so you can play it yourself. They also have the option of buying a video so that you can WATCH the dances which I know really helps some people who haven't done this type of dancing before.  This book has circle dances, square dances, and line dances (dances in longways sets) and they are all easy and fun to do.

I typically start with line dances in my class- Virginia Reel type dances including Alabama Gal, Sweets of May, Galopede, and Paw Paw Patch among others.  We also do some circle dances in the lower grades (3-4) such as Great Big House.  All but Paw Paw Patch and Great Big House are in Chimes of Dunkirk.    We do more difficult dances in 5 and 6 grades such as Shoo Fly (in another one of the New England Dancing Masters Books) and fun square dances.  I am hoping to combine some of my classes with the gym teacher this year so we have more room to really get groovin'.

If a dance is more difficult, I always have students come in during recess (by volunteer) to learn the dance first so we can then demonstrate for the class and the other students have a visual of what the dance is supposed to look like.  This has really seemed to help my teaching of the folk dances this year.

Check out CHIMES of DUNKIRK here and get movin' in your room! At the link there is a full table of contents, as well as a preview of some of the songs.  Have fun!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

OMEA- Afro Peruvian Music

The very first workshop I went to at OMEA a few weekends ago was one on Afro Peruvian Music.  It was given by Amy Beegle who s a professor at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. This music is so fun to listen to and easy to incorporate into a lesson because it is basically just layered percussion ostinatos with vocals.

While at the workshop I learned a little history of the style, as well as the instruments that are typically used.  Afro-Peruvian music stared when the slave trade brought Africans of diverse cultural backgrounds to Peru.  The music is a blend of all these cultures- Spanish, Andean, and African. Today it is still heard in coastal villages in Peru as well as on recordings and in convert halls around the globe. 

There are three very cool percussion instruments played along side guitar or other melodic instruments.  These include the Cajon, which is a large wooden box played with the hands while sitting on it; the Cajita, a small wooden box hung around the neck and struck with a stick while the lid is also opened and closed rhythmically; and finally, the Quijada, a donkey jaw bone played by scraping the teeth and striking the bone with your fist.  The Quijada is the predescessor to the vibraslap! Here is a video that shows them all: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uePo2cplb9I&feature=youtube_gdata_player

There are different genres of Afro-Peruvian music, which are identified by the Cajon rhythms, and variations there-of.  Fiesto is festive and heard in a 6/8 meter.  Landon is slow and sensual and heard in a 4/4 meter.  The habanera is flirtatious and also heard in 4/4.  Some groups have even added in horns to create an Afro-Peruvian jazz. 

We learned songs in the workshop like MARIA, a call and response, The call response part of Samba Malato and Los Cubiertos, a full song.  Even if you just have your students listen to this music and discover the layers, or give a little history, it can add a lot of fun to a lesson.  

One more video just for fun! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SqLMtZErmI&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Follow The Drinking Gourd

Because it is Black History month in February, I thought I would share some found resources based around the song "Follow the Drinking Gourd".  It is a pretty well known song, but while teaching this month, I found some great books and youtube videos to help with the background info.

When I teach this song, we discuss what all the clues in the song might mean.  We live right by the Ohio River so it is always good to reference when the song mentions "the river on the other side".  We talk about what time of year it would be when "the first quail calls" and why "the river would make a mighty good road."  Just this year I found a lot of info on Peg Leg Joe, the man who wrote the song and saved over half a million lives.

One of the great books I have found is "Follow The Drinking Gourd" by Jeanette Winter (ISBN 0-679-81997-5).  This book inserts the song into a story about Peg Leg Joe and how he traveled from plantation to plantation and taught the song to the slaves, giving them directions to freedom.  It then follows a family of Slaves who escape from their owners and make it to the Underground Railroad in Ohio.

A YouTube video I have been showing this year has Elisabeth Williams Bushey introducing the song, and then singing it, with illustrations to show the clues.   She, and some pop-ups, gives a lot of great background info, but talks a little long (even the pop-ups on the video tell her to "get to the song already").  You can find that link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCEy34DSTn8

Here are some links to some other great performances of the song:
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBOP8t2hlFQ - This one is performed by Ritchie Havens and shows images from Graue Mill, Gettysburg one of the stops on the Underground Railroad, such as shackels, slave auction notices, etc.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wQpe7r0nzM - This is a read aloud of the book mentioned above with a great intro.  The intro is a little long, but gives LOTS of good info.  The read aloud part starts at 2:55.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw6N_eTZP2U - This one is just the song, but has the lyrics along the bottom so students can sing along.

There are many other books about this song, that I have not bought or purchased, so feel free to share your favorite!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

OMEA- technology products!

While I was at OMEA this past weekend, I spent a lot of time at the LORENZ booth.  1, because my friend Maggie works for Lorenz publishing so I would say hi, but 2, (more importantly) they have TONS of great products.  Especially SMARTboard stuff.  I bought 2 interactive NOW packs and am planning on getting a subscription to their ACTIVATE magazine soon.  They have a ton more available as well focusing on specific elements of music.

Interactive NOW are Interactive White Board lessons (compatible with all types of IWB).  Each pack has about 10 activities.   I currently own volume 5+7 and one other... but I forget which one. Oops!
My favorite activities from both are the "What Melody Do You Hear?" and the "Can You Hear It (rhythms)".  Both have an icon that plays a pattern and then three choices to choose from. The choices are linked to a new page that either tells them they are correct, or that they need to try again.  These are GREAT activities for Substitutes, because the sub does not need to know the answer- the board already knows!  Each Interacive Now has a different level so you can play different ones as your kids learn more.    Each pack also has things like instrument recognition, movement activities, composer lessons, vocab lessons, listening lessons- anything you may need on the IWB.  Each pack is under $25 and is well worth the money for all the info you get.  Check out the details of each one here: http://www.lorenz.com/Results.aspx?page=1&rpp=25&title=&voicing1=&div=&producttype=GEN%20MUS&usage=&level=&pop=False&pod=True&bnew=True&bbest=False&sortorder=ASC&composer=&acap=False&series=&SearchOpt=&biblebook=&biblechapter=-1&bibleverse=-1&divwiseproduct=False

ACTIVATE is a new magazine that Lorenz publishes 5 times a year.  In it there are all types of lessons for IWB people, or people who do not have one yet.   Each issue has "quality, National Standards-based lessons designed by teachers, for teachers; ready-to-go lesson plans, choral and recorder music, classroom percussion, and movement activities; a CD with P/A and listening tracks and over 30 pages of reproducible materials; and convenient, fun games with reproducible worksheets. (Lorenz.com)"  A year of subscriptions is only $75!!! I was looking through back issues at the Convention and so many of the lessons are things I could use.  They are written by real teacher who are currently in the classroom so they know what works and what doesnt.  I can't wait to get my subscription and use these great lessons.   Check out the ACTIVATE website here: http://www.lorenz.com/SubscriptionDetails.aspx?GetMagazinesID=1

Also: just a reminder to get the SMARTboard files from another workshop I went to here: www.tiffanyberting.wix.com/music (see more info in Tuesdays (Feb 12) post)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

OMEA- Children's Lit and Movement!

Yay OMEA! I got so many great ideas that I cannot wait to try.  Today I will focus on those ideas I got related to movement and/ or Children's Literature.  Some seem like obvious ideas- yet I never came up with it, some expanding on games I already knew, and some brand new that I would have never thought of.

The first workshop I went to on Movement was: Purposeful Play given by Rodger Sams.  He has a book by a similar name that I hope to get for my B-day or Christmas this year-Purposeful Pathways. It is a little pricey to pay for myself, but my aunt and mom love getting me teaching books.  He showed us 2 activities that combine music literacy, movement, and orff instruments.  I have given a brief rundown of one of them here:

The first is Rain on the Green Grass (solfa and rhythm below) to decode So and Mi.
*To warm up, you have the students follow the patterns of the wind drawn on the board, and then do a few aural patterns with a slide whistle.  (I need to get a slide whistle! I keep seeing them and wanting one, but never order it!)
*He then led students to discover the rhythm of the song by showing Umbrellas for quarter notes , rain drops for paired eighths, and suns for rests. The students could then come up to the smart board and move the icons to match the melody.  They got to touch the rest and the sun was disappearing with a quarter rest behind it! Very cool!

*After students are successful singing and decoding the melody, he added an orff accomp with a chordal bordun and some other color parts on the rests or "things that get rained on".  It was all pretty standard good teaching practices up to this point, but after was the exciting part.  :)

*He added an interlude: Hear the Raindrops (x x x x) Hear the raindrops (x x x x) and students at the instruments were able to imitate either LOUD rainstorms, or a quiet drizzle in the beats of rest (x).

*He then combined the song with the poem "Rain is Falling Down"  and had the students create movement to the stanzas.  Fluid movements for light and peaceful rain, angular movements for thunder and lightning.  The movement started sustained and turned into locomotor with very clear directions.
*Finally, everything was performed together in ABA form- song, poem, song.  Everyone had something fun to do and it was a great way to introduce movement to the younger students (1st grade!)

Rain on the Green Grass, Rain on the Tree  z    (I ii I I    I ii I z)
   s    s    s     m         s        s    s    s     m

Rain on the roof top, Not on me z                     (I ii I I    I I I z)
  s     s    s     m    s     s     s   m

Poem: By Rodger Sams

Rain is falling down.
Such a Peaceful sound.
Oh, so gently, rain is falling
All Around

Rain is falling down.
Thunderstorms abound!
Lightning Crashing, storm clouds thrashing,
What a sound!

Rain is falling down.
Such a Peaceful sound.
Oh, so gently, rain is falling
All Around


The next movement workshop I went to was Elementary Music on the Move! given my Michael Roberts.
He gave lots of fun ideas from books such as "Jump Jim Joe"  and others from the New England Dancing Masters as well as some common line dances from today, like the cupid shuffle.  He led us through simultaneous imitation, remembered imitation, overlapping imitation, and student created movement as choreography using a "MENU" board.  He also mentioned movement cards, mirroring, and of course, organized dance.  If you are unsure what any of these are, just comment! (I may do a post next week with how I use some of these already in my classroom).  

What I really loved about this workshop was his idea for "Giraffes Can't Dance" A book by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker Rees where a giraffe named Gerald gets made fun of for being clumsy, but when he leaves the Jungle Dance he realizes that he can dance, he just need different music.  For a program, you could read the story and showcase different groups dancing throughout, to music mentioned in the book.  One group could salsa, one could do a Scottish reel, etc. OR Students could have the opportunity to choreograph and show off their OWN music that they love and the dances they like, because "We all can dance when we find music that we love".   Check out this video of the book- it is great! http://vimeo.com/33829782

The last workshop to be mentioned today was a SMARTboard workshop given by Tiffany Berting.  You can get all the files mentioned here: www.tiffany.berting.wix.com/music 

She started with a pitch exploration story about a kid named Jake who went to an amusement park.  The story was really cute and what I liked best (and will be adding to my pitch exploration book) was that she had a dot on the end of each line you can move to help the kids follow along with the sounds.  So great!

She had files for listening - such as Haydns Surprise symphony (tip toe tiptoe tiptoe LOOK!), and Carmen's "Toreador" song as well as files to teach rhythm such as bee bee bumble bee, pease porridge and 10 in the bed (this one has a really cute surprise where when you click the monkey he falls out and lands on his head!).
She showed us rhythm spinners and some great rhythm manipulatives.  There are so many files I can not wait to download.   One "duh" moment she gave me was when using rhythm manipulatives on the SMARTboard have all the kids with the same manipulatives they can all touch and use on their own laminated cards in front of them.  Then only allow the kids who get the answer right to go show the answer for all on the SMARTboard.  I was always unsure of what to have other kids doing while one was at the board.  This makes so much sense!

Students (well adults in the workshop) were able to work together to write rhythms in different ways during - with buttons (big for ta, small for ti-ti), colored rhythm cards, etc.  They were able to isolate rhythms by singing a song (or listening) and spliting into groups so group one only sings the Tas (quartner notes), group two only the Tika-Tikas (sixteenth notes) group 3 only the Ti Tis (eighth notes) etc.  I have already done this in my class and it is very fun.  The students stand when their rhythm comes up so it gets them moving too.

She had mystery songs AND showed us that you can combine the note heads from learning high and low with the rhythm stick notation for students to have an "Ah Ha" moment with music notes.  They know that the sticks show the rhythm, and the note heads show the melody, but you only have all the info you need when you combine them together.  Another fun thing was the dice spinner for Down By The Bay.  Instead of having bulky cards for the kids to choose to solo from, just have them tap the SMARTboard to role for thier solo verse!

One other thing Tiffany did was add a twist to the ever popular FREEZE dance.  She first read "My Many Colored Days" by Dr. Seuse and they discussed different feelings.  Then, during freeze dance if there is ever any extra time at the end of a lesson, she would play music that evokes different emotions and feelings.  After the students freeze, they are asked which color from the book they thought the music matched. This helps students to make purposeful choices in their movements so they aren't just shaking and stopping, but rather moving the way the music sounds.  This is a very cool, very easy,  idea to make a so-so game into one with more musicality.

I got so much out of this workshop including files that I am really excited to use in my plans coming up.  Be sure to check out Tiffany's webpage and blog and get those files!

If you would like me to go into detail about any of these games, manipulatives, stories, etc from this post, just comment! I would be happy to share more.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mallet Maddness!

After OMEA I finally have time to go back and review Mallet Madness by Artie Almeida!   This book is published by Heritage Music Press which a division of the Lorenz cooperation in Dayton Ohio.  They also have a lot a great SMART board activities and an awesome magazine with tons of ideas and printables so check them out! lorenz.com

Mallet Madness is a great ORFF based book with tons of ideas to utilize ORFF instruments in your classroom. Whether you have 6 or 35 instruments, there is an activity for you.   There is a unique rotation set up in this book so each kid gets to play multiple instruments, whether they be drums, xylophones, metallophones, glockenspiels, or other un-pitched percussion.  

Using these activities you could have students playing many instruments during one class so they don't have to wonder when they might get to play the cool instruments getting dusty in the corner.  This book is set up so students come in and go to an instrument and do the first activity, rotating for different snags, books and games, until the end of class.  This is hard for me: 1 because my room is tiny and 2 because I have no set up time between classes.  I do try to pull out the instruments at leat every other week, if not more, and rotate once during a class, then have the students choose another the next week.  I tend to set up enough for one row to play at a time, and we have a signal for when to switch.

There are 34 activities in the book and there is a volume two with many more.  Each activity has a focus listed in the top right corner, reproducible flash cards, and a lesson plan.  It covers everything from getting started and recognizing instruments to complicated ORFF accompaniments, uses of children's literature and more.  You can now even get SMARTboard files to go with each lesson.     

My 3 favorite activities are the following: 

Crazy 8s- the students start by playing eight beats on their instruments, then they play 7 with one beat of rest, then 6 with two beats of rest, and so on.  I love to then convert this to a movement activity with the song "tell my ma" where students step then freeze on the beats.  It is a super fun activity that can be chaos the first time, but is really cool when they get it together.  

Chinese Ribbon Dance-  I have my students learn to play this pattern (descending la pentatonic scale).  Once they all know the pattern we add words I got from a record (yes a record) I found in my room with the same name.  In the streets of China Town, ribbon sticks go round and round. As the boys and girls do race, all about the market place.   She also has a bass part to add in as well, and a gong!  The next week I pulls down the ribbon stocks and teach the students different motions the can do.  The following week we rotate, 1/2 on ribbons, 1/2 on instruments.  This is always a favorite in our multi-cultural show!  

Rumble In the Jungle-  This is a book by Giles Andreae and David Wojtowycz.  You teach the rhythm "Rumble, Rumble, rumble in the jungle" (I I I I ii ii I I) and analyze the parts.  Then read the book with students interjecting with the rhythm at each page turn.  The next week, have the students at instruments and play the rhythm in C pentatonic.  The first measure hands together, the second alternating hands and ending on home tone C (do).   I like to then extend and change it to "music, music music in the classroom" and have students write poems about instruments we play or songs we sing- forming each classes poems into a little book for my bulletin board. 

All in all this book has so many great ideas for grades K-6 you could do a new one each week and not run out.   It teaches kids about melody, rhythm, and most importantly gets them improvising and composing on instruments that they LOVE to play anyways.  Check out an Artie Almeida workshop if you can, and get her books to get even more great ideas!  You can get the book at most music stores or go directly to the Lorenz site (see link above).  

Have fun with Mallet Madness! 

OMEA- Folk Songs- Cumberland Gap, Pease Porridge, Diddle Dumpling, Billy Billy

This weeks posts will work slightly different than usual.  I will still post Monday-Thursday, but each day I will be discussing workshops I attended at the Ohio Music Education Association Convention this past week.  Today I will give you some ideas from the work shops based around Traditional AmericanFolk Songs, tomorrow I will post about new book ideas and movement activities to go along with them , Wednesday I will review some products I bought and give you SMARTboard ideas (with links to files), and Thursday will be focused on the  Multi-Cultural workshops I attended.  If you want any more info on any of the Clinicians, or their ideas let me know!

The First workshop I went to centered around American Folk Songs was one from Lynn Kleiner.  If you have not been to one of her workshops to need to get one ASAP.  She is amazing.  Read more about her and her products here:  http://www.lynnkleinersmusicbox.com/home.php  If you become a member at her site ($75.00 a year)  you can get free downloads and discounts on a lot of stuff.

At the workshop she gave us an orffestration for Cumberland Gap as well as turned it into a Rondo with the poem "Diddle Diddle Dumpling" and the song "Pease Porridge Hot".  The orffestration used very fun instruments such as Washboard and spoons along with the trad. xylophones.  Each section also had a fermata and she gave me the great idea of laminating a sign with a HUGE fermata on it for the teacher, and later a student, to hold up each time the fermata comes around so everyone remembers.  Great way to introduce the fermata to younger kids.  The order for the rondo went: CG vs 1, Diddle Diddle, CG vs 2, Pease Porridge and then all together.  Each section had either movements or rhythm writing to go with it.  She used chair rhythms (1 chair = 1 beat, 2 chairs would be a half note, 2 people on 1 chair is paired eighths, etc) for Diddle Diddle and then oatmeal cups with spoons for Pease Porridge (1 spoon in a cup = quarter note, 2 = paired eighth notes, 0= rest).   The whole of this activity will be her new book coming out soon- My Trip to the Mountains.  Check it out! I have a lot of her other books and love them!  All of her books have reproducible worksheets, rhythm cards and more.

Lay down boys, take a little nap     (I  I   I  z  II II I z)
 m      r       d        m  m  s s   l

Lay down boys, take a little nap     (I  I   I  z  II II I z)
 m      r       d       l,     l,  d d d
Lay down boys, take a little naaaaaap   (I  I   I  z  II II I z)
  m      r      d       m   m  s s   l______

Fourteen miles to the Cumberland Gap   (I I I II  II I I z)
  m    d      d     d  d    l,      l,    d      d

*Note I have only given you the melody/ rhythm of Cumberland Gap due to copyright, check out her books for the full orffestration, or write your own!  The asterisk in the song = a fermata.

Another Workshop I went to that focused on American Folk Songs was one given by Pamela Stover.  This workshop used the song "Here's the way to Billy Billy" and she showed us how to lead students come up with their own orff accompaniment for the song.  She taught us what a "good" ostinato is- one where NONE of the rhythms line up and then how to transfer those to the instruments, having them set up in a pentatonic key.  After the ostinato was established,  the 'students' improvised using first body percussion and then on the xylophones/ glockenspiels/ and metallophones knowing they just had to land on do at the end of the verse.  We then chose one pattern that we liked and all got to learn it to play along with the song.  You can even go further to have them notate this pattern, but we did not in the workshop.  Feel free to change the timbres on each verse- first Just woods, then metals, then both, or first basses, then alto, then glocks, etc.  Also feel free to add in color parts ( a scrape or a boom) at some point in the song to make it more exciting! 

Remember- you can lead students to playing more than just the beat!  They can play broken borduns, changing borduns, crossovers, etc.  Help them discover more fun ways to play, rather than just playing the beat all the time!  (if you want more info on this, I will post in more detail next week!) 

She also taught us the game for "Billy Billy" which is a line game.  You start with two lines facing each other (lines A and B), across from your chosen partner.  
Verse 1:  pairs connect hands and alternate a pushing/ pulling motion 
Verse 2: Most step clap to the beat while the 1st person in Line A makes up a motion to use while traveling down the set.  The cross lines at the end so they are now in Line B. 
Verse 3:  Most continue to step clap to the beat while the 1st person in Line B imitates the action their partner did during the previous verse and ends in Line A.  
Continue the game until all have had a turn to improvise a movement.  

*Picture comes from The Kodaly Context by Lois Choksy, pg 226. 

I am so excited to try both of these activities with my students!  My 6th are doing ti-tom (eighth- dotted quarter) right now, which works for Billy and Cumberland gap is great for 2nd and 3rd.  I am excited to get them on the instruments more!   

Be sure to check back tomorrow for Smartboard and literature ideas I got from the conference! 

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Here for Thursday is another multi-cultural post.  My review post will be up tomorrow, check it out for a post on Mallet Madness and how I use it in my TINY music room (though I can't complain because at least I have a room)

Today's post is on tinikling.  This is a dance from the Phillippines.  The dance is done in groups of 4- two tapping the bamboo poles and two jumping in various patterns.  I love this dance. It is one of he only things I remember from my Elementary Music class and is one my students always ask to bring back.  I am hoping to collaborate with the gym teacher this year so we can spend more time, and more importantly have more space to try it out.  I always teach it initially in 4th grade and then bring it back in 5th and 6th.

See a great video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cD0PBgWI0vc&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Before I get to the dance itself, let me give you a bit of background.  The dance originated in the Visayan Islands on the Island of Leyte. There are two stories of how the dance originated.  One is that the dancers are imitating the tikling bird (heron) which hops fom tree branch to tree branch very gracefully and can dodge bamboo traps set by farmers.  The other is not so happy.  It is said that when the Spanish over took the Phillippines (between 1500 and 1898) and  sent the Filipino people to the haciendas and forced them to work in the fields and paddies, they would punish them for not working fast enough.  This punishment would consist of the workers standing between two bamboo poles cut from the grove. Sometimes these poles would still have thorns sticking out from the sections.  These poles would be clapped together to beat the workers feet.  By jumping when the poles were apart, the natives could escape some of the punishment.  By practicing the jumping to escape punishment, the dance formed into what it is today- the national dance of the Phillippines.  

I have seen the dance done with both 3/4 music and 4/4.  Most resources you see list the steps in 4/4 patterns, but the videos use 3/4.  Traditionally the dance is done in 3/4 but many groups have expanded to 4/4 because it is easier for beginners and there is more 4/4 music.  I do it in 3/4 because it is always good to work in a triple meter. 

There are 3 basic types of steps.  Singles, doubles, and hops.  Singles and hops have one foot touching the floor at a time, and doubles has two.  

For the dance, you need two poles per group set up parallel to each other as well as stands to prop the poles up about 1.5 inches from the floor.  There is one tapper at each end and they click the poles together once, then tap them about 1 foot apart on the stands twice. The jumpers then do thir steps in the basic pattern of: out, in, in.  Singles are one foot at a time and can be done staying on one side of the poles or traveling across them. Doubles are one hop with feet straddling the poles, then two inside.  Hops are just a fancy variation of singles.  Any of the steps can then be altered slightly with turns or partner work to make them more visually interesting.  Check out this website for more info on different variations for the steps: http://people.bethel.edu/~shenkel/PhysicalActivities/Rhythms/Tinikling/TinikleIdeas.html

I just got my poles and stands from amazon.  They are real bamboo.  The also now have fabric bands and plastic poles, but using the real bamboo makes it more authentic to me.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Going to the Zoo by Tom Paxton and illustrated by Karen Lee Schmidt

Going to the Zoo is a fun little book for younger grades.  It has the sheet music printed in front and back, but no cd :(  I love to sing this song because there are so many verses and the chorus is fun- the kids always end up singing along.  The illustrations in this book are VERY cute- the children and the animals look like they are having tons of fun. In the book you travel to the Zoo with two very excited children and their dad. They keep the Zoo Keeper busy as they pass animals like Elephants, Lions, Bears, Monkeys, Kangaroos, and more.

 I almost always pair this with Carnival of the Animals- Elephant.  The elephant is the first animal mentioned in the story and has his "long trunk swingin'".  After the story, students get to listen to the Carnival song twice, the first deciding HOW to move and the second they get to move around the room, ending back in their seats- of course with their long arm trunks swingin. :)

Other zoo/ animal books I like:
Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear? by Eric Carl
Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andrea and David Wojtowycz
Rumble In the Jungle by Giles Andrea and David Wojtowycz
Commotion in the Ocean by Giles Andrea and David Wojtowycz
Dancing Feet by Lindsey Craig and Illustrated by Marc Brown
Down by the Station by Will Hillenbrand

Order the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Going-Zoo-Tom-Paxton/dp/0688138004

Monday, February 4, 2013

3 Favorite Low So songs

I know it doesn't have low so, but in honor of the Super Bowl- can you figure out this little melody?
l,___ d r m_ d____ f____ m r d t, r t,  l, l, l,     l, l, l,

Ok, now to the real post :) Since I began teaching, the lower grades plans have come easier.  I knew more songs for the beginning concepts and had more ideas.  Since I took my Kodaly Levels, I have gotten many more ideas for some upper grade literature and it has helped me be much more successful teaching grades 4-6.  Here are 3 of my favorite Low So songs.  I chose 1 that has a great game, one with a simple folk dance, and one with a partner song/ orffestration.  They each use low so in a different way which is good as well.

Our Old Sow (d-s):  This is definitely a crowd favorite that I learned during a Level 1/2 folk dance day at Capital U.'s Summer Kodaly Levels Program.  The students first learn the song by reading solfa notation off of the board (usually it is just solfa, because there is a dotted quarter note- eighth note pattern in this song.)  After the song is learned we do some "Music Remote" Games (Dropbox Remote Smart File).  Students switch back and forth between solfa and words at the sound of a drum, or visually when I switch the arrow to the other "channel". (I use the remote A LOT- it can be used for solfegge, words, inner hearing, AND rhythms. Sometimes just two categories, sometimes three, and if my students are really up for a challenge, all four.) This preps them for reacting to the drum beat for the game.

Game: Students stand in even lines and connect arms with the people next to them to make a "fence".  One student is chosen to be the farmer, and one the pig.  At the sound of the drum the "fence" switches directions (the students now connect with those in front of/ behind them).  The farmer chases the pig through the maze, not allowed to go through arms and break the fence. If the pig is caught within 3 times through the song, the farmer wins- if not, the pig wins.  After the students know the game well, we bring back the switching from Words to Solfa on the drum beat as well.  When the students are facing the front of the room, the sing words, and when they face the window, they sing solfegge.

(I bring this song back later to teach dotted quarter note and we review the game, this time switching from words to rhythm on the drum beat)

Alabama Gal (d-l-s): Alabama Gal is one of the first Folk Dances I teach. This is definitely a sight-readable song.  It has ti-ta-ti patterns in it, but typically I am teaching low so and ti-ta-ti at the same time so it works out.

Dance: Students start in two lines (traditionally one is boys and one is girls, but I almost never have an even number of boys and girls so I have them choose a partner to stand across from).   For line one, the head couple sashays down the set and back with hands connected.  Phrase two, all couples do-si-do.  Phrases three and four are what I can "Peeling the Banana".  The head couple leads the lines around on the outside, making a bridge for all to walk under.  The students are to connect hands as they go under the bridge.  At the end, the old head couple would be the Last couple, and the previously 2nd couple is now first.   Sometimes I teach this with Alabama Gal Won't You Come Out Tonight and use the latter as a transition song.  I use a recording from Chimes of Dunkirk sometimes, and others I have the students sing.

Early Morn (s-l-d):  This is a song I got from a teacher here in my district- Thanks Tracey!- and I love it!  It has so many instrument parts AND 3 melodies that fit together to make a really cool presentation piece. Only melodies 1+ 3 use low so, but I bring this back later for fa in melody 2 and the dotted quarter-eighth note pattern in melody 3.  The students love choosing to play certain instruments, and successfully doing ALL PARTS together.  Unfortunately, when Tracey gave it to me, it did not come with a source.  If I ever figure out where this Orffestration came from, I will let you know!

I am now pinning each post to a new board on my pinterest page- follow it! It is called Music Ed Blog Posts.  http://pinterest.com/emilyjencson/music-ed-blog-posts/