Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Under the Sea- a 6th Grade Concert

WOW! My 6th grade chorus is amazing this year! They are truly small but mighty.   There is only about 30 kids in the group but they all really want to be there and do a great job.  We play games, sight-read, and have tons of fun. Because they are so amazing I decided to add in a special spring concert for them this year to give them another chance to be great musicians and share with their parents and communities. It was supposed to be just a glee and orff concert, but after all of their hard work at the beginning of the year I decided to add the whole group in. They got to choose a theme-Under the Sea- and then we learned 6 songs, made up skits, and even had some solos.  Some songs were unison- many were 2 parts- and one was even 3 parts! They really rose to the challenge of the music and made the concert wonderful.  Some parents said it was the best concert they have seen at Wilson - including band and orchestra! I am so proud of them and I will really miss them when they go onto middle school next year!

Below is a list of songs, and how I taught them (sight reading all, sight-reading just rhythm, rote, etc.) Check these songs out! I love all of them! This was a great theme to combine songs the kids knew and loved (but not necessarily pop music) as well as challenge them with other music that they had never heard before. (Note: The 5th grade glee song came from a Disney piano book I have and the Little Mermaid Songs are both part of a Medley).

Surfs Up- Arranged by Roger Emerson- This is a medley of surf songs from the '50s but we only sang the first and last- Surfin' USA and Kokomo.  These were mainly learned by "rote" because many students already had heard the tune.  We did sing the parts as written in the music- lots of oohs and ahhs under the melody- the kids had a lot fun with this one.

Dance of the One-Legged Sailor- Written by Brent Pierce- This was our most challenge piece.  There was a LOT of changing time signatures in this song.  We learned the rhythm by sight-reading, but added in the notes by rote. This song had 6/8, 3/4, and 5/8 so there was a lot of time-signature talk!

He’s A Pirate from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl- Music by Klaus Badelt, Arranged by J. Linn- This song was played by the Orffestra and they read all of their music.  A few of the newer or younger kids sometimes have to write in the note names but they do a great job of reading.  We made the song ABA and only played the most recognizable parts.  They played memorized on the xylophones for the concert and did great! (Note: For this song I got piano music and had most of them play the melody and then few play the bass line on the Bass Resonator Bars or Bass Xylophones).

Seagull, Seagull- Arranged by Susan Brumfield- This song is a great diatonic sight-reading song because truly it is MOSTLY pentatonic with just a few fas and tis.  It is a partner song, but one of the two songs sung together also has parts.  The song builds for each verse- 1st verse is one melody in unison, 2nd is same melody in parts, 3rd is the partner melody in parts, and then the 4th is the 1st melody in two parts and the 2nd in one (it is not written but if you were really ambitious you probably could have the final verse in 4 parts).   For the 1st verse we sight-read using the Smart-board labeling key solfegge, but not all and sang as a group.  For the other verses we read directly from our music- again writing in key solfegge making notes about steps, skips, scales etc.  We did not add words in until all verses were solid on solfegge so the kids REALLY knew the melodies before words were added.  For a few weeks we also played around with who sang what- as they all had read all parts.  We nailed down who sings which part about a month before the concert.  The orff group also played the percussion for this one! After this songs introduction they all started to act like the "Finding Nemo" Seagulls saying "MINE" over and over- the parents definitely got a kick out of it :)

Umbrella Beach- As performed by Owl City- This was a cute solo two of the girls prepared.  They auditioned for me  and then were required to get the accompaniment karaoke on their own.  I just plugged an Ipod into my speakers when it was their turn.   All students had the opportunity to try out with a solo, but only two groups took on the extra challenge.

Hands Cross the Ocean: Partner song with Tum Balalaika- Original words and music by Jill Gallina- This is a very pretty partner song about peace around the world.  This was our minor song for the concert.  The students learned each section by rote, but were responsible for knowing when a melody repeated and which part it was- melody 1 or 2.  

Never Smile at a Crocodile- Words by Jack Lawrence, Music by Frank Churchill-  This was the 5th Grade Glee song.  They made up an adorable skit about being stuck inside the belly of a crocodile and then sang the song and performed their dance.  They made up all choreography (with my guidance) and did a stupendous job!

Kiss the Girl from The Little Mermaid- Music by A. Menken, Lyrics by H. Ashman- This was another solo group.  The 3 girls did a great job and even made up some of their own harmonies to go with the song.  It was great!

Yellow Submarine- Words and Music by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Arranged by John Leavitt- This was another one the students basically already knew but we added most of the harmony as written in the arrangement.  The people who sang the harmony on the chorus sight-read their part.  There were also some spoken lines in this one to introduce the song.  It was very cute!

Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid- Music by A. Menken, Lyrics by H. Ashman, Arranged by R. Emerson- This was our 6th Grade Glee feature song. They made up the dance at recess and it was really cute! They have me tempted to start a middle school Glee and high school show-choir eventually, but I don't have the time right now (or the money...)!

Under the Sea from The Little Mermaid- Music by A. Menken, Lyrics by H. Ashman, Arranged by R. Emerson- This one was definitely known by all students before we started and was of course our finale.  We had some awesome students sight read the harmony as written, which was a lot of echos and interjections.  Under the sea was introduced by a very cute skit the 6th grade glee made up where a boy was washed up on the short of a deserted island and met Ariel.  They then sang just a verse of the Train Song "Mermaid" and Sebastian met them at the end to remind Ariel that Under the Sea is where she should be!  Our Sebastian started off the song as a solo and the chorus joined in 1/2 way through the first verse. Both Glee Clubs danced as the chorus sang. It was a great way to end the concert!

Now we are looking forward to our Spring Musical which is a combined effort of both the 5th and 6th grade Chorus groups.  We are performing "The Granny Awards" this year and the kids are doing a great job getting ready! It is going to be a great show!

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