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.  :) 


  1. I definitely need to work on making sure everyone is working at the same time! I think this is one of the things I have the most trouble with. Also, positive reinforcement. These are two aspects of my teaching that I want to improve upon this year!

    Good luck with the beginning of your school year!

  2. Would you please re-post the link for the handout that included the song "Bim Bom"? The second link that you posted did work, but when I tried it again the next day it wouldn't open. Thanks so much.

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