Friday, March 30, 2012

Songs with solos

Sing, sing, sing! I want my students to experience beautiful, in-tune singing and I am always on the lookout for songs with solos. I know students are more successful in pitch matching when they sing unaccompanied and have opportunities to sing alone. While I use several songs with solos in the primary grades, I don't use as many in the older grades.

Here is one that has been very successful with my older students. I often start with several knots tied in the rope so that a few students are singing the solo, (which cuts down on the initial fear factor for the singers.) I learned this song from my wonderful Level III teacher, Liz Arcaro.

Once a  student has sung a solo (or duet, or trio, depending on how many knots I tie in the rope,) they go to a barred instrument and accompany with a simple bourdon on C and G.

What are some of your favorite songs with solos?

Monday, March 19, 2012

SMART Board Quick Tip: Making a highlighter bar.

I was thrilled to present a SMART Board session at the 2012 Organization of American Kodály Educators Association this past weekend. During the session I showed several little "tricks" that I've found useful in teaching. Here is a very short video showing how to create a "highlighter bar" to help guide student attention towards the stave they're reading.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

SMART Board: Little tricks to make lessons easier.

I am very fortunate to have a SMART Board in the music room. My board was installed a little over a year ago and it has become a completely indispensable tool during my lessons. I am still discovering more ways to create engaging presentations for my students. Lately I’ve been finding different ways, some embarrassingly obvious, to use the SMART Board Notebook software. 

Display Lyrics

I display lyrics when the class is playing a game or dancing with a song that contains several verses. The SMART Board is not the focus during the song and dance but the words are there for students to glance at while we’re engaged in playing or dancing. It takes very little time to write up lyrics and show them on the SMART Board.
A quick glance towards "I'se the B'ye" and students continue singing along!

Show Dance formations

Have you ever noticed how a class of 30 students can lose focus and miss directions when they are already standing in dance formation, a long ways set, for example? This is natural; these dances were created with socialization in mind! Much like a coach might lead a team through “chalk talk” by showing plays on a whiteboard, I can show students the “game plan,” on the SMART Board before we get into position.

Move those circles and triangles to show students where they'll move next.

Create Worksheets from SMART Board Pages

There are three options for printing pages in SMART Notebook: Thumbnails, Handouts, and Full Page.
Choose Full Page to print out full pages of music or worksheets you’ve displayed for the class. My 3rd graders recently began playing recorder and I simply printed their beginning songs as “Recorder Homework.” 

Additionally, you can use the Screen Capture tool, (the silver camera,) to select and take a picture of all or a portion of a page in your lesson. You can then copy and paste these pieces into a word document and create a worksheet or handout.

Those are a few of my, "Well, of course!" SMART Board uses.
Do you have any to add?
(To see more SMART Board Ideas, visit my website at 

Friday, March 2, 2012


Manipulatives: Sol-fa Mittens
These sol-fa mittens are thin foam that were cut with a die cut press. 
Sol-fa names are written on both sides. I use these to practice echoing and decoding melodic patterns.
We start with the class echoing 4 beat pentatonic patterns sung with sol-fa while tapping their mittens.
Students must flip the mitten of the last pitch sung so that the thumb is facing the opposite direction, (creating a right hand mitten.) We progress to students echoing patterns sung on a neutral syllable, (like "loo.") 

I can easily see which students are decoding correctly as each student has a different color set of mittens. I also have a SMART Board page to help model for the class, (and the students love to come up to the board to flip the mittens.)