Tuesday, September 17, 2013

4 Things I'm Doing in my Music Room

Today I'm joining the 2/4 Tuesday Linky Party hosted by Steph over at Stay Tuned.

Here are 4 things going on in my music room this week.

1. 1st Grade Chant: Way Up High in the Apple Tree

Many apple, pumpkins, and leaf songs and chants are being heard in music rooms this time of year. Way Up High in the Apple Tree is one that the 1st graders are learning this week. (How can I resist that extra vocal exploration as the apples come doooooooown?)

2. Book : The Tailor and the Mouse 

I love reading/singing picture books to all the grade levels I teach, even 5th and 6th graders.
This John Feierabend adaptation is beautifully illustrated and there is enough sub text in the pictures to really engage the older kids.

The Tailor and the Mouse is the first dance my 5th graders learned this year. They love the natural minor song and enjoy singing the "Hi diddle um kum feedle!" response. After a couple of class periods of singing and playing the game, we read the book. 
(For the song and dance, please visit my website The Kodály Aspiring Music Classroom.)

3. Yan/Jean Petit: a french cummlative dance 
Sanna Longden's multi-cultural dance resources are a must have. If you ever have the opportunity to participate in one of her workshops, you should go!  (While I love the Rhythmically Moving series, nothing beats hearing authentic instruments play these pieces.)

In this simple french dance, the children add on "showing off" moves after parading in a circle. Yan/Jean Petit is on Sanna's 1st CD and 2nd DVD.

4. Flashcard Game: Read and Remember
This is one of my favorite flashcard games and I'm doing this game with 3rd-6th grade this week. (I would not recommend this game for K-2.) You can find many variations of this flashcard game in several Kodály books. It's one of those less than 5 minute games.

Part of music literacy is teaching students to read slightly ahead of where they singing/playing. Once they understand it, the students really enjoy this challenge.

The Game

Starting with at least four rhythm flashcards, show the first card and ask students to memorize the first card. Then hide the first card behind the others. The class speaks the rhythm (or sings the sola ) of the first card, (by memory,) while looking at and memorizing the second card. This procedure is repeated until all cards have been performed.

Thank you, Steph, for hosting the 2/4 Tuesday Linky Party.
Please head over to Stay Tuned! for more music class ideas!

Have a great week!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Manipulative Monday: Dynamics Sphere, Floor Staff and a Linky Party!

Manipulative Monday!

I'm very new to the Linky Party idea but I'm taking the plunge this week! Today I’m linking up with Lindsay over at The Pursuit of Joyfulness and her Munipulative Monday Linky Party! I am a fool for foam, Target specials, and other "every student gets a pack/stick/baggie" types of manipulatives, but today I'm going to focus on a couple of larger items.

Hoberman Sphere (in my room known as the Dynamics Sphere)
I love my Dynamics Sphere! This idea came from Holly Brinkman, a wonderful middle school choir director in my district. I purchased mine from Amazon during a school break a couple of years ago. After my son had a couple of weeks playing with it, I had to sneak it out of my house in order to bring it to school. It grows from small to very large.


I introduce the Dynamics Sphere in first grade while we are exploring loud and soft. After the first graders have heard Hyden’s Surprise Symphony through our acting out the audience’s surprise, they always want to hear it again. During the following class period I bring out the Dynamics Sphere. The students watch the sphere as I hold it while we're listening. During the music I show the different levels of louds and softs with the sphere. Of course when that sforzando surprise comes in I pull the sphere as large as it can go. SURPRISE! They all giggle and and then ask to see and hear it again! The Dynamics Sphere is also very useful during concert rehearsals and choir rehearsals when working on dynamics.

Floor Staff seating chart with velcro
I have been using a large floor staff in my music room for so long that I no longer can recall where this idea came from. I’m reasonably sure I saw it during my student teaching (which was many years ago)!
My floor staff is about 20' x 15'
I have been in many music rooms where the students have assigned seats on risers. I understand the benefits to having the class seats on risers. However, every time I’m in an in-service or meeting where I have to sit on risers for longer than five minutes, I feel uncomfortable and have trouble focusing. I can’t expect my students to do that when I can't do it myself. Also, having the large space free of risers gives us the room to move and play games!

I initially ordered my one sided velcro tape from a PE catalog I got from the PE teacher. (It is also sometimes called sew on velcro tape). It's the hook side of the velcro that you need. The hook side stays on my carpeted floor very firmly.
Yes, I do have to train the younger students to refrain from pulling on the velcro!
I use the Velcro staff as my seating chart  and students sit on the lines facing the SMART Board. 1st through 3rd graders know the lines by numbers 1-5. We refer to the lines and spaces with their letter names EGBDF and FACE in 4th through 6th grade.
(We make the transition from calling the lines and spaces of the staff numbers to absolute pitch letter names in 3rd grade when we start soprano recorder).

What is really fun about the floor staff is that we can play staff games with it. Some of those activities include:

1. EGBDF Says: EGBDF is a caterpillar puppet who helps to introduce the letter names of the lines and spaces. (His whole story is really one for another time)! We play EGBDF Says just like Simon Says. ("EGBDF says everyone on line B do three jumping jacks!" etc.)

2. Staff Races: "All girls wearing blue move to space C. Only the first 3 girls who make it there will stay in the game!"

3.  Melody writing and reading: Everyone moves below the staff and teams of students reproduce short melodies with their bodies. The rest of the class reads and sings their melody.

When a grade level is preparing for a concert I rearrange their seats into a "concert order" (based on height, sound, and behavior,) with 4 rows of students standing in the spaces. This easily transfers to the 4 levels of risers they perform on.

So, there are two manipulatives I love to use in my music room!
Thank you, Lindsay for hosting this Linky Party. Make sure you stop by The Pursuit of Joyfulness to check out more fun manipulative ideas from elementary music bloggers!

Friday, September 13, 2013

sol mi Review and Star Foam

You know I have a fondness for foam shape manipulatives. At the start of the school year I found some foam star shapes priced at 10 for $1.00! (in the Target dollar bin section, of course)! I'm a big fan of creating manipulatives for matching games and stick to staff activities, but this time I thought I'd do something different and simple.

Since the beginning of the school year, my second graders have been reviewing singing and reading sol and mi on the staff. (Yes, I know they should have gotten to la by the end of 1st grade but it just doesn't happen like that in my world. The biggest obstacle is that I don't get to teach kindergarten; it is rare in my district for a school to provide art, music, and PE for kindergardeners. It's too bad; kindergarten is such a crucial time for them to have those classes but that's how it is for now.)

I incorporate solo singing often during class because students need to hear themselves and "fine tune" their listening in order to match pitch. Almost always, when someone has trouble matching pitch, the issue is their lack of focused listening skills. Children need several opportunities to sing solo. Solo singing through Chain singing is a fun way to quickly assess students.

On my foam stars I wrote out each phrase of the song Star Light several times:

After reviewing the song and game, the stars are scattered face down in a circle and each student choses their star. 

First I have students group themselves with their same phrase and we sing the song with each group singing their phrase. (This group practice sets them up for confident solo singing later; there's safety in numbers)!  Then they form a group of 4 by finding the other students with the phrases that completed their song. For fun, (and more practice), they all sing Star Light according to their phrase, but now they are standing in a mixed group and the others singing their phrase are standing farther away. (We're always building up that comfort level)!
Finally, each group "solos" and every student sings their phrase alone. We go around the room round robin style. When students are not singing they are body signing the melody.

My students are accustomed to singing solo; they sing the roll call at the beginning of every music class and we play many games that incorporate solos.  However, I always want to re-establish a non-threatening, supportive environment when our solo singing is not in the context of a game. (As the big sign at the front of my room states: "We will never laugh at anyone's honest effort!")

To go along with my sol mi review, I pulled out a scaffolded SMART Board file I created that I've used to practice sol and mi on a 1 line staff, then a 3 line staff, and a 5 line staff.
I fine-tuned it and put it up on Teachers Pay Teachers. 

A real 2nd grader covering lyrics with solfa buttons!

Oh my, I think I may have 6 products on TpT now. Crazy. What can I say? That's just how I roll these days... (Those things take me forever!)

I may not be prolific with TpT products but I do plan on updating this blog at least weekly.
Please check back with me if you're interested.
Have a lovely weekend!