Monthly Archives: January 2013

Instrument Ideas

I got an email from a teacher who is going to Cambodia to work with children.

I’m going to be teaching a workshop in Cambodia in a couple weeks for Friends International. They have about 5 foreigners who head up cultural activities and care for the children that they support. They have asked me to do a half day workshop on making instruments from recycled materials and then some songs and activities they can do. Do you have any great resources for this? I would definitely like to pull a few songs from the “Singing Games Kids Love” books, but other than playing along to recordings and soundscapes, I’m a bit stumped for good ideas of what they can do with their homemade instruments.
1.  Play instruments along with recorded music – classical, folk tunes, pop tunes
– I do a play along almost every music class with my preschool aged kids, getting them to play the beat
– I find different ways to play:  loud/quiet, finding any different timbres the instruments can make
With older kids, I’d teach them some basic rhythms, and have them play a series of rhythm patterns with the music.
If you have the Listening Resource Kits, take a look at any of the instrument playalongs in them.
2.  Substitute instrument sounds in familiar songs
The wheels on the Bus go round and round – we play on the round and round
With my littlest ones,we use only one instrument for all the things on the bus.
With older kids, I’d choose instruments that fit the sounds of money, or doors opening and shutting.
Use body percussion as well – doesn’t have to be instruments.
Other familiar songs that work like this:
Let Everyone Clap Hands Like me – let everyone play sticks like me
If You’re Happy and you know it play the sticks, x x
3.  Add sound effects to storybooks
* Mortimer is a must do
* Mmm Cookies by Robert Munsch is really good too
* Up UP Down by Robert Munsch I do as well
I’d like to write some stories for kids to add sound effects to – I need some that my littlest (3 year olds) could play with. If you have any brainstorms let me know!
4.  Older kids love the Pop song play alongs.
We’re working on a publication, but it will be a few months.
Artie Almeida did this to wipe out – really fun with sticks on buckets or some kind of drum
5.  Create Rhythm Compositions
– create rhythm canons – have different groups of instruments start at different times
– create 4 bar rhythm and add an ostinato.  Put the ostinato on one instrument, and have the rest play the rhythm.
6.  Check the lesson plan section of the blog for more ideas.

 

 

Winter Rhythms Lesson Plan

Target Concept:   – notate the rhythm of the words

Grade Level:  Grades 2-5

In this activity, the students sort the words into the rhythm that they match. This is a great way to have them begin notation of their own poems and songs.  Have them add some words of their own.  I think I should have added cough, cold and flu to the list!  Try to steer them away from words that use a pickup or anacrusis, as these are more difficult to notate correctly.  (eg.  Diwali)

When the students have sorted all the words into the correct rhythm column, alone or in groups, they should choose 4 or 8 of the words and create a word chain with them.  They could say the word chain, and add rhythm instruments to create sound effects, or they could play the word chain on the instruments.  I like it when the students say it once, and then play and say it.

You could create a theme to introduce the word chain compositions:   Winter time is snowman time, Winter time is fun.  (ss mm ss m, ss mr d)  Then, have each student or pair of students perform their word chain as a variation.

If you teach elementary music, get information on the Musicplay K-6 curriculum at www.musicplay.ca.

Winter rhythms

 

 

Ready for Recorder?

Ready for Recorders?    For many teachers, January is when the students in Grade 3, 4, or 5 start learning to play the recorder. While the recorder may seem like a simple instrument, there are many skills needed to be successful. Students must be able to:

* tell which is their left and right hands
* hold the recorder with the left hand at the top, right hand at the bottom
* cover tiny holes with finger pads – not finger tips
* start the note with the tongue
* continue the air stream between notes to create a legato sound
* breathe in appropriate places
* demonstrate correct fingerings for notes
* read the names of the notes
* read and perform rhythms
* understand meter
* follow a conductor
* demonstrate appropriate rehearsal skills
* articulate: slur in some places, tongue in others
* develop good intonation
* develop a beautiful sound

This list is daunting for an adult!  Breaking the skills down, islolating and teaching one skill at a time will help all of your students become successful recorder players. In this newsletter, I’ve got some tips for teaching students to read the names of the notes.

Tip #1.  Start teaching note names well before you order or hand out the recorders! Your students in K-2 should learn about the staff as part of their music classes. They should learn how to number the lines and spaces from the bottom to the top, and you can teach them that the treble clef circles the note G.  If you review this when you are showing them a piece of music, the note G will be learned long before starting recorder.  I like to use the floor staff and the hand staff to teach letter names.  A post on Floor staff games can be found on my new blog www.denisegagne.com.   In this newsletter, I’ll discuss the hand staff.

Hand Staff for K-2: If you hold your left hand in front of you with your thumb up, palm facing you and your fingers spread out, it’s easy to imagine that your hand is a staff. You have five fingers, just like there are five lines on the music staff.. In K-2 have the students point to each finger starting with the finger that is closest to the floor. Number the “lines”of the hand staff.

Pointing Game:  Call out “line one” or “line five” and have the students point to the correct “line.” Have a student be the leader and call out the line number.  Then, point to the space between the fingers. This is the “space.” Call out “first space”or “third space” and have the students point to the correct “space.”  Students like to be the leaders of the pointing game. When they are successful at just lines or just spaces, include both lines and spaces inthe game.  Transfer the Pointing Game to an actual staff.  The cookie sheet staff is fun for the students to use!

Cookie Sheet staff

Letter Names Gr. 3-5: Starting in third or fourth grade, teach the letter names of the notes. I use these poems to introduce the line and space notes.
The notes on the line spell Every Good Boy Does Fine.   (E G B D F)
The notes in the space, Spell your FACE!   (F A C E)
Lines:  Name the first line E, second line G, third line B, fourth line D and fifth line F.  Play the pointing game having the leader call out E, G, B, D or F
Spaces:   Name the first space F, second space A, third space C and fourth space E.  Play the pointing game having the leader call out F A C E.
When students are successful at just lines or just spaces, include both lines and spaces in the game.  No worksheets are needed to teach or review the note names – just the students hands. (and/or the cookie sheet)  You can play the pointing games when ever you have a few minutes at the end of a class.

When the students can name the notes successfully, review some of the simple reading songs from previous grade levels by having students sing the letter names that you point to on the staff. (hand staff or a staff drawn on the board)   When doing this, introduce some of the easy recorder songs that they’ll be learning to play later in the year.  If you are using the Complete Recorder Resource Kit, some of the simple songs that you could have the students sing include Hot Cross Buns or Doggie Doggie.  Each of these simple songs are singing games, so after singing the letter names, sing the song and play the game.  When you give out recorders later in the year, the students will be able to sight-read the pieces on recorder much more easily after having learned them in the fall.

Floor Staff Games

Floor Staff games are a great way to teach your students the numbers of the lines and spaces, and the pitch names of notes on the staff.  This is music theory without the worksheets!

Making a Floor Staff:    Use painter’s tape to put a giant staff on the floor. Painter’s tape won’t hurt the carpet and will last for a week or two until you’ve taught the staff games to all your students. If you have funding available, you can purchase a music rug to go on the floor that has a staff built into it. Visit www.musicplay.ca to see a music rug. Additional staff games are given in the publication “Staff and Symbol Games”, also available at www.musicplay.ca

background Music RUG

1. Staff Jump     An elimination game to learn the numbers of the lines and spaces. Have half of your students stand on line one. Call out a line for them to jump to – line three! line four! The last student to get to the correct line is eliminated. Have the other half of your students jump to the spaces. When you introduce the letter names of the lines and spaces, repeat the game using letter names.

2. Letter Names Jump     Group one will jump the lines on the music staff. The teacher calls out a line note – E, G, B, D, F – and the students jump to the line that she calls. To play this as an elimination game (optional), the last child to land on the line that is called is out. The last child left after the eliminations is the winner. Group two will jump the spaces on the music staff. The teacher will call out a space note name – F, A, C, E. If groups are small, repeat the note names and jump as needed until all the children have had a turn. When the students are very confident jumping lines or spaces, have each group jump to the note name that is called using both notes that are on lines and in spaces.

3. Staff Relay      Divide the class into two-four teams. On small paper plates write a letter name of a note – A B C D E F G. Each team is given a pile of notes. Teams race to place their notes on the correct line or space of the floor staff. The first team finished with ALL notes correctly placed wins.

4. Staff Beanbag Toss Divide the class into two-four teams. Each team has a pile of bean bags. A team member tosses a bean bag onto the staff.  They must correctly name the line or space it lands on. If they are correct, the bean bag stays. If not, the bean bag is removed by the teacher. The team with the most bean bags on the staff wins.

If you want to reinforce note names with worksheets, Themes & Variations publishes a great collection called, “Know Your Note Names” which has 56 reproducible pages with fun activities for teaching, practicing and assessing note names.  Visit www.musicplay.ca for info.

Know Your Note NamesKnow Note Names sample1