Tag Archives: Denise Gagne

Musicplay – Should I Get the Digital Resource Package or Just the Website?

I received a question this week, and think this is a good forum to post my answer.

I am very interested in preK-2 curriculum.  I was originally interested in the K-2 School Complete Digital Resource Package, and just created a one month sample trial of your on line resources!
www.musicplayonline.com .  As a new teacher, this is a gold mine!  What great resources!  Can you explain the difference between the K-2 coomplete digital resource package and the MusicPlay on-line subscription.  I want to best understand how they are different and what each resource entails.

Answer:  

The K-2 Digital Resource Package includes printed teacher’s guides, the Listening Resource Kit 1-2, the Digital Resource for Listening 1 and the Digital Resources for Musicplay.  This print and disk resource includes all the lesson plans, song suggestions, sequence and the projectable to teach the lessons for K-2.

This material is all included in some form on the online site –www.musicplayonline.com.   The projectables from the Digital Resource Disk are found in the song movies and Concept slides.  The recordings that are on the CDs are embedded in the movies and concept slides, and the ACC tracks are just above the Concept Slides on the site.  

The print material that is in the teacher’s guide is found in various places.  The monthly lesson outlines are in the Lesson Plans section.  The song suggestions are found in teacher’s notes along with each song.

I like to have the printed guide to refer to, I like have the recordings available as stand alone.  (You can’t download them from the site).  I really like to have the Digital Resources – the song movies – available to me when I teach in rooms where wifi is intermittent or signal is poor.

With the package, you’d get a 1 or 2 year subscription to the site – I think a 2 year, so you’d have 2 year access. 

And if your teaching situation changes and the school won’t fund the site ($16 / month USD) you will still have the materials to use in your new teaching situation.

That said, the site –www.musicplayonline.com – has much more than what’s in the digital.  It has 1000+ interactive activities – many units and activities that have been created especially for the site.  It has note highlight videos for all reading songs and for beginning recorder.  It has many new units:  Star Spangled Banner, O Canada, Instruments of the Orchestra.  It has games to teach the comparables:  high/low, fast/slow, loud/quiet, smooth/separated.  Games are in development to help develop ear training:  Which Rhythm Did I Hear and Which Melody Did I Hear.  The students in your classes can play these games using the student login.  The Rhythm and Solfa practice sections are really amazing.  The site includes printable that aren’t in the package – many worksheets, piano, guitar, ukulele, Orff arrangements.  The online site – www.musicplayonline.com  – is incredible value for $16/month (USD)

Best case scenario for a teacher using Musicplay for the first time is to have both the Musicplay Digital Resource package and the website access and use them hand in hand.

Denise

Musicplayonline

Get Kids Moving, Learning, Behaving

July 24-25, 2017 – Artie and Denise Workshop #8 in Las Vegas, NV
REGISTER online!  USA teachers .                 Canadian Teachers

Get Kids Moving, Learning, Behaving
Music teachers have always known that movement is an essential part of our music classes.  Dalcroze Eurhythmics teaches concepts of rhythm, structure, and musical expression using movement. (as is common in Orff and Kodaly approaches)  In this article, I’m going to give examples of music to teach concepts, and movement to “get the wiggles out.”   Kids today have a much harder time staying focussed and attention spans are really short.  Giving kids in your music classes a quick movement break is great for moving to the beat AND great for getting the wiggles out.  As the countdown to the end of the school year progresses, behavior worsens.  A fast paced music lesson, with frequent movement breaks to wear them out, will help to manage the behaviors in your classroom.

Researcher Terrence Dwyer is one of many who have conducted multiple studies suggesting that exercise supports success in school. His research found that exercise improves classroom behavior and academic performance (Dwyer, Sallis, Blizzard, Lazarus, & Dean, 2001).  An excellent article – Move Your Body, Grow Your Brain – is found here:  https://www.edutopia.org/blog/move-body-grow-brain-donna-wilson.

A very quick exercise that can help focus your students is Superbrain Yoga. In research doing this simple exercise improved test scores of ADHD children by more than 20%.  It takes about 3 minutes of class time – a small amount of time if it will help your students to pay attention! Find Info Here

 In Musicplay, there are many movement activities.  I added many new movement activities to Musicplay for Kindergarten in the 2013 revision.  (Updated lessons are online at www.musicplayonline.com.  If you have a pre-2013 version, send a photo of your guide and I can send you the new guide as a PDF.  email denise@musicplay.ca)

 Movement Activity 1 – Move and Stop     (Musicplay for Kindergarten)
Objective: beat/no beat, same/different, quiet/loud, fast/slow
This is an example of a movement activity to teach concepts.  In this movement activity, the students will explore moving when the teacher plays the woodblock or drum. When the teacher stops playing, the students stop and freeze. Tell the students, “Make your feet do what the drum plays. When the drum stops, you stop.” Each pause should be a different length. Students love the anticipation that builds while they wait for you to play a new pattern. Ask the students to tell you when there is a beat and when there is no beat. Mix up the patterns. Sometimes play the same pattern twice. Vary the length of the patterns. Play the patterns at different tempos. Try playing with different dynamic levels and observe if the students respond with movement to show the different dynamics. Repeat this activity frequently. Later, try playing a piece of instrumental music and have students move when you play it, and stop when you pause.

The Jig Jig Jiggles is a great movement break and is great for reinforcing steady beat, and for teaching about fermata.


I got the jig jig jig jig jiggles. I got the jig jig jig jig jiggles.
My momma and my daddy want me to be still….. But I love the jig jiggles and I always will!
I got the wig wig wig wig wiggles. I got the wig wig wig wig wiggles
My momma and my daddy want me to be still….. But I love the wig wiggles and I always
Ooo feeling fine.  I can’t get the jiggles out of my mind.
Oo oo feeling fine.  I love the jig jiggles, do them all the time.

I got the hop hop hop hop hoppin. I got the hop hop hop hop hoppin.
My momma and my daddy want me to be still….. But I love the hop hoppin and I always will!
I got the bop bop bop bop boppin. I got the bop bop bop bop boppin.
My momma and my daddy want me to be still….. But I love the bop boppin and I always will!
Ooo feeling fine.  I can’t get the jiggles out of my mind.
Oo oo feeling fine.  I love the jig jiggles, do them all the time

WATCH a MOVIE of Jig Jig Jiggles
Source: Primary Dances and Singing Games – available as print book/CD or download .

  USA Site:            CANADA Site
(This song will be posted to musicplayonline.com as part of Musicplay PreK)

MUSICPLAYONLINE.COM – NEW MOVEMENT SONGS
There are some new movement songs at www.musicplayonline.com
Musicplay PreK Pt 1 – #6
SHAKE IT TOGETHER
Shake and shake and shake it together.  3x
Everybody shake!  Doo doo doo, Doo doo doo, Doo doo doo doo doo.
2.  Jump and jump and jump it together, 3x
Everybody jump!     Doo doo doo, Doo doo doo, Doo doo doo doo doo.
3.  Twist and twist and twist it together, 3x
Everybody twist.    Doo doo doo, Doo doo doo, Doo doo doo doo doo.
4.  Hop and hop and hop it together, 3x
Everybody hop!     Doo doo doo, Doo doo doo, Doo doo doo doo doo.

 

WATCH a MOVIE of SHAKE IT

There are some great movement songs for older students in Musicplay!    Some of my favorites:

Musicplay 3 #37 We Come From Pluto.   (Also in Action Songs Children Love Vol. 2)
Musicplay 4 – # 6  Chester   (Also in Action Songs Children Love Vol. 3)
Musicplay 4 – #35 My Bonnie    (Also in Action Songs Children Love Vol. 3)
Musicplay 5 – #95 We Love to Sing. (Also in Action Songs Children Love Vol. 2)
Musicplay 6 – #76 A Ram Sam Sam  (Also in Action Songs Children Love Vol. 3)        ACTION Song Download – USA site         Canada site – Action Songs

 Movement Songs Children Love is an old favorite collection of movement songs. – some of the songs are in Musicplay – if you don’t have Musicplay, this is a collection you’ll love!  One Green Jellybean is a great song for Easter.
Source: Movement Songs Children Love – available as print book/CD or download           USA Site:                CANADA Site:  

 Movement to Classical Music
Listening 1 #29 – play the Copycat Game or lead the students in different ways to keep the beat.
– a kids demo is available at www.musicplayonline.com “Keep Beat Kids”
Listening 1 #36 Gigue – there is a kids demo of the Copycat Game
Listening 1 #37 Gigue – there is a kids demo of the Copycat Game
There are many movement activities in the Listening Resource Kits (and the online site) that will get the kids exercising, keeping a beat, and helping their brains grow!

 Moving to music is an essential part of your music classes.  Use movement breaks to help the kids maintain focus and to wear them out enough that they’ll sit and listen for you.

The online resource is www.musicplayonline.com
Create an account and get one month free!

Current subscribers – To thank you for subscribing, we are going to give you an extra month on every one year subscription!  (online renewals only)  When you’re ready to renew your yearly subscription, email denise@musicplay.ca for your discount code.

  New at www.musicplayonline.com .
*  Beat/Rhythm Activities for Gr. K-1-2!   Coming soon, beat/rhythm for Gr. 3.  
* Did you know we have an EXTRA Listening section?  Go to Listening on the left menu.  Select the Extra tab.  There are instrument demo movies, So-me Storybook movies (all 12 stories!) and for band teacher, movies explaining how to care for your instrument.

New activities are being posted every week at    www.musicplayonline.com

Musicplay K-5 Synopsis – What Does Musicplay Teach?

I had an email question from a teacher this week. She needed to give a synopsis of what she teaches in each grade to her principal. She asked if I had a synopsis of what’s taught in Musicplay, and I had never written it in this format. So here’s the synopsis. Of course how much you’re able to teach depends on the time allotted for music, the experiences your students come with, and a myriad of other factors. With Musicplay you treat the teacher’s guide like a menu – choose the song, choose the activities. If you do all the “core” activities, you will complete what’s in the synopsis with your students.

For information on the Musicplay K-5 curriculum: www.musicplay.ca

Musicplay Kindergarten: Sing, Play, Move, Listen, Read/Write, Create

In kindergarten music classes students will learn poems and songs from many different styles and cultures in English, Spanish, French and other languages. They’ll learn seasonal songs, songs to enhance the themes in their classroom, and will learn songs that reinforce basic skills that they learn in kindergarten such as colors, numbers, shapes, and alphabet. They’ll sing and play many action songs and singing games. They’ll practice keeping a steady beat using non-locomotor and locomotor movement with body percussion and with instruments. Students will begin to read rhythms that are one, two or no sounds on a beat. Students will accompany simple songs with borduns on barred instruments, and will use non-pitched rhythm instruments to create accompaniments for poems, songs and stories. Students will create and play new verses, new rhythm compositions and B sections. They will learn about form in music by moving, listening and creating new compositions. Students will listen and move to the beat of the teacher’s drum, and will listen and respond to the music of Bach, Handel and other classical composers. Students will learn to identify high-low, loud-quiet, fast-slow, in sounds around us, through movement and through listening. Students will identify timbre such as speaking voice, singing voice and classroom instruments.

Musicplay 1: Sing, Play, Move, Listen, Read/Write, Create

In Grade 1 music classes students will learn poems and songs from many different styles and cultures in English, Spanish, French and other languages. They’ll learn seasonal songs, songs to enhance the themes in their classroom, and will learn songs that reinforce basic skills that they learn in Grade 1 such as beginning consonents and vowels. They’ll sing and play many action songs and singing games. They will sing simple songs in two parts by adding melodic or rhythmic ostinato. They’ll practice keeping a steady beat using non-locomotor and locomotor movement and using body percussion and instruments. Students will learn to read rhythms that include quarter notes, pairs of eighth notes, quarter rest. They will read simple melodies using the solfa syllables so, mi, la and do. Students will accompany reading songs with simple Orff arrangements, and will use non-pitched rhythm instruments to create accompaniments for poems, songs and stories. Students will create and play new verses, new rhythm compositions and B sections. They will learn about form in music by moving, listening and creating new compositions. Students will listen, move, respond and begin to use critical analysis when listening to the music of Bach, Handel and other classical composers. Students will identify loud-quiet as forte and piano, fast-slow as allegro and largo. Students will identify music that is smooth sounding and music that sounds separated. Students will identify timbres such as speaking voice, singing voice and classroom instruments. Students will use a variety of expression when they sing and speak to show that they understand the meaning of the text.

Musicplay 2: Sing, Play, Move, Listen, Read/Write, Create

In Grade 2 music classes students will learn poems and songs from many different styles and cultures in English, Spanish, French and other languages. They’ll learn seasonal songs and songs to enhance the themes in their classroom. They’ll sing and play many action songs and singing games. Students will learn a few simple rounds. They will sing simple songs in two parts by adding melodic or rhythmic ostinato. They’ll practice keeping a steady beat using non-locomotor and locomotor movement and using body percussion and with instruments. Students will read rhythms that include quarter notes, pairs of eighth notes, quarter rest, half and whole notes and rests. They will learn to read tied quarter notes. They will identify accented beats, and tell how many beats are in each group. (time signature) They will read simple melodies using the solfa syllables do, re, mi, so and la. Students will accompany songs with Orff arrangements, and will use non-pitched rhythm instruments to create accompaniments for poems, songs and stories. Students will create and play new verses, new rhythm compositions and B sections. They will learn about form in music by moving, listening and creating new compositions. They will define rondo form and AB form. Students will listen, move, respond and begin to use critical analysis skills when listening to the music of Bach, Handel and other classical composers. Students will identify a variety of dynamics and tempos using musical terminology. Students will identify articulation in music. Students will identify timbres such as speaking voice, singing voice, families of classroom instruments and families of orchestral instruments. Students will use a variety of expression when they sing and speak to show that they understand the meaning of the text.

Musicplay 3: Sing, Play, Move, Listen, Read/Write, Create

In Grade 3 music classes students will learn poems and songs from many different styles and cultures in English, Spanish, French and other languages. They’ll learn seasonal songs from many cultures. They’ll sing and play many action songs and singing games. Students will sing songs with ostinato, many rounds and begin singing partner songs. They’ll practice keeping a steady beat using non-locomotor and locomotor movement and keeping a beat with body percussion and instruments. Students will read rhythms that include quarter notes, pairs of eighth notes, quarter rest, half, whole notes, groups of four sixteenth and the corresponding rests. They will identify accented beats, and will read music in 2/4, 4/4 and 3/4 time signatures, explaining that the music is in groups of 2, 3, or 4. They will read simple melodies using the solfa syllables do, re, mi, so, la, high do, low la and low so. Students will accompany many songs with Orff arrangements, and will use non-pitched rhythm instruments to create accompaniments for poems, songs and stories. Students will create and play new verses, new rhythm compositions and B sections. They will learn about form in music by moving, listening and creating new compositions. They will identify and define rondo form, ABA form and theme and variations. Students will listen, move, respond to and use critical analysis skills when listening to the music of classical composers from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern eras. Students will identify dynamics, tempo and articulation (stacatto, legato) using musical terminology. Students will identify the timbres of classroom instruments and orchestral instruments and be able to classify/sort them into families. Students will use a variety of expression when they sing and speak to show that they understand the meaning of the text.

In grade 3 students may learn to read absolute note names (ABCDEFG) and play songs using BAG E on the recorder.

Musicplay 4: Sing, Play, Move, Listen, Read/Write, Create

In Grade 4 music classes students will learn poems and songs from many different styles and cultures in English, Spanish, French and other languages. They’ll learn seasonal songs from many cultures. They’ll sing and play many action songs and singing games. Students will sing songs with ostinato, many rounds, partner songs and two-part songs. They’ll practice keeping a steady beat using non-locomotor and locomotor movement and keeping a beat with body percussion, instruments and cups. Students will read rhythms that include quarter notes, pairs of eighth notes, quarter rest, half, dotted half, whole notes, groups of four sixteenth, eighth-sixteenth note combinations, syncopated notes and the corresponding rests. They will identify accented beats, and will read music in 2/4, 4/4 and 3/4 time signatures, explaining that the music is in groups of 2, 3, or 4. They will read simple melodies using the solfa syllables do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, high do, low la and low so. Students will learn to read absolute letter names – ABCDEFG. Students will accompany many songs with Orff arrangements, and will use non-pitched rhythm instruments to create accompaniments for poems, songs and stories. Students will create and play new verses, new rhythm compositions and B sections. They will learn about form in music by moving, listening and creating new compositions. They will identify and define rondo form, AB, ABA form and theme and variations. Students will listen, move, respond to and use critical analysis skills when listening to the music of classical composers from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern eras. Students will identify dynamics, tempo and articulation (stacatto, legato) using musical terminology. Students will identify the timbres of classroom instruments and orchestral instruments and be able to classify/sort them into families. Students will use a variety of expression when they sing and speak to show that they understand the meaning of the text.

In Grade 4 students will learn to play songs that may use BAG ED C’D’ F on the recorder. They will create their own recorder compositions using BAG E (D). Students may learn to accompany one and two chord songs with the ukulele.

Musicplay 5: Sing, Play, Move, Listen, Read/Write, Create

In Grade 5 music classes students will learn poems and songs from many different styles and cultures in English, Spanish, French and other languages. They’ll learn seasonal songs from many cultures. They’ll sing and play many action songs and singing games. They’ll practice keeping a steady beat using non-locomotor and locomotor movement and keeping a beat with body percussion, instruments and cup games. Students will read rhythms that include quarter notes, pairs of eighth notes, quarter rest, half, dotted half, whole notes, groups of four sixteenth, eighth-sixteenth note combinations, syncopated notes and the corresponding rests. They will identify accented beats, and will read music in 2/4, 3/4, 4/4 and 5/4 time signatures, explaining that the music is in groups of 2, 3, 4 or 5. They will read simple melodies using the solfa syllables do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, high do, low so, la, and ti. Students will learn to read absolute letter names – ABCDEFG. Students will accompany many songs with more complex Orff arrangements, and will use non-pitched rhythm instruments to create accompaniments for poems, songs and stories. Students will create and play new verses, new rhythm compositions and B sections. They will learn about form in music by moving, listening and creating new compositions. They will identify and define rondo form, ABA form and theme and variations. Students will listen, move, respond to and use critical analysis skills when listening to the music of classical composers from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern eras. Students will identify dynamics, tempo and articulation (stacatto, legato) using musical terminology. Students will identify the timbres of classroom instruments and orchestral instruments and be able to classify/sort them into families. Students will use a variety of expression when they sing and speak to show that they understand the meaning of the text.

In Grade 5 students will learn to play songs that may use BAG ED C’D’ F on the recorder. They will create their own recorder compositions using BAG E (D). Students may learn to accompany one, two and three chord songs with the ukulele or the guitar.

For information on the Musicplay K-5 curriculum: www.musicplay.ca

Try www.musicplayonline.com for free for a month!  This is an amazing online resource!  Just $149.95/year USD!

Rhythm Assessment

Quick and Easy Ideas for assessing Rhythm Reading and Notation
June 12, 2016

 Many of our American teachers are already on summer break, but the Canadian teachers have 3 weeks of teaching.  With your final report cards due soon, here are a few very easy assessment ideas for you to use this week.

  1. Flashcard Attendance ~ Rhythm Reading Assessment

In the Musicplay teacher’s guides I sometimes suggest starting your class with flashcard attendance.  We don’t always have to take attendance, but in schools where you do, make taking the attendance into an opportunity for a quick evaluation.

In flashcard attendance, I would take the pile of cardstock flashcards that the students were working on.  I’d call a child’s name, hold up the flashcard and the child would read it.

4 – student accurately and fluently claps and says the pattern
3 – student is mostly accurate and mostly fluent in clapping and saying the pattern
2 – student is somewhat accurate and somewhat fluent in clapping and saying the pattern
1 – student has many inaccuracies clapping and saying the pattern and is not able to keep a steady beat

Themes & Variations publishes a set of 100 rhythm flashcards that are printed on colored cardstock.  The color coding indicates the patterns included in the set and helps you to quickly find the set that each class is working on.

Link to Flashcards – Canada   http://shop.musicplaytext.ihoststores.com/category.aspx?categoryID=26

Link to Flashcards – USA   http://shop.musicplaytext1.ihoststores.com/category.aspx?categoryID=62

In www.musicplayonline.com, we’ve taken the flashcards and made this into a very quick and easy to use movie – just press play.  There are 25-35 patterns in each set.   There are fewer patterns for very easy sets as younger classes are usually smaller (we hope!) and more patterns in the harder or longer sets for your older students.  In the easier sets, we’ve given you both 4 beat assessments and 8 beat assessments. You can choose the set that you want to assess.

Rhythm Read 4 beats coverRhythm Read 4 beats pattern

Rhythm Read 8 beats cover

Rhythm Read 8 beats pattern

If you have already assessed rhythm reading, and want to take your students to higher level thinking skills, do a dictation assessment with them.

Reading the pattern is easy for most of your students.

Hearing a pattern and notating it, is more challenging.

Prepare the students by having them Listen, Clap and Say

With the cardstock flashcards, you clap a pattern and have the students clap it back and say the rhythm names while they clap.  You can use whatever system of rhythm names you prefer – Ta, Ti-ti, Takadimi, or Edwin Gordon.  I make this into a game by dividing the class into two groups:  the Allegros and the Vivaces.  I show the Allegros a flashcard and they clap it.  If they clap it correctly, they get a point.  The Vivaces have to correctly SAY the rhythm the other team clapped.  If they say it correctly, they get a point.  I can usually rig it so it’s a tie by the end of the class!

At www.musicplayonline.com this is given as a movie.

Students hear the rhythm played, then have to say what they heard.  The answer follows.  This is the preparation the students need to be successful at music dictation.

Listen Clap Say pattern

Listen Clap Say question blank

Listen Clap Say - answer

To do music Dictation using cardstock flashcards, I choose five cards at the level I want to assess.  I give the students a piece of paper (I use paper from the recyling in the school) and a pencil (I keep a class set in a container by the door)  and an old hard cover text to write on.  They write their name at the top and number 1-5.  I clap a pattern – they clap it back, then write it down.  I’ll give it a second time if they need it.   I write down my patterns as I go or keep my flashcards in order. Students exchange papers and correct them in class, so I don’t have to take home bags full of marking.  Yay!

Music Dictation at www.musicplayonline.com is done the same way.

Five questions are given.  Pause the movie between questions.  Immediately following the five questions are the answers.  Exchange papers and mark.

Rhythm Dictation cover

Rhythm Dictation how to use

Rhythm Dictation - question

Rhythm dictation - answers

Similar assessments can be done for melody reading, and similar movies are found in the solfa practice section.

I hope this makes getting those marks onto your report cards a little easier!

Visit www.musicplayonline.com to use the assessment tools in this post.

Visit www.musicplay.ca to find workshop opportunities with Denise Gagne.

 

Peter and the Wolf Unit

Peter and the Wolf Lessons

Peter and the Wolf is a timeless classic.  There are many musical concepts to teach using this wonderful composition.  If you’re done teaching for this school year (lucky you!) this is a great time to plan your units for next year.  If you’re still in class, these movies could be your lessons for the last month!  Visit www.musicplayonline.com to find all these wonderful ideas!

Identify the instruments

In Peter and the Wolf, Prokofiev uses different instruments to represent the characters.  This is a great opportunity to teach children about the instruments of the orchestra.  In the Listening Resource Kit 1, Denise wrote words to sing with many of the themes.  Stacy Werner illustrated them in the Listening 1 Digital Resource, and Shannon Machtans has turned them into short movies that are now part of the musicplayonline.com resource!

In the movie “The Duck” the little song teaches about the tempo of the music, and the instrument that plays the theme.

Duck song 1

Duck song 1

Duck song 3

Identify the Expressive elements

The duck theme is played by the oboe.  It’s a very short listening example.  The students are asked to listen and point to slow-medium-fast, pitch: high-medium-low and dynamics: quiet-medium-loud.

Duck quiet-med-loud

Duck high-med-low

Duck fast-med-slow

Students are asked what instrument represents the duck, and information about the oboe is given.

Duck what instrument?

Duck what instrument? Oboe

The Cat song is one of my favorites.  The melody is memorable (gets stuck in your head) , and the melodic contour is illustrated as the students sing.

Cat song1

Cat song 2

Cat song 3

Cat song 4

The Wolf is used to teach about crescendo.

Wolf crescendo

wolf cymbals crescendo

The entire story of Peter and the Wolf is given on the musicplayonline.com website.  After you’ve taught all the themes, the story will be much more meaningful to the students than it would be without the preparation!

This worksheet comes from the Listening Kit 1 and will be made into an interactive activity on the musicplayonline.com website.  Use it to assess how well the students have learned which instrument represents which character.

Peter and Wolf worksheet

We are still editing the listening movies and creating interactive activities to accompany them, but even as a work in progress, the listening selections on the musicplayonline.com website are a wonderful resource for teachers!

New at musicplayonline.com

  • Staff tool for writing melodies!  1, 2, 3 and 5 line staff
  • Rhythm composition tool
  • Form Tool – outline ABA or rondo form
  • Peter and the Wolf listening themes and story!

Get Them Listening!

We are surrounded with sound all day every day.  But are our students actually listening?  Every teacher in your school would like to have students in their classes that are better listeners.  Here are some ways that music teachers can really help the students improve their listening skills.

Make students more aware of sounds in their environment.  The first activity in the Listening Resource Kit 1 is listening to sounds around us and identifying them.  This activity is now a movie at www.musicplayonline.com.  (The Listening menu is on the left-hand tool bar, and this movie is in Kit 1)  The movie is only 90 seconds long.  Students hear five sounds and they point to the sound they hear.  The answers follow.Sounds Around Us

Follow this actitvity with a classroom listening exercise.  Have them close their eyes for 30 seconds, then write down all the sounds that they can hear in the classroom. 

I do a lesson on long and short sounds with preK – Gr. 2 using unpitched instruments.  Play a sound on a  finger cymbal and then play a sound on rhythm sticks.  Ask the students which instrument made the short sound and which made the long sound.  The finger cymbals produce a sound that sustains for a long time!  Ask the children to close their eyes, and tell them not to open their eyes up until the sound of the finger cymbal has disappeared.  Play the finger cymbal and watch to see how long your students keep their eyes closed.   

There are 4 additional “sound” identification movies at musicplayonline.com.  These are:

What Keeps a Beat, Fast/Slow, Loud/Quiet and High/Low.  After watching these movies, start a classroom list of sounds that keep a beat and sounds that are fast/slow etc.  Give the students a homework assignment.  Ask them to listen at home for sounds that keep a beat and add them to your list the next time you see them.  My little ones in PreK don’t fully understand these concepts, especially high/low, even after 10 lessons.  Revisit this often so that all your students understand these basic concepts.

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 7.23.35 AM

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 7.23.48 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-28 at 7.23.20 AM

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 7.23.06 AM

Another resource that will help your students be more aware of sounds around them, is the first of the So-me stories by Stuart Manins – So-Me Goes Missing.  In this story, the main character, So-me, can’t be found.  His mother, father and brother look for him all around the house and the neighbourhood, but he can’t be found.  As they look, they hear many sounds such as a clock ticking, a dripping tap, the wind in the leaves, and a fly caught in a spider’s web.  In the end, So-me wasn’t lost at all – he was laying behind the couch with headphones on listening to music.

So-me 2

Stuart Manins has very graciously given permission to post movies of the So-me stories on www.musicplayonline.com.  We’ll be posting the movies in the Listening section next week.  If you prefer to have a print copy of the stories (and they really are a treasure) we still have them available.  Go to musicplay.ca, then scroll down the left menu until you see Storybooks.

We are still doing final edits to the Listening Kit 1 movies that are on musicplayonline.com, but the 41 listening selections that are posted provide you with a wealth of listening activities to use with PreK – Grade 3.  For each selection there are 1-7 movies:  Listening Map, Composer, Movement, Play Along and Kids Demos.  All movements from Carnival of the Animals, the themes from Peter and the Wolf AND the entire story, and 12 additional selections by Mozart, Handel, Chopin and more!  The movies teach and reinforce many concepts.  One of my favorites is “Galliard Battaglia” that teaches call and response using finger puppets!  Enjoy using these movies at www.musicplayonline.com and get your student’s listening!

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Ostinato Lesson using Musicplayonline.com

 I’ve been doing a music residency with a grade 1 and 3 class at Grandview Elementary in Red Deer for the past week.  I’ve seen the children every day for 35-45 minutes, and have had an amazing time with them!  One of the lessons that went really well was a lesson on ostinato using the singing game, Musicplay 3, #6 Plainsies Clapsies.  

 I taught the song by rote.  This is a traditional ball bouncing game, but to make it a little more useable in the grade 3 classroom, we did the moves with beanbags.  We played the game the way Leise Warner from Ontario showed me. 

Plainsies: toss beanbag and catch
Clapsies: toss, clap and catch
Twirl about: Toss, do arm rolls and catch
To backsies: toss, touch both shoulders and catch
Right hand: toss and catch with right hand
Left hand: toss and catch with left hand
Toss it high: toss higher in air and catch
Toss it low: toss low and catch
Touch your knees: toss, touch your knees and catch
Touch your toes: toss, touch your toes and catch
Touch your heels: toss, touch your heels and catch
And under you go: toss under your leg and catch it

The students were excited to try out the moves themselves!  The first day there were just a few students who were able to do all the moves, but by the second day, most were successful.  On the second day, we tried several of the ostinato patterns on the slide, chose one of them, and decided on body percussion.

This activity will be an interactive activity at www.musicplayonline.com

The students chose Run!  Run away!  and decided on this body percusion:  pat rest clap clap clap for it.  We decided to do the ostinato twice, then the ostinato with the song, then the ostinato twice.  They were very successful!  (Videos will be posted soon on www.musicplayonline.com)

We discussed what the form of their composition was.  Ostinato 2x  – ostinato+song – Ostinato 2x  I used the form tool at www.musicplayonline.com (on the left hand menu) to illustrate the form.

In the next few lessons they perfected the game, and used the song to practice reading and writing and creating with la-so-mi and ta ti-ti.

 This is one of the lessons that I’ll be sharing at the Artie and Denise workshop in Chicago!

 July 6-8, 2016

Artie and Denise are Shakin it up in Chicago!   Join Artie and Denise for the 7th annual summer symposium!  Two days of fabulous workshops and a day of sightseeing.

Register Online    Click this LINK

 Musicplayonline.com

This amazing site is free to use until August 1st, and will be a low cost subscription after that.  Our programmer now has the games fully accessible by iPhone or iPad!  The entire site can now be utilized by devices.  We are currently working on the Listening section, and will have some wonderful listening movies posted next week, including Carnival of the Animals!

 What’s on the site?
Musicplay K-6 song movies:  notation, lyrics, kids demos (700+ songs)
* Interactive Form Tool is now online – left hand menu!
* Recorder Resource 1-2 are available on the site!
* The Easy Ukulele unit and Easy Guitar Songs are online!
* Beat and Rhythm interactive activities for Snail Snail, Follow Me, Cuckoo, Rain Rain, See Saw, Walk to School, Pumpkin Fat, Teddy Bear, Curly Joe, Old Mother Brown, Little Airplane, Kangaroo, Tisket a Tasket, Burnie Bee, Four in a Boat, Bubble Gum, Easter Bunny, Old Mr Rabbit, on a Log, Scie le Bois, Los Pollitos, Naughty Kitty Cat, The Mill.  These are amazing interactive tools!
* Ask Me take home printables for songs in Musicplay for Kindergarten.
* Xylophone and Metallophone with removable bars     – search engine
* Solfa practice movies   – rhythm practice movies (Like flashcards, but made into movies!)
Solfa challenge for all reading songs – name the solfa notes OR letter names
* high/low, loud/quiet, fast/slow, etc games
* pop quizzes to practice note names, dynamics terms/symbols, tempo terms, Fun!

 LINK TO MUSICPLAYONLINE.COM

Fun Ways to Teach Note Names

This post is all about fun ways to teach children the letter names of the notes.  When you play an instrument, it’s a very useful skill to know the name of the note on the staff so that you know which of the bars you should play!  To be a good sight-reader, you need instant recall.  You can’t be counting the lines and spaces on your hand staff if you want to be a fluent sight reader.  So how do we get kids to develop fluency in reading music?

There is a great staff lesson in lesson one of Musicplay 4.

The Staff: Music is written on a 5 line staff. Notes can be placed on lines or in  spaces. The lines and spaces are numbered from the bottom to the top. At the beginning of a staff, a clef is given. The treble clef circles the note G, and is used for treble, or higher notes. A high pitch is shown by placing a note high on the staff. A low pitch is shown by placing the note lower on the staff.

Hand Staff

I like to start by introducing the lines with the hand staff.  Draw a staff on the board about the size of your hand.  Then, hold your hand up to the staff and point out that you have five fingers, just like there are five lines on the staff.

Hand Staff: Show the students the hand staff. Hold your hand in front of you with your fingers spread apart and the thumb up. Number your fingers 1-2-3-4-5 from the bottom to the top. Tell the students that they have five fingers, just as there are five lines on the music staff. To show the spaces on the hand staff, place the index finger of your right hand between two fingers. Spaces are also numbered from the bottom to the top. Call out a line or space and have the students point to the correct one. For example:  line 3, space 4, line 1, space 2

My hand fits nicely on my cookie sheet staffs, so kids see the relationship between your hand and the staff.  If you don’t have cookie sheet staffs, draw the lines on the board.
Cookie sheet 1 cookie sheet 2

Some teachers like to have the students practice naming notes on lines and spaces. Make up poems or sayings to help them remember the names of the notes. For example: The notes on the lines spell, “Every Good Boy Does Fine.” Kids can make up their own sayings.  Some of the best I’ve heard are “Elvis’s guitar broke down Friday” or “Empty Garbage Before Dad Flips.”  The notes in the space, spell “face.”

I like to move from notes on lines and notes on spaces to the full staff quickly.  They won’t be fluent readers by practicing lines only or spaces only.  When they understand that the notes go step by step from letter to letter, CDEFG, they are on their way to fluent reading.

I introduced the staff, taught the hand staff, practiced notes on my cookie sheet with a grade 3 class, then had them play the first 7 songs from Teach Music Reading with Boomwhackers.  In a 30 minute lesson, they were able to begin to read the notes and to play Jingle Bells on Boomwhackers.  The projectable for Teach Music Reading with Boomwhackers includes an introduction to the staff and the songs include a version with alpha-notes or kids notes:  the letter name is imprinted on the note AND a version with colored Boomwhacker notation.  Even so, I was very pleased that the students  were able to read simple songs in just one lesson.

Link to Teach Reading with Boomwhackers USA site         Link to Boomwhackers Canada site

Floor Staff Games: 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.”
floor staff game copy
Link to Staff and Symbol USA site                   Link to Staff and Symbol Canada site

1. Staff Jump
An elimination game to learn the names 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.

When beginning recorder, you can introduce the notes one at a time.  This really helps the students to “get it.”  After introducing BAG, I have start having the students complete mad minutes to practice just those notes.  Isolating the notes I want them to practice helps them become fluent reading those notes.

MAD MINUTE SAMPLE
Mad Minutes 1 file
Mad Minutes are included in the Recorder Resource Kit, with a new mad minute for each new note that is introduced.  The note name mad minutes are used for the same reason that teachers use math mad minutes. Children will only learn to read music well if they have instant recall of note names. I shrink the pages 50% so I can fit two on a page, and double-side them to save paper. We do each mad minute twice before going on to the next level. For evaluation, I cut the tops off the mad minutes so that the answers are removed. I also drill note names with the class sized flashcards. I begin the mad minutes before the students have their recorders. I allow three minutes to complete each mad minute. I time the students, and they try to beat their own best time – not race each other. When they finish, they call “done” and I tell them how many seconds they took. If a student needs more than three minutes to complete the sheet, I give them a sheet for practice at home. Several teachers have told me that they put the mad minutes into sheet protectors and the students write on them with whiteboard markers and erase and reuse when completed.

  • apps:  Note Name Match Game, Note Name Squish
  • Pop Quiz
  • Solfa/Note Challenge
  • Note Name Bingo,
  • Note Name Battleship
  • Music Centers

I’ve helped in the design of two apps for practicing note names:  Note Name Match Game and Note Name Smash.
Note Name MatchScreen Shot 2016-02-21 at 4.37.39 PM

Note Name Match Game is a memory game with 10 levels – spaces, lines, staff, ledger lines – in both treble clef and bass clef.  In Note Name Smash you can choose the notes you want to practice.  Each note that’s correctly named smashes a hole in the wall.  When all notes are correctly names, the wall crumbles – fun!!!

Our new online resource, www.musicplayonline.com has several interactive ways to practice naming notes.  Musicplayonline is free to use until Aug.1 and then it will be a low cost subscription.  If you or your school has purchased the Musicplay Digital resources, you will be eligible for a pro-rated credit to use the site at no cost.  There will be an application posted on the site in August when it goes to the paid model and you can request free access.  Each situation will be different, so every application will be looked at individually.

Pop Quizzes – these are fun and funny when the balloon pops!  Students drag the correct letter to the balloon (that has the note) and each correct answer makes the balloon bigger.  When all notes are correctly named, the balloon pops.  Students drag letters to name the notes; then they drag notes to name the letters.
pop quiz lines pop quiz space pop quiz staff 1a (notes to letter) pop quiz staff

Note Name Challenge Activities
In this interactive activity, students drag a basketball to the net or a soccer ball to the net to name the notes in a reading song.  If using this for the first time, be aware that the programmer made the upper left corner of the net the anchor for the note.  As long as you have the correct note, and you touch that upper left corner, the note “sticks.”  If it’s the wrong note, it flies away.
note challenge Rocky Mtn note challenge soccer Cheki

Music Centers
If you do centers in your classroom, the Music Center Kits 1 and 2 each include a note naming game.  These colorful board games are easy to set up as centers and provide students with yet another way to practice naming notes.
Music center note name game
Note Name Battleship
Have you played the battleship game?  If you have, then note name battleship works the same way.  On the top of the board place the notes that are your ships.  On the bottom half of the board, you mark where you’ve guessed your opponents notes are placed.  An incorrect guess turn the note over – a correct guess you mark with note facing up.  The note name version of battleship goes a lot faster than the traditional game which is great when you have 30 minutes music classes.
Battleship sample
Note Name Bingo
Note name bingo includes both treble and bass clef – great for teachers who want to teach both.

Know Your Note Names
This collection of 56 reproducible worksheets will give you a wealth of activities for practicing letter names.  I like to make booklets of activities for my sub tub.  It’s also great to have booklets made for when you do recorder testing.  It’s also an alternative activity when a child is not able to participate in regular activities in music classes.
Know Your Note Names samples_Page_1

Great Choral Music for Elementary Choirs

Bubble Trouble by Stephen Lawrence, published Alfred is a fun selection with great choreography possibilities.  I like that it tells kids that they shouldn’t chew gum in choir – one of my pet peeves.  Here’s a fun performance  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFMqfjtMPrc
L
ink to OCTAVO.

For a lyrical ballad, A Wish for Peace is really nice.  It was originally written for Christmas (A Christmas Wish), but only 3 words need to be changed and you can do it for any time of year.  Instead of “this Christmas time” sing “all these things.” Lovely performance here by York House School:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbRwA8qW6ZE  By Denise Gagne and Craig Cassils.  This is available as a single song kit, so you can get music into all your students hands for just $15.  Link to Single Song Kit Download on US site.   Here is the link for Canadian teachers.

Amani Utupe, Sally Albrecht, pub. Alfred
I first used this when it was part of MENC Music Monday.  Have used it many times since.  It’s a great piece.  This is a wonderful vocal performance.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2844ORtcAo  Other YouTube performances show the choreography.
Link to Octavo

Donkey Riding is a good fun selection – it’s in Musicplay 3 (and a single song kit). BCMEA Honor choir performed it a few years ago.   Donkey Riding is quick and fun.  It’s got some interesting articulations in it – I use it to teach staccato and accent.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PDHkPq8Hdo  Here’s a link to the single song kit for Canadian Teachers.  Here’s the link for teachers in USA.

Two Canadian Folk Songs is a lovely partner song that uses Land of the Silver Birch and Two Canadian Folk Songs.  It’s in the Musicplay curriculum in 4th grade, and is also available as a single song kit.  See a movie of the song at www.musicplayonline.com .  Link to Single Song Kit for Canadian Teachers.  Link for US teachers.

Ghost Ship, from Reflections of a Lad at Sea, Don Besig
This is a piece with great story telling in it.  The students loved it, the audiences loved it and we got a recommendation to provincials with it – and we weren’t the only choir doing it at provincials.
YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwPAyCtzKxA
Link to Octavo

Don Gato, Ray Doughty – Plymouth Music Co. Inc.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eue6p8RdMX8
Don Gato, arranged by Ray Doughty, is a favorite Mexican folk song children love to sing. Doughty has written this song for two-part treble voices and piano. The voices sing in unison for much of the piece. The middle section on pages four and five has the voices singing in brief two-part harmony, as well as in the final few measures. Don Gato is a Mexican cat who falls in love with a fluffy, white female kitten. When she agrees to marry him, he happily jumps in the air, falls off the roof breaking his ‘solar-plexus,’ and dies. However, by the end of the story he is reincarnated, comes back to life and all ends happily. There is a dramatic piano accompaniment that assists in creating the dramatic quality of this piece. Don Gato could be performed with a brief dramatic skit as the chorus sings. There are a couple of tempo changes but nothing too difficult for an elementary chorus. A few Spanish words are included. This piece is great fun for children to sing and audiences will truly enjoy listening to it. The tempo changes and dramatic dynamics make this an excellent ‘teaching concept’ piece. “Ole!”
LINK to Octavo.

Humpty Dumpty by Dave and Jean Perry is fun – several choirs did it last year in our Symphony Kids concert last year.   It tells the story of Humpty Dumpty with some dramatic touches.  I love pieces that have lots of contrast and this one has great contrast.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYmxVGDAnfU   Link to Octavo.

Goliath, Joseph Martin is another fun favorite.  My students have always really enjoyed this.  It tells a great story and has many contrasts.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-U_T9e7mHXI
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ink to Octavo.

Child of the Universe, Craig Cassils
This is a lovely lyrical piece with a beautiful message.  The range gets your students into head voice.  There are a few places where students might mix up words, but with enough rehearsal it’s a stunning performance piece.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KxW_JYzj8I
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INK to Octavo.

When I Believe in Me, from Musicplay 5 is another really good message song for kids, from Musicplay 5 – very easy 2 part.  It’s a great selection for an Olympics year, a Dare graduation, or an elementary graduation.   Link for Canadian Teachers.  Link for teachers from USA.

Make a Difference, Denise Gagne – Musicplay 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGjlkIkQiVs       
This selection is in unison, and  is easily learned by a primary choir.  The message is meaningful even to young children – they can make a difference in the world.  The included choreography enhances the performance of the song.   It’s part of the Musicplay curriculum, and is available as a single song kit from Themes.  (www.musicplay.ca – select country – select song collections – select single song kits)  Single song kits include the piano/vocal score, vocal reproducible score, MP3s of performance and accompaniment, and if available a PPT or PDF projectable.   Link for USA teachers.  Link for Canadian teachers.

Jabulani is a Zulu word meaning “rejoice.” It is often used as a first name, and in that context is often shortened to “Jabu.” Although the word comes from Africa, the song could be used anywhere in the world – sort of a universal celebration. You could this song as your opening song for a multicultural concert or you could use the song to celebrate Heritage Day – a South African public holiday celebrated on September 24th.  The performance is by a school in Ontario, and the looks on the children’s faces as they perform shows their love of the song.  It really makes a connection with the audience.  The song is available (print/download) in the collection Celebrate Around the World (US link) Canadian Link to collection, and is also available as a single song kit.   Link for Canadian Teachers.  Link for teachers in USA.  YouTube performance:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQjhhuVxq5I

Siyahamba – Musicplay 6
This arrangement of the familiar South African hymn is given in Zulu and in English.  I’ve performed this very successfully with a grade 4-5 choir, accompanied by drummers.  It’s very appealing to the kids and audiences both.   It’s part of the Musicplay curriculum, and is available as a single song kit from Themes. Single song kits include the piano/vocal score, vocal reproducible score, MP3s of performance and accompaniment, and if available a PPT or PDF projectable.  Link for Canadian Teachers.
Link for teachers in USA.

Share your favorite choral performance pieces in the comments!  There will be a follow up post with more choral pieces from Musicplay that are available as single song kits.  And be sure to try out www.musicplayonline.com – you can access all the choral pieces from Musicplay mentioned in this blog online!



 

Ukulele in the Classroom – Part One

Ukulele in the Classroom – Part 1
By Denise Gagne

If anyone was listening to Q on CBC radio Feb. 27, 2015 they heard the great debate between the ukulele and the recorder in the elementary classroom.  CBC interviewed me in defense of the recorder, and James Hill in defense of the ukulele.  Both of us were in agreement that if schools have funding, time, space that teaching BOTH the ukulele and the recorder would be the best possible option.

The recorder is inexpensive, it doesn’t have to be tuned every 10 minutes, and it’s relatively easy to learn.  When played well, the recorder is a beautiful instrument and there is authentic music written for recorder by Bach, Handel, Telemann and Vivaldi!  I play in an adult recorder consort in Red Deer and play bass, tenor, alto, soprano and sopranino and really enjoy it.  I think that students who learn to play recorder have an easy transfer from recorder to any woodwind instrument.  Students who use my recorder method, The Recorder Resource or the Learn and Play Recorder App are successful, because it’s carefully sequenced.

One of the benefits of teaching ukulele is that it can be used as a melodic or harmonic instrument.  Students can play and sing at the same time.  Students in Grade 4-5 can become reluctant singers, but with a ukulele or a guitar in hand, they are often motivated to sing while they learn to play.

There are four main sizes of ukulele: soprano, concert, tenor and baritone.  My preference is to use the concert size in the classroom.  The soprano is quite small and the frets are really close together.  Many children in Grade 5-6 have bigger hands than I do, and I find it hard to play some of the chords on the soprano uke because the frets are so small.  The concert is not a lot more expensive, and it has a fuller, richer sound.  If I’m going to spend the money for a baritone uke, I’d just as soon get a set of classroom guitars.

When teaching ukulele, the biggest frustration is tuning the ukes.  Spend the money to get a better quality instrument that stays in tune.  I recently used West Music’s Kala wooden ukulele, and it held it’s tuning well and sounded good.  For $44.95 US, it was a nice uke.  In Canada, Themes sells a Vidar concert ukulele that is a great quality instrument with excellent quality tuning pegs.  ($65-85 depending on quantity)  If you pay $30 for a uke, you’ll have tuning problems – pay a little more and get an instrument that stays in tune.  I can’t believe there are still some vendors selling ukuleles with wooden tuning pegs – avoid them!  Get a uke with good machine heads.

uke storage Sherri PedrickIf you store your ukuleles on the classroom wall (see pinterest for ideas) it’s easy for you to tune them before school.  If that’s not possible, have the students line up and tune each of them.  I do the tuning by ear – we have a ukulele tuner at www.musicplayonine.com and I play the “G” over and over, tuning each uke.  I can do a class set in about 5 minutes.  One problem that can occur is kids playing or talking in the line-up.  I can’t tune the uke if I can’t hear.  I tune the first student’s uke, then that student becomes the “monitor” and writes names on the board of anyone who’s making sound.  The noise makers have to come in at recess or lunch for a minute of “quiet practice.”  I set a timer and they have to be completely silent for 60 seconds.  They make a sound, the timer starts again.  They don’t usually need quiet practice more than once – it’s effective.

Chords or Picking? What should you teach the students?  Should you teach them to chord and sing, or should you teach them to read and play melodies.  Some methods teach both chords and melodies at the same time, but I’ve found that children love being able to strum and sing along on the very first day.  ALL children can be successful if you sequence carefully. 

EUKETG_AutoGenImg_Medium

In my book, Easy Ukulele Songs,  I’ve got 15 one chord songs, and then 15 easy two chord songs.   Changing chords is the big challenge, so if you start with one chord songs, everyone is able to keep up.  When I first start two chord songs, I divide the class in half, and have one half play one chord and the other half the other.  There may be a few students who can change chords, and I encourage them to do the change if they can.  I do a lot of practicing the chord changes before asking the class to try – play 8 C chords, rest for 4, then play 8 F chords.  I have them try doing the change with their eyes closed to help develop the tactile memory.

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 4.16.02 PMTo introduce the ukulele, Easy Ukulele Songs includes a PDF, “Introduction to the Ukulele.”  It illustrates a brief history of the uke,  the parts of the ukulele, how to hold, how to strum, how the fingers are numbered, how to read a chord chart, and how to play the first chord, C.  Simply project and read it through with the students.

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 4.16.45 PMEasy Ukulele Songs includes a projectable PDF of the lyrics and chords AND the song notation and chords.  The PDF is big, clear, easy to read and we’ve embedded the audio.  You can play with or without accompaniment tracks.  I like to use the audio for songs that are less familiar, and have the kids play the songs that are more well known. 

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 4.16.27 PMPop Songs: In the Projectable PDFs we also included links to pop songs on YouTube that are easy to play!  Lime in the Coconut uses just the C7 chord!  It’s a super easy chord, and your students will be able to play a pop song on the very first day.  There are 30+ pop songs that your students will enjoy playing along with.  Remember that with YouTube sometimes links disappear – some of our Beatles songs got pulled from YouTube, but you can usually search the title and find a substitute.

This is too long, so I’ll be continuing Ukulele in the Classroom next week!  if you have tips or tricks to share, email denise@musicplay.ca or post in our Musicplay Teachers Group on Facebook.