Tag Archives: Denise Gagne

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
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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. 

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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.

Classroom Management Tips

One of the biggest challenges every teacher faces is classroom management.  Your most challenging class might be a kindergarten class with many behavior challenges or it might be a Grade 5 class with attitude.  In this newsletter, I’m sharing some tips that have helped me with classroom management.

  1. Seating Plan

Structure and routine can help children learn to behave appropriately in your classes.  One of the easiest ways to introduce routine is teach the children how to enter and exit your classroom and where they should sit. 

In my friends classroom, she assigns her students to one set of Wenger Flip Form risers.  She has 5 colors, so they know which color they are on, and dismisses them or directs them to activities by color.  The students with shakier behavior sit on the bottom of the riser.  They have to earn the right to move to the top row of the riser.

I like to sit my students on risers or on the floor.  I usually have 2 boys, then 2 girls.  If someone is causing issues, I’ll switch the pattern for that child to 1 boy – 1 girl. 

2. Make sure students know the rules – these are mine
Music Room Rules, Denise Gagne
Make good choices, always be responsible
Use good manners, be nice and be kind
Speak when acknowledged, always put your hand up
In the music room, always try your best
Care for the instruments and all of the equipment

I’ve made them into posters that you can put up in your room as a bulletin board and refer to often.  They are in the Teaching Aids section of our website.

Link to Canadian site:  http://shop.musicplaytext.ihoststores.com/category.aspx?categoryID=55
Link to US site:   http://shop.musicplaytext1.ihoststores.com/category.aspx?categoryID=64

Music Rules #3_Page_2

Music Rules #3_Page_3 Music Rules #3_Page_4

Music Rules #3_Page_5Music Rules #3_Page_6

3. Time Out
If you have many behavior problems in your school, you may need to designate a time out area.  If a behavior is disruptive enough to warrant a time out, have the student fill out a time-out reflection (older students) or for your youngest students, note the problem and have them draw a picture of what they should do the next time.  Copy it, keep a copy and send a copy home with students for parent’s signature.   I use a time out only when absolutely necessary – a last resort.  Most often, a gentle reminder is all that’s needed.  (I’ll post these in the Musicplay Teacher’s Group on Facebook – email denise@musicplay.ca if you don’t have Facebook)

Behavior graphics time out Behavior graphics time out2 Behavior graphics time out3

4. Learn names
It’s really hard to manage classroom behaviors if you don’t know all the students names. 

Beat Beat
Beat, beat, feel the beat.
Say hello to those you meet.

Teacher says:  Hello Jason. Students echo Hello Jason.  Say the names high/low, loud/quiet, fast/slow, speaking, whisper, shout, sing, sing the names using a variety of tone sets:  smsm or mrdd.  Don’t just use sol and mi.

Name games are included in Musicplay.
Musicplay 3 – Number Concentration
Musicplay 5 – Concentration
To find these games, visit our online resource:  www.musicplayonline.com

5. Quick Pace
Maintain a quick pace in your activities, and make sure to have movement activities to use between seated activities.  Engage the students – When students are engaged, they aren’t causing problems. When are students engaged?  When they are “doing!”   The teacher needs to remember to talk less and do more!

6. A quiet teacher has a quiet class
This was one of the truisms that Lois Choksy taught, and she was so wise.  If you try to talk over top of the noise level in your class, students won’t hear and you’ll lose your voice.  Wait for quiet to begin. 

When I play “Johnny Caught a Flea” (#37 Musicplay 2) or #96 Old Dog Full of Fleas (Musicplay 1) I have pretend conversations with the flea.  I call my flea Florence and she whispers in my ear.  I hold the flea up to my ear, then say, “Florence just said that this grade 2 class sang really well in tune – good work!”   “Florence says that ______ was listening really well. (insert name)

7.Praise the Positive  A pat on the back goes a lot further than a kick in the pants.  Catch someone in the class doing something right and make a positive comment.  It will often encourage the rest of the students to behave more responsibly.  I do this when we get out instruments and sing/play Play and Stop.  It works so well from preK – Grade 4 that I use this every time I get out instruments.  When we sing “stop” I praise the first child that I see who has stopped.

8. PLUS POINTS is a way to reinforce good behavior. In PLUS POINTS, you keep a score of when the students do something well.  If students do something poorly, erase a point. For example:  Students enter the room quietly and go to assigned seats. I’d say, “Well done 4B – you came in quietly and found your seats.  Point for you.” As the class continued, each time I’d observe them doing something well, they’d earn a point. However, if a child was talking when I was talking, erase a point.  

 You have to decide what the magic number is before they get a class PLUS POINT.  If you decide on 5 points, if a class gets to 5 points in one period, they get a PLUS point (+).  On my chart with all the classes listed, I’d mark a +.  

 When my classes reached 10 PLUS POINT days, they’d earn a game day.  On the game day, (or at the end of the period in which the game day was earned), we’d brainstorm the list of games or activities that they’d like to play:  singing games they really liked, Beat Boards, Orchestra Bingo, Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes (In the Hall of the Mountain King), Rhythm Dice, or Music Centers.  The Game Day is a reward, but there is still great learning going on.

Share your classroom management tips by commenting or share with us at www.facebook.com/musicplaycurriculum.  (If you’ve avoided facebook for privacy reasons, consider signing up with your first and middle name – your students will never find you!)

Be sure to visit www.musicplayonline.com – we’re taking the Musicplay K-6 curriculum online!  While the site is under construction it’s FREE to use!  (no credit card required)  We’ll eventually have all the Time Out behavior reflections posted on this site. 

Boomwhackers? What do you do with them????

LINK TO New Online Resources!     Musicplayonline will be free for the rest of this year and very affordable when we go to a subscription model.  Try it now!  If you have any trouble registering, be sure to let me know so we can get signed up. denise@musicplay.ca Link to site: www.MusicplayOnline.com 

Artie and Denise – Shakin’ it Up in Chicago July 6-8, 2016     Join Artie Almeida, Denise Gagne, Thom Borden and Dan Fee for a 2 day elementary music conference that will give you a wealth of ideas and inspiration for teaching elementary music classes. Close to Chicago airport – affordable hotel-GREAT workshop! LINK TO REGISTER USA SITE         LINK TO REGISTER – CANADIAN SITE

Teach Music Reading with Boomwhackers

I remember the first time I saw Boomwhackers – it was at an MENC conference in Phoenix almost 20 years ago.  They looked like fun – and they are!  But what do you do with them?

Teach Music w Boomwhackers coverTeach Music Reading with Boomwhackers is a new resource, that includes Rhythm Challenges to review rhythms, an introduction to staff and alpha-notes (note names right on the note head, colored Boomwhacker notation, and notation with no hints to have your students reading music quickly and competently!  Best of all, projectable PDF files are included. We’ve formatted the projectables to fit the screen – like all of our Digital Resources, the music is large and easy to read.  The PDF is interactive:the audio is embedded in the file so you just click on the play button.

 Begin with the Rhythm Challenge to review or reinforce rhythm reading.  First rhythms are echoed, then the students read them. Students echo rhythms, then have an improvisation section to create their own rhythms.   Fun tracks accompany this!

Rhythm Challenge

Introduce the staff to the students and how to name notes.

Introduce Staff

The song is given the first time with alpha-notes: the letter name is printed on the note.

Soft Kitty alpha notes

The second time the song is given with colored notes.

Soft Kitty colored notes

All students can be successful!

What a great way to introduce note reading before you begin teaching recorders!

Try it out!  We’ve posted free samples at www.musicplay.ca – click the links below to download samples.

Canadian site                    USA site

You can download Teach Music Reading with Boomwhackers or order the print copy.  With each shipped order, we’re given a set of note squares – this helps cover the shipping cost!

COMPOSING WITH BOOMWHACKERS

You can teach melodies, chords, or rhythms with Boomwhackers. When you use the pentatonic set (CDE GA C’) you can use the Boomwhackers as a rhythm instrument, and improvise and compose rhythms with them.   

There are many ways that you can have students improvise. Play a steady beat on a hand drum and ask all the students to improvise rhythms. Change meters. Play the beat in 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, and 6/8 meters. Try some improvisation in 5/4 and 7/4. Encourage the students to play the Boomwhackers® in a variety of ways – on hands, feet, shoes, desks, the floor, or elbows. They should use common sense when playing Boomwhackers on their body. I draw the line at playing the Boomwhackers on another student. (They are only allowed to play on their own body.) In the beginning, have everyone play at the same time. Then have students sit down and ask only those whose color is shown, to play. This is detailed in the collection, Composing with Boomwhackers.  In this collection several songs are given with places in the song to have students improvise.  This is one of them:

One One Time for Fun

Composing with Boomwhackers includes note squares to help students begin composing rhythms.  I’ve used these for many years – they are easy rhythm manipulatives to make (unlike lego rhythms which take hours and hours!) The book includes the note squares to copy and cut out.  Make up sets of notes for various grade levels.  I use ta, ti-ti and rest for K-2, and add more note values as students improve reading and writing abilities.

note squares 8

If I use half note note squares, they are two squares in length.  A whole note is 4 squares long. 

Once students have created the rhythm using squares, they transfer to a beat chart, then to a staff.  The templates for beat charts in 4/4 and 3/4 are included in the resource.

beat chart

Two, three and four part ensembles are included for students to play, then students write their own.  Some melody reading and playing is included in the resource – three note melodies, then pentatonic melodies to play and to create. The final activity in the resource is to have students create their own song.

Recorder Tips:

Teach Music Reading is a great unit to use to introduce notation to your students BEFORE beginning recorder.  I like to start beginning recorder in January of 4th grade.  The students have better fine muscle co-ordination by 4th grade, and they progress as quickly in 2-3 classes as they would have in 5-6 lessons (or more) in 3rd grade.   My 5th grade students played recorder in 4th, and in 5th I like to start them on ensembles.  I use the Recorder Resource Kit 1 for 4th, and the Recorder Resource Kit 2 for 5th.  The Recorder Kit 2 has 24 songs for 2 part soprano with optional alto.   Themes & Variations publishes many additional collections for recorders.  The Big B-A-G Book has 19 songs using just BAG, including a theme and variations on Hot Cross Buns.  It’s great for years when students have trouble reading more notes than just BAG.

Recorder Links Canada      Recorder Links USA

MUSICPLAY K-6 ELEMENTARY MUSIC CURRICULUM

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 7.56.18 PMMusicplay is an award winning music curriculum for elementary schools. Musicplay is a sequential curriculum with lessons that follow the calendar year. The weekly lesson outlines the new concepts that will be taught, those that will be reviewed, and include seasonal and holiday repertoire. The planning is done for the teacher!

Important concepts are taught through play. Each week in Grades 1-5 a new singing game is featured. Children love music games. This is a text that will have your students really excited about learning music! The songs and games are chosen to teach musical concepts, to teach children about cultures around the world, and to provide songs for special days and performances throughout the school year. The most important factor in selecting songs for this series is that songs appeal to children!  In addition to printed teacher’s guides and Digital Resources Disks, there is now an online resource.  The online resource is free to use until June, 2016 and will be an affordable subscription ($149/year) after that.  There is a wealth of materials on this site.  LINK TO MUSICPLAYONLINE.COM

Elementary Music Report Card Comments

Some of my American teacher friends are already finished school, but for many teachers you are into the home stretch and looking forward to the end of the school year.

Report cards are not anyone’s favorite job, but it’s important to communicate how the students have progressed in music.  If we don’t assess, evaluate and report on what we’ve taught, it’s possible that parents will look at music as a “frill” or “something extra” that we do if we have time, and not as a subject area that’s really valuable to our students.

 A teacher in the Musicplay Teacher’s Group on Facebook asked for samples of report card comments, so I’ve gathered some samples for you to peruse.  Every district (and sometimes every school) has a different reporting policy.  Some allow and encourage lengthy comments, and some limit you to just 1-2 sentences.  Here are some categorized comments:

 Attitude

The student:

  • is an enthusiastic learner who seems to enjoy music class.
  • exhibits a positive outlook and attitude in the music classroom.
  • is a positive influence on other students in music class.
  • participates with enthusiasm when singing
  • participates with enthusiasm when playing instruments
  • shows enthusiasm for music classroom activities.
  • volunteers ideas and suggestions in musical activities
  • strives to always do their best in music class.
  • is committed to doing their best in music class
  • enjoys problem solving and challenges in music class.
  • takes responsibility for their learning in music class.

Behavior

The student:

  • cooperates with the teacher and other students.
  • participates appropriately when playing musical games
  • transitions easily between musical activities without distraction.
  • is courteous and shows good manners in the classroom.
  • follows music classroom rules.
  • conducts themselves with maturity.
  • responds appropriately when corrected.
  • remains focused on the activity.
  • resists the urge to be distracted by other students.
  • is kind and helpful to everyone in the classroom.
  • sets an example of excellence in behavior and cooperation.
  • shows respect for teachers and peers.
  • treats the instruments with care and respect.

Participation

The following comments are leveled.

1 – Developing

  • Beginning to participate appropriately and actively in music class.  Requires frequent teacher reminders.

2 – Satisfactory

  • Sometimes participates appropriately and actively in music class.  Requires teacher reminders.

3 – Proficient

  • – Participates appropriately and actively in music class.  Occasionally requires teacher prompts.

4 – Excellent

  • Participates appropriately and actively in all music classes.

Skills

The following comments are leveled.

1 – Developing

  • Beginning to perform some instrument and singing parts with teacher support

2 – Satisfactory

  • Can perform some instrument and singing parts with teacher support. 

3 – Proficient

  • Can perform instrument and singing parts.  Requires prompts from the teacher.

4 – Excellent

  • Can perform all instrument and singing parts independently.

 Concepts

The following comments are leveled.

1 – Developing

  • With teacher support, beginning to read, write, and identify some grade level beat and rhythm concepts.

2 – Satisfactory

  • With teacher support, reads, writes, and identifies some grade level beat and rhythm concepts. 

3 – Proficient

  • With teacher prompts, reads, writes, and identifies all grade level beat and rhythm concepts. 

4 – Excellent

  • Independently reads, writes, and identifies all grade level beat and rhythm concepts.

 

Great Apps for Elementary Music Classes

Whether you have a class set of iPads, just a teacher iPad or your personal iPhone or Android phone, you can make use of many different apps to enhance your PreK – Grade 6 music classes.

If you have a teacher iPad, you can use iDoceo as your grade book, planner, seating plan.  It takes time to set up, but once it’s done, it really helps with organization.   https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/idoceo-teachers-assistant./id477120941?mt=8

A great app for vocal warmups is “Vocal Warmups for Singers or Choirs.”  This app has 5 different sets of warmups that each include a physical warmup, breath awareness, breathing, range, diction and a jazz warmup.  Each warmup begins with a female and male vocal model who drop out after 3 or 4 repetitions.  Your students then continue the warmup with the accompaniment only.  It’s available for iTunes and Android devices.

iTunes  https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/vocal-warm-ups-for-singers/id597200553?mt=8

Google https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.singsys.vocalwarmups

Rain Rain Story app, is a sound story that uses a rain poem and the song, “Rain Rain Go Away.”  Students add accompaniment to the poem creating a rain soundscape, then accompany and sing the song each time it occurs in the song.  Interactive activities include 4 rhythm instruments to try out with the poem – students can decide which sound they like the best.  There is an ear training section where students hear a so-mi-la pattern from the song have to choose the correct pattern from three that are shown.  The last interactive activity is a xylophone, on which they can learn to play the song.  This app is great for teachers to project the story.  Students would benefit from doing the ear training on individual iPads.

iTunes  https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/the-rain-rain-story-app/id638746145?mt=8

Google   https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.denisappstore.rainraingoaway&hl=en

Learn and Play Recorder is an app that is a complete beginner recorder program.  Students are introduced to the recorder, taught the letter names and note values and can practice them in an interactive activity. There are 39 songs with accompaniment that can be paused or stopped.  A fingering chart is included.  This is an excellent and carefully sequenced beginning recorder program.  A lite version of this app – Learn and Play Recorder Lite – will be available very soon.  Kids will get the first 8 songs for free, and if they want more, there’s an in-app purchase.

iTunes    https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/learn-and-play-recorder-2/id850408047?mt=8

Google    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.learn.play.recorder

Learn and Play Recorder 2 is an extension to the Learn and Play Recorder program.  Students review the notes learned, using 2 part soprano recorders with an optional alto.  This program introduces F# and Bb.  There are 24 songs for 2 part soprano, and the full score with 3 parts – 2 soprano and alto – is also included.  The accompaniments are included and can be paused or stopped and rewound.

iTunes    https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/learn-and-play-recorder-2/id850408047?mt=8

Google  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.recorder.v2&hl=en

There are some fun apps for practicing the names of the notes.  Flashnote Derby is great – https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/flashnote-derby-musical-note/id453126527?mt=8  I bought it when it was .99 – it’s up to 2.99 now!  Note Squish is also fun!  https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/note-squish/id381536270?mt=8  Note Name Match Game is a memory game – students match the letter name to the note on the staff.  There are 10 levels for treble clef and 10 levels for bass clef.  It starts with just space notes, then just line notes, then notes on the staff, then extends above and below the staff.

iTunes   https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/note-name-match-game/id693109355?mt=8

Note Name Memory Game – Google   https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.deniseAppStore.notename

Garage Band is an app that is excellent for students from about Grade 4 and up.  Students can create their own compositions.  It’s an incredible buy for $4.99!  https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/garageband/id408709785?mt=8

Preschool Music Lesson, May 6, 2014

This class was taught to 3, 4, and 5 year old students in a Montessori school.   This was the second in  a series of 5 lessons that I’ll be doing with them.

Beat/Name Chant:  We started the class with our beat and name chant. I reviewed the beat chant.  Beat, beat, feel the beat.  Say hello to those you meet.

I kept the beat with the castanets today.  I have the plastic ones that pop open after you click them, so could keep the castanets on my hand and have the children tap them.  I told the children what the instrument is called and that they used to be made of wood, but now are sometimes made of plastic.  I showed them how to play it and told them that they’d all get to try it when they said their name. I held the castanet in the palm of my hand and the children played the castanet when they said “ My name is ____” and the class echoed “Your name is _________.”  At this point with the 3-4-5 year olds, I’m modeling how to keep the beat as we chant.  A few of the children are correctly tapping the beat, but many are not.  After 4 children, we said the 4 names in a row, partly to keep the beat, but also so I have a better chance of remembering the names!     (5  min.)

Vocalise with pipe cleaners:  – hold the pipe cleaner and move from top to bottom, saying ah as you move. – make the pipe cleaner into V and say Vvvv as you move ver the V shape.   – add a pipe cleaner across the upside down V and make A.  Say Aaaa as you show how to print the letter.  Be sure to show the formation of the letters in the same way that you print them.  (1 min.)

Short Letter A song – review from last week.  (30 sec)

Alligator Alarm song – review from last week.  Invite the children to children to choose new body parts for Alligator Al to eat.  (many squeals and excitement)  Some of the kids wanted to blurt out the body parts.  I found a child who had a hand up, and thanked them for having their hand up and asked them what they’d like Alligator Al to eat.  We ended up eating clothes, shoes, ears.

Vegetable cards – Mistake.  I gave each child a card and we spent more time discussing what the vegatables were than making music with them.  Suggestion for next time:  Put 4 cards in the pocket chart, and name them, then chant them with body percussion or instruments.  I wanted to have the children suggest sounds for their vegetable, but we’ll have to do this as a class this week.  (tomorrow’s lesson)

John the Rabbit:  I took vegetables from 4 kids, and we sang John the Rabbit substituting the vegetables chosen from the ones in the song..  I skipped the end of the song – it’s a little morbid.  I just shooed the rabbits out of my garden and picked out some new vegetables.

One Green Jellybean song:  I sang the song for the kids, then played the recording and doing all the movement.  They needed the jumping after getting all excited playing John the Rabbit and jumping in the garden.  (3 minutes)

Little Rabbit Foo Foo – Last week we sang the song.  This week, I brought in the storybook, and we modified the words of the song to match the pictures.  I kept to the words of the song as much as possible thought.  (3 minutes)

Rain Rain Go Away – I played the song on my mini-glock.   I talked about the weather – it had rained and snowed all weekend, so we sang both Rain, rain, go away and Snow, snow, go away.     (1 minute)

Egg Shakers – I explained that when I give out the eggs, I wanted everyone to wait until everyone had one before anybody picked them up.  One child started before they were all given out and a gentle reminder was given to wait.  As soon as everyone had an egg we chanted:

Shake the eggs quickly, quickly, quickly.  Shake the eggs quickly, quickly,stop!                                2.  slowly     3. Quietly    4. Loudly

I found one child who stopped when they were supposed to, and complimented her on stopping right away.  This really helps improve the behaviour of all the other children!

We said the poem, Chorus:  Shakin’ Eggs.  Shakin’ eggs.  Shakin’ eggs.  I got no bacon I got shaken’ eggs. (repeat)  Shake it up high.  Shake it down low.  Shake it real fast.  Shake it real slow.                       Chorus:  Shakin’ eggs.  Shakin’ eggs.  I got no bacon I got shaken’ eggs. (repeat)                                                        Shake it real quiet.  Shake it real loud.  Shake it any way that you’re allowed.                                 Chorus:  Shakin’ eggs.  Shakin’ eggs.  I got no bacon I got shaken’ eggs. (repeat)

When we put the eggs away, I sing, “bum bum” to so-do.

Goodbye ________, See you next week. Is our goodbye song, but because they gave me a muffin for Mother’s day, we didn’t have time.

Happy music making with your preschool students!  If you have some great lessons, send them to me and I’ll post them.

The Musicplay PreK curriculum part 1 will be published in July 2016.  The teacher’s guide includes a CD with recordings of all the songs.  Digital resources will be available with kids demos of all activities, song movies with colorful illustrations, lesson plans, and song activities.  Visit www.musicplay.ca for information on this new publication!  PreK will also be included at www.musicplayonline.com – a new online resource that’s invaluable for teaching music in the elementary school.

 

Developing the Child’s Singing Voice

 Developing the Child’s Singing Voice     I recently read this question on a music teachers facebook page:  I’m teaching grade 1 and 2 music. I had 2 of my classes for the first time today and did some call and response tone-matching activities. I was shocked to find that 75% of the students could not sing in their head voice. At least 40% of those students couldn’t reproduce so-mi in a singing voice at all! Any ideas on where I start to help these students develop singing/head voices?  In this newsletter, I’ve got some suggestions for warmups, vocalizes and activities to get your kids matching pitch.

Start with the speaking voice and work on high and low sounds.

Alphabet Echo:  Say the letters of the alphabet in lots of different voices – high, low, silly, scary, monster, and have the kids echo each letter or group of letters.  (A or A B C) It’s a fun warmup and for your preK and kindergarten students will reinforce letter recognition.

Vocalise:  Do lots of vocalises with them.  I bought a toy fire engine and play the siren for the kids and have them make siren sounds.  I’ve found one Fire Engine storybook, and would welcome suggestions of fire engine stories that you’ve found!

I love the slide whistle! Have them echo the sounds that you make on a slide whistle.  Do this with your entire group, and then try it with individual students.  In John Feirabend’s research, he’s found that children need opportunities to sing alone as well as with the group.

Make vocal exploration cards, or have your students make them,  and have kids sing the shapes on oo, ah, bbb.   We’ve put some vocal exploration cards on www.musicplay.ca in the Free Downloads section.  If you want printed versions of these cards, they’ll be available soon.  (Sometimes buying them printed is cheaper than getting them printed in color yourself)

Say poems in low and high voices – for example:

low voice – Pussycat, pussycat where have you been?

high voice – I’ve been to London to visit the Queen

low voice – Pussycat, pussycat what did you there?

High voice – I frightened a little mouse under a chair.

Dramatize the poem!

Have the kids create ostinatos to chant with the poem, and have them chant in low voices, then high voices –

For example:

meow, meow, kitty says meow

Grandma’s Glasses Source: Musicplay K and 1

High Voice – These are Grandma’s glasses. This is Grandma’s hat.   This is the way she folds her hands and puts them in her lap.

Low Voice – These are Grandpa’s glasses. This is Grandpa’s hat.  This is the way he folds his hands, and then he takes a nap.

I use stories to get kids using different voices.  Retell the story of the three bears, and use low voices for Papa Bear, a middle voice for Mama Bear and a high voice for Baby Bear.  Have the kids say all the spoken parts with you.  “Someone’s been eating my porridge,” said Papa Bear.  (low voice)

The Three Bears in Musicplay 1, The Billy Goats Gruff in Musicplay for Kindergarten, and The Three Little Pigs in Musicplay 3 are all good for this activity.

The absolute favorite low-middle-high activity is the

Three Little Monkeys poem.

Three little monkeys swinging from a tree  Along came a crocodile quiet as can be

The low monkey said “You can’t catch me.” Snap!

Two little monkeys swinging from a tree  Along came a crocodile quiet as can be

The middle monkey said “You can’t catch me.” Snap!

One little monkeys swinging from a tree   Along came a crocodile quiet as can be

The high monkey said “You can’t catch me.” Snap!

“Missed me, missed me – now you gotta kiss me!”

I have great puppets to use with this poem, and you can find them at www.musicplay.ca – search for puppets.

Other songs/poems to use for high/middle/low practice:

Eensy Weensy Spider – Great Big Spider, Teeny Tiny Spider (in Musicplay 1 and Action Songs 1)

Boom Chicka Boom in Musicplay 5 is a good chant to use with your older students.

Leader:                                                      Class echoes:

Boom chicka boom                                      echo Boom chicka boom

Boom chicka rocka chicka rocka chicka boom  echo

All right?                                                      All right?

Oh Yeah!                                                      Oh Yeah!

One more time                                              One more time

Little bit louder                                              Little bit louder

Create ostinato patterns with body percussion to accompany the chant.  For example:  Pat left, pat right, clap, snap

 

After the chant activities do lots of echo singing. Echo so-mi, la-so-mi, so-mi-do, so-fa-mi-re-do patterns.

Do 3-4 minutes of these warmups every time you see them and you’ll start to build some flexibility in their voices.

Give them 5 or 6 classes of this and you’ll see a big improvement!

Rhythm Instrument Fun

Rhythm Instrument Fun!

Rhythm Instrument Fun!

When you have an activity using non-pitched percussion or rhythm instruments, it can get noisy and out of control if your children don’t know or don’t follow your procedures. When giving out instruments, I explain to the class that I’m going to put the instrument on the floor in front of them and they are to wait until everyone has an instrument and I tell them it’s OK to pick up and play. The analogy I use is if you go to a fancy restaurant, you don’t start gobbling your food the second it’s placed in front of you. It’s polite to wait until everyone has their meal, and then you all start eating at the same time.

That’s the procedure, but the kids are still eager to play and I hate to make them sit and wait and I want them to have the experience of playing. As soon as the last instrument is given out I use this poem:

Play the Instruments Quickly

The kids are very quickly engaged in the activity, they are exploring ways to play the instrument, and there is no chaos!

When that activity is finished, and they have to wait until the next activity is prepared, the rule is: If you play before I say I’ll take your instrument away.

I will take away an instrument, but usually give it back for a second try. Certainly, the behaviour is better from all the students if I do take away one instrument.  Remember Barbara Coloroso’s saying:  Say what you mean (If you play before I say I’ll take your instrument away.), Mean what you say and do what you say!

There are many ideas for using rhythm instruments in the new collection, Rhythm Instrument Fun. Get more information on the collection at www.musicplcay.ca.

Squeaky the Mouse and Big Brown Bear

I saw Sister Lorna Zemke at TMEA and she had a really cute idea to get kids using high and low voices using a mouse and a bear puppet having conversations.  Sometimes I got blank when I’m trying to make something up, so I decided to write a story that would use the high and low voices.    This should give the primary teacher some conversation ideas to use between Squeaky and Brown Bear.  Folkmanis Puppets has wonderful bear and mouse puppets – enjoy the idea!

Squeaky and Brown Bear

Squeaky the Mouse and Big Brown Bear lived in a cave in the forest. Every day Squeaky would wake up first and ask Brown Bear if he wanted to go play.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, let’s go play.   It’s a sunny summer day.

Brown Bear would wake up, and stretch and he’d say, “OK Squeaky, let’s go play.  It’s a sunny summer day.”

And off they’d go into the forest.  Brown Bear would eat lots and lots of berries and Squeaky would nibble on seeds that they found in the forest.  They’d play outside all day.  They played hide and go seek.  Squeaky was very hard to find.  Brown Bear was so big, that he was easy to see!   They played tag.  Brown Bear was much bigger, but Squeaky could run very fast.  Sometimes they’d go for a long walk to the stream and Brown Bear would catch fish.  They played all summer.

Then fall came.  They still played every day, but Brown Bear was getting so fat that he couldn’t run as fast.  When winter came, Brown Bear got very tired, and just wanted to sleep all day.  Squeaky woke up in the morning and listened to Brown Bear snoring.

He loudly asked Brown Bear if he wanted to go play.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, let’s go play.  It’s a sunny winter day.

Brown Bear opened one eye and in a very tired voice he answered, “Not today Squeaky, I’m too tired.”   Brown Bear went back to sleep.  So Squeaky had to play all by himself.  He colored pictures and hung them all over the cave.

The next morning, he woke up and heard Brown Bear snoring.  Again he asked if Brown Bear wanted to play.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, let’s go play.  It’s a sunny winter day.

Brown Bear opened one eye and in a very tired voice he answered, “Not today Squeaky, I’m too tired.”  Brown Bear went back to sleep.  So Squeaky had to play all by himself again.   Every day Squeaky would ask if Brown Bear wanted to play.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, let’s go play.  It’s a sunny winter day.  And every day Brown Bear would open one eye and answer, “Not today Squeaky, I’m too tired.”  Squeaky made letters and food and animals out of playdough.   Squeaky built houses out of blocks.  He played with cars and trucks.  He played house.  Finally, spring came.  One day when Squeaky woke up, Brown Bear wasn’t snoring.  He was already awake.  Squeaky asked if Brown Bear wanted to play.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, let’s go play.  It’s a sunny spring day.  

Brown Bear opened both his eyes, yawned and had a big stretch.   In a very tired voice he answered, “OK Squeaky, let’s go play.  It’s a sunny spring day.”   So off the two friends went into the forest to play.