Tag Archives: Denise Gagne

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.

Instrument Ideas

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

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

 

 

Winter Rhythms Lesson Plan

Target Concept:   – notate the rhythm of the words

Grade Level:  Grades 2-5

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

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

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

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

Winter rhythms

 

 

Floor Staff Games

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

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

background Music RUG

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

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

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

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

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

Know Your Note NamesKnow Note Names sample1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assessment of Performances

Assessment of Performances

If students have performed in a holiday concert, give them the opportunity to identify and give examples of their strengths and areas for growth as musical performers and as audience members.  There are different ways that they can evaluate their performance.

  1. Discussion

The teacher could ask the class questions. For example:
– If you were to perform this song again, what would you change and why?

– What parts of the song did you find challenging?
– What parts of the song did you find most interesting to sing? Why?

  1. Quick Self-Assessment

Show me 1 finger if you didn’t sing.
Show me 2 fingers if you sang, but you didn’t try your best.
Show me 3 fingers if you tried your very best, and sang with your best singing voice.

Use 1 finger, 2 fingers, 3 fingers as a reflective response for many other areas:

  • Were you a good listener in the concert?
    – Did you like the way you performed in the Christmas concert?
    – Did you behave well for the substitute teacher yesterday?
  • – When you were moving, did you try your best?
  1. Written Self-evaluation  (This is from Dec. Musicplay 6)
  2. I sang with my very best singing voice.

Always ___ Almost always ___ Sometimes ___ Seldom ___

I used my eyes and face to express the words of the song.
Always ___ Almost always ___ Sometimes ___ Seldom ___

I used good posture while singing.
Always ___ Almost always ___ Sometimes ___ Seldom ___

My eyes were focused on the conductor during the performance. Always ___ Usually ___ Sometimes ___ Seldom ___

I remember all (or most) of the words to the songs.
Always ___ Usually ___ Sometimes ___ Seldom ___

I was a good audience member for the other performers. Always ___ Usually ___ Sometimes ___ Seldom ___

 

Share what assessment tools you use!

Join the Musicplay Curriculum Facebook Page, and/or the Musicplay Teachers group and share your assessment tools.

Or – email denise at denisegagne1@gmail.com and I’ll post your ideas.

These materials come from the Musicplay curriculum.

For information on Musicplay visit www.musicpay.ca

Holiday Concert Scripts:  Last December I invited teachers to send in the scripts that they’ve written for their holiday concerts.  I’d love to get enough to put together a collection of scripts that teachers have used.  I have a few, but would very much like more!  If you’ve written a script, submit it for review.  If accepted, your script will be published and you’ll be paid a 10% pro-rated royalty.    Along with the script, we’ll need the list of songs you used and sources where other teachers can find them.

 

Videos of Themes & Variations songs:  We LOVE to see videos of your students performing music from one of our publications.  No special permissions are needed to take video of children in public performances, so the usual foip rules don’t apply.  Post the video on YouTube and send me the links.  We’ll share your performances with others.