Category Archives: Teaching Tips

Teaching Tip – Year Plans

It’s summer!  Finally!  So why is Denise sending newsletters in the summer???  The next newsletters will be on year plans, month outlines, weekly lesson plans and sub plans.  For my American friends who start school in early August, July might be the time that you’re getting your planning done.  And for my Canadian teachers who start later, (and for our Australians who are still mid-year) save this information for later.

Lesson planning begins with your curriculum.  You need to know the outcomes that you’re expected to achieve by the end of the school year.  For me, I’ve put the skills/concepts into a scope and sequence that shows which grade a particular concept or skill is introduced in.  In the Musicplay scope and sequence, ex stands for experience.    The Scope and Sequence for Rhythm is given below. 


(The full scope and sequence for Musicplay is found in the Musicplay Teacher’s guides, or can be downloaded from the Lesson Planning Section at www.musicplayonine.com.)

The Lesson Planning section is found on the left menu of your computer screen.  There is a wealth of material there to help you with your planning!

In kindergarten children will learn that music moves to a steady beat.  They’ll experience the difference between beat and rhythm.  They’ll experience that there are strong and weak beats, and they’ll experience that beats can be grouped in 2s, 3s or 4s.  The stars in grade 1 indicate that the children will learn all of those concepts.

Your scope and sequence may differ from this, but this is a great starting point – download and print from Musicplayonline.com (Lesson Planning Section) and then highlight the skills you have in your district or state document.

Denise has created a scope and sequence with songs that teach the concept that is available online in the lesson planning section.  This is just a small part of the Beat and Rhythm Sequence with songs to teach the concept.

When you are in a situation with older students who haven’t mastered concepts from earlier grades, you have to teach those basic concepts before moving on.

Musicplay is a spiralling curricuum, and there is review of basic concepts in every grade.  So, basic concepts such as beat/rhythm are reviewed/taught in every grade level.  Ta and Ti-ti (quarter and 8th note rhythms) are reviewed/taught in each grade – but with age appropriate games/activities.

Note:  There are ta and ti-ti songs in every grade to use to teach/review/assess beat and rhythm.

 

So, once you’ve decided on a realistic sequence of concepts/skills that you can do with your students, chart the months and decide when you can teach them, and use the song list to decide on the songs you’ll use to teach those concepts.  The Musicplay Grade 1 Year plan is shown below.  You can download these from the Lesson Planning section and  adapt this for your own use.

 
Download the Year outlines at www.musicplayonline.com
 
Remember that you are never expected to teach every song in Musicplay.  Musicplay is a menu that you choose from: 
1.  Choose the song/singing game for your lesson that best teaches the concept you want to teach.
2.  Choose the activity or activities that you want to do with that song.
3.  Choose extension songs or activities that your students will love!
It’s our mission to make your job easier!
 
 
 
Please share your lesson planning documents as files that you can upload to the Musicplay Teachers Facebook Group!
Other teachers LOVE to see how you are using Musicplay.

This week, Denise walks you through the overview section of setting up your lesson plans for the year. This also inlcudes scopes and sequences for each grade, songs lists for grade PreK to 5, and more details for your Year Plans!

Sign up for www.musicplayonline.com today! New accounts get one month free!

Teaching Tip – Monthly Outlines and Weekly Lessons

This is the time of year when teachers are looking for new ideas and fun approaches to teaching music in the classroom. That’s why Denise wants to bring in her decades of experience to help you with planning out your yearly, monthly, and even weekly plans! In this video, she goes over where on MusicplayOnline to find these Lesson Plans, and how to best optimize them for your music classes!

Sign up for www.musicplayonline.com today! New accounts get one month free!

Outside Games & Recorder Composition

Outside Music Classes

For those of you in the south, you’ve had nice weather for a while now.  But up north in Alberta, the last snowfall was May 5th.    After a long winter, when nice weather finally arrives everyone wants to be outside – students AND teachers.  
 
I really enjoy taking music class outside.  Singing games, especially chase games, are better played outside than inside.  Inside, you have to find ways of slowing down chase games, but outside you can let the kids run!

Singing Games – Chase Games in Musicplay

Lucy Locket
Mouse Mousie
Charlie Over the Ocean
Tisket a Tasket
Let Us Chase the Squirrel
Cut the Cake
Ickle Ockle
Our Old Sow
Hill Hill Come Over the Hill
Kye Kye Koolay
Turkey Lurkey
King’s Land
Frog in the Middle
I Like Turkey
Built My Lady
John the Rabbit

Frog in the Middle 

This is a seriously fun game!  And if your students are finding frogs outside, this is a great game for spring!

 

Game Directions: The children form a circle. Choose one child to be the frog in the middle. The “frog” stands with eyes shut and arms outstretched. While the children sing the song, the “frog” turns. At the end of the song, the two children closest to the frog’s hands step out of the circle and race in the same direction. The first one back to tag one of the frog’s hands, wins. 

Teaching Purpose/Suggestions: This song is great preparation for low la and low so.  Your students should be able to read the rhythms in the song. 

Ickle Ockle

Musicplay 5
Fun chase game – and so much more fun outside than inside.
Great reading song – ls m and ta, ti-ti
View the kids demo video at www.musicplayonline.com
 

  
Hill Hill

Musicplay 2
View the kids demo video at www.musicplayonline.com
We played the game outside because it’s way more fun outside where you can run, than inside.
Teaching Purpose:  great reading song – so-mi, and introduces half notes.
 

Directions, music and kids demo movies for all the games are found at www.musicplayonline.com.

All of these songs can be found in Musicplay and in the 

Singing Games Children Love Collection!

 

Volume 1 with lots of chase games

Volume 2 clap games, movement

 

Volume 3 games for K-3     

 

Volume 4 games for Gr. 3-6

 

Recorder Composition

30 recorder players composing at the same time could drive you crazy in the classroom. But outside, students can improvise and compose melodies in their own space and using the template in the Recorder Resource Kit, they will create compositions that are playable and musical.
 
Limit students to the rhythms ta, ti-ti, rest
Limit the notes the students can use to BAG or BAG E or BAG ED (depends on their playing ability) . If using BAG E they should end on G or E.  If BAG, end on G.
1.  Have students create a rhythm pattern under the hearts.  Check it.
2.  When rhythm is successful have them improvise melodies on that rhythm using the notes BAG or BAG ED.  When they have a melody they like, write the letters in.  They should then play their melody for you.  If it’s successful, they should write the notes on the staff.
3.  Accompany melodies that end on G with a G-D bordun on a bass metallophone or xylophone.  Accompany melodies that end on E with an E-B bordun.
 

This is the template that I use for composition.  It’s in the Recorder Resource Kit 1.  it’s also in the files at Musicplay Teachers Group on Facebook.

 

This is an example of a 4th grade student composition – ends on E, so accompany with E-B bordun, sounds great!

 
 
 
Boomwhacker Composition

Divide your students into groups, give them pentatonic Boomwhackers and invite them to create a rhythmic composition with movement. (Melodic composition is possible, but takes longer) My students really enjoyed this and all groups were on-task, engaged, and successful. We did this for 2 periods, then groups performed for each other.  

 
 
Drumming or Bucket Drumming

I’ve been teaching bucket drumming in several elementary classes this month. It’s tons of fun, but would be fun to teach outside. You wouldn’t have the ability to project music to teach, so you’d have to plan to teach everything by rote.  More bucket drumming ideas will be coming to musicplayonline.com
Easy Bucket Drumming is an excellent resource.
Order Bucket Drumming in Canada.     USA/International – order here

Playground Balls

Plainsies Clapsies

This is the best game ever with playground balls.  In the classroom, I use beanbags, but this game would be fun to try with playground balls.  Are you old enough to remember playing with playground balls in elementary school?
View the kids demo video at www.musicplayonline.com
This game is way easier to figure out from the kids demo than directions.
Great teaching piece:  ls m and ta, ti-ti
And kids LOVE it!!!
 

 
 

Skipping Rhymes in Singing Games Vol. 1

Cinderella
Bluebells
Had a Little Crate
On a Mountain
Miss Lucy
Oliver Twist
Skipping is another playground activity that might be lost unless music and PE teachers encourage it.  Miss Lucy and Oliver Twist are in Musicplay and are traditional skipping rhymes.

 

Outside Music Classes are FUN – share your ideas, photos and videos  at Musicplay Teachers Facebook Group!

Watch this week’s teaching tip:

 
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Performance Assessments

Are you doing assessments for your end of the year report cards?  One of the areas that I want to assess is how well children perform music in choirs, Orff ensemble, on unpitched instruments, recorder, ukulele or guitar.

Assess a Choral Performance

When you’re conducting a choir, it’s almost impossible to assess the performance of an individual child during the performance.  But you can video the performance, and use it to assess some aspects of performance.
* are students watching the conductor?
* do students use good posture in performance?
* are students singing with an open mouth?

Discuss the Performance with your Students:  (Musicplay 3, song#1)

– “Did we use good diction?”
  “What could we do to help the audience hear our words more clearly?”
– “How can we sing softly and stay in tune?”
– “Did we all breathe in the same places?”
– “Did we sing the phrases the same way?”  “Did we start and end phrases together?”
– “Did we match pitch?”
– “Did the voices sound nicely blended, or were there individual voices that you could hear?”
– “Were the vowels pure?”
– “ Was the tone pleasant, open and resonant or was it sometimes “shouty”?”
– “Did the class maintain a steady beat and perform rhythms accurately?”
– “Could you hear the dynamic contrast at the end of the song?”
Ask the students to think of compliments and comments about their own performance.   

I NOTICED………..    I WONDER……….

Brian Burnett suggests the use of the words “I noticed” and “I wondered” when making comments about performances.   I liked this because it frames statements in a positive way.

THREE STARS AND A WISH

Another way to assess performances that I like is 3 stars and a wish.
If a group has performed in class, invite students to share 3 things they liked (3 stars) and a wish for what they might do differently.
* . ______________________________________
* . ______________________________________
* . ______________________________________
I wish ____________________________________

Quick self assessment for students:

Show me your fingers.  Ask them to hold them against their heart, so it’s just between you and them.
4 fingers – I did an awesome job
3 fingers – I did pretty well
2 fingers – I tried my best, but made mistakes
1 finger – I could have tried harder and could have done a lot better
 
Part of an assessment or a performance can be a student self-evaluation:

Student Self-Evaluation of Choral Performance

 

3 Second Listen

Part of the Assessment might be done in rehearsal. I use the 3 second listen for large groups or for a very quick assessment.  I have the class line up in class list order. (alphabetical).  Then I have them sing as a group, often with a recording.  I walk up and down the rows listening to each child for about 3 seconds, and record their grade on my class list.
X = excellent
VG = very good, with a few pitch slips
S = satisfactory – somewhat close, but is not fully in tune
NY = not yet – the child is wildly out of tune, speaking or not trying

 

Teacher Assess Orff Ensemble

I’ve used this rubric to assess performance in an Orff ensemble.
If possible, video the performance, then assess each child.
 

 
And you can have students do a self-assessment.

Student Self-Assessment in Orff Ensemble

 

Recorder Solo Assessment

This is a very detailed assessment.  I’d probably only use this once in a term.

 

To the Teacher: Since it is very time consuming to assess a complete performance of a solo by every child, assess one skill in isolation every week and assess only 1-3 solos or parts of solos per term.  I seat my students in alphabetical order, and grade directly to my class list.  Instead of calling attendance, I identify the skill to be performed, and give them a short exercise to perform it on.  For example, I assess tonguing on a short rhythm pattern:ta ta ta ta | too-oo too-oo    I can assess legato connections at the same time.  I assess rhythm reading by holding up rhythm flashcards and having each child read one. Pencil and paper exercises are given in the kit and should be marked and grades recorded.  Use the mad minutes as a  tool to assess note names by cutting off the top part and having students complete them in a given time (I use 3 minutes).

This is a much quicker rubric to use:

Rubric for Assessing Student Playing:

1 – Plays correct notes and rhythms with excellent tone, legato tonguing, breath control, and posture
2 – Plays correct notes but is missing one or more of the following: accurate rhythms, excellent tone, tonguing
3 – Plays most of the notes correctly but is missing two or more of the following: accurate rhythms, excellent tone, tonguing
4 – Plays few of the notes and rhythms correctly
 
Assessment is a big topic and these are just a few of the ways that you might use to assess performance.  Share your ideas, rubrics and videos on the Musicplay Teachers Facebook Group!
 
 

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Obwisana Lesson Ideas to Teach Ties

In this newsletter I’m going to share the process I use to teach ties, using the song Obwisana.  When first writing and recording songs for Musicplay in 1999, the internet wasn’t the wealth of information it is today.  I asked everyone I knew in Red Deer, Alberta (not a very multicultural city in 1999) if they know someone from Africa who would teach me some African children’s songs.  I finally was able to connect with “Nana” who was a health inspector in Olds.  I had some songs in secondary sources, but wanted some that came right from the source.  Nana had been born in Ghana, lived in Botswana, then emigrated with her family to Canada.  She remembered singing Obwisana as a child.  She didn’t have a literal translation for the song, but remembered that it meant, “Grandma, the rock hit my finger.  It hurt.”

Process:
1.  Teach the song, and tell the students what the words mean These projectables are from the Concept Slides in the Musicplay Digital Resource PowerPoints.  They are also in the Concept Slides section at www.musicplayonline.com .

Play the Game!!!  The traditional game is a stone passing game.  I’ve done it that way with students, but when I turned the game into a stick passing elimination game, it because a requested activity!  When doing passing games with grade 2, I start with the pile of sticks in front of me, and pass them out one at a time to my right.  I say, “Pick up, set down” and the child on my right does that.  Then there are 2 children who pick up, set down, then 3, then 4 until the whole class has a stick.  This is the way to get kids to all go in the correct direction when passing!  I mark one stick with tape.  The pattern we used was:  tap, tap, set down (in front of the person on their right), pick up. (pick up the new stick) . We sing the song and at the end of the song, the child with the marked stick is “out” and starts a new circle in the center.  I go into the circle with the first out.  They change sticks so the marked stick stays in the outer circle.  Once you’re in the middle, you’re just playing for fun.  There’s a kids demo video of this in the Musicplay Digital Resource, and at www.musicplayonline.com .

2.  Show where Ghana is on a world map, and show the students what life is like in rural northern Ghana.  My friend, Marilyn Pottage, took these photos on one of her many trips to Ghana.  She runs a foundation that helps provide secondary and university education for girls.  These photos are in the Concept Slides of the Musicplay 2 Digital resources and are in the Concept Slides of musicplayonline.com.

3.  Have the students pat the beats in the song.  I like to have them count the beats, then check if they have them right, on a beat chart.

4. Then I have the students clap the rhythm – the way the words go.  Then we figure out how many sounds are on each beat.

There are a series of beat/rhythm interactive activites at www.musicplayonline.com .  The interactive activities follow the same process.

The interactive activities at www.musicplayonline.com  are awesome BECAUSE they are interactive.  When you press PLAY on “Point to the Beat” – the beats pulse as the song is sung.

3.  Pat the Beats as you sing the song        4.  Clap the words as you sing the song

5.  Be sure your students understand the difference between beat and rhythm.

You can use “Is the drum playing beat or rhythm” to assess formally if students can tell if it’s beat or rhythm.  If you have student iPads or chromebooks, students can use the student login for www.musicplayonline.com . and they can complete the One sound, two sounds or more than one beat activity on their device.

6.  Clap a phrase of the song, and have students figure out how many sounds are on each beat.  In this song, they’ll be figuring out if there are some sounds that last more than one beat.

If you prefer to have hands-on manipulatives for your students, printable manipulatives of the same activities are given in the printables section of www.musicplayonline.com .

The Beat Pointing Page could be used in place of the interactive “Point to the Beat.”

The Rhythm Pointing Page would be in place of “Clap the Rhythm.”

For some songs, I like to give the students a set of the rhythm cards (#3-4) and ask them to re-create the rhythm of the song.  Easy sets include the words of the song, but if I want to challenge the students, I’ll take out the words!    We’ve made the rhythm cards so it’s very quick to copy onto cardstock, then cut out.  I store them in CD envelopes so I can see through the envelope window and know what song the set is for.  The Rhythm Sort worksheet is a written version of an online rhythm sort activity.  Write the Rhythm would be a great assessment.

Should you do every activity for this song?  Of course not.  I’ve given the wealth of activities at musicplayonline so you can choose the activity that meets the needs of your students.  If your 2nd grade are amazing readers, challenge them with a rhythm sort.  If you have a challenging class, or this is the first year you’ve taught these children, they may still need a beat pointing page.

How many lessons will this take?  That also depends on whether your students are struggling or strong readers.  But, I would allow more than one lesson, especially when you want to get kids creating their own music!

Create and Perform:  Whether your students are amazing readers or still struggling, all students should be encouraged to create their own music.  One of the ways that works well, is to have them create with word rhythms.  Two ways to create are given at www.musicplayonline.com .  The first is creating with words or just use the notes.  When class time is really limited, do this as a teacher led activity.

If you have more time, students could do either of these activities on devices, or you could print out rhythm cards or word cards for them to use to create an 8 beat rhythm.

Teacher can model with the interactive projectable above – then it’s easy for students in pairs or small groups to create their own word rhythm, or note rhythm using the cards pictured below.

Assessment:  As with all new concepts, you may want to assess if students understand.  The Rhythm Sort and Rhythm Erase activity at www.musicplayonline.com . are both great.  I might do the rhythm erase first.  Note that we haven’t included the song title.  We did that so you could use it as a mystery song.  The Rhythm Sort is a great activity to do as your assessment of the “Obwisana Unit.”  There is a printable version of the rhythm sort in printables online.

Rhythm Sort worksheet     Create a word rhythm:      Accented Beats

Obwisana Lesson Ideas Screen Cast:  I created a screen cast to show teachers in a video the materials in this newsletter.  I made a mistake though – and didn’t include in the video the Concept slides about Ghana.  So be sure if you teach this lesson, you include the cultural context.   You can watch the video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLB99FyylsA&t=5s .  The video includes the kids demo of the game.

Hope you enjoy the screencast and newsletter with lesson ideas on Obwisana!

Denise

Denise Gagne
denise@musicplay.ca
www.musicplayonline.com
(blog) www.denisegagne.com
Musicplay Teachers Group on Facebook!

Next Blog PostChinese New Years lesson and ideas!
If you want a sneak preview, visit www.musicplayonline.com and go the first 4 songs of Musicplay 3.  We’ve removed those songs and replaced them with songs and lessons on Chinese New Years!  (Our programmers are working on a “New” Songs section)

Dynamics Lesson Plan for Spring

Dynamics Lesson Plan for K-5 Music Classes

Lesson is from the Musicplay 2 curriculum.  For info visit www.musicplay.ca

Materials:
1.  Find the Easter Basket  Song #75 Musicplay 2
2.  Dynamics printables, Pop Quiz, Sort the Dynamics activities at musicplayonline.com

Objectives:
1. The students will identify when the music is quiet and when the music is loud
2. The students will define crescendo and decrescendo

Songs can be taught in one of three ways: rote, reading, or immersion. Choose the best method for teaching your students and teach the song and play the game.

ROTE: When teaching by rote, you teach the song phrase by phrase. You sing a phrase – the children echo. You sing the next phrase, the children echo. Then you combine phrases: you sing two phrases – the children echo. Finally, you sing the entire song, the children echo.

IMMERSION: When teaching very young children, teaching by immersion is effective. You have the children listen while you sing the song several times. They might listen and pat the beat, listen and move like you do, listen to answer a question you’ve asked. You might choose to teach Sleepy Bunnies by immersion with your youngest students.

READING: When children are able to read rhythms and/or solfege, you can begin having them sight-read a song. What a great skill for them to have! Many adults can’t look at a piece of music and sing how it goes, but if taught carefully, our children can do this.
Have the children read the rhythms using whatever rhythm names you use.
Sometimes after reading the rhythms I divide the class into two groups and have one group read the rhythms while the other groups reads the words of the song. This helps some children “connect” that rhythm in music is the way the words go.

In Musicplay, reading songs are indicated by a small staff on the upper right hand corner of the song. In the song “Find the Easter Basket” the pitches indicated are s, m, l that stand for so (or sol), mi and la. If children have learned these solfa notes, do some solfa warmups that use so, mi and la. On musicplayonline.com, you can use the Solfa Practice Section and have kids echo patterns, play poison melody, Read and Sing, or Listen and Sing so-mi-la patterns. If you don’t use musicplayonline.com you can purchase melody flashcards and do the same kind of solfa warmups with flashcards. LINK to Flashcards on USA SITE               Melody Flashcards Canadian Site

Give the students a starting pitch for the song and have them sing the song

Whether you use reading or rote to teach your students a song depends on If you’ve labelled the rhythms and solfa with your students. If you haven’t taught so-mi-la yet, you’ll introduce the song as a rote song. If you have labelled so-mi-la, then you can have the students sight-sing the song.

Teach the song and play the game.
Game Directions: One student is the “hider” and one is the “finder.” The “finder” closes eyes while the “hider hides the Easter Basket in plain sight. (not under or in something). The “finder” opens eyes and is guided to the basket by the dynamics in the singing. If children sing quietly he is far away. If the children sing loudly, he’s closer.

2. After playing the song, discuss the dynamics that were used in the song. There is an excellent interactive activity at www.musicplayonline.com attached to song #11. John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt in Musicplay Grade 2.   Sort the rhythms from quietest to loudest.

You can also play the Pop Quiz activities on Dynamics at www.musicplayonline.com to teach or practice dynamics terms.

3. Talk about what it’s called when the singing starts quietly but gets louder. (crescendo) or when the music starts loud and gets quieter. (decrescendo)

 

There are dynamic symbols printables with song #11. John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt in the teacher’s guide and musicplayonline.com that you can print out and package for your students to use. I package these in paper CD holders. It’s quick and easy to make a class set of them, and then I can use them for assessments of dynamic awareness with Gr. 2-6.

Give out a set of cards to each child.
Have them sort them from quietest to loudest. Check answers.
Quiz them on the dynamics shown.
For Example:
hold up the card that means quiet
hold up the card that means very loud
hold up the card that is the symbol for mezzo forte
Have the students be leaders, and come up with questions for the class.

Follow this activity with a listening activity that has students listen and point to the dynamic card they hear in the music. In the Listening Resource Kit 1, #29 Contradance is a great example to use to have children respond to dynamics.   The Listening Resource Kits are now online at www.musicplayonline.com.  The Listening Section is found on the left side menu

Select Kit 1, then scroll down to #29.  Select the Listening Map.  (Many choices are available so you can use the same example in several lessons)Hand out the dynamics cards, and play the recording.  The students point to the dynamic  Level (card) that they hear. Other good examples to use would include Listen 2 – #26 Summer, Vivaldi or #24 – Hornpipe. Listen 3 – #5 Entry March of the Boyars or $10 Bouree is very good or #17 Intrada, Listen 5 – March of the Dwarfs.

This lesson is from Musicplay 2.  Musicplay is a standards based K-6 music curriculum with songs and activities that students LOVE! Musicplay is an award winning music program for K-6 schools. Each grade level includes 40 weekly lessons that clearly outline concepts and skills taught in each grade. Musicplay includes seasonal songs, fun songs, rounds, partner songs, folk music, multicultural music and choral music. In the Musicplay curriculum students sing, play instruments, move to music, listen, create and learn to read and write music. Important concepts are taught through play. Each week in Grades 1-5 a new singing game is taught. Children love music games making this a text that will have your students really excited about learning music! The program uses Kodàly and Orff sequencing, with lessons that have students creating their own music. Students are taught to read and write music through careful sequencing of activities. Orff arrangements are included for many songs. Extensive listening lessons, maps, activities, cup games and intercom scripts are included in the Listening Resource Kits 1-5, and the included listening examples in Musicplay K and 6. Reproducible song storybooks and Alphabet songs for K-1 teachers integrate with and support early literacy programs.

The Digital Resources replace and greatly enhance the material that is in the student books. The music and lyrics are specially formatted to fit a computer/projector screen. Quicktime movies and  PowerPoints of the music and lyrics for each song are included as well as slides to teach note names, solfege, beat, rhythm, dynamics, tempo, form, and cultural context. Smart notebook files are included for teachers with Smartboards. Our new online resource, www.musicplayonline.com includes all the material in the Digital Resources, plus many interactive activities. Purchasers of packages will receive a 1-3 year subscription to the online resource.

For Information visit www.musicplay.ca

 

 

 

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!

Bullying in the Music Room

March 11, 2017 Musicplay Newsletter

Bullying in the Music Classroom

In 2013 one of my former students (now married with 3 children) found me on Facebook and friended me.  She wrote:

Hi Mrs. Gagne,

I wanted to wish you a merry Christmas and many blessings this new year! As another year closes I often reflect and I wanted you to know, that I have often thought of you through these years!

Going to school was extremely hard on me in ________, with the non stop bullying, however I really feel your music class was the one happy place I had, where I felt I belonged…this was due to you! Your strength of character always was inspiring, and I still remember the day that I was pulled from band class to,have my hair inspected for lice because of some unkind remarks…but what I remember most is how you later went to my social class and let my class have it for being so unkind….you were the first person/peer at ________ school whoever stood up for me! It’s a kindness that I have always appreciated and taught me a great deal about the kind of person I wished to be!

I thank you ever so much for that gift!   All my best,      M___________

To be honest, this incident happened more than 20 years ago, and I don’t remember it as well as my student did, but I’m so glad that I helped, and that what I did was the right response for her.

Last week, a friend who is a wonderful, involved, loving mother, lost her 13 year old daughter to depression.  In my teaching career I lost a beautiful, talented grade 12 student to depression, brought on by bullying.  I’m not an expert, but I’m trying to put some thoughts together with some ideas of what we as music teachers can do to prevent these terrible tragedies.

Suggestions:

Hand Holding:  I have a video of a preschool class making a circle, where one child didn’t want to hold the hands of the child next to them.  Yes, this starts in preschool.  In this class, I stopped them and said, “It’s really nice to hold hands in the circle with anyone who asks you.  It isn’t nice when we’re making a circle in music class to say no.”  Sometimes, I  position myself, to hold hands with the child that may be rejected by the other children.

Choosing Partners:  When you play clapping games or games with a partner, before you play, talk to the students about the right way to ask someone to be a partner, and what the right response is.  I talk about how in a school I might not be best friends with a colleague, but if invited to work with them on a committee, I accept graciously.  Practice inviting and accepting partners with your students before there is a problem.  This is a real world skill, and in the music classroom we have many opportunities to work on it.  I often position myself, to be partners with the child that may be rejected by the other children. (or as a discipline strategy with children who are not participating appropriately in a game)

Mean Comments:  Sometimes you’ll hear a child say something about another student that is mean.  I was unhappy about things that I heard my older grandson saying about his younger brother.  I made this poster and it’s on the fridge in their house.  I’ve told them, that they’re going to have to make a copy of it if I hear mean comments.

Joanie C wrote to add another suggestion:  Another thing I do is when we are doing mixer dances, before we start I let the kids know that everyone has to have a partner, and no one can say “no” to someone who asks them to dance.  Additionally, I let them know that for every refrain where we are choosing partners, everyone will be choosing new partners each time.  So there are no friends that are forever together and excluding others, there are no bullies who are saying “don’t dance with him/her”, and the opposite, if someone is dancing with a student they don’t feel comfortable with, it is only for one refrain and then they will move on to others.  These are the rules, no exceptions, and I always end up seeing kids who supposedly don’t get along with each other dancing and laughing together.   Sometimes breaking down the bullying has to be very directed!

The following suggestions are adapted from https://blog.ed.gov/2012/04/top-5-ways-educators-can-stop-bullies/ with my additional comments.

1. Create a Safe and Supportive Environment

Establish a culture of inclusion and respect that welcomes all students. . Set a tone of respect in the classroom.  The three specific suggestions above all will contribute to providing a safe, supportive environment in your music room.

2. Manage Classrooms to Prevent Bullying.   Develop rules with students so they set their own climate of respect and responsibility, and reinforce the rules by making expectations clear and keeping requests simple, direct and specific.  I love my Music Room Rules Posters that lay out the expectations clearly, in a musical way, and that make such a great lesson and bulletin board.

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.

Music Rules Poster Pack and lesson:

Canadian Site

USA teachers

Process

1.  Have the students read the rhythms.

2. Read the  words in rhythm.

3.  divide the class into 2 groups – one reads the rules, the other does the ostinato

4.  Give the students a suggested body percussion to go with the first line.

For example:  stomp stomp stomp stomp  pat pat pat pat pat pat pat

5.  Read the second line and have students each create a body percussion pattern for it.  Keep a beat on a woodblock or a drum and have them do the line four times, working out a body percussion.  Divide the class in half and have one have perform and the other half of the class watch.  The watchers should choose several performances that they like.  As a class choose one body percussion pattern to use for the second line.  Switch roles for the third and fourth lines.

6.  Choose instruments to play the ostinato.

7.  Decide on a form for performance

For example:

– drum and say the ostinato 2x as an intro

– ostinato continues while chant is performed 2x     – end with the ostinato 2x dim.

3. Stop Bullying on the Spot.    Intervene immediately. It’s OK to get another adult to help. Don’t talk to the kids involved together, only separately, and don’t make the kids involved apologize or patch up relations on the spot.  In instances of bullying, don’t make the victim feel victimized again, by using peer mediation.

4. Find Out What Happened.    Get the facts, keep all the children involved separate, listen without blaming and don’t call the act “bullying” while you are trying to understand what happened.

Finding out what happened can be really difficult.  I had an incident in a middle school band class.  It happened while my back was turned, and although I was 99.9% certain who had assaulted the student, I didn’t see it, and the other students wouldn’t talk.  The principal wouldn’t follow through.  I felt he should have got some of the other kids in the class alone in his office and asked them directly – I figured they’d cave and give up the name of the bully.  He didn’t take the time to do this.  In the end, all I could do was watch the bully really closely in my classes until the end of the school year.  It never happened again, but I felt very frustrated that the the student who’d physically hurt another child got away with it.

5. Support the Kids Involved.  All kids involved in bullying—whether they are bullied, bully others, or see bullying—can be affected. It is important to support all kids involved to make sure the bullying doesn’t continue and effects can be minimized.

Every child has the right to be respected, included and feel safe in school.  As music teachers, who often teach every child in the school, we are in a unique place to promote inclusion of all and create a safe and supportive environment for students.

LINK to subscribe to the Musicplay newsletter

Resources for the Elementary Music Teacher – Canadian Site

Resources for the Elementary Music Teacher – American Site

Artie and Denise Summer Symposium – July 25-26, 2017 in Las Vegas!

This is the 8th annual – and we’ll be joined by Thom Borden, for an amazing 2 days of workshops!

Canadian Teachers registration for Artie and Denise

American and Overseas Teachers – Registration for Artie and Denise

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!

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