Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ooo ooo ooo ooo!

Today second grade continued developing a dance/music piece around "Skin in Bones." Back in the MPR, we had the added benefit of the haunted house decorations, which went up throughout the day.

3rd graders, working with recorders for a second week, learned another note -- "E" -- which gave them everything the needed to play, you guessed it, "Skin and Bones" -- at least the ooo ooo ooo ooo part.

Halloween week begins

This week I wanted to do something with a halloween theme, since it is such a key date on the kid calendar. The trick was finding material we could do in every grade level.

We started in kinder with "Spooky Ghost," a chant featuring a ghost, a witch and sneaky cat and a creepy spider. The kids were asked to develop their own movement pieces around each of the parts.

For first grade we used the book "Inside the House that is Haunted," a halloween-themed version of "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly." The kids used a variety of percussion instruments to develop an effects track.

Finally, second grade used glockenspiels to create music and movement around "Skin and Bones." All in all, a very spooky day!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Delayed Update/Recorders Arrive/6 part canons?!

My apologies all. I had some problem with internet access and so I wasn't able to update the blog until this weekend.

Last week was a busy week for 2nd through 5th -- to recap:

2nd grade continued their work on the "Hotaru Koi," the Japanese firefly song. Due to the "green assembly" on Wedneday I had to double up on two of the classes (pictured). Good practice for the concert in december.

Also on Wednesday the 3rd graders recorders arrived. The kids were very excited and played remarkably well for the first time. As with the singing I think we have a few ringers in each class. Anyway, I'm encouraged that we may be able to put something together for the holiday show.

Thursday the 4th and 5th grade classes performed an elaborate 3 part canon, actually two different songs which can be sung on top of each other as 3 part canons, for a total of 6 parts. The goal was too see how good they are in anticipation of selecting holiday material. The answer was -- pretty darn good.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Japanese Monday

Monday's lessons for Kinder, First and Second included two Japanese songs -- "Kaeru no uta (the Frog Song)" and "Hotaru Koi (Come, Firefly)".

Kindergarteners learned the Frog Song and got to recreate frog noises using a variety of shakers and other percussion instruments. They also used the Orff glockenspiels, which as can be seen in the picture, can be adapted for them with only a few playable notes -- the better for making harmony.

First and Second graders used the glocks as well to accompany a dance they created around the movement of fireflies. The round ends of the extra mallets represented the fireflies seeking to attract each other. The music and movement were lovely.

Ms. Baker's Class -- "Apples, Peaches, Pears and Plums"

We recorded this last week, but I was unable to post it due to technical difficulties. No matter -- take 2 was just as sweet.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Continuing to develop our instrumentarium skills

Thursday was the day of the big Earthquake drill, but with some quick juggling (thank you teachers) we were able to get in all of the 4th and 5th grade classes. Both groups continued learning how to use the Orff Instrumentarium. 4th graders began to learn a canon by Carl Orff himself (like most Orff pieces it is untitled). 5th graders worked on a Mother Goose poem "Wise Old Owl" set to music by my teacher James Harding.

The key to both of these pieces (and to the entire Orff system) is to encourage students to develop improvisational skills. As I have observed with their singing, many of the Wonderland kids have a real knack for this already.

It's giving me some interesting ideas for the holiday show, which I can now tell you will be on December 17. Stay tuned for more details!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mr. Rosner's class playin' the blues

It rained all day today and the kids were a bit restless. Fortunately we had a couple of dances to learn that kept our feet and hands busy. Second grade continued learning "Somebody Waiting for Me", a play party dance from the 1870's the ritualized making friends.

3rd graders learned a 19th century piece as well, a blues song and dance with improvised movements called "Little Johnny Brown". In the process we discussed moving the accented beats to 2 and 4, something that occurs in many jazz and blues songs. It was great to see them getting in this groove.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Apples, Peaches, Pears and Plums

It was very cold and grey at the school today. I was actually glad to be in the snug confines of room 5 instead of the MPR.

All three grade levels did good work today. In kinder we developed hand movement pieces -- sometimes they are called jives -- to be used with the song "Fuzzy Caterpillar." The theme for the day was transition -- very appropriate for a song about caterpillars and poliwogs.

First grade learned a dance and a chant -- "Apples, Peaches, Pears and Plums" -- associated with the months of the year and we talked about how a steady beat can be used to keep things together musically. Ms. Baker's class -- I am sorry to report that the audio we recorded did not turn out. You did such a nice job I'll try to re-record you next week.

As for my Monday 2nd graders -- Ms. Lamoureax's class -- they did an outstanding job with the play part song and dance -- "There Is Somebody Waiting for Me." They really managed to warm things up.

Friday, October 9, 2009

4th and 5th Grade Develop their chops

Thursday both Fourth and Fifth grade had an extended lesson on the Orff barred instrumentarium. This is the 20 instrument collection of xylophones, metalophones and glockenspiels that Wonderland owns. In the past these have been used as part of the children's training, but it is my hope that we will be able to incorporate them into the Holiday show. They sound wonderful!

Woodchuck Chuck!

Wednesday's highlight was Third Grade's performance of "How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck" -- a hip hop version of the well known tongue twister. The kids did a great job learning all three parts of the chant and the accompanying body percussion and managed to get it up and running in 30 minutes.

2nd Grade continued working on "El Juego Chirimbolo" -- this time singing and playing to accompany the dance. Everybody got a chance to work the barred instrument as well. Overall a very good day.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Things are turning cooler

It was great to be back with Kinder and First after week off.

To accommodate upper grade theater classes we relocated to Room 5, which worked great for us, but was a little tough on teachers on lunch break. Teachers -- thank you for your patience.

In kinder we developed a body percussion piece based on "Crisscross Apple Sauce." The aim was to help the students begin to develop a sense of contrast between high and low, loud and soft, playing and saying. Best moment -- one of Ms. Brier's students pointed out that pomegranate apple sauce had a more interesting rhythm than crisscross apple sauce and requested a change.

First graders got to work with frame drums, which they used to develop individual improvisations to accompany the song "Vil Du?" (Will You?) The emphasis here was teaching them to echo each other, an important part of learning how to make music together, not to mention learning music in general.

Second grade might had the most fun, as they got to use the Orff xylophones and metalophones to accompany the dance they have been working on the last couple of weeks. We'll be using these instruments more and more as the year goes on. They are a fantastic learning tools.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mirroring in 2's and 4's

Slowing our movement down

Notwithstanding the zippy recording of "Left, Right" posted below, both fourth and fifth grade classes focused this week on slowing things down.

The fourth graders continued to arrange "Los Ninos en EspaƱa Cantan," a lovely slow song we began last week, with all classes developing an original dance which could be performed in canon. The results were outstanding. So was the job they did accompanying themselves by playing the harmony on the barred instruments.

Fifth grade developed some improvisations based on "mirroring," a process in which students working in pairs copy each others movements. From there we moved to groups of four where the leader changed each time the group turned to one of the compass points. The students who were not performing provided improvised music in a Dorian mode.

How did the pieces turn out? The film crew that was at the school today managed to capture some of the performances, so I guess we'll see.

Ms. Lopez's class "Left, Right" Take 1

I will put up more of an update for Thursday's class later but I wanted to get this recording of Ms. Lopez's kids up right away. The gimmick here is that the kids are marching and every time they sing "left", they are stepping on their left foot, and singing "right" on the right foot. Parents, you can try this at home -- but can you do it canon style?