Sunday, February 28, 2010

"D'aquel Fraire Flaco" - rehearsal

Hi Ensemble members -- I thought you would find this interesting. It's a recording some friends and I made this summer of "D'aquel Fraire Flaco," the piece we will begin learning this week. Thanks for my fellow music teachers -- Kim, Heidi, Carlos and Tammy and instructor Robbie (on the bass).

Can anyone who can guess what "D'aquel Fraire Flaco" means?

Recorder Ensemble Begins

This past week we had the first meeting with the recorder ensemble. I was extremely pleased by the turn out and by the level of musicianship. We should be able to put together a very nice program for the Renaissance Fair in May.

I'm posting a fingering chart here that includes all the notes you will need to know for the music we will be playing. As you can see it ranges from low C to E above high C, a little more than an octave.

I will also be posting a video of a performance I was part of last summer. I hope you like the song, as it is one of the first we will be learning.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Out of Africa/Into the Renaissance?

This week we conclude our emphasis on African/African-American music at least for the moment. In second grade we learned one addition song, this time an exercise song from Ghana, "Che che koolay." This kids had a lot of fun developing their own 4 bar-long exercises for their classmates to try.

In Third Grade we began talking about Renaissance music -- fitting since today was the first day Recorder ensemble. The leap from African music is not as extreme as it would seem. Both types of music are simple, highly rhythmic dance forms that do not rely on an ability to read notation. And as can be seen in the picture, both types of music feature drums (not they way we are using them here, of course).

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Audition Piece #2 -- "Ode to Joy"

If you would rather audition using "Ode to Joy," that will be fine also. Here is that music and audio.

Audition Piece #1 -- "Bransle"

Hi recorder players. As I mentioned in my letter last week, any 3rd, 4th or 5th grader my join the recorder ensemble by performing either the top part of "Bransle" by Claude Gervais or "Ode to Joy." Here is a recording of "Bransle" along with the sheet music for anyone who needs it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Recorder Ensemble Begins Next Week

I’m delighted to announce that Wonderland Avenue School will be starting a Recorder Ensemble for all interested 3rd, 4th and 5th grade recorder players. This is a great opportunity for 3rd graders who wish to extend what they will be learning in general music class, as well and 4th and 5th graders who wish to improve their proficiency or just have some fun playing music. The ensemble will likely also include some vocal music and dance elements.

Recorder Ensemble will meet Wednesday afternoon for one half hour over and above the half hour of general music all students already receive. Students will also be expected to practice. Students and their parents should, therefore, consider whether they can make that investment of time and still meet the demands of the rest of their educational day. For this reason classroom teacher approval is also required.

Auditions will be held Wednesday, February 24 and, if necessary, Wednesday, March 3. Students may audition by playing either “Ode to Joy” or “Bransle” – pieces all 3rd graders should know. 4th and 5th graders will receive music and instruction on the blog and extra time to prepare. Thereafter, the ensemble will rehearse once a week with the goal of performing at the Renaissance Fair in May.

I'll be posting more information here shortly. In the meantime look for the permission form in your child's backpack this week.

Black History Month

Last week, this week and next we are emphasizing the blues, particularly in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. In the lower grades we have been learning some African songs and games. All of this is intended to help make the kids aware of the tremendous contribution African Americans have made to popular music.

Here's a video I particularly like of Howlin' Wolf performing a 12 bar blues "How Man More Years" (and providing a salty definition of what the blues is.) Students -- how man elements of 12 bar blues form can you identify? (and third graders -- how does it compare with your awesome performance of "Mannish Boy" this afternoon?"

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"A Ram Sam Sam" -- Ms. Weiss's class

From today's music class. Notice that the kids following their classmates as they move from line to line rather than relying on their ears.

A Ram Sam Sam

I was especially pleased with the way today's second grade lesson worked out. We have working with chopsticks on paper to demonstrate the relationship between beat and rhythm (the paper represents the beat while the chops or "tas" and "ta-tes" represent the rhythm lying on top. Today we introduced the concept of accented beats (the blue papers in the picture) and the kids learned the Moroccan folk tune "A Ram Sam Sam". The rhythm pattern of the song is represented here (line 2 and 4 are the same). The kids had a lot of fun learning to "read" the music which helped them sing the song as canon. Check out the video of Ms. Weiss's class posted above to see what I mean.

Third graders completed our work with "Cloud Song" by talking about different ways to construct a complex performance out of a simple piece of music. This an opportunity to look at musical form as a strategy for organizing and expanding music.

Next we will bring our improvisation skills to an examination of the blues.