Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hungarian Dancing

Today's lesson for second grade is one of my favorites. As part of developing an understanding of 8 beat phrases, the kids play a game where they develop 8 beats dances. The goal is to tap the next person on the should precisely on the count of 8. Of course Brahms, being famous for his tempo changes, makes this a bit complicated. Like a lot of lessons I teach this one was suggested by my teacher and mentor, James Harding.

As for 3rd grade they began work on a chanting piece based on the Wood Chuck Chuck tongue twister. The results were so encouraging that I want to try and record them next week and post the recording here. Check back and see how they do!

Mi Cuerpo/Los Ninos en Espana Cantan

Monday's lessons consisted of two songs in Spanish. Kindergarteners learned "Mi Cuerpo," a song and dance/game about the musical parts of the body. 4th graders reviewed "Wibbleton to Wobbleton' and then began work on "Los Ninos en Espana Cantan (the children in Spain sing)." This material, besides being a pretty song, is a good vehicle for teaching pitch recognition, something the kids will need to improve on, if they want to be good singers.

The rest of the time we hid out from the 113 degree heat -- yikes!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hey, You, What!

Thursday music was an interesting mix with all of fifth grade, all of first and Ms. Lopez's fourth graders getting their first music class of the year. First grade learned a chant and body percussion piece "Sing With a Ying," with text by Dr. Suess. This piece allow the kids focus on how things like dynamics (soft and loud) tempo (fast/slow) and timbre (quality of sound) can be manipulated for different effects.

Fifth Graders (pictured) also learned a body percussion piece "Hey, You, What" by Keith Terry, a percussionist and body music specialist from the Bay Area. Keith has developed a great system for breaking down complex rhythmic ideas into manageable chunks. The process of understanding music this way, is a little bit like the decoding the kids have been using since first grade to pronounce and understand new words.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bate Chocolate

Another excellent day at Wonderland. Wednesday is my day to see all the second and third grade classes and everybody came ready to work. Second graders learned the Mexican children's chant "Bate Chocolate," which is also a recipe for mole -- one of my favorite foods. Once the piece was learned the kids were able to transfer the beat to plastic chopsticks, creating an interesting instrumental version.

Third graders learned "Diggy Diggy Dong," a song of unknown origin and meaning that is just plan fun to sing. It also gives me a chance to introduce the concept of 16th notes. The kids got to do a little composing as well, rearranging the quarter note, eighth note and sixteenth notes groupings and in the process developing their note reading skills.

A number of kids were eager to know when we will be starting recorder. I will most likely distributing them around 3rd or 4th week. Friends of Wonderland has agreed to extend me the funds to get the recorders initially, but we are asking parents to reimburse us. $5.00 a piece should cover it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

New Year in Music Begins!

Although technically last Thursday, when I came to introduce myself to the kids, was my first day, today was the first day of classes. I was extremely pleased by how focused the kids were (this the only the second week of school, after all) how much they seem to have retained. I think it's going to be a good year.

Today I met with all of kindergarten, Jane Raphael's K-!-2 class and 2 of the 3 fourth grade classes. This year music will be organized into units, with unit 1 in all grade levels focusing on fundamental skills. For example in kinder today the kids learned about the importance of focused listening and learned to accompany themselves while singing the African train song "M'bombera". Fourth graders began by working on their singing skills -- breathing, pitch matching and part singing -- using the song "From Wibbleton to Wobbleton," a favorite of mine.

For parents, teachers and students who are new to the blog, this is my place for providing information about what's going on in music and extending my classroom. You are free to become a following of this blog to keep track of what's coming up and/or post a comment.

Keep checking back!