Friday, September 30, 2011

Falling Leaves

It was another fun day in music today. Kinders focused on dynamics in music (loud, soft, getting louder, getting softer) using the "Wolf Game" and the song "Grizzly Bear." I find myself turning to fall themes -- well, it is nearly October.

We continued this autumn motif in First and K-1-2 with the song "Falling Leaves." The song emphasizing descending and ascending scales, which the kids played on the xylophones and sang while using the scarves to simulate the leaves. Very pretty.

We also had our first meet on Chorus, which was really fun -- I have a good group this year. I'll try to get some pictures of all the ensembles next week.

No school tomorrow (whew!).

The amazing power of "Son Macaron"

I never cease to be amazed by the power of "Son Macaron," a beat passing game from Yugoslavia. Whether it is the nonsense words or the thrill of competition, 2nd graders just really seem to love it, so we always do it early in the year. Like many beat passing "hot potato" type games, the goal is not to be caught when the song stops, but in "Son Macaron" the vanquished can at least console themselves by joining the band.

In Third Grade the big excitement was handing out the recorders, although we barely had time to play them. There should be a good deal more playing next week. Parents, please note that students are required to bring their recorders every Monday from now on, whether they are in the ensemble or not, and that I will be posting video here (see Lessons 1 and 2 below) to help them practice. Also, especially in these early days when enthusiasm is high, but skill level a bit lower, please accept my apologies. ;). We'll have them playing sweet sounds before you know it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Recorder Video Lesson 2 -- B-A-G

Here's a second recorder lesson to help you get started on some of the material we will be doing next week.

Recorder Video Lesson 1 -- Introduction

Hey Third Graders and Recorder Ensemble Newbies -- here is the first of a series of short video lessons intended to reinforce the things we are learning about Recorder. I hope you will find them useful!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Upper Grade Canons/Ensembles Begin!

On Thursday 4th and 5th grades both focused on canons. This a musical form we use a lot in upper grades where the central musical idea is performed is 2 or more parts in an overlapping fashion. Canons are also also called rounds, the best known of which are "Frere Jacques" or "Row Row Row Your Boat." But as the fifth graders learned, canons are not necessarily song. A very interesting canon can be created by performing a body percussion piece in multiple overlapping parts.

Thursday was also the day we began ensemble, with the first meeting of our Orff Percussion group. Pictures will follow shortly!

Vil Du?

On Wednesday first graders learned the Danish song folk tune "Vil Du (Will You)," a song about being echo friends. Echoing is one of the most important ways that students learn in music class and generally and is often a component in performance. And by taking turns being the leader, the students were introduced to the concept improvisation as well.

KIndergarteners also learned a song from another country -- "Mi Cuerpo Hace Musica," a song from Mexico. We focused on the way different parts of bodies are musical --mis manos haces clap clap clap, por ejemplo -- and learned and performed an accompanying freeze dance.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Wood Chuck Chuck - Ms. Abu Bakir's Class

Here's a recording we made today of Ms. Abu Bakir's class doing a three part chant based on the tongue twister "How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck?". Pretty awesome for Week 2. Next week -- recorders!

Hungarian Dancing

An excellent day today in 2nd and 3rd Grade music. The 2nd graders learned about 8 beat phrases and had an opportunity to improvise dances to "Hungarian Dance #5" by Brahms. This famous piece from the Romantic Period was familiar to most of them from the Disney Ride, the Baby Einstein video and/or the Bugs Bunny cartoon it accompanies. 3rd Graders learned the nonsense song "Diggy Diggy Dong" as a way of previewing note reading and articulation before getting the recorders next week. But before hand we polished the chant "Wood Chuck Chuck" we learned last week. The results from Ms. Abu Bakir's class were recorded and are posted above.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

3rd, 4th and 5th Grade - Sign Up for Ensembles!

Today, Thursday, letters should have gone home to all upper grade students about signing up for one of our ensembles. This is a way for 3rd, 4th and 5th Graders, if they wish, to extend their music education experience at Wonderland. There are three options -- Recorder Ensemble, Chorus and, new this year, Orff Percussion Ensemble.

The letter above explains more about the ensemble program and can be downloaded. You may also post any questions on the blog or e mail, if you'd like a little more information.

The date of the first rehearsal is next Thursday.

Making sense of music with our senses and with movement

Like last year our music days are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, but this year we managed to group the grade levels closest together on the same day. This will definitely simplify things planning-wise.

On Wednesday Kindergarten focused on how we use our senses -- primarily hearing, but also sight and touch -- to understand music and the sounds around us in general. The students used "soundcatchers", a kind of paper amplifier, to study the sounds around them. The goal here is to also get them to understand the importance of focused listening. First Grade and K-1-2 had a lot of fun with the song "Everybody born in January Skip Around" and the chant "Apples, Peaches, Pears and Plums," both of which emphasize the importance of steady beat.

Today fourth graders were introduced to the concept of melody contour using a lesson I learned from my Orff teacher James Harding, while fifth grade focused on polyrhythm and syncopation using a Keith Terry Body percussion exercise "Hey, You, What?" Alas, I was too busy jumping around to take pictures.

First Day of Instruction

The week in music began on a high note with 2nd Graders learning the mexican mole recipe chant "Bate Chocolate" and Third Graders beginning to work on "Wood Chuck Chuck." These are two of my favorite pieces which I always try to get to early in the year and both set the stage for what will be a major area of emphasis for the year. In 2nd grade that's the relationship between rhythm and steady beat. In 3rd grade it's performing music polyphonically -- the singing or playing of parts.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

An oldie but goodie to start us off

To get started I thought I'd post one of my favorite vidclips from last year. During the dress rehearsal of "Sir Duke," one of three songs the fifth graders performed for their culmination, Mr. Wilson began to announce the winners of this years student council. I love the way last year's fifth grade kept their concentration. I also love their use of the Orff xylophones, something I hope we'll be doing a lot more of this year. But more on that tomorrow.

Welcome Back Everybody!

Welcome back to a exciting new year in music at Wonderland Avenue School. If you are new to the school, my name is Richard Lawton and I am the general music teacher at Wonderland.

I'll be coming by the classrooms to meet or get reacquainted with everyone tomorrow, but I also wanted to put a couple of fresh posts on our music blog. I use the blog to post pictures of what goes on in class, examples of student work, videos of performances -- anything and everything related to music at Wonderland. I hope you will check back frequently.