Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Recorder Ensemble -- "Gilotte" -- Second Recorders

Here's the second part.  We haven't really started to get into this, but if you are feeling ambitious and would like to get started, what can I say but go for it!

Recorder Ensemble -- "Gilotte" -- First Recorders

Hey there recorder ensemble members -- here's a video tutorial on "Gilotte," the Michael Praetorius piece we began working last week.  I'd like you to spend 5-10 minutes each day practicing and this video should help.

Holiday Show Prep Underway

It might seem odd to begin prepping our winter shows in October -- Halloween hasn't even passed.  But our annual shows is the central event in our general music year.  And this year we are also adding an ensemble show at the school and at least one outside performance.  It's going to be a busy December!

One of the the most important elements in our Winter Wonderland performance, apart from the fact that every Wonderland student is in it, is the goal having students "create" part of the material they are performing.  Sometimes this consists of writing special lyrics.  Other times the kids compose accompaniment.  Our students are very accomplished and up to the challenge, but the primary reason for doing this is to give them a sense of ownership of the show.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Three Minute Recorder -- Tune of the Buffens

Hi Third Graders -- here is the renaissance piece we started learning in class this week.  A great tune with just four notes -- I hope you will find this video useful in learning it.

Halloween's a coming!

A few of my kinders were getting ready this week for a Halloween presentation for the parents.  Halloween is a major holiday at Wonderland.  Meanwhile, we begin Winter Holiday show material next week.

Second grade composition -- adding melody to our rhythm ideas

Second grade have been on a extended unit of rhythm and beat since the first week of school.  The kids have learned that the beat is the underlying steady pulse in music, whereas rhythm is a combination of long and short beats and silences, most often organized in repeating patterns.  As they learned this week melody is a pitch sequence riding on the back of such a rhythm pattern.

This week the students began to play around with the idea of adding pitches to their rhythm ideas from a 5 note la pentatonic pallet.  The results are always very beautiful.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Using music to illustrate a story

One of the "big ideas" in general music for first grade is to focus on how music can be used to help tell a story.  The kids learn that adding music to a story is like adding an illustration.  Like a picture musical accompaniment tends to focus on central themes and ideas and not get bogged down in minor details.  In the process, hopefully, the things the kids are learning about story sequencing in their classrooms are reinforced.

Third Grade Recorders fill out an octave

Third graders are making excellent progress learning the notes between D and D, the range of many wonderful tunes including a number of Renaissance pieces.  The goal here is to get them playing proficiently enough to play at least one of their holiday show songs on the instrument.  Hard to believe we're already focusing on that in October!

Three Minute Recorder -- Lesson 6 -- Low D

Try this one too -- it may be a little confusing to talk about low D and high D, but remember that pitches on the scale only have 7 possible letter names.  After that the names repeat, and when they do, we say they are an octave apart.

Three Minute Recorder -- Lesson 5 -- High C and D

Hey Third Graders and Recorder Ensemble Members -- here are a couple of more practice videos for you to check out.  Now that we are approaching our concert season there are some basic skills I would like you all to have,  These videos will review some of what we've been talking about in class.  I hope you find them useful.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Coyote String Band - "Rank Stranger"

Hi string band members.  As promised, here are the words and chords for "Rank Stranger."

We'll work on the melody in class next week.  For now I am mostly interested in you learning the chords and getting comfortable with the strum patterns in triple meter.  Regarding the strumming, I have assigned different patterns to the different instruments, but you should try them all using whatever instrument you are playing.

Erie Canal Choreography

Fifth Grade spent the last couple of weeks develop a more formal movement piece to accompany an arrange of Low Bridge (also known as Erie Canal).  In the primary grades choreography the kids create tends to be suggested by the text -- for example, raising hands high when the words to the song talk about the sky or the sun.  In the upper grades I encourage them to use more abstract interactive movements based on the feeling of the material.  The results are always interesting.

Cowboy Songs and Rhythms

Over the last couple of years the 2 or 3 cowboy songs we do has turned into a whole mini unit.  I jut love this material which is loaded with language arts elements that can be used to reinforce what the kids are learning in their classrooms and are also authentic bits of Americana.  And these songs are fun to sing and play.  Try even saying "coma ti yi youpy" without smiling.

Instrument Families and Story Telling

First grade has spent that last several weeks learning about how instruments are grouped together based on how they work.  Throughout we have focused on making careful observations, collecting and developing hypotheses for why some instruments sound one way and some another.  The goal here get them to use a scientific approach to understanding.

Today we focused on the piano as we began our transition from the science of music to an an appreciation of how music can be used to help tell stories.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Three Minute Recorder - Lesson 4 - Pentatonic Improvisation

By third grade at Wonderland all the students have had numerous opportunities to improvise using pitched and unpitched percussion as well as singing.  Recorder improvisation is a little more challenging, making good quality notes is something that takes concentration and practice.  The truth is that an excellent recorder improv can be made on one or two notes, as long as the player keeps in mind that when it comes to jazz, blues and rock and roll it is always rhythm before melody.  This lesson featuring the tune "Little Johnny Brown" shows how easy it can be.