Thursday, October 29, 2015

Native American Songs and Music

I'm teaming up with several fellow music teachers for "Fermata Friday", this is hosted by Elizabeth at Organized Chaos.
Native Americans, First Americans, American Indian, whatever name you have chosen or feel is "correct", the music of America is incomplete without their cultural and historical inclusion.  Did you know there are over 300 Native American culture groups in North America?  Wow! 
For the longest time, I was hesitant to teach this music as I was fearful to teach something I didn't know about. I was also fearful that I wouldn't be able to help the children feel comfortable with the vocal and song stylings which are different than ours.  I quickly got over that and while I still don't know much, I learn more every year. "Teaching is like a marathon" a friend once told me.  Great concept; learn 1-2 new things this year, add to that the next, etc. 
I am more careful in choosing music that is relevant to the children I teach and that I have researched. Take care to choose music that is not for religious or spiritual occasions, or ones that are for sacred events.  If in doubt, don't use it.  While researching for my book (see far left) I wanted to use a famous Maori song (from New Zealand).  It has been included in many music books so I thought, no brainer, right?  OOPS- hugely wrong; when talking with my publisher and later a Maori tribeperson, I came to the understanding that the translation was *ahem* about a bull's private areas.. yes, THAT!!! Needless to say, it was not included in the book.  Oh my!

As teachers of culture, a distinction should also be made between traditional vs. authentic.  Authentic Native American music originates from within a tribal culture.  Traditional music may have been borrowed from another culture but is sung by that specific tribal culture.  Many Hopi songs for children, for example, are not authentic but are traditionally sung by their children.  Complex, isn't it?  Should you choose to sing a song that is "traditional" versus one that is "authentic"?  To me, the point is to get them to sing music that is from the Native American culture, not to focus on the specifics.  It's just something to be aware of.

Here are a few things that resonate with me and my students:
1.  Songs for Teaching:  Click on the link; excellent resource for Native American music and culture.

2.  One of my favorite pieces, "The Earth is Our Mother".  Gorgeous and so accessible

.  3.  Sioux Lullaby.  So very pretty, another arrangement can be found in Shirley McRae's American Sampler book.

4.  Navajo Happy Song, from Hands to Hands, Clapping Songs and Games from Around the World by yours truly!  Book is available by clicking here!

5.  Beth's Music Notes  (wow, HUGE resource!!) has a section with about 15 Native American songs with sheet music!  I particularly love Hiya
I hope you've enjoyed this post and that you'll try something new during this time when we are particularly aware of the rich cultural heritage of Native Americans!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Pumpkins and Ghosts Game

I am linking up with Elizabeth at Organized Chaos for Fermata Fridays linky party! 
Oh my goodness, had my first graders this morning and needed a quick rhythm review. I've had these foam ghosts and pumpkins, some have glitter, some don't for a couple years now. I think I got them in the craft section of Wal-Mart or maybe at Dollar Tree.  They were cheap, regardless. I used them last year for rhythms (pumpkin= eighth notes, ghost= quarter note) and it was perfect review today!  They had to decode the rhythm I laid out in pumpkins or ghosts, sat in two teams and oh, did we have fun! They were PUMPED!!! Hilarious, and great rhythm writing practice!!! I gave them the choice of using notation with heads or without (stick notation).  What a blast!  See below pictures for explanation!!!
You could do this same game with any seasonal foam manipulatives, snowflakes, stars, etc. that fit quarter note/eighth note notation!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fermata Friday Linky Party

I am linking up with Elizabeth at Organized Chaos for the Fermata Friday linky party! 
See below for the HUGE post about my favorite Halloween/Fall activities/songs/music.  Or click here.
Happy Fall y'all!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

HUGE Halloween/Fall Post

Fall is my favorite season.. well, that and spring.  But, I really love the "seasonings" of fall; cinnamon, pumpkin, nutmeg, cloves; sugar and spice and everything nice!

On a recent Facebook post on the American Orff Schulwerk Association (AOSA) page, someone had asked about favorite fall/Halloween/pumpkin activities and I thought, "Ooooo... a great blog post!".  So, here it goes with ones my wee ones and not-so-wee ones LOVE!
I blogged earlier about my favorite Fall Activities here.

Most of these come from many places, a couple years ago I made a binder with 2 sections:  Fall/Halloween.  I copied everything I had and put it in the binder and made a TOC in the front with song titles and added page numbers.  SO glad I did this... it really helps this time of year to have everything in one place!  WORTH the EFFORT!!

1.  Randy DeLelles and Jeff Kriske's activity from Grade 2 in Gameplan, page 28.  I can't give the specifics, but it has to do with a certain story of trick-or-treating and getting scared. Pairs perfectly with Hungarian Dance #3, Brahms.  They LOVE acting out the story!

2.  Pass the Pumpkin... check out the activity I  use here.  For those folks who can't use Halloween themed treats, this one will work for you!  Change "spooky" to "minor" if you can't use that word.
3.  Creepy Crawly Spiders.. another good one for folks who cannot use Halloween themes.  The full blog post with pictures is here.
4.  Story of trolls inside a mountain to go along with "In the Hall of the Mountain King".  I also display the rhythm of the theme:  titi  titi  titi ta with a repeat sign after it then we act out the story.  FUN!!!! Another one for those who cannot use anything "Halloween-y". Is that a word.. *sigh* I love words!  :)  A lot of info here:
There is also a book to go along with the music
Order the book from Amazon here.  The story is perfectly told and you can listen to the music and tell the story. Book also comes with a CD that has 5 pieces including the title piece. 
5.  We Are Scary Skeletons
This is one of those wonderful songs the kids LOVE to act out!  From Jeff Kriske/Randy DeLelles (I love these guys and was so incredibly blessed to have them for levels courses!).  From page 9 of "Highlighting the Holidays" available from West Music here.  We practice walking like "scary skeletons" first, then change the words to "We are silly skeletons" then I ask the students for suggestions.. clowns, ladies in high heels, clown feet, horse skeletons, dog skeletons (pick your favorite animal skeleton, etc.)  HYSTERICAL!!!
6. Danse Macabre  
I love this music!! This video is old school but works beautifully!

7.  Halloween Rhythms
I have two of these, one with quarters/eighths and the other with sixteenths/quarter/eighths.  They look like this:

8.  Sing Me a Monster and the book, "If You're a Monster and You Know It"
I blogged about this activity here. 
The book is available from here.  Honestly, the book is SO stinking cute.. ya gotta have it!!

Ok... there are SO many other activities and songs I do but these are probably my absolute favorites!  Have fun!!!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Halloween Rhythms

I am late.. linking up with Organized Chaos for a linky party called "Fermata Fridays". 

This is one of my favorite activities for assessment!! I blogged about it here a couple years ago and it is still one of my all-time favorites!!!
Here are a few pictures of the pdf.  You can email me at for the pdf.  I also have one with similar graphics that uses sixteenth, quarter, and eighth note rhythms for your older students.  There are so many ways to use this one!  ENjoy!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Fall Favorites

I am linking up with Organized Chaos Fermata Friday for a linky party about some of our favorite activities, songs, tips, etc. 
I am going to link back to a few of my FAVORITE FALL songs and activities my kiddos can't get enough of right now!  You can see all of them here!
Apple Tree: 
Pass the Pumpkin: