Seriously, better than chocolate. Inner music nerd speaking to self, "There is something so thrilling about having a class recognize the music from the Nutcracker!".
My students are in the midst of rehearsals for 3 holiday concerts; yes, 3! My junior kindergarten and kindergarten students have a short one, followed by classroom holiday parties (so smart), then first and second graders have one at 9 AM on the 14th, third and fourth graders at 1 PM same day. Fun, fnu, nuf! Nope, that's not a misspelling, that's how I feel by the end of the day!
While we are practicing for concerts, I am doing a wee bit of Nutcracker with our time remaining in each music class. I especially love Trepak, the Russian dance. It's so quick, lively, and exciting.
1. Trepak Body Percussion and Bucket Drumming (focus on form and beat)I begin by performing this for the students (listen to the music and you will understand WHEN to do the movements). The sequence happens during the A Section and will be repeated for a total of 4 times. I ask the students to notice everything I am doing.
Have them turn and talk. This is such an underrated and underused teaching tool. I love turn and talk. They literally turn to a neighbor and talk about their observations in "kid speak". I find this to be so helpful. What did they hear/see? How many times did it happen? Was it a pattern or random?
They quickly discover a repeating pattern, and some of my fourth graders will also notice there was no introduction (!). I have the students perform the movements and then listen to the next section- more turn and talk, etc. until we discover the B section and then we perform the following movements:
Patsch: Alternate patting knees for 8 beats
Clap: Clap own hands for 8 beats
Clap Sides: Hands out at sides, clap side neighbors (on each side) hands, 8 beats.
Combo: To half note count: Pat, clap (own), clap (sides), clap (own). Four movements total.
The next parts I teach by imitation to the "interlude" or "C" section; whole notes count: Soldier with one arm going straight up, then other arm, then half note count; arm straight up, switch, then quarter note count right arm, left arm, right arm, left arm.
Back to the A Section for 2 patterns, then clap the beat and continue through the rallentando at the end!
Now you're ready to transfer that to bucket drums:
You can find the previous post AND a video here.
2. Composition and ArrangingOne thing I love about the Nutcracker is the timeless appeal it has to every age. The Nutcracker is so deliciously recognizable and I love the various arrangements out there. Students enjoy hearing and seeing it performed so differently and it is a wonderful jumping off point to talk about composers and arrangers.
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy on Glass Harp
Same piece, a capella with Pentatonix
Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Overture
Chinese Dance (I particularly love their use of the traditional Lion Dance seen at Chinese New Year)
3. Another Trepak lesson:Using pretend brushes, paints, and a visit to a "museum" children use movement to create statues and paintings with this idea from a previous post. Uses the book, "Ain't Gonna Paint No More".
4. Paper Plate and Cup Routines to "March".Check out youtube, there are many variations! I think Artie Almeida was one of the first (or THE first) to develop this idea and it is fabulous and fun!!
You're going to LOVE this one!