Thursday, September 29, 2022

Jack O'Lantern Song

 I needed a new song for sixteenth notes for this season, so this morning I wrote one. Enjoy! The game is similar to others and will be a quick and easy way for my students to work on playing octaves and sixteenth notes!  Click this link for the google slide.


Monday, September 26, 2022

Repetition and PLAY in the Music Classroom

 Hi friends,

Hope you are doing well. 

Let's talk repetition in the music classroom today! 

True, right?  Why is that? When new things are introduced, there is often a sense of wonder as their brains make sense of the new information. 

Humans learn by experience, not by someone telling them ABOUT that thing. Why do we go on vacation to see something? Because seeing means something different - it means DOING, not really seeing. The act of seeing the Grand Canyon or the Giza Pyramids isn't the same as seeing it on TV. We can't smell the smells, taste the food, or feel the sun on our face or the wind in our hair. It isn't an authentic experience without action. Hearing about a good isn't the same as reading it ourselves. The experience is deeper. 

As students repeat an activity, they process again and again and move from experiencing to anticipating, from understanding basic musical concepts to exploring the activity to the fullest sense possible.  They discover their own musicality as they imitate and eventually create new songs. 

  • Helps language development.
  • Ensures emotional comfort (predictability).
  • Assists in concept attainment as they learn something new each time.
  • Feeling of mastery improves self-confidence.

Check out this post about the power of repetition.

Play is equally important for young children and as music teachers we know about its value in our classrooms. 

  • Improves children's abilities to plan and organize.
  • Assists in children's emotional regulation and helps them get along with others.
  • Helps with language, math and social skills.
  • Helps children cope with stress. 

Mister Rogers perhaps put it best:

Check out this post for more about the Power of Play.

Here is a video from me about Repetition and Play in the music classroom. 


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Agua de limón

 From September 15-October 15 Hispanic and Latinx/Latine Heritage Month is celebrated in the US.  The dates coincide with  national independence days in Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Mexico.

I have a very sweet friend in Quito, Ecuador that I met through the pandemic. I say, "through" because I do not know if our paths would have crossed had it not been for the pandemic. During quarantine, my dear friend Thom Borden and I began the American version of International Sunday Sharing, already begun by our dear friends across the ocean in Finland, JaSeSoi, the Finnish Orff Association. We met on Sunday mornings via zoom and had hundreds of music teachers from around the world show up to sing, dance, and share. It was a beautiful thing, and I met and befriended such beautiful people, including MaCarmen from Quito.  Ecuador has always held a special place in my heart as our family had an exchange student during my freshman year of college. Anita became very special to us and she is my Ecuadorian sister, now living in Cincinnati. When I got married, she came from Ecuador with her sons to be at our wedding and she is a beloved member of our family. 

For more songs, books, and dances to celebrate Hispanic and Latinx/Latine Heritage Month check out this post.

Here is beautiful MaCarmen's song she shared, the song is from Colombia and is SO FUN! 

For the full slide deck, check out my Patreon.


Monday, September 5, 2022

Alien Q and A

Improvisation is essentially spontaneous composition. The art and act of creating an expressive musical statement in real time adhering to some kind of structure.

 Question and Answer is a common improvisation technique in music.  In the world of Orff Schulwerk we begin with imitation and exploration of an idea or concept. Then we add label and improvise using that idea and concept. 

When students are ready to improvise, where do we begin? 

I like to begin with this:

Teach song and step the beat in place.

Sing and walk the beat. 

While singing, walk to face a partner.

Show 8 fingers and do a "countdown" demonstrating rhythmic alien language. 

Something like this:

With partner, decide who is going first (rock, paper, scissors to determine "winner"). Show fingers again, first partner improvises over the 8 beats using alien language. Second partner answers them with their 8 beats. Don't worry if they are not truly performing question and answer yet - it will come. 

Repeat several times before defining question and answer technique. 

Repeat game with question and answer technique.

Repeat activity with body percussion. Consider transferring to non-pitched percussion.

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Words of Experience

 Well, I had hoped to not get in the weeds of life and post almost every day since my last post but that didn't work out! 😂 Oh well.. best laid plans!  

Here is the rest of the advice I had hoped to post - see previous post for the first two. 

Happy new school year! 

Saturday, August 13, 2022

New School Year Words of Experience

 I was about to write, "words of wisdom" in the post title, but I don't feel that is correct as I am certainly not wise, simply experienced. 

So, for the next several days I will be offering some advice from 29 years of teaching. Hope you enjoy! 

Be sure to be looking on facebook as my "Live" broadcasts will be starting next Tuesday at 7:00 AM EST and every Tuesday thereafter. These are all recorded and available on the O For Tuna page so if you aren't awake or available at 7:00 EST, you can always go check them out - there are already SO many from the past couple years of videos where I share songs, books, activities, and teacher ideas. 

So, onward we go! Welcome to the 2022-2023 school year! 

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Hike by Pete Oswald

 Hike by Pete Oswald (of The Good Egg and The Bad Seed fame) is a beautiful (almost) wordless picture book. 

Follow a Dad and son into the mountains as they witness the magic of the wilderness, overcome challenges, and plant a tree to give back to the forest. This beautiful book is full of possibilities for movement and vocal and barred instrument exploration (images that move down or up, small and large trees, mountain peaks, hills and of course those beautiful winding trails).  Or, have small groups create movement tableaus for different pages or create 2-beat building bricks about what the father and son are doing or seeing.  

Perfect for back to school talks about summer trips or for Earth Day.  

This would work well with Trees 'Round the Earth from my new book, Singing Waters, Dancing Flames published by Beatin Path Publications.

For a clearer image of the song, click here to download.

Another great tie in would be the beautiful canon, This Pretty Planet.

Or use Seeds of Love by Gemini

Another extension idea using the book Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert, post click here

To see a video of Planting a Rainbow and the Seeds song by Gemini, click here. 

What is your favorite song or activity about nature? Drop a comment below.