Friday, November 11, 2022

Great Big House in New Orleans

 I love this song at this time of year as there is SO much that can be done with it- add an ostinato with pie flavors, perform the dance, talk about dance styles, create a new dance, student created B Section, and a game from the wonderful Mrsmainsmusicians on insta! 

Grab the full google slides here. Please note this will force a copy. 

For the game, I glued my pies to paper plates.  This helps them to slide easier as most inexpensive paper plates have a wax coating on them.  This also makes them round and pie shaped! 

Here are a few slides from the set.


Saturday, October 15, 2022

The House Around the Corner

 I am always looking for songs that help my recorder students with specific areas - and often end up writing my own pieces to fit their needs. Since switching the starting pitches from BAG to GE I have been delighted that beginning with G and E opens up so much bitonic and tritonic (SM and SLM) songs and once we add low D we have access to some wonderful pentatonic material!  

We are working on some pre-improvisational ideas and so The House Around the Corner was born this week!  My students needed more practice with low E, and they were clamoring for something scary and spooky.  This song can go in various directions - spooky or with a more autumnal/wintry theme. 

I sang this song to them while playing the accompaniment.

Then I displayed these four 4-beat rhythm cards.

As we have been working on something we call the Wizard's Challenge using In the Hall of the Mountain King, I tell the students this rhythm might be familiar. Then I sing it using the word "dude" (which is what we "whisper" when playing recorder) and their little minds are blown that this is the rhythm of the melody repeated over and over.  Then we play the first card (top left) only using "E". Then play through each subsequent card using "E."  Play the top two cards, then the bottom two, then the full 16-beat phrase. 
I change the bordun to quarter notes  E B C B, which sounds very spooky, and we play the full phrase using E. 
Next, change the quarter notes to G. Play full phrase.
Finally, change the 3rd card (four 8th note pairs) to B and have students work on the transition from third card to final card (transitioning from B to E) and then we play the full phrase.
Perform as A (song), B (recorder melody), A again. Students could also play the melody as it is a simple La Do Re Mi song. If you have Carol King's Recorder Routes you could combine this with Who Has Seen the Wind, another LDRM song. 

The students loved it and felt so successful! The next time we will work on improvising beats 2 and 4 of   the third measure and will add zombie movement (as they requested), whistling tubes, flexatone, black scarves, and spring drums. They also want to add gongs, cymbals, and other things so it is sure to be a piece we will record to send home to families. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Pass the Pumpkin *Updated!

 Pass the Pumpkin is a fall favorite and I have remade the slides in google slides with some small tweaks to the visuals and the directions. 

Click this link for the google slides - please know this will force you to make a copy. 


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!