Sunday, September 21, 2014

Old Brass Wagon BAG Improvisation Lesson

I have always struggled with improvisation with recorders but this lesson I just taught Friday went beautifully!  I played accompaniment on piano with students while they were improvising and the combination of the movement and the sequence of body percussion, drums, and finally recorders.  It was a wonderful way to begin improvisation experiences on recorder (this was their fifth lesson on recorders and have had 3 previous experiences with B, A, and G. 

  Old Brass Wagon Recorder Improvisation Lesson

  • T. plays melody on recorder, students to find the steady beat using body percussion, repeat with students keeping beat in various ways.
  • Students play 2 finger beat on hand drums, explore playing while moving drums through space
  • T. sing lyrics of song, at end of song, students improvise quietly on drum while T. plays melody on recorder.  Remind students to add space (rests) during rhythms; demonstrate interesting vs. "boring" (all eighths, all quarter note rhythms).  Question and turn and talk with neighbor about what makes these "interesting" and "uninteresting".
  • Refine to improvising during 8 beats only (T. holds up 8 fingers and performs "countdown to visually show beats).
  • Sing the song again, explain improvising rhythm on recorders using only "B".  Sing:  "Circle to the left, old brass wagon, circle to the left, old brass wagon, circle to the left, old brass wagon, improvise on B".  Holding hands circle to the left.  Students perform 8 beat improvisation.
  • Sing, "Circle to the right, old brass wagon.... improvise on A".  Holding hands circle to the right, improvise  for 8 beats.
  • Sing, "In for four, old brass wagon, out for four, old brass wagon, in for four, old brass wagon, improvise on "G" (move out for four beats during final four beats of song).  Walk into the center of the circle for four beats, out of circle for four beats, etc. 
  • "Turn around (in place), old brass wagon, turn around, old brass wagon, turn around, old brass wagon, improvise on B and A."  Improvise on B and A for 8 beats.
  • "Jump up and down, old brass wagon, jump up and down, old brass wagon, jump up and down, old brass wagon, improvise on B, A, G.  Improvise on B, A, and G for 8 beats.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Five Extra Minutes at the End of CLASS.. Now What?

OH NO!! That lesson you had thought was going to be SO great tanked.. badly! 

OH NO! The kids whizzed through your lesson and you now have 5-10 minutes to fill!

OH NO!  The teacher is late picking up the kids.. no, this never happens, haha!
So, now what?
Have a plan, man! 
For little ones: 
  • Jump Jim Joe (in book of same name by New England Dancing Masters) my littles up to second grade can't get enough of this song and it's short so you can repeat it over and over and find a new partner every time!
  • Poison Version 1:  I use this as a starter but it also works very well to end a class.  Put a 4-beat rhythm card up on the board or whiteboard, have students clap it, pat it, etc. so they are VERY familiar with the rhythm.  This pattern will not be played by you again!  Avoid it!  Skull and Crossbones!  It is the poison rhythm today.  If you clap it/pat it (or any part of it) you die a quick but horrible death.  Pick your best behaved student to illustrate the QUICK part and sitting down after they are "dead".  If you are poisoned, your job is not done, you now have to clap EVERY rhythm and try to infect others; how you ask?  Well, when someone hears others clapping the poison rhythm, they will think it is OK and they will be infected, die a quick, horrible death and infect others.  I usually stop the game when I have the Final Four.               
  • Poison Version 2:  Same as Version 1 but no one is "out".  Write this on the board:  T vs. S; this means Teacher versus Student!  If the students don't clap when there is a poison pattern, they get a point!  If they do, YOU get a point.  They love this and I make a big deal about being unhappy about not getting points.  If a couple students clap, it's  a "forgiveness".  If more than two clap the poison pattern, point for you.  If anyone says anything negative to or about the people who clapped the poison pattern, you get 5 million, six hundred ninety seven thousand, two hundred and ten points and win the game.  Yes, really; at the same time as making the joke, they get that you're serious!
  • If you don't have a song repertoire wall, make one; kids love to sing songs they know very well; print out some of those "Sing Like A ....." cards from Pinterest.. there are a ton.  Sing like a monster, ghost, cowboy, opera singer, baby, grandma, elephant, you name it.. hysterical!
  • Camp songs; they are short, catchy, and usually have funny, silly themes that will leave kids on a positive note (pun INtended), and begging for more!  Black Socks is great as is "Humpty Dumpty".  Check and look for camp songs; there are some funny, funny, FUNNY ones out there!
  • If you don't know the Finnish Dance "Seven Jumps" (Rhythmically Moving and Shenanigans have great versions on their CD's) get to know it!  High energy, fun, and one of my go-to's for when I need a 5 minute "something".
  • Song Books:  I use a lot of children's lit in the music room and I record myself singing, put it on a CD and put that in the front of the book in an envelope taped to the inside cover.  This is great when I have a cold, or even on sub days.  I also put how long the song lasts.  Over in the Jungle, Over in the Meadow, and Over in the Ocean are all interesting ones that can be sung to "Five Little Ducks".  There is a PLETHORA of material out there.. check out all the versions of "I Know an Old Lady.."
  • Walk My Beat:  Pick up a hand drum and play a beat; students walk the beat while you are playing, stop when you stop.  Add other instruments; gong: floating like an astronaut, temple blocks; running, etc.  Change the movement to the beat; how else can we move, kiddos?
Hope all this helps; best advice is to be prepared and have those activities you can add/change to in your "back pocket".