Sunday, January 24, 2016

Teaching High/Low

I am linking up with Elizabeth at Organized Chaos today for a Fermata Friday linky party!  Several fellow music education bloggers join up together and share resources.  After you read this post, click on the link to see more from fellow bloggers and teachers!
I saw a recent post on the AOSA Facebook page: "How do you teach high and low to kindergarten students?".  I was already planning a post when I saw that and it made me think more about what "vehicle" used to take the "trip". 
I like structure, and though I am blessed with creativity, I find structure and organization comforting and makes lessons go much more smoothly!  I always begin lessons with the same format; knees-a-knees-a-pizza-pie, see the post about that here.  Echo clapping and singing, vocal exploration in some format, sometimes like this (always asking "Does it start high or low" and vocally demonstrate where to start.  Email me for full set of winter vocal exploration cards at :

We also do a variety of movement activities; I consider all this to be warm-up activities. 
There are several lessons I use to prepare "high/low"; some of the warm up activities also include elements of high and low; I play the slide whistle while the children move (or sing) up and down; they love it when I play one scale degree, then another, slowly, make 'em wait for it, then quickly slide back down, (or up if we began high), adding a scale degree each time.  Hysterical giggles in the music room when I play very fast glissandi up and down. 
Someone Standing on a Big High Hill
I recently found this song and love it for it's flexibility to teach many concepts!

Up, Up, Down by Robert Munsch

Can I just say, BUY THIS BOOK!!! Wow... rife with possibilities for teaching high and low.  It's also a bit naughty.. hahaha... in a good way, people! It is about a little girl, Anna, who likes to climb things, but usually she falls down.  Can you see the musical values already?  I have the students go to the instruments after moving with the story up, up, up, up, fall..... down, then we learn to play up, up, up, up, faaaaall down (glissandi up and down).  We also sing "ow, ow, ow, ow, ow" (in the book) as S M L S M each time.  This is a definite keeper and the book and illustrations are pure Munsch magic!  Book available from here. 

Mortimer by Robert Munsch

Another awesome Robert Munsch book about a naughty little boy this time, Mortimer, who likes to sing long after family members have told him to be quiet.  The repetitive lyrics make this a perfect choice to orchestrate for a song.  I know there are several out here; the one I use was composed by a friend many moons ago and I love the simple pentatonic melody and simple orchestration.  Of course we review this song in first grade and add to the orchestration and act it out.. which is simply divine!!!  Much happy music making and dramatic possibilities!

So there are a few things to get you started, hope you enjoyed some of these. What are your favorite ways to teach high and low?


  1. I love the way you bring humor and magic into the music classroom. Thanks for the tips about the whistle and the books...I'm off to purchase a couple of them.

  2. I'm so glad you like the "someone standing" song- it really is great for practicing so many concepts, and it has the perfect melodic shape for practicing high and low! And I LOVE using Mortimer for high and low as well :) So glad you reminded me about "Up, Up, Down". It's one of those books I keep meaning to go buy and then I forget... off to add it to my Amazon cart now! #fermatafridays

  3. Wow, the dotted-line vocal experimentation looks really fun. I've got to try that with my kids.

  4. Do you have a copy of the song you use for Mortimer?

    1. Yes, send me an email - and I will send it to you! Happy Wednesday!