Thursday, February 22, 2018

Painted Music

If I had not been a music teacher, I probably would have been an art teacher or struggling artist/musician.  My love for all things arts and crafts is as deep and as wide as my love for all things musical.  And then there are books.. those lovely pages into which I can meet a Scottish prince, or learn more about history, or make realizations about my own beliefs and values. My parents still talk about how I would come down to the breakfast table with a book in my hand and not let go of it the whole time I was getting ready to eat and while eating. As an adult, I often have several books going at one time, although I have fallen in love with historical fiction and currently am engrossed in  London, England, in 1503 and Henry VIII.  I also cannot pass a book store without going in and immediately am drawn to the children's section to see if I can find something to use for my classroom.
My love of music, art, and children's literature combines with my new book, Painted Music.  Huge thanks to all the publishers of the nine different books for granting permission to use these in the activities and songs!  Another huge shout out to Brent Holl, publisher and editor extraordinaire (Beatin' Path Publications) for his help and experience in putting this together in such a lovely way! 
Hope you check it out- there are tons of supplemental materials online also! 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Broom Dance and Other Favorite Folk Dances!

I love folk dances and love when I see someone post a question on facebook about their favorite folk dance.  I recently learned the Broom Dance from friend Leslie B. on fb and she kindly directed me to Martha Riley, who shared her directions with me and gave permission to share here!  Enjoy!  As always, if you would like the pdf, send your request to
This has quickly become a favorite with all my students - a nice 5 minute end to class- and would be a great dance to teach at a family music night!

1.  The Broom Dance

Another Broom Dance!

2.  Wassouma -

Another one I learned from the AOSA facebook page.  This one is from Suriname, a country in North East South America.  Such a great energetic dance!  The music is from "Bulgarian, Balkan and International Folk Dances" from the Folk Arts Center of New England.

3.  Chimes of Dunkirk

From New England Dancing Masters

4.  Yesh Lanu Tayish

Shared with me by another dear internet friend!  My second graders BEG to do this dance!

5.  Chilili

This is another one that is simple, yet so satisfying!  I teach this at my Hands to Hands workshops and it has become a quick favorite!

Hope you enjoy learning some new dances with your kiddos!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Hula Hoop Activities

These are SO much fun! The full pdf has 20 pages with all the games listed.  Hope you enjoy them - if you would like the pdf, send me an email at  If you haven't yet checked out my facebook page, there are extras including a video that shows some other activities and teaching tips with hula hoops - search for @ofortunaorff.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Up and Down with Children's Lit

I am part of a wonderful group of music teachers who blog.  Together we are blogging all of February to bring you the best ideas for teaching melody ! Check us out on facebook - MusicEd Blogs Community.
Today's post is on teaching melody, specifically using children's literature to teach up and down.

Children's literature is full of wonder, excitement, and joy.  These delightful books are like magical gems that can transport a class through a concept or skill in a memorable way.  Here are my favorites to use while teaching up and down.

1.  Up, Up, Down - Robert Munsch

This is the story of a rather naughty girl, Anna, who likes to climb up up up up.. fall...... down.  She climbs everything, and finally makes it to... THE TREE!  ]I prep this by playing a lot of slide whistle games where students listen to me play various ascending and descending notes and move (first bodies, then voices later) accordingly.
While reading, encourage students to do the same while saying the six "ups" and then perform "fall" with a vocal glissando.  Of course we have to do an exaggerated fall, also!  Each time Anna lands on a different body part and we sing, "Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow" with S M L S M.  The students catch on quickly and this is a very engaging story! 
The next class, we perform the story again, only this time using glockenspiels.  I can't remember who shared this idea and would thank them profusely for introducing the tree idea - cut out a tree top, tape it to the end of the glockenspiel box and hold this end in the air- voila- tree!

Each time Anna climbs up, we play an ascending note, then glissando down on the word "fall". 

 I also use this idea with the song "Let Us Chase the Squirrels" and you can find that blog post here. It is another song to use for reinforcing melodic direction instrumentally.
As a follow up, another Robert Munsch book, Mortimer!  This is a PERFECT song for up and down - and lots of other happy clanging and rattle bing banging! Here is a blog post about this one as well as some other ideas for high/low/up/down.  

2.  Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayers

Teacher plays slide whistle, students move up and down, vary playing slowly, quickly, legato, staccato, etc.  Then ask them to move one arm ONLY, then elbow only (very funny), hand only, thumb only.  It's an interesting thing to observe! 
Teach song; every time students sing "up" they will move higher, "down", lower, and they can choose HOW to move "'round and round". 
In the book each vegetable grows up, down, or around and around.  Students play glissandi on "Up and down and show around and around with movement - usually rolling their mallets around or turning around.  Sing the song each time after the words "around and around" and the final "let's have lunch" occur.

3.  Up, Up, Up! by Susan Reed

This delightful book is a song, another Barefoot Books gem!! I love the ascending DMS melody on the first three words of the chorus; Up, Up, Up!
Here is a video:
Hope you have found some new things to try with your kiddos!  Hop on over to facebook to MusicEd Blog Community to check out the other posts all month long!