Wednesday, December 11, 2019

I Can't Wait for the Snow to Fall

This is a beloved folk song I learned long ago at a workshop and have loved ever since. The original folk song's words are, "I dont care if the rain comes down, I'm gonna dance all day". Needing a song for our holiday concert with a winter theme, I played around with this one and my students helped develop an easy orchestration and form we have loved using.

Sing the song as written, each time students sing the word, "dance" they strike a dance pose.
Clap "hey, hey" and patsch "carry me away".
For alternating sections, students came up with the idea of continuing the orchestration and humming the tune while doing dance moves.  Here's how it worked out:

A:  Song with orchestration
B:  Hum melody, orchestration continues; perform Macarena movements (this works out perfectly with the song and the dance can be performed twice).
A:  Song with orchestration
C: Hum melody, orchestration continues; perform the Floss (YUP.. what they voted for!).
A: Song with orchestration
D:  Hum melody, orchestration continues; freestyle- students perform movement of their choosing.
A:  Song with orchestration, end with "I'm gonna dance all day" 3 times followed by a final glockenspiel, "plink".

This was SO fun and really had my students moving and grooving. Good for any winter fun!

Hope you enjoy this one now or later!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Goings On

Hi everyone! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving last week - we stayed in our pajamas all day, watched the Thanksgiving Parade, played games and watched movies! It was so fun and relaxing and my family loved it - I did, too!
Week before that I was in Salt Lake City at the National American Orff Schulwerk Association's (AOSA) Conference which was amazing!  Truly love these peeps and the creativity and collegiality is very special and heart-warming. I attended some incredible sessions and loved reconnecting with folks I took Levels courses with and those who I have taught at Chapter workshops and State Conferences. This is also the one time of the year I see my editor face to face - Brent Holl of Beatin' Path Publications is a friend and amazing musician! Working on a new book can be stressful - and the editing process is difficult and full of discussions about which way to present material and what to leave out and what to include but Brent makes it easy!
One of my favorite finds at conference were the new musical sit spots!  There are several packs but I can see using this one the most frequently. For a quick assessment, lay them out on the floor and as students come in direct each student to stand on a specific note - Josiah, stand on a quarter note, etc.
Outside the conference center there were these amazing signs- so fun

and meaningful! 

We were also invited to attend a free open rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Singing with this group would completely ruin anyone for singing with a small choir ever again. Full orchestra and seating for 90,000 in the hall. AMAZING!

This morning on my fb site - @o for tuna orff I posted a video with a cup game to Trepak from Nutcracker. Click on the picture to go to the video. There is also a book/song/activity to use for Hanukkah season as well called "Shabbat Shalom".
Enjoy! Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Pairing Partners without Pain

Grab your partner and promenade. I can't help but think of this when I hear the word, "Partner". 

We often ask our students to partner or pair up for dance, movement, instrument play, and other activities in the music classroom. Some of us have "work buddies" that are permanent or semi-permanent partners and others are more random and allow for student choice each time. 
Father, Son, People, Love, Dad, Kid
My students are able to self-select and most of the time do a great job with this. Of course I am always aware of who will most likely need help or those that need a different kind of partner - a non-human one. AKA: Works Better Alone. 
Here are some things I have learned over the years about partnering:

1.  Expect Some Bumps

Expect some issues and be ready with strategies to help THAT group that may not be excited about working together. Know who to watch and who to encourage. Also know who is likely to dominate a conversation and try to influence/push/bully their ideas or thoughts in activities. This is especially important when working on creative ideas - someone will always think their idea is better and will be unable/unwilling to let others voices be heard.

2. Self -Selecting Partners

I train my students from a very early age (Kindergarten) to find a partner "sitting next to them". When my students self select partners, I know if there is an even or uneven number of students ahead of time. I am also looking for the student that may need some help in finding a partner. If an even number of students, everyone will have a partner. If an uneven number of students, I ask ahead of time who would like a buddy from the buddy basket.  Depending on the activity and materials, I also allow students who might work better with a non-human partner to get a buddy from the buddy basket.

3. Buddy Basket

Many moons ago I asked parents to donate Beanie Babies. I love using "Beat Buddies" and have several ways I use them. Along with the Beanie Babies came some super special animals and I have found others over the years that have made their way into a special musical basket called the "Buddy Basket". This basket is at eye level and students are able to choose a "buddy" from it.
There are many favorites, including the super soft panda and the silly monkey we call "Kissy Monkey" as he likes to kiss everyone on the neck and arms when he comes out for folk dancing. He has long arms with velcro and is a perfect partner for folk dancing or other movement requiring a partner.
BW Plush Stuffed Long Arm Monkey Zoo Animals With Velcro Paws Christmas Gift

4. The Beauty of Rock/Paper/Scissors

I am fortunate to have enough Orff instruments for each student. My class sizes are small and I have been at my school for 23 years and have built up my instrumentarium and unpitched percussion instruments. 

Orff Instruments
Often, and especially the first time we play something, I might want to have less sound and for students to learn from each other so they will partner. Immediately after partnering my students know they will need to rock/paper/scissors.. shoot! We do this for SO MANY THINGS.  It solves disagreements about order and other things. Once we have a "person who won" and a "person who did not win", I pick one or the other to go to the instruments and it isn't always the "person who won".  Those students select an instrument to play and of course, everyone moves to the back row to play the Basses. If two students are first to get there, they rock/paper/scissors to decide who will stay. It is a quick and effective means of determining who is going to play that particular instrument.  There are other rules in place about how often people go to the back row and we are constantly moving between instruments so no one gets the instrument for a long time. 

Unpitched Percussion
I have a lot of tambourines but do I want everyone in the classroom to play this instrument all at the same time? No, I don't care to have a headache for the rest of the day.  Sometimes too many instruments creates too much sound so we partner.  Same process as above with rock/paper/scissors which determines who plays first and who has to wait a turn to play.

5. Use a Rhyme to Switch Between Partners

I have several nonsense rhymes I use to switch partners and my students know when I say, "Intry mintry tribbledy fig, deema dima, doma dig, howdy powdy, noma nouchy, olliga bolliga boo" that it is time to switch. This allows for me to move partners without saying the words, "Please switch" and losing the beat of the song. We move from song and instrument play with first partner to the nonsense poem immediately into the song and instrument play again.  Nursery rhymes work perfectly, too, in case you don't want to learn a crazy nonsense rhyme -though it impresses the kids and they are AMAZED at these funny rhymes!

Here's to partnering with positivity! 

Youth, Active, Jump, Happy, Sunrise
Hope you enjoyed this post, how do you use partnering in your classroom?

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Bucket Drum Piece to Mozart's Turkish March - REMIX!

Over the past several weeks on my fb page -@o for tuna orff, I have been posting several live videos of the teaching process I have been using for a bucket drum piece to a piece of music my daughter found on youtube. She often listens to music while drawing (her favorite thing to do and she is an amazing young artist).  It is a remix of Mozart's Turkish March and is SO awesome!  I knew I needed to create a bucket drum piece for my top grade to perform at our Winter Concert and maybe a few other performances as well. Click here to see the final video performance on the o for tuna fb page.
Here is the score:

The pdf of the learning slides can be found here: Bucket Drum Mozart Turkish March Remix
They look like this:

The music can be found here:


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

All Things PUMPKIN!

Mmmm... pumpkin pie.  Mmmm... pumpkin bread.   Mmmm... pumpkin spice.  A few weeks ago we were still in the 90 degree temps and I came across this fabulous pic:
Halloween, Pumpkin, Wooden Box, Wood
Seriously, I do love everything pumpkin!  I also love using the word pumpkin (a perfect eighth note pair) in many ways in the music classroom in the fall.  It is also a very inclusive way to celebrate fall if you have students that do not celebrate Halloween.  Here are a few of my favorites:

1.  Pumpkin Chant

I just found this one yesterday and am already in love with this for my littles!  It has such a cute ending and ties in nicely to the Lynn Kleiner song "Peek a Boo" to use with scarves. I also love this as a lead in to the book, Pumpkin Soup (see below).

2.  Pumpkin Stew Song/Pumpkin Stew Book

I love this musical book-the cat plays bagpipes, the squirrel plays banjo, and the duck sings.  Insert the song, Pumpkin Stew after each page.   Click on the book to see it on Amazon.  Here is a video with an idea for a game with solo singing to play with the song. I use this song with Kindergarten and First Graders:
 I have a homemade fabric pumpkin with a zipper in the side and my students go on a hunt through the music room to find something small they can put in the pumpkin- mini containers of playdough, shaker eggs, castanets, finger cymbals, plastic spider and skull rings, markers, etc. have all made their way into our delicious stew!

3. Pass the Pumpkin

Check out the previous post here with the full activity and song.  My kids LOVE this one!

4. Pumpkins and Ghosts Game

This one uses foam ghosts and pumpkins (Dollar Tree or Wal Mart has these). Perfect for eighth and quarter note rhythm exploration!   Original post here. 

5. Five Little Pumpkins 

This is a well known chant and fingerplay.  It is wonderful to act out, add scarves and movement, too! Click on the book to link to amazon.

6.  Pumpkin, Pumpkin

Original post here - fun game and song!

7. Vanishing Pumpkin Book

This one is great for adding sound effects for each character.

8. Big Pumpkin Book

I have long loved this funny story of a witch who wants to make a pumpkin pie and can't get her pumpkin off the vine.  Along comes a ghost who tries, and then a vampire and several other characters. Of course, it is the bat who finally gets it off the vine.  Each time another character comes along students decide on an instrument sound for their character. Of course it is great for adding scarves, movement, and dramatic play also. 

What are some of your favorite pumpkin activities?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Make and Take Workshop

Recently I organized and hosted a workshop for our local Orff Chapter.  It wasn't my typical workshop of singing, speaking, moving, creating, and playing, but a Make and Take. The workshop was inspired by the St. Louis, MO chapter who hosted one last school year. 
A Make and Take workshop is where participants come to make manipulatives for the classroom, explore how to use them, and take them home.

 Our local chapter has been struggling for a few years and I was hoping this would bring our chapter together and boost membership.  It did- we had 37 teachers sign up and many new members!  
Interested in having a Make and Take Workshop?  Here is what I did:

1. It's All in the Details

Date of workshop, time (I would recommend 4 hours), and place.  You will need a space large enough for tables, chairs, and materials.  We used our library and it was a perfect space as there were auxiliary areas we could use for specific projects that needed hot glue.  We charged for materials only but wouldn't know the specific cost per person until everyone registered. There was a cut-off date for registration and we had several people inquire after the cut-off date.  I did not charge a fee for hosting or presenting so it truly was a "materials only" fee.  I let everyone know the cost would be no more than $40.00 per person and chose projects and materials accordingly. 

2. Project Choice

 I wanted a variety of projects that I use frequently and that students enjoy; some rhythmic, some melodic, games, instrument recognition, etc.  I also wanted some material heavy projects and some paper projects.  The participants needed to be able to take the items home immediately, so nothing that needed significant dry time (paint, wet glue, etc.).
I narrowed down my initial list to six projects with an "extra goodie" of some apple erasers:
No photo description available.
  • Top left corner - Bundles of Joy (activity from Artie Almeida) and Noteman (activity from local chapter members Shari and Ashley)
Materials:  150 pipe cleaners per person to make a class set of 25 Bundles, scissors, one large baggie.

  • Top right corner - Music Memory/Concentration Game

Materials:  Cardstock and 2 sets of (color) printed sheets of game pieces, glue stick, scissors, one small baggie.
Game pieces available with and without names of instruments:

  • Middle Right - Apple Erasers to use with song, "Apple Tree"
Materials: Apple erasers purchased from Target Dollar Spot, one small baggie.

  • Bottom Right - Rhythm Dice and Roll & Create Rhythm Worksheets (not pictured) 

Materials:  Foam Counting Dice - one pack per participant
 FREE download of Worksheets , Sharpies and small baggies.

  • Bottom Middle and Bottom Left - Rhythm and Melodic Monster Magnets

Original idea here from Elizabeth at Organized Chaos.

Materials:  Tin Cookie Sheet, 1/8" Grid Tape  , Magnet Circles(Or Pom Poms), Googly Eyes, Hot Glue (we used Gorilla Glue hot glue sticks).  Everyone made 8 cookie sheets with 64 magnets.  Each cookie sheet needed an accompanying baggie with 8 "monster magnets"; 3 eighth notes (2 small googly eyes on each), 3 quarter notes (1 big googly eye on each), and 2 rests (no googly eyes), scissors, hot glue guns.

  • Middle Left - Solfege Texting Sticks

Materials:  25 Large Craft Sticks per person, 2.5 pages of printed solfege papers, scissors, glue sticks, one small baggie.

  • Middle -  Kaboom Game

Materials:  One plastic cup per person, 25 regular colored craft sticks per person, ball point pens (sharpies bleed on the wooden craft sticks), one large baggie.

 3. Order Materials, Determine Costs Per Person.  I ordered everything myself as our chapter is struggling, then I communicated costs to all who had signed up and asked for payment.  Our costs came to $29.76 per person!  

4.  Helpers!

Get everything ready and try to separate as much as possible - I put the 64 magnets each in a big baggie and had helpers at the workshop an hour before to get everything laid out and separated so materials would be easy to pick up and count out.  I also put signs above each material to let people know what they would need and a visual of what the finished project should look like.

 5.  Participants Arrive

Once everyone was present, I quickly went over where materials were (scissors, glue, and pens/Sharpies were on a separate table, hot glue station was in a different room, etc.), showed the visuals, reviewed the projects and let them know we would spend the last 30 minutes going over materials and how they would be used. This 30 minute time at the end was when I went over the Apple Tree game with the apple erasers, demonstrated how they could also turn these into magnets by gluing mini magnets on the back and use the cookie sheet boards to show the melody. 
I also had a QR code to scan as participants came in which had a pdf of all directions, links to projects, visuals, and many extras to use to make more manipulatives at home.  This was helpful as several used this document throughout the workshop to make sure they understood the project directions and final product. 

It was a very successful workshop and I enjoyed the conversations with other music teachers. We rarely get time to sit and chat with each other and many others commented on how nice it was to have time to "talk shop" while at a workshop.  I encourage you to give it a go! 
Let me know if you have questions.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Theme and Variations

Form is one of my favorite things to teach.  This year I decided to teach Theme and Variations a little differently and ran across my friend Elizabeth's blog post and knew she was on to something.  I loved what she had done but needed to tweak it a bit for my Orff -sensibilities and decided to add a movement component using non-locomotor and locomotor movements already learned.
I began by playing the main theme from UP and had students sing it on "la".  Then we watched this video in which the theme is clearly heard and changes based on the scene shown. 
I ask the students to turn and talk about the words, "mood" (which we have learned about previously), and how the mood changes affect the music. 

As a class we discuss instruments, tempo, dynamics, and introduce Theme and Variations. We sang  a song already learned and created four variations.  We had already done some other things and this was the final activity on day one.

The next class I had this video ready.  It is so perfect for older elementary. There will be one or two they probably don't know but have heard the music to before.  I ask my students to wait until the countdown shows "3" before guessing the title (which they get so excited about shouting out!).  It was hilarious! This is 10 minutes long, show as much or as little as you would like.
Small groups were created and each chose a theme to use - anything was up for grabs and Spongebob Squarepants, Row, Row, Row Your Boat, and several others showed up but many groups chose  theme songs from the Movie Theme video. Everyone in the group had to agree on the theme song. 

Groups were then tasked with creating four variations on their theme song and everyone had to sing. 

Over the years I have collected many "Sing Like A ...." cards similar to the ones here (free pdf).  I gave students the option of using these and demonstrated (and reiterated) the need for the SOUND to be different each time.  We also talked about changing dynamics, tempo, etc. 

Groups decided on variations and wrote them on individual white boards, then practiced these.  We also added a movement component where the movement should reflect the mood of the variation.  

Students decided order of performance and everyone watching responded with two thumbs up (they heard four different variations), or one thumb up (they heard some variations).  It was so much fun and they were incredibly engaged and everyone was singing! Music to my ears! 

Hope you give it a try and let me know how it went!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Ye Toop Doram - an Interview with the Composer

When I first heard Ye Toop Doram I realized what a great game song it is. I always thought it was traditional until a conversation with my friend, Marilyn Shepard, a 49 year veteran (!!!) of teaching children music who lives in California. Marilyn is an amazing teacher, musician, and collector of songs from around the world she has learned from students in her classroom! Oh- and one she learned while sitting on an airplane next to a woman from Ireland! She has a true collector's heart!
Following is an interview with Marilyn about Ye Toop Doram.
Marilyn (red shirt) and her twin sister, Nancy (black shirt).

Aimee (me):  How did you get interested in music from cultures not your own?
Marilyn:  My twin sister, Nancy Paxson and I have had a passion for collecting folk songs, singing games, and instruments from around the world since we were very young - as well as composing songs for children.
My training was Orff and Kodaly and ethnomusical multicultural classes as well as vocal/choral.  Traveling with choirs to Russia, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, China, Costa Rica, Spain, and Portugal have added to my collections.
I am a Past President of our San Diego Orff Chapter and was a presenter at the National AOSA Conferences in 1991 and 2015. The sessions were titled "Indonesian Folklore for the Classroom", and "Children Sing and Play Music in Worship".
Now I am retired from the classroom, but work at the "Museum of Making Music" in Carlsbad, CA (an extension of NAMM) as a docent for student tours and still direct my Children's Choir at church.  Many anthems are sung in non-English languages and use instruments from my collections; Hawaiian, Native American, Chinese, Indonesian, Kenyan, etc.  My choir kids all play dulcimers, ukuleles, and recorders as well.

A:  How did the song Ye Toop Doram come about?  Were you inspired by students or a family at your school?
M:  Yes! Inspired by two students- one from Iran and one from Afghanistan.  Both families with Persian language background.
I looked for very easy, repetitive music so that my primary age students would make connections with these girls (from Iran and Afghanistan).
I had seen a song, "My Ball"  (Yeh Toop Dooram) in a book by Mary Lee Walker, A World of Children's Songs, Friendship Press, 1983.  I had made recordings of my Iranian student singing her very long and ornate version of the song and we agreed that it was not "accessible" to teach to other kids in her classroom, so we composed a whole new song.
My twin sister, Nancy, who also is a music teacher in Minnesota where we were raised, suggested the "hot ball" game for the rolling part of the song.  Our melody started out super basic and then invited variations with more ornamentation.  The song text evolved over the next years as I taught with an Iranian teacher at an International Baccalaureate School. We added instrumental experiences and varied language and rules.

A: How did the song spread?
M:  I first presented it in 1999 at the Inland Counties AOSA workshop. As you know, music teachers like to share "fun finds" so it was passed along in Orff and Kodaly circles. A teacher friend from Iran wrote out the Arabic version we ended up using.
 We changed the B Section text to "ghelesh bede" ... roll the ball away, and drums other instruments accompanied changing from a steady beat during the passing part, to the rhythm of the text on the rolling part. 
A:  How did you play it?
M:  We always did it in a seated circle. Using a small 6" playground ball. The person in the middle closed their eyes as we passed it. They would not know if we were passing clockwise or CCW. Then open their eyes on the third count and quickly assess their jumping/dodging needs. If they were not tagged or caught by the rolling ball after 8-10 rolls they became a "champ" and chose another jumper.

A:  What is the translation?
M:  Toop = Ball, Doram = mine, so "The ball is mine" or "It's my ball". 
Yek Doh Seh = One, two, three.
Lol-beday - = roll it away, Toopeh to cha - small ball.
Ghelesh behday = roll away.

Many thanks to Marilyn for sharing her information, pictures, and songs with us!  Hope you have enjoyed learning more about Ye Toop Doram and if you haven't tried it, give it a go with your students- it is a perpetual favorite in my classroom!