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!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Beginning of the Year

I love the beginning of the new school year - all the excitement and the exhaustion combined in one. 😂  
This year I have tried a few new things I have found on instagram and wow, I have really loved how these have worked out.  
First, and this is not from instagram as I have done this for a couple years now, let's talk oils. We have a couple people really into doTerra oils at my school which has, of course, gotten many of us interested and using oils.  I have a diffuser in my classroom and it is so cute- my kindergarten students especially love to come in and make a line by the diffuser so they can smell what is in there. The following comments and conversations are hilarious - "I wish she put lime in today" or "I love that one - smells like Christmas!" or "mmmmmm... orange.. I want to lick it". SO funny!  I also have a certain third grade student who I had a difficult time connecting with - until I found out he LOVES the lime oil. So guess what goes in the diffuser before his class?  He knows I see him, and that I care about him now and our relationship is completely different- all because of oils! Who knew?? I wish you could see the look of pure bliss on this kindergarten students face! 

Last year I had seen these touch lights on instagram and I wanted to do something like this as an Exit Ticket/Quick Assessment/Review before lining up. So I made them this summer and it has been wonderful and gets my kids thinking and talking with each other using the language of music. I use these with my older grades and they have really enjoyed using them!  

I think it was in August that I saw this idea using the song, "Aiken Drum". I have always left this song for those extra few minutes of class when I needed a quickie and use it with my Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten students. Well, this week with first grade I started singing it and all my returning students immediately jumped in but in place of the usual "and he played upon a ladle" I stopped the song and told them that since they had moved to first grade, Aiken Drum also had moved up and now he was going to play on "instruments". Then I told them we were going to make Aiken Drum on the floor today using instruments in the classroom.  First we placed a circle on the floor for his head, then we sang, "and his hair was made of ______" and I chose a student to go pick out an instrument for his hair. It was hilarious and one of the best things I have done in a long time. At the end everyone got to pick up the instrument they chose and we played to the beat as we sang, ".. and he played upon the instruments". Great fun!  These are by two different classes- I love the ears complete with earrings - triangles!

Hope you try some of these ideas! 
Happy back to school!