Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Transfer Students

I recently had an interview with a transfer student and I wanted to really record my assessment, so I came up with a handy chart to record my observations.

I wanted to see how far they have progressed in rhythmic reading, note reading, chords, keys, ear training and musical terms.  It provided me with a great picture of where the student was at and since I recorded it, I can easily remember what the student needs to work on as well.

I also included a section on the student's interest and personality.  It was really great to get to know this new prospective student and to discover all the wonderful things they have learned and some of the things I can teach them.

Google Docs: Transfer Student Interview

Monday, June 27, 2011

Alphabet Blocks

A reader asked me to come up with some ideas inspired by the website: Filth Wizardry 
The creative folks at Filth Wizardry had come up with the idea to put words on Lego Duplo Blocks. 

Naturally, I came up with some Musical Alphabet Blocks.  Using printing labels from Avery Template 8160, size 1 x 2 5/8 I put the musical alphabet on the labels and then cut them to fit on the block.  

The possibilities for fun and learning with these blocks are endless.  I can't wait to try them with my students.  

Here are a couple of ideas:
1. Arrange them in A-G order
2. Arrange them in third order
3. Identify the interval
4. Have one block out, let's say it is E and have the student attach a third, fourth, etc. up or down.
5. Spell simple words: Bead, Face, Egg and play the notes on the keyboard or write them on a staff.  
6. Arrange the letters to make chords, inversions, scales.  A great teaching tool!
7. Game: Each player gets ten blocks.  Place one block out to be the starting block.  Place all other blocks in a pile, with the letter side turned over.  Players take turns building the alphabet forwards and backwards until they have used all of their blocks.  If they do not have a block to play they can pick a block from the pile.  If the block they picked can be played, they may play it.  If they cannot play it, then it is the next player's turn.

Google Docs: Alphabet Stickers

Check out my other use of Duplo Lego Blocks: Rhythm Blocks

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rhythm Blocks

Recently I was asked to come up with a musical idea using Duplo Blocks inspired by Filth Wizardry.  

I decided to start with Rhythm Blocks.  Using printing labels from Avery Template 8160, size 1 x 2 5/8 I put rhythms on the labels and then cut them to fit on the block.  

I put four different time signatures on each side of the duplo block.  Then I put different rhythms on each side of the other blocks.

I attached blocks that made one complete measure.  Then by turning the blocks up or down the time signature changes.  The student would have to adjust the number of beats to make the rhythm correct for the time signature change. 

A possible game would be to have the students each choose 10 blocks and build measures.  They would play a block only if it would fit in the measure.  If they could not play they would have to pick one block.  If that block played then they could play that block, if not their turn was over.  Play would continue until the winner played his or her last block.

Now, I have put a sticker on each side, but for this game, you could put one sticker on only one side.  For beginner students I like the idea of showing how a half note takes up two quarter notes by adding an extra blank block to represent the beat.  
Here are the Rhythm Labels for Level One.  I still want to tweak the other rhythms before I post them.  I have a lot of more ideas so keep checking back.  I am so excited about this Lego Project!

For more rhythm fun check out Rhythm Blocks Level Two

Check out these resources!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Duplo Blocks

A reader saw this wonderful site: Filth Wizardy, a wonderful craft site for kids and parents, and asked me to come up with a game using Duplo Blocks.  The folks at Filth Wizardy have already laid the ground work for this great idea by putting stickers on the blocks.  Well, my wheels are already turning on the great ideas I could do with musical concepts!  Check out there site and maybe get inspired yourself.  Check back soon for some ideas with duplos!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Music Camp: Day Five

Today we finished our Persian March from Fun with Composers.  It has been a lot of fun for the kids and easy to get them involved.  I loved discovering the body movement with the drum stimulus.  The dancing, singing and instruments made this a great way to have fun with a classical piece.  The kids have really enjoyed pretending to be pirates.  Tonight we are performing it in front of the parents.  I have had four classes each day ranging from 1st grade until 5th grade.  Tonight they will all perform the piece together with instruments!  It should be fun!

I also finished a sound story for Noah's Ark today.  We read a story about Noah's Ark and added some instruments sounds to different parts of the story to bring it alive.  So when it rained, drip, drop, drip we added a triangle or a agogo bell.  The children got to pick whatever instrument they thought went with the sound.  If we need a animal roaring or flapping its wings they chose another instrument.  By the end we had a great story with a lot of sound!

It has been a great week and the children have learned so much!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Music Camp: Day Four

On Day Four we focused on memory.

Today's Bible Point was "God Remembers Noah" and our verse was "The Lord your God goes with you.  He will never leave you" Deuteronomy 31:6

I tested the children on what the remembered from the previous days, including the names of notes and musical expressions.

We clapped through some rhythm cards, but this time I had the students clap the card from memory.  I would show the rhythm card and have them think about the card then put the card down and see if they could clap the card from memory.  They did a great job!

We also did a fun song to test their memory.  Here is the song:

Noah's Zoo Sung to "I bought me a cat"
The animals came in two by two
It turned into Noah's Zoo
The rooster goes cock-a-doodle-doo

Then I added another animal

The animals came in two by two
It turned into Noah's Zoo
The pig goes oink, oink
The rooster goes cock-a-doodle-doo

I kept adding animals and would see if the students could remember the order.  For younger students I used the cards below.  I would display the cards in order and then turn over some to see if the student remembered what was next.

Google Docs: Noah's Zoo

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Music Camp: Day Three

Today we added dynamics to our music map and created a rain storm.  I reviewed the rhythm we have been learning and had the children play the rhythms with instruments today.  I had four rhythm cards in a row and I had the students say the rhythm, then clap the rhythm and then we played them with the instruments.

I also introduced the concept of accent and staccato.  I wrote four quarter notes on the board and put an accent underneath one of the notes and we said the rhythm, accenting the note.  We did the same for the staccato.

Our theme for today was "The Great Flood"and our bible verse was "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding" Proverbs 3:4-6.

I demonstrated how to use a rain stick and then we used body percussion to make a rain storm.  I would start on one side of the room stand in front of the students, showing them a motion.  Then as I moved to the other side the students in front of me would copy me.  To create a human rain storm I used the following motions:

Rub hands together
Snap fingers
Clap hands
Pat legs
Stomp feet
Pat legs
Clap hands
Snap fingers
Rub hands together

It was a really fun experience!  At the end we added dynamics, accents and staccatos to our music map.  The "Fun with Composers" series has a music map for each piece.  I copied it onto poster board so it could be seen by the students.  I put some dynamic markings, accents and staccatos on some post it notes.  I had the students decide which dynamic matches the piece as we listened to it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Music Camp: Day Two

On Day Two I focused on rhythm, music vocabulary and dynamics.  I am using some fun words to teach rhythm to the children that correspond with Noah's Ark as seen below.  It has been great using the rhythm cards found at Layton Music.  The kids have really caught on to reading rhythm pretty well.

I also have been introducing the dynamics and having students tell me which dynamic I am using in various songs.  We have been speaking the words with the appropriate level of voice.  So piano is whispered and forte is with a very loud voice.  They like being able to be loud!

Today we played a fun game with Zoo Pal plates.  Zoo Pals are plates with animals on them.  I matched up the plates so that there were two of each animal, just like on Noah's Ark.  On the back I asked a question like what note has four beats?  The answer would be on the matching plate.  Students would come to the front with their plate and turn the plate with the question around.  Then I would see if any student knew the answer.  Next, I would have the other student with the matching plate turn over their plate to see if the answer was right. 
Another way to play would be to have all the plates scattered on the floor and see if the students could match up the question and answers.  They would know they were right if the animal matched.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Music Camp: Day One

Fun with Composers was a big hit!  I played the music for the students and asked for ideas of what it might sound like.  I am using Persian March by Johann Strauss.  Without knowing the title, one boy said it sounded like marching off to battle.  Other great answers were: "sounds like a circus", "sounds like a fair", "sounds like dancing."

We used the suggested drum beat to get students to feel the movement.  She suggests tapping the drum in different patterns and making those patterns match a movement.  So a simple beat tapped on the head of the drum was marching and taping on the rim was hopping.  When you tap the drum three times fast the kids had to freeze.  It was a lot of fun and very easy.   We added percussion instruments and every child seemed to be engaged in the activity.

Along with that activity, I introduced the quarter note and eighth notes.  We clapped some rhythm cards.  I added words to the rhythms to go along with the theme of the camp, which is Noah's Ark.  Quarter notes are "Zoo" and a pair of eighth notes are "Monkey."

We played a game called find the monkey.  I would clap a four beat rhythm of quarter notes and insert a pair of eighth notes on one of the four beats.  Students had to tell me which beat the monkey was on.  For older students I added two monkey rhythms.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fun With Composers

I am currently preparing to teach at a music camp and I am using a series called Fun with Composers by Deborah Ziolkoski.  The series teaches classical music through stories, songs and instruments.  It comes with a Teacher's Guide, a DVD that shows you how to implement the lessons and a CD of the recordings.  

I have enjoyed learning the story and dances that go with the music.  I think this will be a fun way to interact with a piece of music that the children are not familiar with.  I am using the Persian March by Johann Strauss.  In the book it has been turned into a fun pirate story.  A music map outlines the form of the piece and reminds the students of some movements.  Instruments are added last to compliment some of the story line.  

I think the series could deal more with the musical aspects of the piece.  It does include some music notation of the piece, but no real analysis of pitch or rhythm.  You could use this book if you had no music knowledge, which I guess could be a positive.  However, I like to talk about the music and how it was put together, analyzing pitch, rhythm, instruments, articulation, dynamics, etc. . 

This series is geared toward 3rd-7th grade, mainly because of the dancing.  I think it could be adapted for a younger audience.  

One obvious problem is the association of words and story to a piece of music.  The student might come to believe that the composer intended Persian March to be a pirate story.  Throughout our culture classical music has been used in various media to portray many things.  It is one of purest forms of music which lends itself to different interpretations.  ART!  So we need to be careful when assigning themes and ideas to music.  

I am going to try and address this by playing the music first and getting ideas of what the students are thinking about when they hear the music.  

I ultimately think the benefits of learning a piece in such a creative way outweighs the limitations it may create in the listening process.  As I go through this week I will update you on our progress and mention a few other things I have the children working on.  See more my review in the Music Camp posts

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Buckets of Fun

Here is a fun summertime game to promote note naming. 

I place the "Buckets of Fun" board on a table or piano lid.  Students take turns trying to throw a bingo chip or penny on to the board.  If any part of the chip lands on the bucket they are to draw the note on my
Staff Board.

Students take turns trying to land their chip on a bucket.  Whoever gets all of the letters first wins.

You can make this even more challenging by not letting the students use the same note on the staff twice.  For instance if they land on C and someone has already drawn middle C, they have to draw a different C.

If you don't have a magnetic staff board you can print one out through this link to use in this game.
Staff Board
You can choose from the large Staff or the smaller staff that fits on one page.  Student can just write the note on the staff.

*Tip if you put your staff board in a page protector you can write on it with dry erase markers and use it again and again

Google Docs: Buckets of Fun


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