Grade 3, Lesson #1, Music Literacy

In Third Grade I switch up all of the opening warm ups, to keep them interesting for the kids, and myself as well.  Because there are a lot of warm ups, I don’t teach them all in one lesson, but keep adding on throughout the first few weeks of the year.  We begin with “Mama made me mash my m&m’s.”  Listen:


Next I write on the board, ” Red leather yellow leather red leather yellow leather red leather yellow leather red leather yellow leather.  Red leather yellow leather red leather yellow leather red leather yellow leather red leather yellow leather.



To hear all of the warm ups please see

The music literacy part of the lesson will use the song “Trampin’ “.

The words are:
‘Trampin’. Trampin’. Tryin’ to make heaven my home.
‘Trampin’. Trampin’. Tryin’ to make heaven my home.

We are reviewing the meaning of the time signature, repeat marks, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes and quarter rests, do, re and mi.

My first step is to review the repeat, and make sure that the students remember the rhythm syllables for each note type.The  note value pyramid is an easy way to review the note values with syllables and with counting.

Whole notes are doo-ooh-ooh-ooh, (Gordon method, as used by Feierabend,), half notes are doo-ooh,  quarter notes are doo, eighth notes are doo day and rests are shhh, only for the first time through the rhythm reading. Hands are pulled wide apart on the rest. So, the chart would read:

doo-ooh, doo-ooh
dooday doo dooday doo,
doo-ooh shh shh

The second time through we add clapping to the rhythm. Half notes are done clap-swing clasped hands. I also ask at this point that they not say shhh, since rests are silent, and just pull their hands apart.

The third time I ask them to say the rhythm syllables only in their head, so that all we will hear is the clapping. Keeping a steady beat is important so that we stay together. Sometimes I will keep the beat with rhythm sticks, sometimes I ask them to do it with their foot.

The note value pyramid comes in handy once more when determining what the 4 at the beginning means, and then, where the bar lines are placed.  (You might even write the rhythm of the song without the bar lines and ask them where they should go.)  Addition problems using notes  can also be useful here.

Once we have all of the rhythmic details worked out we can move on to the tones mi, re and do.  I use the Curwen hand signals, and that is the first way we review the sound of mi, re and do.  (I’ve gotta find a picture of those.  :0(  )  I mix them up and ask them to  sing whatever handsign I show.  I also hum mi, re and do for them to identify.  Keep in mind that this is a review, and all of this (hopefully) goes fairly quickly.

In the event that you are just starting solfege with your students a good book for the younger students is   “What Makes Music” by  Betty Schwartz.  ISBN 158117139-0.    This is a  cute pop-up book which introduces each note and which you can sing to the kids in your grown up voice as well as baby bird’s voice.  They think it’s hysterical.  (Rolling my eyes, heheheh.) 

For the older kids, a good book for introducing solfege is ” A Noteworthy Tale,”  by Brenda Mutchnick and Ron Casden. ISBN 0-8109-1386-0. The characters are do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti and the other do, and you can sing them every time they occur in the story, which is fairly often.  Just a heads up, this book takes 20 to 25 minutes to read.

Wow!  I digress!  Back to business.  For this lesson, I don’t use notes on the staff.  I just place M, R or D under the rhythm symbol and have them read it that way.  At the end of the song they sing the bottom note, (D) instead of the upper.  (See picture.) They usually are able to learn this song by reading it.  I then teach them the words.

Wait…there’s more.  There is a second part to the song, which I do not  notate for them.   (The do’s in the 1st and 3rd lines are high do’s.)

“I never been to heaven, but I’ve been told, (tryin’ to make heaven my home), That the streets up there are made of gold.  (Tryin’ to make heaven my home.)”





I sing the entire section for them, asking them to listen for phrases that they already know.  (Tryin’ to make heaven my home.)  I sing it a second time, asking them to sing the phrases that they already know.  Last, I teach them the 1st and 3rd phrases by rote.  Once they know it well, I ask for volunteers to sing the 1st and 3rd phrases as a solo.  They come up near me at the piano, so I can give them some help if they need it.  Great for assessment for me, and it gives them an opportunity to hear themselves alone.  I give a certificate to each child who sings alone.  This can take quite some time once they brave up, and you may have to extend the opportunity into your next lesson.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cak Marshall
    Jul 18, 2011 @ 17:49:55

    This is the first time I’ve visited your site! WONDERFUL!!!!!


  2. Write Every Day
    Jul 18, 2011 @ 17:52:38

    Thanks Cak! I’m so glad you like it! Means a ton coming from you!


  3. Trackback: Grade 4, Literacy Lesson #1: Review « Tuesday Music
  4. Trackback: Two Minutes!! « The Secessionist Rag
  5. Trackback: The Week in a Nutshell: Friday, Sept. 2, 2011 « Tuesday Music
  6. Trackback: Here We Go Again « Tuesday Music

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: