Grade 4, Literacy Lesson #1: Review

4th graders in our district wll require a bit more review than the other grades, because the second half of the year in third grade is spent on learning to read and play music on the recorder.  Since they haven’t read solfege from hand signs or notation in 9 months, I want to take a little extra time to review and assess what they remember.

I will begin by reviewing all of the Curwen hand signals.

We begin on do and sing all the way up to do1, singing each time I change to a new hand signal.  I have them show the signs with me as we go up and then come down the scale.  Next   we alternate each tone with do.  e.g. do re do me do fa do sol do la do ti do do1.        do1  do, ti do, la do , sol do, fa do, mi do, re do.  Next I show random signals and have them try to sing whatever they see.   Then I’ll show more than one sign at a time and have them sing  the several notes that I showed. e.g. do re mi do.   do mi sol mi do.    etc.  Finally I hum to the students  have them show me the hand signal for what ever they think they heard. Another way of getting a quick assessment for this is to have them write the answer on their white board, using d for do, r for re, m for mi etc.  They keep their answer a secret until I tell them to hold up their white boards.  The easiest way to record this assessment is to check the names of those students who don’t seem to be understanding.

I’ll use the note value pyramid once again to review whole, half, quarter and eighth notes.

Once we’ve gone over each type of note using Gordon syllables and counting, I’ll ask the students to tap a whole note with their right foot: one tap every 4 beats.  So far so easy.  The next step is to tap the whole note with their right foot, and  half notes with the left.  This still isn’t too hard, and  the few that may have trouble can say  “1   foot     both    feet,   1 foot    both   feet”,  to keep from moving both feet on the half note.  Things become a bit more complex for them when we add quarter notes in the right hand.  I always begin with the right foot whole note,  add the left  foot half note, and then the  right hand quarter note.  At this point I lose a few.  Before adding the eighth note in the left hand, I have them try just doing the 2 hands without worrying about the feet…quarter notes in the left hand, eighth notes in the right hand.  Most are able to do this…not all.  Most are NOT able to do all 4 at the same time, again starting with one foot then adding the other rhythms one at a time.  It takes practice…I tell them they’re having to divide their brains into 4 parts, with each part controlling one of their limbs.  Many will practice throughout the week and show me what they’ve accomplished at the next lesson, and I make time for them to do that.

To put notes and rhythms together we’ll review some of the 3rd grade song charts from last year.  “Trampin” is always a hit…once they remember the song they enjoy taking turns singing the B section as a solo.  (See  Another song that we might use for review would be “Did You Ever Ever Ever in Your Long Legged Life,” using notation rather than just rhythm syllables  and letters. ( D= do, R=re etc.)  Double click on the picture for a larger view.

The song is good for reviewing fermata, which I greatly exaggerate for the sake of fun and clarity, do, re and mi read from the staff, quarter note, eighth note and pick up note.  The motions are as follows, on the steady beat, except for the fermata.

First 8th note patsch.  Second 8th note clap.

Patch, clap, patsch, clap, hands apart, clap, patsch, clap, hands apart, clap, patsch, clap, hands apart, clap, patsch.

The effect is to always have the hands apart on the word “long”, showing length.

The 2nd verse is “Did you ever ever ever in your short-legged life meet a short-legged sailor with a short-legged wife.”  Hands show a tiny space on the word “short.

3rd verse:  “Did you ever ever ever in your one-legged life”….pick up one foot on “one.”

4th verse: “Did you ever ever ever in your no legged life”…pick up both feet on “no.”

If the students are standing for this the effect will be standing on one foot for “one-legged”, and jumping for “no legged.”

The 5th verse combines them all: “Did you ever ever ever in your long-legged, short-legged, one -legged, no -legged life.”  We’re all out of breath by the time we’re done!

I don’t know that I’ve mentioned so far that all of these literacy lessons are only part of the complete lesson that the kids receive.  My goal now is to start writing the literacy lessons in the order that I use them. I know I’ve said that we always begin with warm-ups.  The 4th and 5th graders know them all, so there is no need to teach them.   We go through them quickly, observing our learning targets: Sit up straight, mouth open, feet flat on the floor,  match pitch, sing loudly enough to be heard.  All of the warm ups can be found and heard here:

The music literacy portion of the lesson is sometimes  placed after we’ve warmed up and learned and/or sung whatever piece of music we happen to be working on, and may be followed by movement or a game.  The only things that are standard to the lessons are that they begin with warm ups and end with quiet listening time.

Once the year begins I will go back to my “Week in a Nutshell” format, offering the complete lessons as we go.

Just a note…the heat index here in PA is 110 today!  Good thing school hasn’t started just yet!!  Have a great weekend!




3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Grade 5, Music Literacy Lesson #1 « Tuesday Music
  2. Trackback: The Week in a Nutshell: Friday, Sept. 2, 2011 « Tuesday Music
  3. Trackback: Here We Go Again « Tuesday Music

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