Grade 5. Music Literacy Lesson #2

When we finished up last year the students that are now 5th graders were getting quite proficient with 16th notes.

This is a review of what we did at the end of 4th grade:

We use the Gordon syllables in our district, so quarter notes are spoken ”doo”, eighth notes are spoken ”doo-day” and sixteenths are spoken “doo-ta-day-ta.”

Step one: Speak the rhythm. (doo-ta-day-ta doo-ta-day-ta doo-ta-day-ta doo-day, doo-ta-day-ta doo-ta-day-ta doo-day doo.)

Step 2: Add simple body percussion: 16ths are brushed, 8ths are clapped, quarters are patsched in the lap.

Step 3: Have the students clap the rhythm while keeping the syllable solely in their head.

The song uses do, mi, sol, la and high do. The students learn the melody by reading the tones from the staff, probably following a hand signal reading exercise using the tones involved.

I teach the words by rote:

Chattanooga, chattanooga, chattanooga choo choo,
Chattanooga, chattanooga choo choo train,
Chattanooga, chattanooga, chattanooga choo choo,
Chattanooga, chattanooga choo choo train.,

Oh that chattanooga choo choo
Oh that choo choo train.
Oh that chattanooga choo choo
Oh that choo choo train.

Once they students know the complete song, have them line up behind you. The line can only move on the 16th notes since they are performed by moving the feet.(Forward.) Eighths are still clapped and quarters are still patsched, but the feet must not move on the 8th or quarter notes. We start slowly and repeat several times, getting faster on each repetition.

For the full lesson with mallet instruments see

Today I want to quickly review 16th notes, and begin to move on to combinations of 16ths and 8ths.

I will begin by having these rhythms on flashcards. I will say the rhythm for the students while pointing the steady beat on the flash card, and have them repeat it back to me. Since the Gordon syllables for 16ths are doo-ta-day-ta, the syllables for 16th 16th 8th will be doo-ta-day.

So the first rhythm would be spoken:

doo-ta-day-ta, doo-ta-day, doo-ta-day-ta, doo.

The second would be

doo-ta-day, doo-ta-day, doo-ta-day, doo.

and so on.

My next step will be to have the students try to read the rhythms to me while I point the steady beat, without my help. This may take a few tries on any given flash card.

Then we will read and clap the rhythms, remembering that the 16ths are brushed, the 8ths are clapped and the quarters are patsched in the lap.

Finally we clap without saying the syllables aloud.

An alternate activity that the kids enjoy is to give them 3 beats to look at the flash card, then hide it on the 4th beat and have them say/clap what they remember the rhythm to be.

If I project this entire chart, I can have them pick out which of the rhythms I am clapping.

This is a very short and simple introduction. Next week I will begin using these rhythms in actual songs.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kris Gilfillan Lytle
    Aug 15, 2011 @ 22:13:27

    Wow! I just stumbled across your blog via another site, and am amazed at the wealth of information you are sharing here. I am in my fourth year as an elementary music specialist, and feel like I am just finally getting my feet under me. I so appreciate it when more experienced teachers like you share the wonderful knowledge you’ve accumulated. I will be visiting your blog frequently!


  2. Trackback: Friday, Nov. 11, 2011: The Week in a Nutshell « Tuesday Music
  3. Trackback: Week Two Sequence of Lessons….links « 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: