For this week third and fourth grade have been doing the same thing. Because of the. 9/11 anniversary we have been going over The Star Spangled Banner, with all of it’s rules of etiquette and correct singing techniques.
1. Stand up.
2. Face the flag. (I have a student hold the flag when we sing the national anthem.)
3. If you are wearing a hat, remove it and place it over your heart.
4. If someone is performing the song, stand quietly and respectfully. Never talk during the Star Spangled Banner.
5. If it is being played without a soloist, sing it.
We discuss the reasons that people do not sing the national anthem when they hear it. One reason may be that they don’t know the words. “That’s where I come in”, I tell them. “I’m here to make sure that you know this song, and what to do when you hear it.” The other reason is that it’s a difficult song to sing because of the extreme range necessary to sing it. (New vocabulary word: range.). And so, the stage is set for our first voice lesson: supporting the sound, opening the mouth, using head voice and matching the pitch. For details on vocal production lessons see
Last week I taught “One Nation” from Music K-8 Magazine with a view toward discussing 9/11 with the kids this week after singing it again. I began by showing them a picture in the book “This Land is Your Land” that was printed in 1998.
I showed them a picture of NYC that includes the twin towers and asked them how they thought I could know by looking at the picture that this book is more than 10 years old.
It didn’t take them long at all to figure it out: the twin towers are in the picture. They were still there when this book was published.
Then, here’s what I said to them:
” I taught you this song last week, because I wanted it to make you think about the 10 th anniversary of 9/11. I know that you don’t remember it. Some of you weren’t even born yet 10 years ago. But I was here, and I remember it. I was right down the hall when the 5th grade teacher came in and told me that the World Trade Center had been bombed. She wasn’t exactly right, but she was close enough. It was an awful, horrible day. We couldn’t let the kids go out for recess because we didn’t know what was going to happen next and we needed to keep them safe. But we couldn’t tell them why either…we figured that was for their parents to do. Parents came and picked up their children all day long. Evening activities were canceled.
But the next day….American flags were everywhere….flying from car windows, rooftops, doorways, flag poles. Everyone was sending a message….we ARE one nation. We stick together. People were really nice to each other in the days after 9/11, 2001. You know, I’m not always the nicest person…especially behind the wheel of a car. I get mad if the person in front of me is going to slow, or if the person behind me is tailgating, or if someone charges through an intersection when it’s supposed to be my turn. But on September 12, and for sometime after, I, and I think many other people, realized that those things don’t really matter. People came from all over the country to try and rescue those who had been buried in the rubble. Some of those people died, trying to help. That was an extreme cost, like the song says. Paying with your life, so that someone else could live. Freedom IS precious, and costly. And that’s why I wanted to observe 9/11 with you, 10 years later. It’s easy to forget that the important things are taking care of each other, making other people your priority. I’ve forgotten…..I’m back to being a crab behind the wheel of a car, or in other unimportant situations. But when we remember 9/11 ten years ago, we can remember what’s really important; how people came together and helped each other. It’s what I wanted you to learn from this very positive song. Even out of the worst circumstances, good can come.”
We are One Nation. We are One Land.
Together in Freedom, united we stand.
In 5th grade, we’ve been talking about our blog. I gave them the following list of ideas, for starters:
Possible Writing (Blogging) Topics for Music Class
You are not limited to these topics. Feel free to use your imagination!
1. Give a summary of the “You Can Shine” video so that your readers will know what it’s about and be able to understand your comments. THEN
2. Write a letter to one of the characters in the video. OR
3. Give your thoughts on the messages in the video. They can include:
4. How is music “a visual thing”? What are some ways you can connect visual art and musical art?
5. Write your thoughts on the song “One Nation.” Can you connect the song to the September 11 anniversary?
6. What is your favorite style of music or music performer? Why do you like the style or performer that you’ve chosen?
7. Create a cartoon or dialogue with the music room furniture having a conversation. What did they see, hear or learn in music class? The piano is already named “Ivory”, and my computer is named “Dell”, but you can name anything else in the room.
8. What does music add to your life? Where or under what circumstances do you hear or listen to music? (Besides music class.) Think outside the box: movies, T.V., church, the supermarket etc.
9. Do you like music class? Why or why not? What would you like to learn in music class?
10. Keep a running log of the activities we do in music class. Add your comments on each activity.
After going through the list and discussing each option I showed the “You Can Shine” video again.
The video is on their blog page so that they can watch it as many times as they like.
I also played and had them read along, or sing if they liked, “One Nation.” We had previously gone over vocabulary: precious, extreme, committment, gratitude. They did NOT know what these words mean! I assume too much, I’m afraid.
I told them that they may work with a partner if they so desired….this went a long way toward keeping their interest level high. They took out their journals with about 20 minutes left to work, and it looks as if I’m going to get some good writing out of them! I’m not allowed to share the web page, but I can anonymously publish their work here, which I will do.
As always, add ideas and thoughts. Have a great week…I’ll talk to you soon.