The Week in a Nutshell, Friday, Sept. 23, 2011

There is just never enough time to get everything done. My room is right across the hall from the nurse’s office, so it’s very convenient for them to take off their shoes and get weighed and measured every year. It only happens once a year, but during the week that she’s weighing and measuring my classes, in reality, are only about 35 minutes long. I had to leave something out of every lesson I taught this week because I just didn’t have enough time to get it all in. Anyway, here’s how it went.

Grade 1:
(Reprint from Music Literacy lesson #3.)
In the last lesson we worked on steady beat by having the students practice keeping the steady beat to Yankee Doodle, while I sang it, and then while they sang it while clapping the beat at the same time.

In this lesson we will continue practicing our steady beat with “Hickory Dickory Dock.” As with “Yankee Doodle” I use some kind if visual that I can point to in order to help them stay with the beat, whether it’s pictures of clocks in rows, or just beat lines.

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I have the students say the syllable “doo” each time I touch one of the beat lines. Next they say “doo” and clap each time I touch the beat lines. The third time, I tell them that they are in charge of the “doos” and claps while I sing Hickory Dickory Dock. Virtually all of them know the song,so the 4th time around they sing and clap at the same time. So far it’s the same thing we did with Yankee Doodle.

At this point I show them how to hold rhythm sticks at their shoulders when they are not playing. When I pass out the rhythm sticks they are expected to put them in the “sticks at rest” position against their shoulders and keep them that way until I tell them what to do next. Anyone who cannot do this will lose their sticks. It seems harsh, but it only takes one kid losing their sticks for them to understand that if they want to play, they have to follow directions. It makes things easier for the entire rest of the year.

On “The clock struck one” we tap our sticks one time. “The clock struck 2″ – tap 2 times, using steady beat. “The clock struck 3″ – tap 3 times. “The clock struck 4″ tap 4 times, etc. We also count the taps as we play them, as this helps them to stay on the steady beat.

We also sang and moved to “Dooby Dooby Doo” from MusicPlay Grade 1. (Denise Gagne.)

Grade 2:
The students reviewed “I Have a Car” from last week, singing the song, gradually speeding up each time, and also reading the quarters, eighths and rests. Then we took out our whiteboards and markers and learned how to write quarters, eighths and quarter rests. I tell the to make a lower case d and color it in. Make 3 more. Then we read what it says:
doo doo doo doo. Next we bar the tops to make 2 sets of eighth notes, then add two more sets. I make a point of telling them that the first note is doo and the second is day…otherwise they think that doo-day is made up of two sets of eighth notes. We read what we have written. Last, I have them draw a small smile on their whiteboard. We make a slanted line down from the corner of the smile. At the bottom of the slanted line we make a little frowny mouth. It winds up looking like a fancy Z, and is what we use to kid-write a quarter rest.

Now I begin dictating patterns but not showing them how to write them. I’ll say doo-day doo-day doo doo, and they have to write it down in musical symbols. I do 2 or 3 dictations this way, then stop identifying the rhythms by name. I use bum bum bum instead of the doo and dooday syllables, and they have to translate my rhythm into doos and doo-days and write them down. We do a couple this way, then I clap the rhythm or play it with sticks or on a drum. By the time I play an example on the piano, or sing words in rhythm patterns, they are learning to push past the instrument sound or words, and listen for the rhythm.

In all classes I played at least the first segment of “Discover Bach”…some had time for 2. They’re only 2 minutes or less. They show Bach’s town, home, clavichord, family tree of musicians. It might be a slightly dated show, but there’s a little animated character that seems to be holding the students’ interest, and they are picking up information. All of the music in the video was written by Bach.

Grade 3:
The students reviewed Trampin”…MusicPlay 3 has just a slightly different version than I taught last week, which uses and pick up note and a dotted half note. It isn’t so big a change that it confuses them, and I was able to give a quick introduction to the dotted half and keep moving.

The students learned the middle section and sang call and response solos with the group.

Solo: I’ve never been to heaven but I’ve been told….

Response: Tryin’ to make heaven my home.

Solo: That the streets up there are paved with gold.

Response: Tryin’ to make heaven my home.



We begin with the chorus, first soloist is standing near me in case they need help. They sing the call and response section. When we return to the chorus a new soloist takes the place of the old and we go through again, until everyone that wants to sing alone has had a turn. I’m always amazed at how many of them want to solo. (Good vocabulary, by the way: solo, soloist.)
New Chart: The students sang tones, rhythms, and observed fermata in “Did You Ever.”

The song is good for teaching 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. I always begin by having them speak the rhythm. In this case the two 8th notes at the beginning will be elongated because of the fermata. When I have them clap and speak the rhythm, we will just hold the clap for each fermata. (Swinging the hands after the clap indicates a half note, which this is not, so I just hold my hands still.) After clapping and speaking I have the students “speak” the syllables in their heads rather than aloud, so that we only hear the rhythm through the clapping. These 3 steps provide 3 opportunities for practice, while not just doing the same thing over and over again.

Next we review line and space notes. They have been used to making a space note out of their head by placing one hand on top and the other under their chin. Similarly, they make a line note by placing one hand on either side of their head. As I point to line and space notes on the board, they show me by their hand position to which one they think I’m pointing.

line notes

Finally, I teach them the words and motions.

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!

Grade 4:
The students learned “I’m Gonna Sing” by reading the rhythms, tones and words.

I always practice the rhythm first, having the students speak it in Gordon syllables: half note= doo-oo, quarter note = doo, eighth notes = doo-day. Next we speak and clap. (Clap and swing the half note.) Finally we “speak” in our heads, only hearing the rhythms through the claps. 3 different ways of performing the rhythms allows for multiple practice experiences.

On the board I have noted on the staff where do is located. After reviewing line and space notes we slowly read the tones without rhythm. (This may or may not be necessary more than once.) The last thing we do before adding the words by rote is to practice the tones and rhythms simultaneously.

The words are easy:

Oh, I’m gonna sing, gonna sing, gonna sing, gonna sing all along the way.
Oh, I’m gonna sing, gonna sing, gonna sing, gonna sing all along the way.

(Southern Folk Tune.)

We next reviewed “One Nation” from Music K-8. (Vol. 19, #3.) I had previously downloaded 2 tracks from iTunes: “Breakaway,” recorded by Kelly Clarkson, and the karaoke version of the same song. After singing “One Nation” with the mk8 track, I asked them to sing it again, but played the “Breakaway” karaoke track. With a couple of adjustments to timing, the two songs fit together amazingly well. The kids had no trouble singing with the track. I then played Kelly Clarkson’s recording for them. We sang along, which they really enjoyed, and then divided the class in half, with one group singing the chorus of “Breakaway” and the other singing the chorus of “One Nation.” Could make a good arrangement later in the year….

Grade 5:

I printed individual copies of “Jump John Joe” for the students. After reading the rhythm, we sang do, re , mi and fa as I showed random hand signals.I showed them on the board where on the staff they would find do, re, me and fa. Then I had them label each note on the page. We then read the melody from the pages that they had labeled. Next we sang the melody and rhythm simultaneously. The final step was to add the words. We didn’t have time to do the singing game this week, so I’ll start with it next week.

I repeated the “One Nation”/”Breakaway” activity with the 5th graders.

Wow…if you’re still reading, I’m sorry about the length of this post.

Maybe I should divide these into primary and intermediate posts. What do you think?


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Christopher Burns (@clb1015)
    Sep 24, 2011 @ 11:15:35

    I am so grateful for the information you share with us! I look to your blog continually for ideas to use in my classroom as I am still a novice teacher. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!


  2. Jane
    Sep 24, 2011 @ 12:27:25

    You’re so welcome, Chris. I enjoy blogging, and it makes me VERY happy that you’re finding it useful! You made my day. :0)


  3. Trackback: Questions and Answers « Tuesday Music
  4. Patti Helwig
    Sep 24, 2012 @ 17:04:33

    After 15 years of being a general classroom teacher, my dream of being the music teacher finally happened


  5. Patti Helwig
    Sep 24, 2012 @ 17:05:00

    So I really appreciate your lesson plans.


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