Here’s what I did this week, with success in some places, and not so much success in others.
Some of my 3rd graders have completed their second recorder test, playing “G and A Blues” successfully. (Their first test was “A and B Blues”). Others of my students have yet to take their first test. Hopefully, we will be able to complete that test on Monday. Meanwhile, the next step for some is “Au Claire De La Lune”, which uses all 3 notes, B, A and G. To prepare them for this I had them practice playing B to G to B to G without using the A, sice the song does skip over the A in one spot.
ll: G G G A B A G B A A G:ll
I had them read the note names to me while practicing their fingerings, before actually trying to play the song. It took half the period to teach and practice this , along with the song we are currently testing. They all took it home to practice.
I test 2 to 3 students at once. It helps speed the process along, and I can still tell if someone really isn’t getting it or making a lot of mistakes. I like the testing process, because if a student is struggling I can spend some time just with them, working out the problems.
I never reported back on our BINGO boards, which in 4th grade consisted of 6/8 rhythms using triple 8th notes and dotted quarters, and duple rhythms of 8ths and quarters. I was really pleased at how well the students differentiated between triples and duples, and were easily able to identify the rhythms that they heard, even though I played them on the piano and did not use rhythm syllables to help them. I had to smile when, after playing a phrase I’d hear voices quietly singing to themselves, ” du day du day du day du”, or “duda di dudadi dudadi dudadi”.
5th grade was a bit more complex in that they had the additional du di rhythm pattern, but they also handled it very nicely. So, we’ve had 2 solid weeks of rhythm….the first week when they took dictation to create their BINGO boards, and the second when they had to listen and identify rhythm patterns in order to correctly mark their BINGO boards.
Now that we’ve finished creating and playing rhythm BINGO 4th grade will be reviewing 16th notes and adding the 8th + two 16ths pattern, and the two 16ths +8th pattern. We used du ta day ta to sound four 16th notes. Our new patterns are spoken du day ta and du ta day.
Whenever I introduce a new rhythm pattern I have the students echo the pattern back to me before they try to read it themselves. This gives them the opportunity to see what the pattern looks like and hear it performed accurately before trying to decode it for themselves. But before viewing any charts at all we review the note value pyramid with 16th notes at the bottome, so that they can see that the four 16th notes take up the same amount of time as two 8th notes.
The next step is to tie together the first two 16ths, so that the pattern becomes du day ta. Likewise when the second pair of of 16ths are tied together the pattern becomes du ta day.
Once I’m sure that they understand the concept I have them echo one phrase at a time from the rhythm chart of “Draw a Bucket of Water”.
du day du ta day du day Z
du day du day du day Z
du day ta du du day ta du
du day ta du day du day Z
For some reason these patterns are harder for them than 6/8, so we echo several times before read it to me without hearing the patterns first.
The melody is’t too difficult because it’s mostly stepwise and uses only do, re, mi, fa and sol, which we review using hand signals before adding them to the rhythm.
After praciticing the rhythm and melody together several times I teach the words by rote:
Draw a bucket of water
For my Lady’s daughter.
One in a rush, two in a rush
Now everyone pop under.
There’s a fun game to play with this rhyme: Have the students stand in groups of 4 in a cross formation…each pair facing each other. Both pairs join hands with the partner across from them, with one pair joining their hands above the hands of the other pair. As they sing the song they gently pull back and forth, as if they were sawing wood. At the words “pop under” all participants raise their hands in the air without letting go, and pop their heads under and into the center. This will result in a circle of children whose arms are all connected behind their backs. (Popping under actually takes a bit of separate practice before playing the game.)
Once “popped” they jump around in their circle on the beat chanting
“Shake the sugar bowl, shake the sugar bowl, shake the sugar bowl down.
Shake the sugar bowl, shake the sugar bowl, shake it round and round.”
It they’re not on the beat it won’t work….they all have to jump together. When they do it right they build quite a bit of momentum and have a lot of fun.
5th grade is continuing on with 6/8. This week I had a mystery tune for them.
We break it down, reading the rhythm first: du di du di du da di du etc. So far, no one has been able to discern that it’s “Pop Goes the Weasel” using the rhythm alone. Even after we add the melody (using hand signals), it takes them several readings, (until we can speed it up a little), before they recognize it.
For singing in both grades we reviewed “Test Me” from Music K-8 vol. 16 #4 and “An Irish Dance” from Music K-8 vol. 7 #4.