Lots going on in school this week – 2nd grade program rehearsals have begun, and grades 3, 4 and 5 are taking PSSA’s – the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests in reading and math. In April, 5th grade will take an additional writing test, and 4th an additional science test. For me these tests require schedule changes, quiet classes, and in the case of the 4th graders, a review of the science of sound. All of this has caused a certain amount of condensing of lessons, so, I’m going to try and make this a complete 1-5 “Nutshell”.
Soooooo….in chronological order:
First grade is still hammering away at mi-sol-la. This week we read “So-Me and the Dance”, which includes “So-Me”, his brother, “La-Me”, and his sister “So-La-Me”. “So-La-Me” is such a great dancer that “She dances like Salome”. (All I tell them about that is that Salome was a very famous dancer).
“Ring Around the Rosie” contains Sol-la-mi in the melody, so that is our chart for the week.
I don’t tell the kids what it is until after we’ve worked on the rhythm and melody, because the song is so familiar that they wouldn’t have to read it if they knew what it was. Once they do know we play a variation of the game. First, we all sing the song and turn in a personal circle rather than joining hands and making a ring. The second time we turn in circle while singing the song in our heads. At least, that’s what we’re supposed to be doing. A number of students always seem to fall down a full phrase too early, telling me that they aren’t really audiating the song. So, we try it again, and this time I make them move their lips to the song in their heads, but still without a sound. Finally, we repeat this exercise with our eyes closed, which helps eliminate to a degree the possibility that they’re “all falling down” just because someone else did.
That was at the beginning of the week. The latter part of the week I began showing “Elmo’s Musical Adventure: Peter and the Wolf“. Previously we read the story while listening to the music, identified the instruments, flollowed a listening map, and now, the video has been precisely timed for them to watch in the cafetorium while I set up the room for the 2nd grade program rehearsal, which happens immediately following their class. I like the “Elmo” version because it contains a demonstration of each of the instruments before the story actually begins, and because it has more emphasis on the role of the conductor than I’ve found in other videos. Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra are the musical performers.
I’ve used the “Sting” version once, but am not comfortable with the duck floating around with a beer bottle.
I’ve also used the Kirstie Alley/Lloyd Bridges video from time to time. It’s a longer version and combines live action with animation.
Of course, there is the time honored Disney version. There’s a great pre-video clip of Walt Disney meeting with Prokofiev to develop the cartoon.
My pattern with 3rd grade has been to spend the first half of class on new material and the second half testing. It’s working out right now that the piece they are working on for their new assignment will be their next test. That will change as we add new notes, and more and difficult pieces that require more practice. This week, because they’re already spending 2 1/2 to 3 hours a day on state tests, we finished up testing on “G and A Blues” and practiced “Au Claire De La Lune”. (These are found in the Recorder Resources set from MusicPlay). The last 10 -15 minutes were spent playing “Recorder Master” which I project from my iPad, and which they love.
4th grade has been working on patterns of 8ths and 16ths. We read the rhythm of “Skip to My Lou“, which is fairly simple and repetitive.
Then I used “This Old Man” as a mystery tune.
As ususal, we practice rhythm and melody separately before trying to put them together. The Gordon System uses, du ta day ta, du day ta and du ta day as rhythm syllables.
It takes several tries reading melody and rhythm together, but once we are able to speed up a bit, light dawns and they recognize the song.
5th grade’s mystery tune is “The Bear Went over the Mountain”. Same procedure as for 4th grade, except that they have a new concept to understand: the pick-up note. Before we begin I explain that the pick-up is the last note of a phantom previous measure, and that the last measure has only 5 beats, because the 6th one is at the beginning of the song.
Step one: rhythm.
Step two: melody.
Step three: Sing rhythm and melody together and identify.
As I was going over the curriculum flow chart to see what I’ve missed, I saw that terms and symbols have been lacking, so I put together a packet of MusicK-8 songs about……music.
Presto Largo, Vol. 15 #5
Forte Piano Vol 13 #1
Crescendo/Decrescendo Vol 16 #4
Legato Staccato Vol 14 #1
Major Minor Vol 17 #3
That should hold us for a few weeks. :0)
Thanks, as always, for reading!
Jane Rivera, March 16, 2012, All Rights Reserved