April 9-13, The Week in a Nutshell


Hello Friends,

This post is kind of late.  I had it all written out and ready to type into WordPress, then left it at school for a long weekend.  I hate when I do that.

Ms. Weber’s Learning Targets

Grade 3

In third grade Ms. Weber had the students review “Starlight” (G and E),  “Lucy Locket” (G, A and E),  and “Kagome” (B,A, G and E), all from the Recorder Resources kit from MusicPlay.  In each case she began by having the students read the counts aloud.  They are getting the idea of using “1 and” for eighth notes.  (As opposed to “du day”).  Step two was to slowly read the note names in rhythm.  Finally, they played the piece, stopping to practice the difficult passages.  Ms. Weber put a few measures on the board so that she could be sure they were all looking at the correct notes.

While she finished testing the last few students who still needed to take their third level test, she had the rest color a picture of Aaron Copland, and finished up the class by having them listen to “Fanfare for the Common Man“.  (Copland is our Composer for April and May.)

Grade 4

Ms. Weber began by having the students sit up straight and warm up their voices.

Last week she used the song “Boll Weevil” to review patterns of 16th notes and to introduce the accent mark.  this week she cycled around and reivewed the term “accent”, the symbol, and practiced using it in singing the song.

For this week’s lesson she notated “Chili Fries” from Music K-8 magazine so that the students could utilize their knowledge of notes on the staff, half notes, half rests, repeat marks and D.S. al Segno while playing Boomwhackers.  She had the Boomwhackers laid out in order, so that the students could sit in lines according to which color they were playing.

Boomwhacker Lines for Chili Fries

Before beginning she informed the students that Boomwhackers can be easily dented or bent, and showed them the proper, (gentle), method of playing them.

She reviewed the note names by writing them under the notes as the students called out the name of each one.  She then correlated the the colors to the note names, to be sure each student knew which one they had.

As she pointed to the notes, the students played the melody.  Before playing the recordiing she asked the students what to do when they came to the repeat marks, the D.S., or Fine.  They played it almost perfectly the first time, but guess where the one hang up was?  The half rest.  Why do kids just blow through rests?

By the way, Ms. Weber’s “3 strikes and you’re out” system for keeping them from playing out of turn works well, both on Boomers and Orff instruments.

Finally, she had them play without her help, and stopped pointing to the notes.  Some forgot the repeats and needed her to step in a few times, but on the whole it wasn’t bad.

Once they finished the piece she counted backwards from 10, expecting them to be quietly in their seats by the time she was finished.  She then showed them a video of “Plastick Music”, a Boomwhacker group, playing Axel F.  Pretty cool.


I’d asked her to please show them a video of Manhattan Transfer performing “Birdland”.  We’re working on it in chorus, and they’re having trouble singing off the beat, as well as remembering not to pop out the high note every time.  I’m hoping that just listening to it a few times will help them get the idea.  “Birdland” can be found in “Music Express Magazine”, vol. 7 #5.


Grade 5

5th grade also began with vocal warm-ups.  these guys are getting to the stage where it can be difficult to get a sound out of them because of self-consciousness, but Ms. Weber persevered, in some cases having the students repeat a phrase until she was able to hear it.

She reviewed “Legato Staccato ” with the students, both for the purpose of learning the terminology and symbols, and for singing in harmony, which was her objective.  (Learning target: Can you sing a harmony part while others are singing the melody?”)  Those who were singing “Legato” swayed.  Those who were singing “Staccato” marched the rhythm. (It’s a partner song).  Once again she had to have them start several times because they were barely singing, but found that this strategy works.  They wound up doing a pretty good job with it.

Before the students entered she’d left the lyrics of “What Do You Do With a Water Waster” on their chairs, so they were quickly ready to go when Ms. Weber switched gears to this new song.  She had them listen and follow along, trying to discern which parts of the song were in unison and which used harmony.  (The verse is in unison, the chorus uses harmony.  The song uses the melody of “Drunken Sailor”).    She then used the piano to demonstrate the difference between unison and harmony by first singing the same thing that she was playing, then singing a harmony part while playing the melody.

She taught the melody by rote, then the harmony part.  (The harmony comes in off the beat, so it fits right in with what we’re trying to do in chorus.)  Her next step was to play the melody for them to sing with, while she sang the melody.    Next she asked the front row to join her at the piano and sing harmony with her while the rest sang the melody.  Each row got a turn to do this.  The final step was to sing in 2 parts with the recording.  They like the tune and sang quite well.  Ms. Weber complimented them on a job well done and moved on to a YouTube video she’d chosen to demonstrate vocal harmony: Celtic Woman singing “Danny Boy” a capella.


She finished up by mentioning the vocal harmonies in “Birdland” and having them watch the video.

Grade 1

“Raise your hand if you’ve ever lost a baby tooth before.”

“Does anybody know how many baby teeth they’ve lost?”

Ms. Weber took answers from every child.  They all wanted to tell how many baby teeth they’ve lost.  From there she began asking review questions about the Orff instruments. (Wooden bars = xylophone, bass, altos, soprano etc.)

Next she taught “Bye Bye Baby Tooth” by rote.  it’s a cute song, and short enough to give lots of quick turns at the mallet instruments.  She had 4 xylos’s set up in the front of the room.  She review her “3 checks and you’re out” rule to keep them from playing when not instructed to.  Then she placed 2 students in front of each xylophone.  The kids spoke the beats on “du” and then practiced playing whichever note they had on their instrument.  Then they played their notes in succession.  this is good practice in reading left to right, looking ahead and anticipating when it will be your turn to play.  they did quite well.

Before performing the sequence with the song Ms. Weber changed up the players to give 8 more students the opportunity to play.  The 2nd group learned it faster than the first because they’d had the benefit of watching before they tried it.  The 3rd group quickly got their turns and also did well.  For the second rotation Ms. Weber had each group play while the rest of the class sang with the recording.  She had each child take their original position to avoid confusion.  The kids really like this song, and it was a nice follow up for the more difficult “Rain Rain Go Away” from last week, as it gave those who weren’t quite as successful with that one a chance to try again.

Following “Bye Bye Baby Tooth” Ms. Weber introduced the song “Make It Up”.

Flying With First Grade

“This is a song about pretending to do something you’ve always wanted to do, like fly, or be super tiny, or giant sized.”  She passed out scarves while the students listened to the song.  She had them listen a second time, but this time she instructed them to do whatever she did.  She chose various ways of showing flying, becoming tiny and growing to giants.  The 3rd time Ms. Weber asked the students to tell her a super power they wished they had.  Invisibility was a biggy, along with spidey powers, (shooting webs), and X-Ray vision.  This is really a perfect song and activity for 6 year olds!


Spidey Powers

The students placed their scarves in the scarf bin as they lined up.

Grade 2

Following warm-ups Ms. Weber quickly reviewed the names of the Orff instruments, then segued into the use of Boomwhackers.  She showed them to the students, but before positioning the kids with them she read the book “Mortimor” by Charles Munsch.  There are lots of opportunities in this story to show up and down.  If you know the book, you know that there is a lot of going up stairs and then going back down again – perfect for 5 note scales on Boomwhackers.

After reading the book to them, she called them up to sit in lines in the front of the room, calling quietest students first.  (They were very quiet because they wanted to be the first to choose their Boomwhacker).

She showed them the proper way to use Boomwhackers, and warned them that hitting too hard wold cause bending and dents.  She had the students watch her, and play only when she pointed to their line, starting from C and going up the scale to G.  She reversed the order for going down the stairs.  Once they knew what to do she read the story again and had the students add the sounds of going up and down the stairs.    For Mortimor’s song they kept a steady beat  with their Boomwhackers every time it was sung.  Eventually the class sang the song along with Ms. Weber.  (There is no set melody for the song…you make it up yourself.)

Ms. Weber sent the students back to their seats, again looking for the quietest students, so she could change up the Boomwhackers.  She needed a few more for “Chili Fries”.  She’d worked on reading notation with the 4th graders using this song.  For 2nd grade she simply had them play whenever she pointed to them.  They practiced one note at a time at first, and gradually added a steady beat and a bit more speed.  finally she added the recorded music so they could play along.  It took a few tries for them to get the hang of it, but they were finally able to play it without having Ms. Weber sing which note to play.

She finished the lesson by having the students view “Axel F” on Boomwhackers, played by “Plastick Music”, and the “Ms. Weber Shuffle”.

The Weber Shuffle

Jane Rivera, April 2012, All Rights Reserved


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