Friday Oct. 21: The Week in a Nutshell; Intermediates.

Wow, I’m really behind here! This week’s post will actually be 2 weeks in a nutshell….it’s catchup time.

Last week we played Pass the Pumpkin, not just on the steady beat, but also on the half note and whole Note.

  This song/game is not original with me.  I first saw it on the MusicK-8 Teacher Listserve.  I went back in the archives as far as I could, but I could not find the original post, so…..whoever’s idea this was, I’m sorry for not giving credit.  Please let me know who you are!

  Pass    the          Pump-kin    round     and       round.   

List-en          to      the      spoo-ky  sound.

Whooooo,   Whoooooo .       Will it stop on you?  Boo!

Quarter notes unless otherwise noted or written close together.  (Those are 8ths.)  Wish I had a way of putting notation on here.

Melody:  C    Eflat    C    Eflat     C    Eflat     G     rest

                  C    Eflat    C    Eflat     C    Eflat     G     rest

                  C1     G        C1     G      (half notes.)

                  EflatEflat   DD     C   Boo!

In the picture at the top of the page is a note value pyramid.  The little kids play Pass the Pumpkin by passing the pumpkin around the circle on the steady beat.  Whoever has the pumpkin on” Boo!”  gets to take out a treat.  But with the older kids, I ask them the name of the note and the number of beats it should get.  I have them pass on the whole note, the half note and the quarter note.  (Eighth notes go too fast.)  The child who is holding the pumpkin gets to choose the note value for the next round. 

There are other, more complex ways to play this game. I suggest you do a search for “Pass the Pumpkin” in the Music k-8 mailing list archives….great ideas for adding instruments to the game. You can access the archives by clicking the link:

So THIS week, I put the note value pyramid back up on the board. We reviewed the names and how they are counted.
Once we’ve gone over each type of note using Gordon syllables and counting, I’ll ask the students to tap a whole note with their right foot: one tap every 4 beats.  So far so easy.  The next step is to tap the whole note with their right foot, and  half notes with the left.  This still isn’t too hard, and  the few that may have trouble can say  ”1   foot     both    feet,   1 foot    both   feet”,  to keep from moving both feet on the half note.  Things become a bit more complex for them when we add quarter notes in the right hand.  I always begin with the right foot whole note,  add the left  foot half note, and then the  right hand quarter note.  At this point I lose a few.  Before adding the eighth note in the left hand, I have them try just doing the 2 hands without worrying about the feet…quarter notes in the left hand, eighth notes in the right hand.  Most are able to do this…not all.  Most are NOT able to do all 4 at the same time, again starting with one foot then adding the other rhythms one at a time.  It takes practice…I tell them they’re having to divide their brains into 4 parts, with each part controlling one of their limbs.  Many will practice throughout the week and show me what they’ve accomplished at the next lesson, and I make time for them to do that.


Our composer for September and October has been J.S. Bach. I have shown the kids several animations to deliver information about him. Two were made by me, the third by 3 of my students. Mr. Bach in Music Class by Jane Rivera
Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate4Schools. It’s free and fun! Bach in the office by Jane Rivera
Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate4Schools. It’s free and fun! Bach on the Playground by Jane Rivera
Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate4Schools. It’s free and fun!

We watched several YouTube videos about Bach, (see as well aas the HBO Composer Special, “Bach’s Fight for Freedom.”
(See ). And, of course, we listened to Bach’s music; specifically the Toccata and Fugue in D minor, Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring, and Air on the G String. Time now for a summative assessment. I gave the following test, based on their listening and information that they received about Bach.

J. S. Bach

1. Bach’s initials stand for
a. James Sebastian
b. Johann Samuel
c. Johann Sebastian

2. Bach had
a. 2 children
b. 20 children
c. 12 children

3. Bach was born in
a. Germany
b. Italy
c. The United States

4. Bach went to jail for
a. Trying to quit his job.
b. Stealing from the Duke
c. Visiting the Red Palace.

5. Bach’s parents died
a. After Bach
b. When Bach was a child
c. On Bach’s birthday

6. Bach was
a. A stone mason
b. A duke
c. A composer

7. Bach played
a. The violin
b. The organ
c. Both

8. Bach Lived in
a. The 1400’s
b. The 1500’s
c. The 1700’s

9. In Bach’s time
a. People listened to records to hear music.
b. People went to concerts to hear music.
c. There was no such thing as music.


Circle One

1. Bach Not Bach

2. Bach Not Bach

3. Bach Not Bach

4. Bach Not Bach

5. Bach Not Bach

The listening pieces that I used were: 1. Toccata and Fugue in D minor. 2. Beethoven’s 5th, 1st movement. 3. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. 4. Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring. 5. Air on the G String.

For Fun:
On the Music K-8 mailing list Julia H. posted about teaching her kids the Thriller Dance, along with a YouTube channel for learning it step by step. I decided to try it, but here is a caution: Make sure that you have enough room and enough time for this. I’m finding that I do not. We’ll keep working on it as we have time, but I’m thinking it will take us the better part of the year to get to it all. Below is Julia’s post with web address.

Here is the YouTube channel for Thriller. Its broken down into 8 parts and
then each part is broken down into breakdown, slow demo and reminders. There
is also the whole dance done very slowly and more info about downloading the
script to help you learn the dance and info about the Thrill the World

Finally….I ‘ve been pushing our music room blog to all of the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders by projecting the week’s posts onto my whiteboard and encouraging students to get on the site and comment. My next step will be to have them write comments in their listening journals in class.

Have a great weekend!