Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Trepak" from The Nutcracker

Fourth and Fifth grade students are focusing on form this month with a study of "The Nutcracker" by Tchaikovsky. We learned about the composer and then listened to several of the pieces from the Nutcracker Suite. I love how the students get so excited when they recognize a piece that we are studying and can't wait to come tell me if they've heard it on the radio or a commercial. A favorite this year was the very familiar "Trepak" or "Russian Dance."

First, we watched a clip from the ballet:

Then, they figured out the form:

Next, they learned the following fun (and energetic) choreography from the Gameplan Curriculum - Grade 4:

This is the perfect activity to keep very excited students engaged in music during the month of December! It kept my students thinking and moving and they were begging to do it again! :) Check out some pictures of the 4th and 5th grade classes in action:


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Twinkle and Shine - 3rd Grade Musical

The HSES third graders performed their Christmas musical, "Twinkle and Shine," last week and they did such a great job! The show was a huge success and I was so proud of all of their hard work! Once again, I bow down to my fabulous friend and colleague, Mrs. Carter, for helping me with the set and also helping with scene rehearsals. I definitely couldn't do this without her! :)

Here are a few pictures from their performance:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Musical Symbol Pumpkins

After completing a unit on musical terms, 2nd graders created their own Musical Symbols Pumpkins! They used the various musical symbols they had been learning about to create some funny faces on their Jack-o-Lanterns. It was a great review and an opportunity for them to practice drawing the symbols. Check out these cute pumpkins...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Shoo Fly, Fermatas, and Form!

2nd Graders have been learning about musical terms! In first grade, they learned about many different opposites in music (fast and slow, loud and soft, high and low, long and short) and now they are learning the real Italian vocabulary. So far, they have learned about dynamic markings such as forte, piano, crescendo, and decrescendo and now they are learning about fermatas!

The students learned the song, "Shoo Fly," and quickly discovered that there was a fermata in the song! Then they learned some choreography and performed a circle dance mixer together.

They started out working with partners...

And then we tried it in circle formation...

Introduction/Interlude/Coda - students pretend to play guitar, banjo, and harmonica
Section A - Students clap hand with partner on "Shoo" (R, L, R), point to self with thumbs
Section B - Students clap both hands with partner on "Feel"
Fermata - Students draw the fermata in the air

(Music Teachers: I am using the arrangement from the "Share the Music" curriculum.)

To create the circle dance, I had the students form two concentric circles. The inside partners remained in place while the outside partners rotated to the right on each fermata (Oh!).

Here is Ms. Cook's class performing "Shoo Fly" -

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pumpkin Carols

Fourth grade students have been composing in music! We read (and sang!) the book, The 13 Nights of Halloween, by Rebecca Dickinson and discovered that she had changed the lyrics from "The 12 Days of Christmas" to create her book. The students really enjoyed finding all of the characters on each page:

Next, we had a sing-along using some other fun Pumpkin Carols! Pumpkin carols are familiar tunes whose lyrics have been changed to a Halloween or fall theme. We created one carol together and then the students worked in pairs to create their own. Once they had completed their work, they performed their song for the class. Here are some of my favorites:

Saturday Morning Club - UGA Children's Concert Series

The UGA Performing Arts Center (in partnership with Athens Regional Health System) has created a new series of concerts geared toward elementary students! Each concert will feature a performance group from the UGA School of Music and will provide a fun and interactive program for children and families to enjoy. The first performance will be this Saturday, October 26th at 10:00 a.m. in the Hodgson Concert Hall. The PAC has given 20 complimentary tickets to each music teacher in the area to hand out to interested students. The first 20 students who send in a request (via note, phone call, or e-mail) will receive one! The first concert will feature the UGA Wind Symphony and will include refreshments and an Instrument Petting Zoo following the concert. It is fabulous opportunity for students to see these instruments up close and even try them out! I hope you can support this wonderful community event!

Saturday Morning Club Schedule:
Saturday, October 26th @ 10:00 am - UGA Wind Symphony
Saturday, March 22nd @ 10:00 am - UGA Percussion Ensemble
Saturday, April 26th @ 10:00 am - UGA Hodgson Singers

Tickets are $6 for children and $10 for adults. Subscriptions for all three concerts are $14 for children and $24 for adults.

Tickets can be purchased by calling the Performing Arts Center Box Office at 706-542-4400, toll free at 888-289-8497, or online at pac.uga.edu

Saturday, October 12, 2013

StOmP TiMe!

It's Stomp time again! :) (a.k.a. the LOUDEST time of the year in the music room)

My 4th and 5th grade classes have culminated their rhythm review unit by composing and performing a project inspired by the percussion group, Stomp. I use this project as a way for the students to practice layering contrasting rhythm patterns. The students really enjoy this activity and look forward to it each year. Because I've done it for several years in a row, I've accumulated some really great "trash percussion" instruments. Here are a few of my favorites:

After each group performs their project, I have them answer a few questions about their performance, take each group's picture, and display their projects in the hall:

Here are a few clips from their performances:

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Thank You, PTO!

As a music teacher, this is VERY exciting to see coming through your door...

Thanks to our amazing PTO, our music room now has 1,500 dollars worth of brand new Orff instruments! We are so lucky to be able to add these to our growing collection.  The students will be so excited!  I know I am!  :)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Boomwhacker Rhythms

It is rhythm review time in my third, fourth, and fifth grade classes. One of my favorite rhythm lessons involves a favorite instrument: the BOOMWHACKERS! There is just something about those colorful tubes that gets kids really excited about making music. I acquired this lesson from a workshop led by Chris Judah-Lauder many years ago.

After spending several weeks reviewing notes and rests using a variety of activities, I introduce these 6 rhythms patterns:

Once they can perform the rhythms comfortably, I divide them into 6 groups, pass out the instruments, and have each group practice their rhythm pattern. I have the groups play individually, two groups together, three groups together, and so on until we are playing all of the rhythms together. After some practice, we try the rhythms in canon starting and ending with the "Big Reds." This activity allows the students to practice playing contrasting rhythms (which is really tricky!) and it leads nicely into our Stomp rhythm projects (which are coming soon!). 

Here is a snippet of their practice session:  

And here is our final product:

A little bit of rushing but not too shabby! This lesson is challenging but very rewarding and the students love hearing how all of the rhythms interact with one another. It is definitely a favorite among my students.  :)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Get Ready for This!

What a great start to the year we've had so far! I had a wonderfully busy summer but am glad to be back in the classroom! It is always so exciting to see all of my students and hear about what they did during their vacation.

Speaking of back to the grind... we all know how boring it can be do go over the rules that first week of school. It's necessary, but painful. However, I've discovered that if you start the first class with a really fun, but simple, movement activity, the "rules talk" goes over a lot more smoothly. Some teachers do instrument activities that first day. More power to those teachers but I am not that brave! ;) 

This year, I started my 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classes out with a fun dance! I made sure to tell the boys that it wasn't a "girly dance" so they would buy in. I learned this choreography while getting my Orff level 1 certification with Deanna Stark and Judy Beale. It is fairly simple to teach, it gets out a lot of energy, and my classes have really enjoyed it!

It uses the song, "Get Ready for This" (from Space Jam) which is such an appropriate song for the start of the school year.  Here is a quick break-down of the movements...

Section A - Students stand with their hands on their hips and alternate putting out their right heel and then left heel (first to the front, then to the side, and then point toe to the back) and end with two jumps and two claps

Section B - Students jump/turn on beat 1 and clap on beat 4, alternate right/left

Section C - Students choose various poses and freeze for 8 counts (song ends with one final pose)


Of course their favorite part is creating the statues!

So. Much. Fun!  What a great way to start our year in music. :)