Thursday, March 28, 2013

Recorder Time!!

It's my favorite time of year!!  Recorder time!!  The students love this unit so much that it really energizes me!  There is just something about putting a recorder in a student's hand that makes music come alive for them.  It is such a great way to synthesize all of the information that they have been learning throughout their elementary music career: rhythms, notes, vocabulary, score-reading, musicianship, and much more!

Fourth graders begin learning about the history of the recorder, parts, basic technique, and the first 3 notes: B, A, and G.  We use the Rockin' Recorder Method Book (created by Allison Friedman) as our main curriculum.  The students love this book because of the up-beat tracks that go along with each song.  We also supplement with lots of fun recorder warm-ups and games!

The classes have really enjoyed playing the game, "B-A-G Roll and Play."  It is a very simple concept but really engages them and allows them to practice their note-reading and technique individually.  Each group member takes turns rolling the dice and playing that numbered example on their card. 

I asked the partners to take on the role of "Recorder Doctor," an idea I got from "The Sweetest Melody" music blog.  As their partner plays the example, they "diagnose" any problems they hear:

As they play, this is also a great time for me to walk around and assess the students.  I can note which students are having trouble with fingerings, sound quality, or note-reading and which students are excelling in those areas.  It provides the students time to help one another with their weaknesses and allows me to work one-on-one with students if they need it. 


Another recorder game that 4th graders have really enjoyed is Recorder Rumble.  The students divide up into two teams (they usually prefer boys vs. girls) and compete to earn the most points by correctly playing the 4-beat patterns provided. 

This gives the students sight-reading practice and also a chance to play individually.  It's a great assessment tool and the students enjoy the game format.  I have each student take a turn to play a pattern and then, if they need to, they can consult with their team for help.  It has been so neat to watch them encourage each other and compliment each other's performances!  They've learned that good sportsmanship has its place in music as well! 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Beanbag Boogie!

Kindergartners participate in LOTS of movement activities in the music room!  One of our Kindergarten standards is to "respond to contrasts and events in music with gross locomotor and non-locomotor movements."  We use a variety of props to help us experience this standard: scarves, streamers, parachutes, stretchy bands, and beanbags!  One of their favorite movement activities is the "Beanbag Boogie" by Greg and Steve.  The students listen to the song and place their beanbag on different parts of their body.  The song works on movement, balance, following directions, tossing/catching, and freestyle dancing.  So fun!  Here are some snapshots:




Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mallet Madness!

First graders have been really enjoying our unit on mallet instruments!  We have been focusing on mallet grip, basic technique, and playing on cue.  These skills will prepare them for the Orff pieces they will play in 1st - 5th grade!  They have had a blast participating in activities from Artie Almeida's Mallet Madness and Mallet Madness Strikes Again - LOVE her stuff! 
Since we don't have quite enough for the students to have their own instrument, they have been pairing up with a partner.  One activity that they loved was echoing rhythm patterns on their instruments.  Since they just completed a unit on basic rhythm patterns, this was a great connection!  First, I would play various rhythm patterns on my drum and they would echo that pattern on their instruments (in pentatonic).  Then, I would say a pattern using syllables and they would echo that as well.  Next, they tried this same activity with their partner calling out the rhythms to them. 

(A note to Orff people:  We are still working on getting those fingers wrapped around the mallets.  I use the "pinch and wrap" technique but they revert back quickly.)


Another favorite mallet activity used hoola hoops!  I found this fun activity on YouTube.   One student is chosen as the leader and they step into the 3 hoola hoops randomly.  The other students must play their instruments according to what color the leader chooses.  The xylophones would play if the leader stepped into the orange hoola hoop, the metallophones would play when the leader stepped into purple, and the glockenspiels would be yellow.  Sometimes the leader would try to be tricky and step in two colors at the same time.  This was a great way for me to assess their mallet techniques while also giving the students practice following the cues of a "director."

Here the students are demonstrating the correct technique for removing and replacing the bars on their instruments.

First graders LOVE the mallet instruments!