Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Boomwhacker Compositions

Excuse our noise... musicians at work! :)

After reviewing rhythm patterns at the beginning of the year, 3rd grade classes began working on layering rhythm patterns together. This is one of the more difficult skills that they will work on so I like to start early. By playing contrasting patterns together, students have to show proficiency in steady beat and rhythm counting. After lots of practice, and doing class layering activities like this, the students got into groups and began working on their own composition projects!

I always love it when people come into the music room while students are collaborating with instruments. They always say, "How in the world do you stand this noise??" It does get a little noisy but it is so neat to watch the groups collaborate and come up with great ideas together. I guess it is a sound only a music teacher could love. haha! ;) Here's a little sample of their group practice sessions:

To give the students a little inspiration, I like to show a few examples before they start their projects. Here are a few that I found on YouTube of a group of music teachers demonstrating their own Boomwhacker group creations:





Afterwards, the groups watched a video of their performance and then did a group self-assessment. I used Shannon's idea from "Music Room Magic" to create the rubric. They rated themselves on the following categories:
1. Did everyone know their part? Was everyone involved?
2. Did the rhythms fit together? Was their a consistent steady beat?
3. Was the form clear the audience?
4. Did the piece flow? Did you keep going no matter what?

Update: After many requests, I have decided to share my Boomwhacker Project Worksheet! Click here if you'd like to download a copy. :)

Friday, September 26, 2014

We LOVE Stomp!

Our annual Stomp Trash Percussion Projects are complete! The 4th and 5th graders had a great time putting together these performances as they practiced composing and performing layering rhythm patterns. They were in charge of every aspect of their performance - from rhythms, to instruments, to form! It is amazing to see their growth from year to year when completing these projects.

If you are new to the blog, you can find out information about these projects here, here, and here. :)

Here is a quick video compilation of some of my favorite projects:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Learning about Long and Short

First grade students are finishing up a unit on musical opposites. The last two opposite words they have been learning about are long and short. They discovered that long and short sounds can be made into patterns that create rhythms! Here are a few of the ways they experienced long and short sounds:

Students put these pictures into the correct category according to the kind of sound it made:

They really enjoyed using scarves to help show long and short. They pretended their scarf was a paintbrush and they painted long or short strokes as they listened to the "Long and Short Dance" (from the Share the Music curriculum).

Students used rhythm sticks to show long and short as well. As they listened to music, they used their rhythm sticks like drum sticks on the floor if they heard short sounds...

And pretended to play violins if the sounds were long...

Then, we read the book, Otto Goes to the Beach, by Todd Parr:

 In the story, Otto is having a really rough day and they hear the repeated phrase, "Poor, Otto!" 

The students quickly discovered that the word "Otto" has two short sounds and "Poor" has a long sound!

With our own dog pictures, we created patterns on the board with long and short sounds such as "Poor, Poor, Otto, Poor."

Then, they worked with a partner to create and perform their own patterns.

Finally, the students were introduced to the real musical symbols: the quarter note (long sound) and eighth notes (short sounds). They were able to make patterns with the newly learned symbols, otherwise known as "tah" and "ti-ti."

Next up... rests! Stay tuned for more rhythm work in 1st grade music! :)

Thursday, September 11, 2014


So.... I started this post back in May and then the end of school happened... and then the summer happened... so better late than never right?? ;)

HSES 1st graders presented the musical, Dinostars, this past Spring and did a fantastic job! They loved the music and choreography and did a wonderful job creating their dinosaur costumes. I was so proud of their hard work! I can't believe these kids are in 2nd grade already!