Friday, November 18, 2016

Pipe Cleaner Rhythms!

First grade classes have been learning all about basic rhythms in music. I was inspired by Tracy King's "Pipe Cleaner Notation" post and decided to try it myself! It was a great way for the students to learn how to create the note shapes as well as practice rhythm patterns. They enjoyed the tactile experience. :)

The President's Own!

Our school was incredibly honored to host "The President's Own" US Marine Band Woodwind Quintet! They were giving a concert nearby at UGA and were able to stop by our school to do a performance for our students. It was an incredible experience for all of us!

Photography Credit: Charley Clinkenbeard

Friday, August 26, 2016

Alexander and the Rhythm/Instrument Review!

One of my favorite children's books is the classic, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst. Artie Almeida has a wonderful lesson plan in her book, Mallet Madness, that serves as a great review activity for the beginning of the year! Not only does it review basic rhythms but you can also use it for an instrument technique refresher as well. Our HSES 2nd graders have really enjoyed this activity as we have gotten back into the swing of things in music class.

First we read the story together...

Next, we reviewed the quarter note, eighth notes, and quarter rest, and then I had the students discover the rhythm of the repeated phrase in the book, "...terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day."

I divided the students into 4 groups and each group practiced one part of the phrase. Then each group played their rhythm on their instruments and we put the phrase all together.

The woodblocks:

The tambourines:

The maracas:

The drums:

Then I read the book again, and each group played the rhythm on their instrument on the correct words. Great job, 2nd graders!

Friday, April 15, 2016


Have you heard of Kahoot? It is an interactive online quiz website where you can create and take quizzes on various topics. Our 4th and 5th graders have been studying about John Williams this month and we used Kahoot! to review all of the information we had learned about him.

The students got into groups and worked together to answer the questions of the quiz on an iPad. They enjoyed being able to come up with team names and see their scores up on the board as they played the game. It was a great way for me to assess their knowledge and they had so much fun in the process! We will definitely be doing this again. :)

Here are a few pictures of them in action...

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Mitten

One of my absolute favorite lessons each year goes along with the children's book, The Mitten, by Jan Brett.

I got this idea from my mentor teacher years ago and have adapted it and tweaked it over the years. I use it as a way to culminate the major units that my first graders have been studying throughout the year - rhythm patterns and basic mallet skills. It is also a great way to ease them into preparing for their Spring Musical.

First, I read the story to the students and we discuss the various characters in the book. For each character, we learn a rhythm pattern and I have the students practice playing the rhythms on various percussion instruments.

Then, I teach the students a song that goes with the book. We add a simple bordun and an octave glockenspiel part at the end of each phrase.

Finally, we add some actors! I choose students to represent each character and they follow the narration of the book. I created some masks that I printed from Jan Brett's website, laminated them, and added some elastic bands.

I used a cheap white sheet and cut it into the shape of a mitten for the actors to sit on top of during their performance.

After the students have practiced all of the parts, we put together a performance that we show to their classroom teacher. As the story is read, one student plays the rhythm pattern on the percussion instrument while that character "gets into" the mitten. When the bear sneezes in the story, the actors toss the mitten up into the air and pretend to fall into the snow while the percussionists play all together. We begin and end the performance with our mitten song accompanied by the mallet instruments.


If you have larger classes, you can add actors for Nicki and his grandmother, Baba. You can also double instrument parts and even add sound effects on the sneeze part (think: crank, vibraslap, slapstick, etc.) This activity makes a great "informance" piece at PTO meetings or other school events.

The students LOVE it and it is definitely a crowd-pleaser for teachers, too. Fun and learning - that's how we roll at HSES! :)

Friday, February 5, 2016

A Special Concert at HSES

How lucky are we at HSES?? Our new principal, Mr. Eddy, is a musician and former band director so our 2nd grade classes were treated to a special concert performed by him and his family! The Eddys demonstrated the clarinet, oboe, saxophone, flute, piccolo, and violin. Since our 2nd graders are currently learning about the Instruments of the Orchestra, they loved being able to see the instruments up close and hear their sound in person. Here are a few pictures from their performance: