Thursday, November 16, 2017

Woods, Metals, and Skins - Oh My!

Our Kindergarten students have been learning all about the classroom percussion instruments. They've learned their names and how to play them with correct technique. Recently, they learned that we can categorize these instruments into 3 groups: Woods, Metals, and Skins.

After learning to categorize the instruments, I show the students how we can use a shape to represent each group. I pass out the instruments and they have to group themselves according to their instrument and shape.

Next, I show the students these Aleatoric Maps, created by my friend Charlotte, and they play their instrument as I trace the line. You can also trace from each end point as well as point slower or faster. We do several of these together and then I have a few students come to the board to make one collaboratively. 

Finally, I have the students work in groups to create their own maps. They take turns creating their line with a piece of yarn and then place the shapes (cut out on the die-cut machine) wherever they want. The student who created the map gets to be the pointer while the other students play. The students really enjoyed this and I loved seeing all of their creativity. It also gave me a chance to work one-on-one with any students who were still struggling with technique or playing on cue. Here are a few pictures of them hard at work in their groups:

Ukulele Strumming Exercises

Fourth and Fifth graders have been working on their ukulele skills in music class. After learning F, C, and G7 chords, we used these YouTube ukulele exercises to practice chord changes:

Then, I had the students create their own exercises using the notation provided in the videos. After they created their own and practiced it, they switched papers with another group and had fun trying to play their composition. Here is the worksheet I provided if you'd like to try this with your students: Ukulele Chord Practice.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


HSES was incredibly fortunate to host the Alash Ensemble recently for a performance at our school. They are currently on tour in North America and were performing at the university nearby, UGA. I discussed the group's country of origin, the Republic of Tuva, and their unique style of performing called throat singing. They were fabulous and the students were so fascinated! I heard from many parents that throat singing was the topic of conversation at their dinner table that night including some demonstrations. ;)

Here are a few pictures of their performance a some video clips of the group you can check out. Their website also has some wonderful information if you'd like to learn more about them:

Friday, September 15, 2017

Love Will Keep Us Together

Another one of my favorite Randy DeLelles and Jeff Kriske activities uses the classic song, "Love Will Keep us Together," by Captain and Tennille. I got this lesson from an ASOA conference I went to years ago and my students always really enjoy it. 

I start out by having the students practice walking to the beat of a drum in scattered formation. We talk about the importance of walking in unique pathways and not just walking in a counterclockwise circle as is a tendency. Next, we practice walking sideways and backwards to the beat and then we add simple repetitive arm movements. 

At this point, I have students form groups of 5 with the person at the front of the line assigned as the leader. The leader begins walking to the beat doing some kind of simple locomotor movement and the rest of the group follows, copying the motions of the leader. To take turns, I have the leader rotate to the back and the next person in line has an opportunity to lead. 

This can be added to the verses of "Love Will Keep us Together." I also teach this simple choreography to the refrain of the song:

And also you can add a simple pat/clap pattern on the B section and put all of it together for a final performance:

This lesson is great for the end of the year when the kids really need to get up and moving a lot or of course it is appropriate for Valentine's Day. Here are a few pictures of the students in action:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Chrome Music Lab

Have you seen what the Chrome Music Lab has to offer? There are so many fun games where students can experiment with rhythm, pitch, timbre, and so much more! I tried it out with one of my Kindergarten classes and they had a blast. I don't have a class set of iPads so I put them in groups of 3 and it worked really well. I will definitely be utilizing this site again soon!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Tissue Dance

Kindergartners have been learning about different ways to move to music. We've used many different props such as scarves, streamers, and beanbags to experiment with locomotor and non-locomotor movement. In order to practice expressive movement, I used this activity from True Aim: The Blue Manor Blog called "The Tissue Dance." According to their blog post, the original idea came from the book called, Circle Time Activities by Nancy Alexander.

Since we had been singing songs about winter and snow, we talked about what snowflakes look like when they move (slowly, delicately, floating, etc.) and used it for inspiration for our version of the game. The students each received a tissue and had to try to keep the tissue on their head while they moved around the room to the wintery music. First, we just practiced moving and then we turned it into an elimination game - if their tissue fell off their head they were out of the game. After we finished the game, we balled up out tissues and threw them like snowballs. They really enjoyed it and I wish I had gotten a picture of that! :)