“Tell the people far and wide,.................., the aliens are coming!”
Now to this, add a crescendo. What is a crescendo you ask? Well my third graders can tell you all about it. We start off the class with some basic solfege warm-ups. Pentatonic echoes for about 3 minutes. I then show the students two words on the board: forte and piano. We discuss the history of the piano as an instrument and how the name represents the dynamics. I then write mezzo between the two words and explain it to mean medium. POP QUIZ! I want my music to be medium loud, what should I write? Correct!
I then explain there are dynamics outside the realm of forte and piano, the issimo’s. These issimo’s are suffixes (integration*) while the mezzo’s are prefixes. issimo means VERY! POP QUIZ!! I WANT TO BE VERY LOUD! WHAT DYNAMIC CAN I USE? 100%, correct.
But what about the aliens? I know...here we go. Insert visual of less than symbol < or crescendo (integration*). “What does this symbol mean?” Then ask, “Is soft less than loud?” Pray for correct answers and students who are not yet lost! “Get on your bike and gradually get louder now, up the ramp!” We then go back to our poem from the beginning of the class (see first sentence under 3rd grade if you don’t remember). “Now let’s add a crescendo to our poem.”
Begin reading the book "The Aliens are Coming" and follow along with Artie Almeida’s plan in Mallet Madness Strikes Again.
We also play chair rhythms (another plug for Dr. Almeida) with a little of my own flair. 4 chairs set up in front of the class, each chair represents 1 beat. Add a student, each student represents 1 sound. If you need more info, contact me :).
More aliens? OK! Solfege warm-up adding FA! Do-Sol up and down, all around. I pay special attention to the following 8th note patterns: d-r-m-f-s-s-s s-f-m-r-d-d-d. Now add the words “There’s no need to run like ants, they just want your underpants!” I write the word diction on the board and ask the students what they think it means, or what it is the root word for. The denotative meaning according to Merriam-Webster of diction is “the accent, inflection, intonation, and speech-sound quality manifested by an individual speaker, usually judged in terms of prevailing standards of acceptability”. We then practice a broken bordun on our laps while we sing the melody again. Enter the book Aliens Love Underpants. After reading the story with the students in the center of the room, singing the melody after every two pages, we move to instruments. Play the broken bordun on C-G and then play the melody when appropriate (c-d-e-f-g-g-g g-f-e-d-c-c-c).
More chair rhythms, using more complex rhythms.
I have ended each class at my piano or guitar improvising on what we have learned that day. If on piano, I play CMaj-Amin7-GMaj-Fmaj and on guitar, CMaj-Amin7-Emin-G. I make up lyrics such as “Today we learned about, dynamics in music, let’s all sing piano, and now let’s sing forte!” I know, it doesn’t rhyme, but I have the mic so THEY WILL LISTEN TO EVERY WORD I HAVE TO SAY!!! I love the wedding singer…
Thanks for reading!
School has officially begun. Well, technically it began a few weeks ago, but this site wasn't up yet.
I think I will start by blogging ahead of the game. October Plans!!!!
Third, Fourth, and Fifth grade students have already begun recorders and Quaver Music has some excellent recorder resources, especially for beginning recorder players. We have been playing around with Perry The Sheep using the notes B and A or BA...get it????
I am going to also introduce some flash cards to them that I created a few years ago. These cards are in 3 levels: basic notes with the names in them, rhythms with the names underneath, and then the melody on the staff. If you would like a copy of these, let me know.
Kindergarten – I love, love, love reading the Berenstain Bears “Spooky Old Tree” out loud while Debussy’s Gardens In the Rain arr. by Tomita is played in the background. It is something that needs practice, but it matches up nicely. I also like to use Miss White Had a Fright for rhythms, and In the Hall of the Mountain King to teach slow vs. fast and soft vs. loud. For mountain king, I tell the story of Peer, and how he had to tiptoe slowly through the halls and eventually had to run to get out. The kids play the part of Peer and LOVE IT!!! For some pitch fun, we read Skeleton Hiccups and say all the “hic” sounds in our high voice.
1st Grade – I read Shake Dem Halloween Bones with the kids singing the refrain when the book calls for it.
Just like K, the kids thoroughly enjoy In The Hall of The Mountain King. We also use Miss White Had a Fright and match rhythms to the words. If there is time during class, we listen to Fossils from Carnival of the Animals and discuss the instruments used as well as why the piece is called “Fossils”.
2nd Grade – If you haven’t used The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything in your classroom, what are you waiting for?!?!?! Each “character” gets an instrument, the shoes get a woodblock, the wiggling pants get a tambourine, the shirt gets maracas, and so on. The kids absolutely love this lesson. I stretch it out over two weeks, reading the book the first week w/out instruments, and then adding them the week after.
More 3rd-5th Grade – There was an old woman all skin and bones….oooooooooooooooo! In the coming weeks, Low E will be introduced, and this song is one of MY favorite ways to do it! I love the look on their faces the first time we sing the story and at the end I shot BOO! The second week, we add orff instruments and the kids really get into singing it. I also introduce the book I Need My Monster to them with a refrain I learned from a good teacher friend of mine Rachel Robertson.