“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!