Thursday, November 5, 2015

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪It's a busy busy time of year for Music Educators. Preparations for Veterans Day performances, Christmas programs, grade level programs, all integrated into instilling a love for and understanding of music in our students. I must say, however, that it's one of my most favorite times of the year in the music classroom! I am so in my element playing holiday singing games, singing holiday songs, adding little touches to songs for a performance. The other day students were working on a Halloween-themed music worksheet while listening to music for their Christmas performance! This week we have been rehearsing for Veterans Day, Christmas performance, AND playing a rousing game of "I'm the Fastest Turkey." Ah, the life of a music educator is a sweet one!¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

Monday, April 13, 2015

Tune Train

Second Graders tried out a new app for them on the iPads today...Tune Train.  This app allows students to create their own composition with a variety of melody, harmony and rhythm  
choices.  A short tutorial is included to get started.  There is also a Teacher's Guide. Basically you are getting your train from one depot to another via a musical composition! 
People are located in buildings at various heights, representing their pitch.  By using their fingers, they can go from house to house, higher pitches being higher, and lower pitches lower.  If a person wants a longer duration of a pitch, then simply draw in-between the houses instead of through them. Viola! a musical melody is created!  Harmony is created by choosing a style of band to accompany your melody.
An option that I liked was to show the staff notation as you create and play back your composition.  Notes turn red as the melody progresses on a playback.
The Levels option isn't your typical game level in the sense of needing to "pass" a task to go on to the next level.  Each level is a different setting to use, with different options of houses etc. 
All in all, a fun useful app for creating and music making! (and it's FREE!)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Instruments of the Orchestra

We are talking about the Instruments of the Orchestra in Kindergarten and First Grade.  Students have listened to and watched the classic story of Peter and the Wolf ( Петя и волк, Petya i volk in Russian) by Sergei Prokofiev.  It was written in 1936, capturing the personality of each character with their own special instrumental sound.  Prokofiev actually visited the Disney studio when Disney was creating his animated version which was released in 1946.  We enjoyed the Disney version very much!  The Russian film by Susie Templeton provides a great contrast to the animated version.  We have also watched the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra perform the piece, which gives great visuals of the musicians playing the instruments.  Of course, the Jim Gamble puppet version is a favorite as well.  Each version is a little different from the other in style, setting, and even characters.  Students compare and contrast those differences in our discussions.

A new resource that I've found this year is the video of Peter and the Wolf with characters created by Chuck Jones, starring Kirstie Alley and Lloyd Bridges.  It's a unique approach to the story.  The added bonus to this DVD is an introduction to the instruments of the orchestra as well as a game.  There are 25 different combinations in the game to match instrument sounds with animals.
First graders just completed an activity to sharpen their story sequencing skills, using Peter and the Wolf.  I found this activity in a resource from Westchester Philharmonic.   This is a great basic resource for this unit.  Students colored the illustration and then cut it into strips following the guide on the back of the paper.  Each strip contained a sentence telling the story.  Students mixed them up, put them in order, and then flipped them over to be sure they had the right sequence.  I sent the strips home with them in ziplock baggies, hoping that they will share the story with their families.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Techie Jeopardy!

Today in technology we are reviewing some of the terms and concepts that we have learned about this year.  I created a Jeopardy game using Jeopardy Rocks.  It's easy to create your own game, with complete freedom to choose categories and create questions.  The students worked in pairs or groups of 3 to play the game.  Some of the concepts we haven't discussed since first quarter, so this was a great time to test their memory!  I heard great conversations as students discussed with each other the possible answers.  Within our 30-minute class, most of the students either completed the game or came very close.  This is a great self-assessment tool for students, AND a lot of fun!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

March Isn't JUST for Leprechauns!

March is for MUSICIANS!

In the music classroom,  March is MUSIC IN OUR SCHOOLS MONTH!  We celebrate the privilege of having music education in our school district from PS-12 grades.  

Since 1985, March has been filled with the sound as music in our schools thanks to this month being designated "Music In Our Schools Month." Sponsored by the National Association for Music Education, the event focuses the nation's attention on the need for and the benefits of quality music education programs.

Click to Enlarge!  This is cool stuff!
The benefits of a music education are numerous.  Music improves early cognitive development, math and reading skills.  Critical thinking and leadership skills are enhanced when students study music. Not only does music engage both the left and right brain, but it also builds and strengthens connections between brain cells. Hand-eye coordination is improved when students practice on a musical instrument.  A sense of achievement and pure enjoyment found through music is unique and long-lasting.

Martin Grade School has a tradition of decorating grocery sacks so watch for
some artwork with your purchases in March!  Some classes have started decorating their sacks!  Of course, they all hope that their parents will be given THEIR sack when they check out of the grocery store!  This year we are using Tracy King's Music In Our School Month Pennants on our sacks.  Students are using their writing skills to dialog about music in their lives.  As I watch them write, I had the thought that their writing was a "blog on the go" the grocery sack will travel from school, to the store, and then to a home full of groceries as well as musical thoughts and decorations!

Please check out some more samples of what the students are drawing and writing on their grocery sacks just......

Students and educators appreciate the support they receive from their families year-round!  Thank you for supporting the arts in your child’s school by attending concerts, encouraging him/her to practice an instrument and sing in the choir!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Learning Through Music and Art: Doug Goodkin

My good friend Lise Ullman, a music educator in California, shared in her blog Every Child Needs Music, the collaboration between herself and Doug Goodkin to produce a TEDx video - 2 years ago now.  What Doug said then is still true now, and I thought it was worth sharing!  (also check out Doug's blog, Confessions of a Traveling Music Teacher!)

What stuck with me most was the notion of giving children that inner discipline that is developed through music.  Not only that, but they begin to sense who they really are in context with this world.  They are not wandering aimlessly anymore, but develop that feeling of value, and positive contributions to the world around them.

Click the photo below to go directly to Lise's blog, and think about what YOU can do to be an advocate for music education in your community!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

"I knew you were Treble when you walked in...."

Third graders have been working on learning the names of the Treble Staff.  We've done the usual "Every Good Boy Does Fine" and FACE mnemonics.  I find that pointing and using their hands as a hand staff helps to put a concrete action to the concept.  We have developed a routine of language and action, counting, naming, pointing to each finger and space to coordinate to the music staff. 
I used Denise Gagne's Learn and Play Recorder app as part of my introduction to the note names of the staff. 
 Interactive practice is included as well and was fun to use on the SmartBoard.  Another game that we use for challenging ourselves in both speed and accuracy was Staff Wars.  
This game can be personalized to either Treble, Alto or Bass Clef.  This was a fast-paced game and very challenging! The Star Wars connection excited the students.  It was very popular!
Either one of these apps works well as a whole class on the SmartBoard or with students iPads used individually or in pairs.

Any connection to the music of today will be an instant winner with the students!  Two videos that they have especially enjoyed are "I Knew You Were Treble" by Jeannette Young and the parody of Meghan Trainor's music "All About That Bass (Clef)".  Students instantly sang along, enjoying the parody of songs they listen to all the time on their own!  Enjoy those videos below!