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.