Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Learning by Playing Singing Games

Today in elementary classroom methods (a course for pre-service elementary teachers) we played a bunch of singing games and then brain-stormed concepts or skills that students might develop simply by participating in the singing games (Che,Che,Cha; Down, Down, Baby; Little Sally Walker; Draw a Bucket of Water; I Let Her Go-Go). This is what we came up with:

Social Skills (leadership, communication, teamwork, people interaction, come out of their shells, self-confidence, being a good follower, cooperation, following instructions)

Math Concepts (counting, patterns, memorization, right and left, spatial direction--over under through, sequences, classification)

History Concepts (drawing a bucket of water--when did they do this, where do the songs originate, connections with heritage)

Spatial Reasoning (over, under, through, up, down, circle, moving in a circle, 180 degrees)

Large and fine motor skills (jumping, hopping, skipping, dancing, clapping, etc.)

Coordination (self, with others, timing)

Creativity (making a dance, making a motion, group work, creating your own short individual dance, matching movements to rhythm)

Musical Skills (beat, rhythm, patterns, vocalizing, singing, dynamics, articulation)

Seriously, that's a pretty great list and demonstrates how much is going on in the brain/body when children participate in singing games. Super valuable stuff! Think, also, of intrinsic motivation. But, that's another topic . . .

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ken Robinson Part II

Here's a subsequent talk by Ken Robinson about the future of schooling. I like his suggestions towards that end that we need to replace the industrial, mechanized metaphor currently dominant in formal education with an agricultural metaphor. In the former, students are treated like products on an assembly line and in the second like plants, nurtured and given room to grow.

Little Sally Walker

In Comparative Methods of Elementary Music last night we came across some videos of children playing Little Sally Walker. Here they are:

Here's the older version that we did in class.

And the same (or similar version) with Bessie Jones

Regarding the first version which seems to be a sort of cheerleader version: We made up some hand signals to go with the melodic pattern in order to explore pitch. Clap hands above head on "so", hit the back of your hand with the other hand on "mi", and bump fists together on "do". The sequence of the first part is (with actions in bold).

Lit  tle  Sal  ly Walker, walkin' down the street. Didn't know what to do, so she   stopped in front of me.
so  so  mi  la  so  mi    so  so   mi    la    so      so      so       mi   la  so  mi  mi   so         fa  mi   re  do

Monday, May 9, 2011

Name Rondo

About five summers ago I attended Orff level 2 training at the University of Las Vegas where Kay Lehto taught us her delightful Name Rondo. I have been teaching that Name Rondo to prospective music specialists and elementary classroom teachers since (over 500 students in all!). Today when I taught it again, one of the students said, "I learned that in summer camp!" Cool! It is possible that one of my former students taught this at summer camp.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Simple Ways to Repeat a Song

This evening Audrey (our three-year-old) was singing Twinkle Twinkle on a neutral syllable. I said, "Let's sing it like cows!" And we did. "Moo moo moo moo moo moo moo . . ." Then I said, "Let's sing it like cats." And we did. "Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow . . ." Then I said, "Let's sing it like dogs." And we did. "Bark bark" or "Arf arf". Then she said, "Let's sing it like dinosaurs." And we did. "Graur, graur, graur, graur . . ." And on and on we went for about 20 repetitions of the song (tigers, snakes, etc.). At some point Sophie (out six-year-old) joined in. What fun! Eventually, Audrey started throwing in some non-animal options and we had to figure out how to sing it like broccoli. "Broc-lee, broc-lee, broc-lee, broc-lee . . ." Anyway, my point is that it is easy to find ways to repeat a song and it's also fun to engage the imaginations of children in this way. And, even though we weren't really thinking about curriculum, we addressed singing on pitch and exploring various tone colors or timbres. We also sang Old MacDonald Had a Farm, Bingo, and How Much is that Doggy in the Window? They liked the last one a lot, because they threw in the "bark bark" part at the ends of phrases. I was pointing at them, cueing the "bark bark" part. Eventually Sophie insisted that she sing the song and point at us for the "bark bark" part. She changed the tune a bit, but wasn't concerned about getting it "right" and, really, her tune was just as good as the original. In the Missouri Music Curriculum there is a requirement that all students learn to follow the cues of a conductor. What a fun way to address that! Of course, I'm not suggesting that we adhere strictly to a set of standards--that tends to take the complexity and enjoyment out of musicing with children. Rather, think about what will be engaging musically and interpersonally and then, if you feel it's a must, look at the Grade Level Expectations and see what you've addressed through authentic musicing. Then, if there is something that was missed, creative elementary music or elementary classroom teachers can always take the same songs and repeat or explore them in new ways that will address the remaining standards.