In my last blog, I wrote about offering students choices in the general music classroom. Today I’ll continue this topic with more ideas that have worked for my students.
- Highway No. 1 by the Shenanigans: This is a wonderful dance the students absolutely love. Highway No. 1 is a highway that goes around the perimeter of Australia. During the dance, students pretend to drive, and then do dance steps that are spoken to them, like “walk, walk, clap, clap, clap,” and “skip, skip, and bob.” They drive around again, then do the next movement sequence. The music can be purchased through I-tunes, but also look for the “backing version with instructions.” This version has the same music, but leaves the narration for the dance steps blank so students can fill them in. Students can brainstorm seven different ways to move; those can be written on the board and students can do them in order. Conversely, students can be chosen to create them on the spot. I’ve done the dance with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders, all with success!
- “Oh A Hunting We Will Go” by John Langstaff and Nancy Winslow Parker: This children’s book has the lyrics for “Oh a hunting we will go,” in which we’ll catch a mouse and put him in a house, catch a snake and put him in a cake, etc. Students immediately recognize that it is a rhyming song, so after the book is sung, they can create their own lyrics. I have students first think of an animal, and then they think of something that rhymes. Always fun when students leave the room singing their own verses!
- Flashcard improvisation on Orff instruments: After I present a new rhythmic concept, I often have students improvise using rhythmic flashcards. For example, if my students are practicing tika-tika (sixteenth notes), I’ll first have students read some rhythmic flashcards with tika-tika. Then they’ll go to barred instruments set up in C pentatonic (with the F and B bars down.) I’ll say “1, 2, ready and,” and students will play whatever they want melodically to the rhythm they are being shown. Students can use 1 mallet or both mallets. Then we’ll do the next pattern with a different melody. For example, if the pattern is "ta ta tika-tika ta," students might play "C D EEEE G" or "G C DDDD C." The great thing about C pentatonic is anything sounds good, so it is a non-threatening environment for students to create their own patterns. And it’s a great way to practice those new rhythms!
A few more ideas to come soon! Have fun!