29 October, 2013
Three vocal exploration ideas

Three vocal exploration ideas

Looking for ways to improve your students' pitch-matching? Vocal exploration is such a great way for students to get into their head voices...and it's so much fun! Here are three quick ways to get students exploring their voices, especially around Halloween!

Vocal exploration ideas for the music classroom: A picture book, a free animated Powerpoint, and finger puppets that work well, especially around Halloween!

#1: "Ghosts in the House" by Kazuno Kohara

This is a really fun book, especially around Halloween! For vocal exploration, you could have students make ghost sounds to match the ghosts on the page (for the ghosts on the clothesline, students could just sing one pitch, for the ghosts who are upside down, you could have students sing from high to low, etc.) There is a witch in the book too, so you could connect it to both "See the Old Witch" and "Miss White."

#2: Ghost conversations
I got this idea from a vocal exploration workshop with Lillie Feierabend. She used ghost finger puppets to have students converse with each other, like the ghost puppet shown here:

To find the puppets on Etsy, just click the picture. Aren't the puppets cute?

The teacher can hold a ghost puppet and give another ghost finger puppet to a student. The teacher can make a ghost sound or pattern, and the student responds with something different, like you would in a conversation. This is a cute activity for both Halloween and any other time of the year! Instead of two ghost puppets, you could use the ghost puppet and the Frankenstein puppet, and have the student holding Frankenstein make monster sounds. This might help them understand the idea of having a conversation better anyway! So fun!

#3: Bumblebee animated vocal exploration powerpoint
To prepare for my Kindergarten informances next week, I made a few animated slides for vocal exploration to connect to the chant "Bee Bee." You can download it for free by clicking on the picture below!

What are your favorite ways to have students explore their voices? Feel free to comment below, and happy teaching!

13 October, 2013
Five Favorite Pins of October

Five Favorite Pins of October

We are well into autumn (and still, the weather is amazing!) Since it is October, it is time for my October Linky Party!

If you are a music education blogger, see the directions at the end of this blog for how to link up. Here are my five latest favorite pins!

#1: Generate your own newspaper article
This is a VERY neat tool! Click on the picture below to see the original source of the pin.

The idea is this: you can write your own article--specific to your students and your school--and the website listed in the blog will create a picture that looks like a newspaper article. I'm still brainstorming ways to use this, but I think it could be a very cool tool!

#2: Missus White Freebie
Just in time for Halloween, Emily F on TpT created this super cute freebie!

The set comes with the chant, a slideshow, visuals, detailed lessons, and an Orff arrangement. Thanks to Emily F (check out her blog at http://thesweetestmelodymusic.blogspot.com/.)

#3: "Bang" Rhythm Game
This is a very neat game that I think could work well in centers. As she points out in her blog, it could also work for note naming on the treble clef or bass clef staff. 

#4: Playground Composition
For several years now, I've been teaching graduate courses for Kodaly programs. This past summer, I taught Level I Pedagogy and Folk Song Research at DePaul University; the group of students had lots of fun ideas. One of those students was Cori Bloom. I found this pin on Pinterest and was excited to find out that it was from Cori's new TpT store, and that she had done some of this activity in her peer teaching. I loved it when she taught it, so I immediately bought the set. 

The composition project uses ta, ti-ti, quarter rest, and sol-mi. Students work in groups, and she has included possibilities for differentiation. It would be a great project for 1st graders in the spring, or with 2nd graders as review at the beginning of the year!

#5: Lil Liza Jane Orff arrangement
I love finding Orff arrangements to accompany songs my students already know, and even better if they are accessible AND help them prepare or practice a rhythmic concept!

The blog post by Beth's Music Notes includes the arrangement as well as a You Tube video with a jazz connection! Check out a fun hand jive to accompany "Liza Jane" here.

That's it for my five favorite pins! Make sure to click below to read the five favorite pins of other music bloggers, and happy pinning!

08 October, 2013
Three fun activities for your music room

Three fun activities for your music room

Today, I'm blogging with three fun activities for your music room, that have worked well for my students and I!

#1: "Sunshine on my Shoulders" book by Christopher Canyon, words by John Denver

This is a beautifully illustrated book by Christopher Canyon; you can see it by clicking on the picture below.

You can put on the recording of the song as you turn the pages. It's a great opportunity to discuss audience behavior, and to have students listen for the meaning of a song's lyrics. We discuss how the sunshine can improve our mood, and how music can do the same. Christopher Canyon and his wife Jeanette are both illustrators and actually live in Bexley, just about 15 minutes away from my home. They came to my school a few years ago for an author visit and it was a very special treat!

#2: "Bounce High" disappearing measures
Now that my third graders know 2-beat meter, we've been playing around with inner hearing certain measures. For example, I will sing the song as the students look at the song on the board (written with barlines) but I will inner sing measure 3. They have to identify which measure I sung inside my head, and then they try to inner sing that measure.

Today, I tried a SMART board file I had created for a set I am selling on TpT, called "Songs and Activities to Teach 2-Beat Meter." The file included in this set allows the teacher and/or students to tap on a measure and watch it disappear; students can sing the song aloud but inner sing the measures that have disappeared. My students LOVED doing this... we ended up spending more time on it just so they could challenge themselves. You can view the set by clicking on the picture below.

#3: Liza Jane Hand Jive
My fourth and fifth graders are learning "Liza Jane" this week, along with this fun hand jive (thanks so much to Sam and LeeAnn from NPKC for performing this!)

 Have a great rest of your week!

01 October, 2013
Three ways to get your students moving

Three ways to get your students moving

Today I'm blogging about three ways to get your students moving in music class!

Movement in the music room: Three ways to get kids moving in your elementary music class!

#1:  Eric Chapelle's "Movement for Creative Dance"
I found out about this CD series from a colleague I taught with at my last school. This is a wonderful CD set to help foster creativity and movement in your music room! Click on the picture below to view the CD on West Music (the link will take you to CD #2, but there are four CD's in the set.)

Each CD comes with creative movement suggestions, and the last track on each CD is called "Potpourri," and consists of musical fragments of each of the tracks on the CD, with pauses in between each fragment. I love using the "Potpourri" tracks, as students love doing what they call "freeze dance"--dancing and then freezing when the music stops. It's a great way to discuss how different styles of music require different types of movement. You can have students dance without props, or add scarves, ribbons, whatever! This is a great activity to inspire creativity AND to get your students to expel some of their energy! Speaking of CD's, you should try out...

#2: John Feierabend's "Keeping the Beat"
This is a wonderful CD for getting your kids to keep the beat! Click on the picture below to view the CD on West Music.

The CD comes with 36 tracks of short, upbeat classical pieces--perfect to get your young students moving! I often add this as a short activity to get my Kindergarteners moving to the beat. I have students follow what I'm doing, and do motions for 4 or 8 beats (4 beats on my head, 4 beats on my shoulders, 4 claps, 4 steps, etc.) and students do what I'm doing. Once they are comfortable with this, you can have them lead the motions (I find this works better starting in about January of the Kindergarten year, as they are developmentally more ready then--at least with me only having them once a week for 35 minutes!)

#3: Tennis balls
My third graders are practicing 2-beat meter right now, which is the perfect time to work with tennis balls! I first started working with tennis balls as a way to practice meter when I worked with the Dalcroze professor at my college (thank you to Tim Caldwell...I owe so much to him!) You can have students sing a song they know (such as "Bounce High") as they bounce the ball on the strong beat and catch on the weak beat. You can also have them listen to you play the piano and do the same. You can play a pattern in 2-beat meter (strong beat/ weak beat/ strong beat/ weak beat) and have them bounce, catch, bounce catch. Then you can switch to other meters and have them move accordingly (like bounce/ catch/ tap shoulders with the ball for 3-beat meter.) This is a great activity to get students to feel the strong beat, and they LOVE having their own tennis balls. Granted, it's a bit crazy and sometimes balls roll underneath desks and instruments, but the kids have so much fun! I bought my set of tennis balls 14 years ago during my first year of teaching...and they still bounce! (Okay, a few of them don't bounce as high, but still, fourteen years!!)

What are your favorite ways to get kids moving? Feel free to comment below, and happy teaching!

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