23 March, 2016
Three Things {Rhythm game, making instruments, and a book}

Three Things {Rhythm game, making instruments, and a book}

Today, I’m reviving my "Three Things" linky party, in which I blog about three things that worked for my and my students this week. If you are a music blogger, and would like to link up with your three things, see the directions at the end of this post. Thanks to Whimsy Workshop TeachingKimberly Geswein fonts, and Jax and Jake for the cute clip art and fonts!

Mrs. Miracle's Music Room: Three things that worked in my music class this week

#1: Memorizing Rhythm
My fifth graders are practicing syncopa right now (or eighth/ quarter/ eighth), and one of the songs they are using is "Oboshinotentoten." You can find the music notation here, and here is a video of the game:

After we played the game, I had the rhythm written on the board, and had students sing the song on rhythm syllables. Then we memorized 4 beats at a time (I erased the rhythm as we went) until the whole song was memorized! This was a quick and fun way to practice syncopa AND improve musical memory!

#2: Making instruments with household items
My third graders are learning about the Science of Sound right now, using this unit that I created with my friend Matt:

After we talked about vibration, volume, size and pitch, and how sound travels, I gave students a lot of different household items, like toilet paper rolls, plastic looms, rubber bands, and beads, and had them create an instrument and then decide what was vibrating to create the sound! The kids loved this and so did I...it was messy and loud but they learned so much, and created some really awesome instruments! Here are a few pictures:

Making instruments with household items, and more ideas for your music class!

Making instruments with household items, and more ideas for your music class!

Making instruments with household items, and more ideas for your music class!

#3: All the pretty little horses
With my first graders, I sang this book:

"All the Pretty Little Horses" picture book for the lullaby, and other ideas for your music class!

It's such a beautiful song (and one I've sung to my own daughters for years!) After I sung it, I asked them what kind of song it was, and we had a great discussion about why we sing lullabies, who can sing a lullaby, and other lullabies that we've heard. It's a really calming song, so it's a great way to end the lesson!

Those are my three activities for this week! Make sure to click below to read ideas from other music bloggers! If you aren't a music blogger and would like to tell us about activities that worked for you, please comment below!

21 March, 2016
Guest Post: Music March Madness

Guest Post: Music March Madness

I'm excited to have a guest blogger today! Tamarie Sayger will be writing about an activity to build excitement for March madness and music-making! You can read more about her at the end of this post; thanks to Tamarie for sharing her expertise!

March is known for basketball mania! The Final Four is the first full week of April, so you can take advantage of all the hype the week before it begins. Run this game with all your classes the week of March 28-April 1.

Music Class March Madness: An idea for positive behavior management in March. Includes a freebie!

I use this as a way to change things up a little during the middle of the spring semester.  It’s supposed to be very fun and positive, with just a little bit of competition to keep it interesting. 

What do I teach?
You teach your normal lesson plans! Nothing changes with that. This is just to be integrated through your objectives to build excitement. Here are some examples:

-  If you’re working on rhythmic dictation, give out points based on how well they write their answers. Every student that gets it right can have a free throw. If it’s really tricky and only 5 students get it right the first try, give them a 3 point, try again and give out 2 points. Then help everyone fix their answer and give out 1 point free throws to everyone once they get it.
-  If you’re working on individual singing, give everyone a point when they echo you individually.
-  If you’re working on recorder, give out 2 points for excellent participation, 3 points for volunteers to play by themselves, and 1 point for everyone that is trying.

How do I prepare?
Print out the Music March Madness printable here ahead of time. I suggest copying each point value on a different color of paper to make it easier to add up points at the end of the day. If you have time you can laminate them to make them last for a few years. Cut them out and have a bunch (maybe 100 of each point value) ready to go. I always just put little pieces of tape on the back of them - glue dots might work well also. Keep them easily accessible and always have a few in your hands.

Make 4 posters and display them in the room with team names. I use brown butcher paper from the teacher’s lounge and draw a basketball court on it. Keep it simple because the ‘point basketballs’ will be the real decoration.

Explain to the students that you’ll be giving out points throughout class - show them the ‘point basketballs.’ When they get a point basketball they should IMMEDIATELY get up and go add it to their team’s poster. (They just slap it anywhere on their team’s ‘court.’)They need to do it quickly and quietly so they don’t get a ‘foul’ (lose their point.) 

How do I make up teams?
It depends on your setup. I suggest this way:
Kinder, 1st, 2nd - Each class is on the same team against other classes in the school.  So Mrs. Smith’s team comes and earns as many points as they can for the Duke Blue Devils or whoever. Then Mr. Jones’ class comes and earns as many points as they can for UNC Tarheels. 
3rd, 4th, 5th - Divide each class into 4 teams. They compete with each other to earn points for their team. So the 6 kids on Team A put all their points on Duke, Team B kids put all their points on UNC etc.

However, you know your students. If your older kids would be too competitive, just assign different classes to different teams as I suggest for the younger kids.

Any other rules?
Continue with your regular lesson plan and routine. Give out points constantly as students earn them. Try to keep it 100% positive. If any kids get a little too competitive you can call “foul” and take away a point from the board. (Take it off the board if possible, not away from the student. It’s less personal.) Turn it back around quickly and start giving them out and having fun again!

How do I track the score?
At the end of each day (and maybe once in the middle if you’re running out of ‘point basketballs’) take down the points and count them and post the current totals in your room (and maybe the hallway too). That way you can re-use those same ‘point basketballs’ each day. I announce at the end of the week (Friday right before dismissal) which team won on the school intercom to the whole school.

How many points do I give out?
As many as you can! You can even start giving them out as they walk in the door before they even know what they’re for. Hand them to kids that are coming in with good behavior, participating in opening song etc. Then just continue though out class. Suzy raises her hand to answer a questions - 2 points.  Johnny sings great - 3 points. Tommy is doing great hand signs - free throw. You’re only going to to this one week a year, so make the most of it. Try to be sure EVERY student gets at least one ‘point basketball’ during the class period. Even if it’s that they line up nicely at the end of class.

Final thought...
I know your students will love this game - and you will too! You will be amazed at the level of excitement, participation and great discipline during this week! 

Would this work for Band?
Do you (or someone you know) teach beginning band?  There is a very similar version of this with examples for band right here. You still use the basketball printable from above and merge this Music March Madness with the ideas for Band Super Bowl for great success in your band classes.

Tamarie Sayger is a music teacher in Texas with experience in elementary music, secondary band and private teaching.  The website she contributes to regularly, www.BandDirectorsTalkShop.com, is a collaboration of band directors, former band directors, administrators and private lesson teachers who provide practical articles you can use in your band room today.  She also has a TpT store hereLearn.  Share.  Inspire.
19 March, 2016
Music of Japan Mini-Unit

Music of Japan Mini-Unit

Today, I'm blogging about a mini-unit I recently did with my 4th graders. I have a unique situation this year, in that I see all of the 4th graders once every five days for 50 minutes, but my colleague--who is also Kodaly-trained--also sees them once every five days for 50 minutes. We decided this year that the first marking period, she would teach them the "typical" Kodaly-inspired lessons, and I would teach extension lessons. Then at the start of the next marking period, we would switch, so that I'm teaching the typical lessons. This marking period, I've been doing the extension lessons, and the last couple of weeks, I did a Japanese mini-unit.

Teaching the music of Japan: A mini-unit for your music class, including folk songs, bucket drumming, and more!

First, I taught them the singing game "Stew Pot," shown below:
Stew Pot: A Japanese folk song. Blog post includes lots of other ideas for a Japanese mini-unit for your music lessons!

This is a fun folk song that I learned from this book:

This book has lots of other great folk songs, and includes a CD!

I've been using the song for recorder, as the song only uses mi, re, and do, which I have them play on B, A, and G. I have a slideshow for the song in this recorder set.

Then I taught them the chant "Omochio Tsukimasho," which has a REALLY fun hand jive. Here is a video:

I started off teaching them just the chant and the hand motions that are not the steady beat, and then in the next lesson put the steady beat and hand motions together!

I also used this Powerpoint to teach them about traditional Japanese instruments; it is a great freebie by Elizabeth from Organized Chaos!

The Powerpoint has links to Japanese instruments such as the koto and taiko.

After students listen to taiko drumming, I introduced bucket drumming. Bucket drumming can be a great way to introduce students to taiko drumming without the expense of taiko drums. You might check your local hardware store or fast-food restaurants to see if they would be willing to donate buckets, and then a pair of dowels for each bucket.

For the bucket drumming, I used a piece I learned from Julie Froude, who is an amazing clinician and knows a lot about Japanese culture, as she grew up there! This piece is called "Renshu," and is a great practice piece!

Renshu: A bucket drumming piece. Blog post includes lots of ideas for a Japanese mini-unit for your music lessons!

For this piece, I play the first time and have students join me the second time, on the repeat. I played the "dorosuku"and "donsuku" on the rim, the accented notes on the top of the bucket. The "hoi" is spoken loudly.

I learned about the book "The Drums of Noto Hanto" from Julie. The book tells a true story of a village in Japan, and how they used drumming to scare off an enemy. I used the book as a way to discuss Japanese culture and music:

Drums of Noto Hanto--a great picture book to explore bucket drumming!  Blog post includes lots of ideas for a Japanese mini-unit for your music lessons!

Lastly, I used the song "Sakura," which is one of my all-time favorite Japanese folk songs:

Sakura: A beautiful Japanese folk song! Blog post includes lots of ideas for a Japanese mini-unit for your music lessons!

The translation is: 
Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,

Across the spring sky,
As far as you can see.
Is it a mist, or clouds?
Fragrant in the air.
Come now, come now,
Let's look, at last!

The song is beautiful, and is a great way to practice half note.  Here is a video of my students performing "Sakura," during a program I created for "The Drums of Noto Hanto." The Orff arrangement would be a great addition to a Japanese mini-unit; I had the instruments set up in Japanese pentatonic (EFABC--no G or D.)

If you are looking for more resources for teaching the music of Japan, check out the Smithsonian Folkways Website.

Although I would love to delve deeper into the culture, the mini-unit was a great way to learn a bit about Japanese culture and music, while extending students' musical understanding. If you have any specific questions about teaching the music of Japan, Julie Froude has volunteered to answer your questions, since she is so knowledgeable (and if you're looking for a clinician for your local chapter or school district, she is wonderful!) You can comment below with your question, and I'll forward it to Julie. Also feel free to comment below with any of your favorite Japanese songs or resources, and have fun!

08 March, 2016
St. Patrick's Day in the Music Room

St. Patrick's Day in the Music Room

Since St. Patrick's Day is around the corner, today I'm blogging about some fun activities you can do in your classroom this time of year, to celebrate the holiday as well as Irish culture!

St. Patrick's Day in the Music Room: Lots of ideas for St. Patrick's Day and Irish music for your music lessons!

Irish folk songs
This time of a year is a great time to sing Irish folk songs with your students! Here are some great sites for finding Irish folk songs:
(to find Irish and/or Irish-American music, go to "origin")

Irish dances
One of my favorite folk dances is "Brian Boru," an Irish dance in  "Teaching Movement and Dance." Another Irish folk dance called "The Bridge of Athlone" can be found in "Listen to the Mockingbird" by the New England Dancing Masters. Both of these resources are GREAT for any time of the year, though, as they contain tons of easy-to-teach dances for your music classroom!

Listening and responding to pieces and dances
Whether students are listening to Celtic music or watching Irish dancing, students can respond with what they notice, what they wonder, what they like, etc. Perhaps you could use a recording already in your collection, or watch a video like this:

You can ask students what they notice, which instruments they hear, what the mood sounds like, etc.

St. Patrick's Day games
There are tons of interactive games on TpT for rhythmic and melodic concepts! I just discovered this fun set by Amy Abbott, which has students read melodic patterns...but watch out, the leprechaun might pull a prank!

I created a game called "Help the Leprechaun," which has students identifying rhythmic patterns (this works great as an assessment!)

And my Pot o' Gold games are great for identifying lines and/or spaces on the treble clef staff!

To put movement into any St. Patrick's Day lesson, you could simply play freeze dance to any Irish music! When the music starts, students dance, but when the music stops, students have to freeze like a statue, or they are out!
If you want visuals for freeze dance, check out these sets:

Lindsay Jervis' Freeze Dance

Tracy King's Freeze Dance and Creative Movement  

My "Songs and Activities for St. Patrick's Day," which includes a movement activity with shamrocks...when students freeze, they have to find another shamrock and move like the shamrock tells them!

Looking for more St. Patrick's Day ideas? Check out this new St. Patrick's Day in the Music Room Pinterest board I created!

What are your favorite St. Patrick's day activities for the music room? Feel free to comment below, and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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