18 January, 2017
Three favorite folk dances

Three favorite folk dances

With the start of the new year, many of us are thinking about being more healthy and getting more exercise. As music teachers, we are very lucky that we aren't sitting behind a desk all day and can get up and dance with our students! Below are three of my all-time favorite folk dances, as well as three of my favorite folk dance resources. These dances are GREAT for getting exercise, working with a partner, understanding dance formations, keeping in time with music, and so much more!

Favorite folk dances for the music room: Three great folk dances for your elementary music lessons!

"Highway No. 1" by the Shenanigans
This is one of my absolute favorites! You can buy the track on iTunes here, and the directions are within the song itself. Students simply listen, pretend to drive a car around the room, and make stops on Highway No. 1 (which is a highway that goes around the perimeter of Australia.) At each stop, students do motions, like "walk, walk, run, run, run," or "step, together, wiggle." Students really love this dance! I've used it at informances, at performances, and in class. The album also has a backing track which has space for students to make up their own motions! Here is a picture of my first graders from two years ago doing the dance:

08 January, 2017
Choosing repertoire for your choir

Choosing repertoire for your choir

This past week, I sat down to choose my choir's repertoire for the spring. I got to thinking about the variety I wanted for the program, and what makes a great selection, so I decided to write with some thoughts that might help you as you choose your choir's repertoire!

Choosing choral repertoire: Great thoughts about choosing high quality literature. Blog post includes a free choral repertoire template as well as a link to a list of great pieces!

A little background: as I wrote about in this post, I have a choir of about 80 or so students in third, fourth, and fifth grade. I see them once a week, for 35 minutes, and we have two concerts at school each year, as well as community events as those arise.

I was a trumpet player all through school, and before my Kodaly training, I literally was in one semester of choir. Ever. So it has taken me quite a while to feel comfortable selecting repertoire, as well as directing the choir! I've gone to several choral sessions throughout the years at conferences, but am definitely not claiming to be a choral expert! Here are some thoughts as you choose choral repertoire:

Is it quality?
As Zoltan Kodaly once said, "Only the best is good enough for a child." I think about this a lot as I choose repertoire. I don't want to choose anything that's cute for the sake of cuteness; I want to choose music that is beautiful, that is timeless, that will touch a child's soul.

Is it accessible?
Because I only see my choir once a week for thirty-five minutes, I have to choose music that will be accessible in that amount of time. You won't see me choosing many pieces in parallel thirds for that reason! I love to select unison pieces (which can be more difficult than you'd think, as the students really have to have a unified sound), rounds and canons, partner songs, and 2- and 3-part pieces which have melodies and countermelodies that are easy to layer. For example, "Minka," which I mentioned in this post about Christmas selections, has a melody and a countermelody, and "Kookaburra" by Malvar-Keylock and Friedersdorf has three parts which are super easy to layer on top of each other.

Do I love the piano accompaniment?
I often will sit down at the piano and play through the piano part (as best as I can). If I love the piano part, chances are, it's a great selection for the choir!

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