Powered by Blogger.

Turkey Time in the Music Room

Hello and Happy Fall!

This is Tanya from Teaching Music: Tanya's Kodály Aspiring Blog.
I really love this "late-Autumn" time of year. 
However, I was at the grocery store the day after Halloween, and guess what, it’s Christmas! I went to Starbucks: yes it’s Christmas there, too. I made a trip to Target, you guessed it, more Christmas! “But wait !" I want to shout, “I want more fall! What about Thanksgiving? Winter doesn't even start until December 21st!" (sigh.)

Yes, I know there’s not much commerce in Thanksgiving beyond buying a turkey and trimmings, but let’s give a little love to this grateful holiday.

Today I'm sharing a couple of turkey themed songs and games that I include in my lessons the week before Thanksgiving. 

Thanksgiving Day 

This is a fun, simple song I sing with 1st graders. (If I taught kindergarteners I would share it with them, too.) After performing this short little song for the students, I pull out my autoharps and have the students down strum on the steady beat. One student can strum with a pick while the other changes chords between FM and CM.

I recently acquired six cardboard dulcimers from another school, (yay!,) and we will be using them in 1st grade with this song. I can't wait!

Turkey Turkey Gobbler

This is a wonderful song to prep re or practice the do pentatonic scale. Additionally, there's a bonus vocal exploration opportunity for students. 
(I love to sneak that in whenever possible 😉!)

I introduce this song by having the students listening to real turkey sounds, especially the "gobble." This website has some excellent short sound bites of turkeys gobbling, purring, and giving "alarm clucks."

The students and I have discovered that the best way to imitate a turkey gobble is by rapidly flipping the tongue back and forth across the top lip while making a sustained high pitch. (Hurray for the head voice!)

Turkey Ensemble Time:
Before the game we practice our gobbles by watching and responding to the conductor, first with the teacher as conductor and then a student conductor. This a fun way for the class to practice watching for cues, cut-offs, and dynamics.

Game Time:
My 3rd graders love playing this "Marco Polo" style game where the "farmer" is blindfolded and must call "Turkey!" while the turkey responds with a gobble. The action begins after everyone sings the song.

Literacy Time:
This song is a fine re practice song, especially with the half note re emphasis in the second measure. My students body sign solfa in 1st and 2nd grade and begin hand signs at the beginning of 3rd grade. This is a fun and simple song for them to utilize their hand signs while singing.

Other re practice ideas:

  • Highlight the re s on the SMARTboard on on individual worksheets.
  • Sing in solfege and inner-hear re.
  • Play the melody on barred instruments.
  • Use the last measure of Turkey Turkey Gobbler to transition to another excellent re song, Frosty Weather, by changing the rhythm:

And voilà! NOW we're in the winter songs!

I hope you and your students have a lovely Thanksgiving.

Luck o' the Irish to you! I'm going to share a few St. Patty's Day songs and activities for your music class that are kid-tested.

One of my student's favorite songs this time of year is "I Am a Jolly Leprechaun," with a hide and seek game. I learned it many, MANY years ago at a workshop and have since forgotten from whom it was learned. 

One child is the "Leprechaun" (for fun they may wear something, like a plastic shamrock necklace, to indicate they are the “Leprechaun"). The class hides eyes and sings while the "Leprechaun" hides plastic gold coins or shamrocks in the room (4-5 at a time). Once all items are hidden, the class opens their eyes. There is mass chaos if the whole class tried to find the items at once, so I call out first letters of first names, colors of clothing, birthday months, etc., so a smaller group of children are the finders. Those students get only twice through the song to seek and by the end must return to their seats, If there are stragglers, count down from 10 to 0 to give time to get there. Students who found an object come to the front of the room with the "Leprechaun." The Leprechaun then shows us where un-found items are (for time's sake). You can vary what those students who found an item have to do. The Leprechaun may ask, "What do you wish for?" and the students respond with a singing voice so pitch matching may be assessed. Or they might read a rhythm card which uses St. Patrick's objects (see examples below). The Leprechaun then chooses a new leader from the group of students who found an object to be the new Leprechaun, and a new round begins. You could play this game like Lucy Locket singing loudly or quietly to lead finders to an object, but then only one child gets to seek. With 4 or 5 finders each round, you can cycle through a whole class in a short amount of time.

I learned this song as a simple ball catching game, and in my own classes, I switched to using beanbags to toss to avoid all of the stray bouncing balls. I always wondered the origin and just assumed it was a playground chant. Boys and Girls come out to Play - a Collection of Irish Singing Games by Maurice Leyden, it may derive from Irish games in which children bounce a ball, or more than one ball, against a wall and perform motions while the ball is in flight. In the case of Plansies Clapsies, I learned it as a game in which a ball/beanbag is just tossed in the air and the actions are done while the object is in the air. Below are the instruction to the game.

Plainsies- simply toss and catch
Clapsies- toss, clap catch
Twirl around- toss, turn in a complete circle, catch (I simplified- roll hands around one another)
Backsies- toss and catch behind your back (I simplified- toss, touch back, catch)
Right hand- toss and catch with R hand  
Left hand- toss and catch with L hand
Toss it high- toss high, catch
Toss it low- toss low, catch
Touch your knee- toss, bring knee up and touch it, catch
Touch your toe- toss, bring toe up and touch it, catch
Touch your foot- toss, bring foot up and touch it, catch
Through you go- lift a leg and toss ball under, catch with opposite hand

Here are a few other terms original to the ball against the wall game that could be adjusted to use in a classroom as a toss and catch game:
Plainy: The ball is thrown against the wall and caught on the rebound.                                           
Clappy: As for Plainy, but clap hands when the ball is in flight.
Rolley: Roll arms over one another.
To Backey: Clap hands behind back.
Hippy: Place hands on hips.
Tippy: Touch the ground.
Jelly Bag: Hands are held together,fingers spread wide apart to form a "bag" when catching the ball.
Basket: Weave fingers together, knuckles facing backwards to you to catch.                                  Burl Around: Turn completely around.
Downey/Dropsie: Allow the ball to bounce once off the ground before being caught.
Right/Left Leg: Throw the ball under a raised right or left leg to hit the wall first.                                 Archy: Separate legs to form an arch, and the ball is thrown from behind, under the arch       
Walla: Cross one leg in front of the other when the ball is in flight.
Stampy: Stamp both feet on the ground when the ball is in flight.
Pipey/Pipsie: Throw the ball straight up and catch it.

I haven't tried it yet, but thought it would be a fun idea to have groups of students come up with their own chants using the various words for the motions to perform for the class. In any case, this is a good song for older beginners who need practice with simple rhythms and melodies.

Below is a sample of a color by note worksheet for St. Patrick's Day. These kinds of worksheets are great for subs.

In order for you to download an actual PDF, I think I have to link it. I'm sending you to my Teacher's Pay Teachers page which at the moment I don't really use. My apologies. I'm defending my dissertation in about a month, so haven't had time to actually get it up and running. Maybe in the future. Here is a link to the PDF:

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Enjoy. 

Kindergarten music lesson ideas

Hi everyone! This is Aileen from Mrs.Miracle’s Music Room. As I dive into writing lesson plans for this week, I thought I’d write a blog post with a Kindergarten lesson that worked really well for my students and I this past month.

Kindergarten music lesson ideas: This blog post includes a sample Kindergarten lesson plan with specific written out directions, as well as a link to another free lesson!

A little background about my Kindergarteners: I see them once a week for thirty-five minutes, and have six classes. At this point in the year, I’m about to present steady beat, have taught loud/quiet and fast/slow, and have done lots of vocal exploration.

With this lesson, students were brought into the room follow-the-leader style with me chugging like a train, and then we chanted “Engine Engine.” I had them wind into a circle as we said the chant two or three times, and then we sat down.

Then, we sang “Here we are together,” which is to the tune of “The more we get together.” The lyrics I use are:

Oh, here we are together, together, together,
Oh, here we are together in music today.
With Mrs. Miracle, and Macy, and Jenna, and Scott, and Michael, etc…
(sing all of the kids’ names around the circle)
Oh, here we are together in music today.

On the “day” part of “today,” I have students hit the ground. If there is an even number of students in the class, you’d sing your name again  at the end to even it out.

After that, we move onto greetings, in which I sing to students “Hello, Kindergarten,” and they sing back, “Hello Mrs. Miracle” on sol-mi. I ask them questions like “How was your weekend?” or “What’s your favorite color?” and then answer back as a group (with lots of answers being sung at the same time) and then I call on individual students. I use a toy microphone which students love to sing into, and then write down on a rubric of 1-4 how students sing so I can track their pitch-matching.

Middle School Choral Madness (aka Herding squirrels and teaching them to sing on pitch)

Hi everyone, this is Amanda Isaac. Middle School is a tough and fantastic age group to work with. They challenge you daily and demand your best; the most successful teachers serve that expectation and energy right back to them. Middle schoolers want to be both kids and grown up. I know I try to feed both halves of that personality split. Let them be goofy when appropriate and insist on professionalism when it’s time to work and perform. I also do as much as I can to lead them to certain things subconsciously for two reasons: 1. It’s good pedagogy and 2. Their subconscious usually doesn’t argue with me.

During warm ups everyone vocalizes the fullest range of the voice (both girls and boys). We do at least one overall ascending exercise, one descending exercise, and either a range extender or a tongue twister. I teach them why we do certain vocalizes and what their instrument is as scientifically as possible; that knowledge gives them responsibility and accountability for their participation and performance in class and on stage. For instance my favorite warm up is what I call a lip bubble (aka motorboat sound). Ascending and descending the perfect fifth, either with a legato or glissando articulation, gives the students a limited range to manage or focus on. This exercise is wonderful for supporting and maintaining airflow as well as relaxation of many muscles. Occasionally adding the outstretched tongue, which can release some minor tongue tension, injects some purposeful silliness at the beginning of the rehearsal. I usually begin in E flat or E and ascend by half steps to D’. If the piano is used at this point, I try to only have the open fifth or adding the playing the do, re, and sol as a chord to get their ear active in tuning.

As for voicing here’s how it works in my classroom. I teach them a short song or fragment and we sing it in multiple keys. I then bring the students up to the piano in small groups, eight to ten at a time, always of the same gender, and we sing thorough them again. I call this a Voice Check (like a doctor’s check-up). No one ever sings by themselves (which reduces anxiety) and I move around the circle "casually" listening to the individuals sing. I then ask them to identify which key felt best for them. The students know that I always take their opinion into account when deciding their voice part and that they don’t always get what they want. Their voice part is determined by how many singers there are in the ensemble, their ability to match pitch, overall tone quality, range, and level of experience. Students sing the part that fits their voice the best.

Music a la Cart: Limited Resource Edition

       Hello everyone! My name is Bethany Bassler and I’m a PK-8th music teacher in North Carolina. I am in my second year at my school and at the beginning of August I got a call from my administrator saying that my room, which was being transferred to a trailer, would not be ready at the beginning of the school year. Eek!  The result would be music on a cart to start the year, with an undefined open date to a trailer room.

Let the Great Organization Begin!

All items in my classroom had to be organized into three categories: what I wanted on the cart, what I eventually wanted in my classroom, and what was going into long-term storage. My window of cart-teaching was anywhere from 3-5 weeks, but even that was questionable, so my selection of materials had to be varied and cover all grade levels for that time frame of teaching. I didn’t know this at the time, but I also had very limited access to any other materials that were eventually going into the trailer, so switching out materials was near impossible.
The majority of my students are on a modified sequence, so I also had to consider what materials I used most frequently and had the most versatile uses across grade levels.

Sequencing Start-Up

Hi everyone, this is Laura Beese, and I’m excited to be blogging for the first time here at Kodály Corner! I just started teaching at a new school this year, so sequencing for a new group of students has been consuming my thoughts. Hopefully some of my reflections will be helpful to you whether you’re in your first year of teaching or your fifteenth!

Building Community
Just as Jamie talked about in the previous post, kids will be open to whatever you bring to them if they love you and they love coming to music. I look for activities that are going to get kids moving, playing name games, mixing, and singing together. It’s important to me that kids have a blast in music and leave with big grins on their faces looking forward to the next class. (This is true of every lesson, but FUN is especially a focus of the first few weeks.) Though expectations are an important part of a first day lesson, I only spend five minutes on explicit teaching of the “rules,” and the rest of the lesson is spent actively practicing the expectations through the kinds of games, dances, and songs we’ll be doing the rest of the year. Below are some of the students’ favorite activities from this year’s fist few lessons:
  • K/1st: Page’s Train (fast/slow; names)
  • 2nd: Jump Josie (circle play party with cumulative partner choosing)
  • 2nd, 3rd: Julie Ann Johnson (closing song with guitar where students get to decide where Julie will travel, how she'll get there, and what she'll do. They loooove this one!)
  • 3rd, 4th: Sasha mixer (Energetic and easy-to-teach mixer)
  • 4th, 5th: Funga Alafia (I used as a chorus for a name game. Students would create 4-beat ostinato patterns for the class to copy during singing, then four individuals at a time would say "My name is _______" and the class would echo. Great synco-pa prep , and ripe with extensions for drumming and instruments! Amy Abbott has nice slides and notation for teaching Funga Alafia in her back to school set!)
  • 3rd, 4th: King Kong Kitchie (Closing song with call/response and verse/refrain that 3rd and 4th grade love. Also a great tika-tika prep.)

Integrating New Students into the Music Classroom

Hi everyone! This is Jamie Parker. Like many of you, I’m getting ready to head back to school soon. This year, I am facing a new challenge: due to population changes, my school is re-districting. About 1/3 of my students will be new to my school. In preparation for this change, I have started to brainstorm how to integrate these new students into my music classroom. Today, I’ll share my thoughts with you.

These ideas will work for first-year teachers, teachers new to a position, or experienced teachers who are getting new students.

  • Some of the students you will see this year will come with “a story” from their old school/teacher. Try to give each child a fresh start. Everyone deserves a second chance, especially children. Your students have had an entire summer to grow, and they will be entering a new environment. Greet every child positively and seek the good in each student to avoid a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Back to Top