What's happening in Music
In kindergarten one of our goals was learning to keep a steady beat. Although steady beat is something many kids feel instinctually, for others it has to be taught. This fall in music we worked on finding the steady beat, or the “heartbeat” of music, in a variety of ways. Every music class starts with a “Steady Beat Warm-Up” where we dance and make up movements to the beat of the music. Each class the song changes, causing the students to concentrate to find the new beat.
Vocally we are learning to match pitch and sing in unison. This fall we have focused on folk and holiday songs. Through call and response songs students have had a chance to sing in foreign languages. In the song “Jambo” students sang in English, Spanish, Swahili and Japanese. After mastering the songs, we would often have an opportunity to add pitched and un-pitched percussion instruments in quarter note and eighth note patterns on the steady beat. One of the favorites this term were the folk song “A Sailor Went to Sea,” and our upcoming concert piece, “Mail Myself to You.” Another favorite was the holiday song, “Halloween Night” were students were able to add both instruments and American Sign Language.
The vocal goals of first grade this trimester were learning to match pitch and sing in unison. This fall we have focused on folk, seasonal, and holiday songs. Some of our folk songs gave students a chance to sing in foreign languages. By far the favorite of the term was the railroad song, “Clickity-Clack.” They loved adding instruments to mimic the sounds of the steam engine chugging by. Through this song we learned the music words accelerando and ritardando, as students created sounds that made the train speed up and slow back down. Students also enjoyed learning traditional folk dances to the songs, “’Simmons,” and improvising their own lyrics and movements to “Old Brass Wagon.”
This fall we have focused on folk, seasonal, and holiday songs that explore the basic fundamentals of music. For example, one of the favorites of the term was the folk song “Rocky Mountain.” Students learned about the role of folk music, the importance of these songs to their communities, and how they have travels over many years, changing, to get here. This song was probably a favorite because students were given a chance to play accompaniment on the xylophones.
The vocal goals of second grade this trimester were learning to match pitch, singing in unison and adding expression to music. Students enjoyed learning the song and difficult partner hand game to “Miss Mary Mack.” Adding to our knowledge of folk music, we learned how and why this song exists in so many forms and practiced playing in various tempos and styles with a partner. More recently through seasonal and holidays song,s we have been making music together while learning various new vocabulary words such as: verse, chorus, and accent.
This fall in third grade we have been focusing on composing and jazz. Earlier in the term students studied the song, “We are Going to Be Friends.” After analyzing the rhythm and structure of the verses, students worked together in groups to compose original verses to the song. More recently we have been learning about Jazz music, specifically New Orleans Dixieland Jazz, and Louis Armstrong. To connect with our lessons on Louis Armstrong, third graders are preparing to share his famous song, “What a Wonderful World” at the upcoming Global Carnival. Through working on this song, students have mastered objectives regarding vocal technique, performance etiquette, and following the cues of a conductor. This month we also learned how music connects to different cultures and traditions around the world. The song “Picnic in the Graveyard” not only allowed students to learn about the role of music in Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration, but also connect to the sugar skull project from their art class.
The vocal goals of fourth grade this term were learning to match pitch, singing in unison, singing in two-part harmony and adding expression to music. This fall, in addition to singing seasonal and holiday music, we have had a strong focus on American folk music. Students have learned the significance of folk music, and the role it plays in its individual culture. The favorite was probably the song King Carraticus.” We learned how songs are passed from generation to generation travelling over time. After comparing American folk songs to previously learned international songs, students found that even though the songs may be from different countries, and in different languages, there were often similar underlying themes. The songs were often about traditions, holidays, a significant event that happened in that country, or sometimes they were written just for fun. More recently, fourth grade has begun their unit on playing the recorder. By learning the recorder students will be able to reach our objectives on reading treble clef, rhythmic notation, and overall music literacy.
This fall in fifth grade we completed an extensive composing unit. Earlier in the term students studied the song, “We are Going to Be Friends.” It’s a song by the rock group the White Strips that recalls memories from elementary school. One of the fifth grade music objectives is to compose and create music within specific guidelines. As a class, we analyzed the form of the song as well as the rhythmic patterns of each verse. Together we created a rhythmic chart that matched the song. Students then worked together in groups to compose original verses to the song and performed them for each other. The results were hilarious! More recently in fifth grade we have been studying international folk songs. Our current project, “Tina Singu” is a ceremonial song from Lesotho, which is located within South Africa. The students have been really enjoying this song and have worked hard to learn the traditional language, sing in two parts and add a difficult, layered percussion part. The final step of the project will be to learn the traditional movements that go along with “Tina Singu.”