Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Great boomwhacker youtube videos

I love this video! I wish I could do something like this with my kids. It woudl just take too much time, though....well, maybe one day:

Now here's one that I actually have tried with Fourth and Fifth graders and surprise! It worked great! We even did it at a PTA meeting.:

Glockenspiel rhythm idea

You may notice that I write a bunch of stuff on this blog that is not directed to the public, but to me, myself and I. The reason for this is simple. I'm the only one who reads this, why am I putting this disclaimer anyway?

OK, here's the problem. In my Orff, level one course, as well as in Denise Gagne's Orff Source book, most of the glockenspiel parts are quarter notes played on beat 1 or 4 of each measure. I have had a tough time trying to get kids to play on beats 1 and 4 only, especially while everyone else is playing oom pah oom pah on alto and bass xylophone or even worse, the evil rhythm known as "will, you, be my friend!".
Here is an example of what i'm talkin' bout (click to make it bigger):

So, my idea is simple...cuz I've been doing it all wrong. Here's the sequence I'm going to try:

1. Teach kids to say "pat rest rest pat - pat rest rest pat" over and over again while making the up motion on every rest

2. Have half the kids keep a steady half note or quarter note beat while the other half says and pats the pat rest rest pat glock part

3. Split the groups into three parts like this:
Part A: pat rest pat rest -bass
Part B: res pat res pat -alto
Part C: pat res res pat -glocks

4. Transfer to instruments and repeat (or maybe start off on instruments to save time)

5. Sing a song that goes with a basic chord bordun while kids play accompaniment.

I'm not going to ask them to sing until we've practiced this a few times.

OK, that's it....I'll let you know if it works and maybe do a recording once I get this podcast thing figured out.

Plans for podcasting

This is an idea that I hope pans out. If it does, I'll do another post later to let all of my readers (that's only reader) know how it goes.

I signed up for a free account with, so that I can make my own podcasts online. Teachertube's audio section allows me to post audio on the internet and embed it here on my blog.

What I would like to do is to record my kids singing, and post it on the internet. I don't have any fancy recording device, though, so I'm going to do the following:

1. Record the kids using my old cassette tape recorder.
2. Using a male-ended cord I got from radio shack, I will plug the tape recorder into the microphone input on my computer.
3. Using audacity (a free program you can download on the it) I will record the song onto my computer and edit it
4. finally, using teachertube, I will upload the song and e-mail it to my principal and parents to hear.

It sounds like a good idea, but only time will tell...I'll let you know if it works.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cornerstone Reading Initiative Songs

If your school is involved in the Cornerstone Reading Initiative and you would like to help your classroom teachers by teaching the kids some songs with strategies to make reading a little more exciting, then go to this link and download these songs. You can even burn them onto a CD. They include songs about asking questions, visualizing, using schema, metacognition, and others set to the tune of songs like Three Blind Mice, Where is Thumbkin, and the Mexican Hat Dance. You can even add a little bordun to some of them on the xylophone to make them more interesting. Here's the link.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mallet Madness by Artie Almeida rotation process

OK, I haven't actually used any of the activities in this book, yet, but after looking at the variety of Orff-based activities offered, I've gotta say this is a good one. In fact, if you are a music teacher, elementary or middle school, and you don't have a lot of training in Orff Schulwerk or money to go to a workshop, buy this 30 dollar book and I think you'll be happy. The one thing I have done from the book is the rotation method, which is the greatest thing since sliced bread. You can read about it on the preview pages for the book on amazon: Mallet Madness link

When I tried this with the kids, they loved it, because even with a large class of 26 kids, every child gets a chance to play every instrument, almost every day they come to music class. No more whining "I never get to play the big xylophone" or "I never get to play the big drum". This lady is a genius. Buy this book, you'll be glad you did!

Activity 1-Simple Borduns

OK, I took an Orff course last year with Deanna Stark and learned a lot and I decided I really wanted to work with my kids on Borduns because A. Borduns allow students to create their own simple accompaniments. and B. Kids like xylophones and I can bribe them with them.

In Orff, we learned that a bordun or a drone involves playing one or two notes over and over again while singing a song. They work best when the song is pentatonic or uses the tonic note on all the strong beats.

Fortunately, there are about a billion songs that are pentatonic (only involve 5 scale notes, excluding fa and ti). Bee Bee Bumblebee, Charlie went over the ocean, Cobbler Cobbler, Wade in the water, etc. etc. So, if you teach the kids one simple bordun, you can have them sing thousands of songs or medleys using the same accompaniment. Here's a simple example, that I'm trying for the first time with my second and third graders:

Day 1: I taught the kids the song charlie over the ocean (google it), then taught them the circle game that goes with it (chase game: kid walks around the circle, tags another kid at end of song who tries to catch them before they can get to the second kids spot-like duck duck goose).

Day 2: I teach the kids the Bordun 1. You can change the key if you like.
Step 1-students pat half note beat on laps
Step 2-students play beat with both hands together on C and G.
Step 3-I sing while they play a few times (no singing kids!)
Step 4-Kids try and sing while playing simultaneously.

Day 3: I teach them Bordun 2 AKA: the oompah bordun
Step 1-take turns patting with the kids-I pat the bass, they pat the alto.
Step 2-split kids into two groups-Group 1-pat bass, Group 2-pat alto
Step 3-groups switch parts.
Step 4-repeat on the xylophones

OK, so I tried this, and so far it worked well, so I'm going to try it with 4th and
5th grades too and once we can do this on several songs, I'll try some more of those advanced things they taught us in Orff training.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

Four Horses of Texture

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

What's this blog for?

This is a blog to help elementary music teachers, by posting activities and ideas. If you'd like to post an activity or an idea, let me know and I'll make sure that I give you credit.