So, I’m sitting here laying on a borrowed bed, in the home of a wonderful family in Navi Mumbai, India. I’ve been teaching at a conference for the past week, and tomorrow I give a morning keynote on music in the grades. I thought I’d put notes up here for them all to be able to access often. For everyone, enjoy.
First Grade: BEGINNING AT THE BEGINNING
Most songs in pentatonic scale
Mood of the fifth helps students listen continually, and not just for an end.
songs about fairy tales that accompany stories
Eighth-Eighth-quarter, and rests.
rhythm-reading via BLUE JELLO sticks, etc. (see “No H in Snake”, a wonderful book on music theory)
“light and airy”.
Single-tone Choroi flutes
Pentatonic Choroi flutes
simple percussion (sticks, rattles, etc)
We don’t want them beating too heavilly on drums, and stamping. These are motions of incarnation, which will come later. Right now we want to allow them to “float”.
Simple drone beats on ORFF media.
more in exploration than in production.
Call and Response
After students have their alphabet in tact, use ABCDEFG cards to play Snake (also from No H in Snake)
Students always love making a GIANT alphabet snake that goes all the way around the classroom.
This helps reinforce the cyclical nature of the musical alphabet.
Second Grade: BEYOND THE FIRST STEPS
Some songs in the Pentatonic Scale, breaking away sometimes is ok.
songs about fables to accompany stories
add half notes and half rests
Continue BLUE JELLO rhythmic notation.
pentatonic choroi flutes
simple percussion (Same as first grade)
Simple ORFF media, matching grade specific rhythm.
Mainly explored, some production.
Continue playing with alphabet cards
Now, use them as intervals: CEGBDFA, CFBEADG, CGDAEBF, etc.
Third Grade: EXTENDING THE MUSICAL VOCABULARY
songs about Hebrew Stories, Native Populations, Homebuilding
Add whole notes and rests
Soprano / descant recorder
Begin with B, A, and G at the top of the recorder. Slowly add d’, E, D, C. Once they have this, use a song that doesn not use F. (“I will go with my father a’ploughing” works great.)
Once they have mastered these notes (go slowly), teach the forked fingers of F and B-flat
ORFF accompaniment to sung and recorder-played pieces.
Introduce note-reading slowly.
I’ve seen this done along with the story of Noah’s Ark. The ramp to the ark was representative of the five-rung staff of the treble cleff. As part of the teacher’s chalkboard drawing, animals with beginning letters corresponding to the notes were placed accordingly on the ramp. C-crocodile, D-Duck, E-Elephant, F-Flamingo, G-Gorilla, A-Anteater, B-Bear (H-Hamster).
It’s important that students gain a solid connection that as notes go up, they move higher on the staff, etc.
I like to start have the students create a musical alphabet using slate boards, each with a letter on it. They lay it out toward, and then up against the wall, climbing up to the chalkboard. This is when I strike chalk line as a “ladder” for their boards to cling to. We remove the boards, but draw the letter on it’s corresponding line and space.
One can also use the hand as a representation of the treble staff, the pinky being an E, and the thumb an e’.
Fourth Grade: DEVELOPING MUSICAL PROFICIENCY
Songs of Norse Mythology, Animals in their natural habitats,
sixteenth notes including eighth-sixteenth division
read, write, play, sing dotted quarter-note rhythms.
Write simple melodies in key of C,F, and G
Sing 3 and 4 part rounds and cannons
complete lower octave, and working on upper octave
Fifth Grade: TOWARDS INDEPENDENT MUSICIANSHIP
Songs of Ancient Cultures,
read, write, sing and play pieces in 6/8 meter
Perform pieces with three independent voice parts
Sixth Grade: EXPLORING VARIATION
alto recorders / cellos
medieval songs and marches
drumming complex, polyphonic rhythms
Seventh Grade: PLAYING TOGETHER, APART.
Songs of exploration and renaissance
full quartet of recorders (Bass, Tenor, Alto, Soprano)
Orchestra (Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass)