We have recently had discussions on what improvisation is. We had some comedic and dramatic teams do one on one improvisations. Basically whether in the fields of comedy, dramatics or music, improvisation means to make things up, creating something on the spot. We have transferred the essence of these skills to our recorder playing. Today we listened to a chordal accompaniment to our jazz licks. I showed the students how to simply change one thing on these licks, such as the rhythm and, voila, you have a kind of variation on the basic rhythm of the melody of the piece. Creating, as such, can be lots of fun!
Lately, in music classes, we have been learning some rhythmical grooves for playing buckets with sticks. We've learned about producing different sounds by striking various areas on the buckets as well as using different parts of the sticks in order to obtain these sounds. After we got some simple grooves in order, we learned how to make a drum break. The following week we learned to sing a song called "Little Liza Jane" and students were able to create their own bucket part accompaniment to the song. We had a blast!
This year the fourth grade bands from Memorial School and John Lyman School are joining forces in order to present a spring concert on Thursday, June 8th. In addition to the fourth grade bands, the fifth and sixth grade Memorial bands will be performing as part of the program. It will be helpful for fourth grade band students and their parents to hear the fifth and sixth grade bands, so they have an idea of what is able to be accomplished each succeeding year. Speaking of accomplishments, the fourth grade bands in RSD 13 have made quite a bit of progress this year. Just think about it, prior to this past fall most students did not play a band instrument. Now we have the ability to play three special band arrangements!
In order to be ready for our concert, we are having a joint band rehearsal at Memorial School next Thursday, May 25th. The John Lyman Band will be bused to Memorial School. The size of both bands together numbers approximately one hundred students. The pieces that we have been working on are: Samba La Bamba, Snooze Alarm, and Dragon Slayer.
Students in the John Lyman Band will be performing a separate concert for the Lyman community on May 31st. We are all looking forward to these special music events and we hope to see you there. Thanks!
We have been working on our Recorder Karate songs in 4th grade music classes for a few months now at Memorial School. Also, students should be spending some time at home practicing these songs from the Recorder Karate series. I recommend that students spend 10 minutes, two or three days per week practicing the recorder. Has your child played one of the songs for you yet? There is a lot of excitement when a student earns his or her belts. There are nine songs and each song is labeled a certain color belt. The belts range from white on song number one, to black on song number nine. The songs are progressive in difficulty. The first song (white belt) is Hot Cross Buns, and the ninth song (black belt) is Ode to Joy.
Lately many students have been coming to music class without recorders and music. One of our Core Ethical Values in RSD13 is Responsibility. It will help if you give your student a reminder the night before music class to have his/her recorder and music ready for school.
Here is the 4th grade general music schedule:
We have been learning a middle eastern song called Haida in music classes. Haida is in a minor key, but it doesn't sound sad as many songs in minor keys do. The form of the song is AA-BB. Most classes started learning this song before the April break and we have continued working on it since we have been back from our vacation. We learned a fun dance that moves rhythmically to the song. We also learned a drum part that fits well with the song. All the students patched (hands striking thighs) the drum part to the song and some students tried to play it on the drum.
The other day after recess, I was surprised to hear Mrs. Kilroy's class singing Haida in the hallway around the corner from my room. I was so happy that the students remembered and were able to sing the song and also clap in the appropriate spots. I decided to go around the corner over to where the students were sitting in the hallway outside their classroom and see and hear them singing what we learned right before vacation. They were definitely having fun and they were surprised to see me catching them in the act of singing with such joy!
We are learning about form in music while drumming and saying a rhythmical piece called Pick-ups and Chevrolets. I have explained to students that just like an architect has a plan for a new building, a composer has a form/plan for his/her piece.
In this piece we have learned the words, rhythms and even incorporated doing rounds with just the words or rhythms. We are using hand drums on our rhythms. The form of the piece is ABABA. The first A part is just speaking the words in rhythm. The first B section is speaking the words as a round. The second A section is playing the rhythms of the song in unison on our drums. The second B section is playing the rhythms of the song on our hand drums as a round. In the final A section we say the words in unison again.
We are also working on creating a new C section which will be a contrasting section to the A and B parts. This is how composers work, they brainstorm ideas and assess which ideas would work the best. This is a fun project because we are building on our previous skill of being able to sing in a round. Now we are saying and playing instruments in a round as well.
We recently worked on the round Hey Ho Nobody Home in fourth grade music classes. First we learned the words and melody and then we split up into three groups and sang it as a round. It was fun for students to listen to the harmonies created by singing the song as a round. The next class we learned an accompaniment to the same song on Orff instruments. Students were able to read the music for each mallet or drum part. When we added on the vocal portion of the song to our accompaniment, it was a very special collaboration!
Over the past few weeks we have been working on an in class assignment called "Winter Rhythms." Quarter and eighth note rhythms were written on the top of a paper and many words associated with winter were located on the bottom of the sheet of paper. The task for students was to line up each word in the correct column with the actual rhythm of that word. Students worked cooperatively in small groups. Students were also asked to come up with their own winter rhythm words that fit into the rhythms on the page. The following week students were asked to make an accompaniment for the winter rhythms using small percussion instruments. It was fun to see and hear each group perform their "Winter Rhythms" creations for the other students in each class.
This week in music classes we have been learning the dance that goes with our song, Alabama Gal. It is a simplified version of the Virginia Reel, which has been an important part of our American culture since the days of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.
Since we didn't return from the holiday break until Tuesday of this week, I will be teaching the dance to Mrs MacKay's class next Monday.
Next week we will be focusing on our Recorder Karate songs. A big thank you for making sure that your child is practicing the recorder at home and remembering to always bring it to music class. Please check out the Twitter post of Mrs. Kling's class dancing to Alabama Gal.
This past week in 4th grade music classes at Memorial we have been working on a song called Alabama Gal. We accompanied our song with keyboard and non-pitched hand drums as we sang the song. Some of the students in Mrs. Kilroy's class were also able to play the melody on the recorder!
Speaking of recorder, most students are able to play the first two songs in our Recorder Karate Method. Ask your child to sing Alabama Gal or play one of our recorder songs for you. I'm sure they would love the opportunity. Wishing all of you Happy Holidays!