Son Macaron

This week has been my spring break.  It's been wonderful: relaxing and full of time with my husband and two kids.  But regardless of if I am on a break or not, my mind always floats around school things.  It's definitely a blessing that I love what I do!!

I mentioned yesterday that I am behind in my curriculum.  With 4th grade, by this point in the school year, I would have presented high do, ti-TA-ti (syn-co-oa), tam-ti and ti-tam and would be working on presenting and practicing fa.  I love teaching fa; there are so many great songs.  Songs that incorporate movement ("Wishy, Washy," "The Noble Duke of York", "Alabama Gal", "Skipping Rope Song"), part-singing ("Above the Plain," Oh How Lovely," "Make New Friends", "Chairs to Mend"), improvisation ("Mama Lama," "I Don't Care if the Rain Comes Down") and songs that tell stories ("Daughter Will You Marry," "Father Grumble," "When I First Came to This Land," "The Snake Baked a Hoecake," The Gypsy Rover").  I prepare and present fa through the descending melodic phrase of "so-fa-mi-re-do."  After this pattern is taught we start exploring fa though other melodic patterns and intervals.  

One of my favorite fa practice songs is "Son Macaron."  If you look at the rhythm: it is very simple but reinforces tam-ti, which is a 4th grade concept.  The other thing that I love about it is it's great practice for mi-fa-so & mi-fa-so-la patterns. In fact, the whole song, with the exception of the last four measures, really isolates these pitches.  An added bonus?  It has a game that is familiar to the students, with an added level of difficulty!

Formation: circle (seated or standing- I find that with the number of "eliminations" that occur with this game it is best to stand)

  1. Players have their left hand with the palm side up.  Their right hand is placed in their neighbor's left hand.
  2. While singing the song, the leader crosses over his/her body with his/her right hand to clap the right hand of the neighbor to the left (just like "Aquaqua" or "Down By the Banks"), who then passes the beat to the left and so on around the circle.
  3. On "tip, tip, tip" the person passing the beat claps the rhythm instead (3 claps) and the same for "tap, tap, tap."
  4. On the word "out," the person about to receive the beat tries to pull his/her hand away so as not to get tapped.  If tapped, that person is out and goes into the middle of the circle.  If he/she pulls their hand out, then the person trying to tap is out and goes into the middle of the circle.  Once there are three players in the middle, a new circle starts of "outed" players in the middle.   Play continues so that a game is going on in both circles.  Once the inside circle has more players then the outside, the circle switch places and the players who get out in the original circle (now the middle circle) join the outside circle until there is a winner.
  5. Once students have learned the song very well, there is an added twist: if the player that is to pat the rhythm on "tip, tip, tip" or "tap, tap, tap" forgets to tap the rhythm he/she is out.  And likewise, if the person who is to have the rhythm tapped on their hand if out if he/she forgets and pulls their hand too early.

Miss Miss

This is my 14th year teaching elementary music but my first year at Red Hawk Elementary in Erie, CO.  We opened this year and it was exciting, challenging, draining but also incredibly wonderful all at the same time.  As a result, I'm behind as to where I usually am in my curriculum (which is expected your first year in a new school).  

One grade that I SHOULD not be behind with, yet I, am is first grade.  I usually have prepared and presented so-mi by now and we would be well into our practice stage and into preparation for la.  Part of the reason we're behind is because I see my first graders on a 4 day rotation, so they essentially get music once a week.  The other part is we are coming off a concert.  While I tried to incorporate songs that would help with so-mi in their concert music (Starlight, Starbright, for example), we have a lot of catch up to do.

This leads me to "Miss Miss".  Last year I was growing tired of the "same old" so-mi songs that I'd been using.  You know, we've all done them and the kids love them: "Snail, Snail," "Apple Tree (1st phrase)," "Bluebells, Cockle Shells," "Doggie Doggie," "Engine, Engine," "Hey, Hey Look at Me," "Lemonade,""Rain, Rain," See Saw," etc.  There's a reason why the kids love them (they're tried and true!) but after three lessons a rotation times 13 years of teaching I needed something new.  So, who do I ask for a new idea?  My mom, of course!  My mom is also an elementary music teacher (she was MY elementary music teacher) AND we did four levels of Kodály together at P.S.U..  She turned me onto "Miss Miss."

GREAT so-mi song- it's not a "pure" so-mi" song, but the first two measures are easy to isolate and the rhythms are all known rhythms.  I love that it reinforces rest, which is the rhythmic concept that I teach before so-mi.  

Here's the song:

Here's the game:
Formation:  seated circle
Actions and how I teach it:

  1. have the students listen to the song while following a steady beat action. (repeat a couple times, switching the beat location.  If you're familiar with John Feierabend he will remind you to have two beats in one place and two beats in another to reinforce meter; or as he says "here and there".)
  2. have the students listen to the song while following a steady beat action that alternates locations on their bodies (ie. head-shoulders, knee-knee, hand-elbow, etc.- with one beat placed in each location.  The previous step has two beats in each location before alternating.)
  3. have the student listen to the song while following a stead beat action that alternates between both hands on their placed at their waist on the first beat of the pattern to both hands on their knees for the second beat of the pattern.  VERY similar to step 2 but specific in the body placement. 
  4. have the students repeat the actions above while the teacher demonstrates the ball pattern: using a playground ball, the ball starts on the side of the body by the knees.  On the first beat, the ball is rolled back by the waist then for the second beat it is rolled forward by the knees.  This alternates throughout the song.  
  5. Students add the ball action.  I usually only have two balls to start with so the students will take turns for a couple rotations.
  6. For the game:
    1. Two students, on opposite sides of the circle, each have a ball and there is an empty two-liter bottle placed standing up in the middle of the circle.
    2. All students perform the body actions while the students with the balls perform the ball actions.
    3. On the final rest of the song, when the ball should roll forward to the knees, the ball is released and aimed at the two-liter bottle in the middle of the circle.  The goal is to be the first (or sometimes only) person the knock the bottle over with their ball.
    4. Once this is mastered (obviously NOT in the same lesson) it could be tried with more balls.  Or it could be played in a longways sets with everyone paired up with a partner, bottle and two balls (depending on the space in your room).
And that is "Miss Miss"!

Starting a Blog via Rondo Alla Turk

I've noticed a lot of music teachers have set up blogs in order to share ideas and to improve their teaching. I have decided to jump on the bandwagon!

First of all, I LOVE teaching music and one of my favorite concepts to teach is the "tika-tika" family.  You know, good old sixteenth notes.  Maybe it's my flute player past that makes me so fond of them or maybe I'm just quirky that way!  I teach tika-tika (four sixteenths) and their combinations tika-ti and ti-tika (double sixteenth-eighth note and vice verse) in the third grade.

After following the three P's of the Kodály method (preparation, presentation and practice) of tika-tika I love having the students read Rondo Alla Turk by Mozart as a late practice activity.  After reading the rhythms via a powerpoint, we add body percussion: the "ta's" (quater notes) are stomps on the feet, the "ti-ti's" (eighth notes) are claps and the "tika-tika's" (you know, those good old sixteenth notes) are patted on the leg with alternating hands.  The thing that's tricky about having students read the rhythms to Rondo Alla Turk is that, in my sequence, students have not learned about anacrusis yet so they must read it without barlines.

I'm a visual person so here's how the orinigal looks:

 And here is how I modified it to make it accessible for my 3rd graders to read:
 Here are the other two main themes:

The 4th theme is a flurry of sixteenth notes.  Given that I can even get lost in there (or so I tell the students) we do a follow the beat of the teacher activity during that section.

Another added variable to this activity is the speed of the recording that you use.  Try searching many examples in iTunes to find one that you like.  You will want to copy and paste the slides from the PDF that I posted below into a powerpoint so you can add your audio file.  I did not post the ppt to this as I used the MusicEd Font for it and not everyone has that.  If you haven't heard of MusicEd Font, you need to buy it: it'll be one of the best $25 you'll ever spend.

I have saved the whole powerpoint as a PDF in Google docs and any one should be able to access it by clicking here.  If for some reason it doesn't work please send me a comment.  Now, I will preface this with the fact that I usually do this activity in the fall so you might want to hang onto it for October! :)
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