I've had a request to blog about my CMEA sessions, as well as how I organize all my manipulatives (and there are a lot). I assure you those are coming, however, I was at home with two sick kids yesterday and today (however, today they're better and I'm feeling sick, UGH!).
So, since I have been feeling self guilt about not blogging and have been struggling with an original idea for a blog post I thought I'd talk about what's on my mind: concert planning. My third graders have a concert in March and my 1st graders and 2nd graders each have a concert in April, in addition to two more choir & handbell concerts. (Thank goodness I plan my 4th and 5th grades in the fall, other wise it leads to a crazy, busy spring!)
My third graders have been asking me since the beginning of the school year about when they'd start their concert music. They CAN'T wait to start, which we did last week. Now, I see them on a four day rotation (which is basically once a week) so that doesn't leave me much time. However, I have a very flexible technology teacher who is going to allow me to have her classes three days a week for four weeks. This means that three times a week I'll have double classes. And they'll always come with the same class so when we work on the last two songs mentioned in this post they'll be learning the same part as their partner-class.
Now, I'll admit that I usually do one or two "novelty" songs per concert. Songs that they kids adore and are songs that they've heard or are excited about. These are my "bait and hook." They've been DYING to sing "Roar" and "What Does the Fox Say." Well, knowing that I really want good literature but you also want students to feel ownership of their concert, I agreed. (All you Kodály teachers don't bash me, please!) We've changed the register of some of those two songs and transposed them from their original keys (although "What Does the Fox Say" wasn't too badly pitched and I love that some of those fox sounds are getting my 3rd graders into a very nice head voice). So, after I agreed I challenged them to think of a "theme," something that would tie those songs into other songs and without hesitation they said "animals."
When planning concert repertoire for a grade level concert, I've already mentioned that I'll include a "novelty" piece but there are some other things that I look for:
- How can what they are learning in the classroom by supplemented and enhanced by the concert repertoire?
- How can instruments be added?
- Is there a chance for soloists?
- How is part work incorporated?
- How's the variety of tempos and tone from song to song?
- How will the song appeal to them and the audience?
- These are all in addition to looking at the range, age appropriateness, etc.
The rest of the concert I want to tie into concepts that we're working on in class. Well, we all know there are a gazillion animals songs to choose from. So, here's what we're going to sing:
- "Who Killed Cock Robin" (perfect for low la in third grade)
- "Frog Went A-Courtin'" (nice ti-tika and tika-ti's in there), and we'll have some solo singing on the verses. (this is two fold: it gives an opportunity for soloists and cuts down on the amount of lyrics students have to memorize)
- "Crawdad Song" in which we're going to use fish paddles, similar to these to perform the rhythmic pattern "ti-ti tika-tika ti-ti ta" at the end of each phrase. The ball is cut off they'll use chop sticks on the back to make the fish look like their "jumping" when they play them (this idea is stolen from my good friend, Loretta!)
- "Why Doesn't My Goose", we'll sing it with a bordon on Orff Instruments and as a round.
- "The Fox Went Out On a Chilly Night", and a student will accompany on piano. I do have a lot of piano players so I try to have at least one try to accompany one song per concert. We simplify the piano part and it's a lot of fun for them to have that chance to show what they've been learning in their private lessons.
There are two more songs that I really want to challenge them with. Next year they'll be able to join the before school choir and this is a really musically strong class so we're going to do two choral octaves.
The first is "The Tale of Two Toads":
I first learned this when the West Salem's Honor Choir did it when I was teaching in Oregon. It's super fun, provides opportunity for tone-color and mood and is very accessible for them. If you don't know it, it's about two toads who get stuck in a bowl of cream. One was a pessimist and one was an optimist. The pessimist gives up, while the optimist swims around and around, turning the cream into butter and hops right out of the bowl.
The other I wasn't sure what I was getting when I ordered it. I LOVE the "Tailor and the Mouse" so I was excited when I found this at JW Pepper:
It's very accessible to them. It doesn't go through all the verses but the parts are counter parts so they'll be easy to put together. And the kids are so excited to be reading from a choral score!
I'd love to know what are some of your ideas around grade level concert planning! Please share in the comments! :)
Have a GREAT Friday tomorrow!