Musical Road Trip: Part Work (part 1)

Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope that you've been enjoying the "Blog Hop" that's been progressing over the past couple weeks!

 I'm so excited to be the 4th stop on the Music Road Trip!!  

I'm excited about the topic that I'm blogging about today and it's something that has been a goal of mine to incorporate more and more in my elementary music classes: PART WORK!  Now, for the purposes of this blog I'm only going to concentrate on rhythmic part work.  (I'll be honest, I started this post and it got REALLY long, lol!)  So, next week I'll finish it up with some melodic part work.

When I first first started teaching and heard part work I was a little overwhelmed.  And let's face it, part work, in which the students are performing independently in two or more parts, is a little daunting.  But, there is definitely a sequence and a hierarchy in which part work can be taught with success.

Before a teacher can expect students to be successful at part work they MUST do a couple of things. First and foremost, the teacher must sing FOR the students, not WITH the students.  This is the hardest skill, as a teacher, to do!  I know there are times when I want to jump in and "save the song" while the students are attempting to perform a song but it's so important to resist that urge.  By singing FOR them and NOT WITH them a teacher encourages musical Independence, which is the other key to teaching part work.  

These two concepts and practices, singing FOR the students and musical Independence, should be introduced when students are very young.  I begin this the first day of kindergarten with students echoing what I say.  Now, you could argue that a very simple echo or an echo song is not part work, but in a very primary way  it is: one part is the leader and one is the echo.  This starts to lay a foundation and set an example that the teacher and the students are separate.  (When you sing WITH the students the students not only aurally become dependant on your vocal model but subconsciously make a connection that the teacher's voice is NEEDED for them to be able to sing as a group).)

As your kindergarten students, or students in any grade level, begin to learn song literature the simplest way to start incorporating part work is to have them keep a steady beat while singing a song.  This is a very primary way to incorporate part work but there are two things happening at the same time: singing and beat keeping.  This then progresses into the students tapping the rhythm as they sing a known song.

Once the students can sing a song and keep a beat and sing a song while tapping the rhythm it's time to combine the two.  I first do this by having the students sing the song and pat the beat while I tap the rhythm as they sing.  I like to have them pat the beat first because it is a bigger gross motor skill and for my visual learners (while they should in internalizing the beat) can also see the beat better than then rhythm and stay together as a group.  Once they can do this we switch, they tap the rhythm and I keep the beat.  From there, the teacher steps out of the picture completely, except to start the group, and one have taps the rhythm while the other pats the beat.  When this is done it's important to switch parts so that all students have the change to pat the beat and tap the rhythm.  Once students can do this, small groups then tap the rhythm and pat the beat or perform them on various non-pitched percussion instruments.  The more experiences and exposure to these types of activities early on the better!

After much practice of beat vs. rhythm I move into rhythm ostinatos.  The easiest is via body percussion with quarter notes (pat-pat-clap-clap, or some other simple beat pattern alternating between body parts).  The next is to incorporate rests into the pattern (ta-rest-ta-rest) and then add eighth notes (ti-ti ta ti-ti ta).  Once the first rhythm patterns have been presented, late practice is a great time for students to read rhythm ostinatos while singing known songs.  This is a great use for your 4 beat flashcards.  Pull one out that has a known rhythm

Rhythm canons are next in my sequence.  I start these by saying chants in canon with the students.  They start and then I come in second.  We do this numerous times before I start and they come in second.  The reason for this is that they need to hear when their entrance is by me modeling it.  After that we will use a song for the basis of our canon.  These are a little trickier.  Here's how I break it down.  The students will sing a song and then I start tapping the rhythm of the song that they're singing 2 or 4 beats after they start.  We then switch, but this is harder because they're hearing me sing and tapping something different.  From there, we do like before and split the class.  This can be done with known songs and with reading new, unknown patterns from a visual.  There are MANY variations that you can do with rhythm canons and Ann Eisen and Lamar Robertson go into it in great detail in their book, An American Methodology.

From there, we go into putting two songs together. One of my favorites is to have the students sing Apple Tree while I chant "I Climbed Up the Apple Tree."  We then switch and then the class divides in two and perform it without me performing a part.  Another example would be "Busy Buzzy Busy Bee" and "Burnie Bee".  

With all the skill listed above, as the students have more experience, the levels of difficulty can be increased.  This year I made a couple of files just for practicing part work.  The first one was the "Broken Hearts Club" and it was a cumulative exercise where first students would read small 4 beat patterns individually and then at the same time: 

After 4 beat patterns, they would read 8 beat patterns together (practicing them individually first):

And then finally 16 beats, individually practiced first and then we would put them together:

The thing I LOVED about this file is all the patterns are songs that we did in class: you'll notice above all the slides are the same songs- the blue is "The Canoe Song" and the red is "Black Snake."

The next file I made was this spring and my 2nd graders couldn't get enough of it. I'll admit, it was challenging though!  These are my Every Birdie Loves Rhythm Files.

Here they chose between a solo, duet or trio of rhythms.  If they chose a solo it was just a single 8 beat line.

If they chose duet there were two parts.  They'd practice part 1:

Then part 2:

Then put them together:  (This is Paw Paw Patch (purple) and Dinah (Orange.)  They LOVED figuring out which songs the rhythms belonged to):

And the trios has three parts.  Part 1:

Part 2:

And part 3:

And finally they put them together.  With the trips I started to mix known songs with contrived rhythms to keep them on their toes.  I had 3 of my 4 classes want to do only trios!  

I'll blog next week about some melodic ideas for part work.  If you have a blog post or product that talks about or supports part work (flashcards, etc.) please link up below!  All products linked up below are 25% off through Sunday morning.

My Broken Hearts Club BUNDLED SET will be 25% off in honor of this sale!

Thank so much for visiting the previous stops with Aileen at Mrs. Miracle's Music Room, Karla at C Major Learning and Jena at Sew Much Music.  Next Sunday we'll stop with Malinda at My Musical Menagerie before we come to our final stop (at which all the bloggers listed will blog about a little surprise!).


    An InLinkz Link-up

a Kodaly inspired blog Amy Abbott Colorado music elementary teacher ideas files downloads
music a la abbott music education teacher resources teaching elementary kodaly musical concepts teachers pay teachers amy abbott

The End of the School Year, Time to Renew and Refresh

Phew!  I know a lot of you are just starting summer vacation (sorry Aussie friends, I know you're in winter right now).  We've been on summer vacation for 2 weeks now.  We are one of the school districts that let our before Memorial Day.... but we go back mid-August.

All I can say is:

Yes, summer vacation was much needed this year because:

It seems like every year I add more and more to my plate.  And as these two monkeys grow

It gets harder and harder to find a balance between family, faith, school, TpT and blogging.  And unfortunately blogging was the ball I dropped this year.

You see, my oldest was in second grade this year and he attends the same school at which I teach.  It is pretty fun getting the mid-day walk by and check in after lunch from my little "Joe Cool":

And my youngest attended preschool at my school on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.  It was a juggling act because someone different picked her up each day and we're lucky enough that both grandmas took a day and a favorite auntie took the third.  We're extremely blessed that a dear family friend, lovingly referred to as Nana, took care of her on Tuesday and Thursday.

 In addition to my normal teaching day I've always taught choir two mornings before the school day and hand bells two mornings before the school day.  Because I had so many 4th graders sign up for the 4th grade group I added an after school choir.  This usually goes year round but this year I decided to put on a musical.  Thank goodness I have an AMAZING colleague who teaches 2nd grade in my building that has a theatre degree and an AMAZING parent volunteer who has a doctorate in musical theater.  Together, the three of us worked with the kids to put on Seussical the Musical, Jr.  All I can say is it was SO much work and SO rewarding:

 We had such an amazing time doing it that we're tackling The Music Man Jr. next year- the kids at school are so excited!

So, between school, my kiddos and trying to work out (my baby IS going into kindergarten and the evidence her birth that is still around my midsection has GOT to go) led to me neglecting this blog.  My goal is to get back into a blogging rhythm, with hopefully a blog post a week (maybe more?).  We'll see.  

Now to the title of this post.  There are two summer goals for myself this summer, to "renew" and "refresh."

Renew.  Okay, I think I can do this one.  Here are my renewing goals:
*  exercise and take some alone time each day.  Those of you that are parents know this is like trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat, it takes so magic.  Thank goodness my husband is also a teacher and home on summer break too.
*  PLAY with my kids.  I spend all day singing, teaching and playing with other peoples children that by the time I get home it's time to feed my two, give them baths and send them to bed.  Not that I don't love my school kids, but my own two need and deserve some quality time.

Refresh, this one has both personal and professional goals in mind.
*  We're remodeling our kitchen!  It's going to be a lot of work but it'll be so refreshing to have the cabinets that are falling apart replaced with new ones.  We'll be putting in new counter tops, floors and appliances.  We're SO excited!
* Professionally, I'm working on song file bundles.  This has been on my "to-do" list forever!  I'm working on the rest bundle now.  Once I get all of them done my goal is to go back and refreshed the ta ti-ti set and the so-mi set.

My son also wants to help with more games.  This spring he helped me conceptualize and make two different games: Hunting for Bigfoot 

 and School's Out!

 The Bigfoot set was so much fun and my 4/5 students were working on recorders that I made this set too:

I know some of you are still in school and not yet ready to Renew and Refresh, so the School's Out bundle is 50% off for today and tomorrow!  This is one of my favorites as it's like a poison game with a twist.  There are opportunities for the students to read the 16 beat rhythmic notation of known songs.  I love the Bigfoot files because they are cumulative and the students end up reading a 16 beat pattern as they hunt for Bigfoot but you also have a chance to test their musical memory by having them recall and perform the 16 beat pattern before they return to the game's "camp site."

I hope you all are having a wonderful Sunday!  I'll be back to blog soon!  If I don't, hold me accountable! 

a Kodaly inspired blog Amy Abbott Colorado music elementary teacher ideas files downloads
music a la abbott music education teacher resources teaching elementary kodaly musical concepts teachers pay teachers amy abbott
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