In our first musical week together, our focus was building community and establishing ways of working together in learning and making music. As this is my fourth year at Gold Rush, it is taking me less time to work on names. It is still a challenge to instantly recall over 600 students plus teachers, but I think it's really important so I work hard at that.
- Kindergartners learned a Circle Song - "Such a Making a Circle" that helps give us a routine for starting each music class. We changed the words for different 'beat' ideas - like clapping, stomping, patting, etc. Students experienced beat by walking and running as they took turns in "Let's Go Walking". The sound of the tambourine matched their footsteps and each student's names were added to a chart, designating how many claps (or syllables) are in their name. In addition, students explored the movement space with different steps, accompanied by tambourine or recorder. Since not everyone got a solo turn for "Let's Go Walking" that will continue until everyone is on our clap chart.
- First Graders experienced matching their footsteps to the sound of the temple blocks in a listening/movement/reaction game called move and stop. They learned a new song called "Welcome Back to School". We added some movement - including traveling on some phrases, not moving, but adding body percussion - filling in the gaps in the song, and greeting one another with a hand shake or waving. Over the course of the week we used this song as a mixer and added an extended ending with body percussion in a 4 beat sound and silence pattern. We worked with the musical symbols for one beat of sound and one beat of silence (Tah and Rest). We did this with movement and reading and writing music notation. We also learned a Play Party (Americana singing/movement game) called "Jump, Jim, Joe".
- Second Graders also matched their footsteps to the sound of the temple blocks in the listening/movement/reaction game called move and stop - exploring various steps and rhythms like skipping, galloping, jogging, walking and a slow sneak. They revisited the song "Welcome Back to School" as a mixer, greeting different partners each time. When we added the body percussion sound/silence pattern to extend the song with a partner, we figured out how the pattern would be written down with musical symbols for sound and silence (tah and rest). We worked further with tah - rest patterns in movement, and with notation - both reading patterns and writing them down with stick notation. Near the end our week together, we learned a new Play Party (singing/movement game) called Cut the Cake. We'll do more work with that song in our next rotation as we focus on rhythm.
- Third, Fourth and Fifth Graders all began with the movement/listening/reaction game Move and Stop - exploring the space, with various steps and tempos. Our first day together we sorted ourselves on a continuum based on our preferences (ranging from a strong like to strong dislike) to various prompts - such as singing, drumming, moving to music, listening to music, performing, working in groups, and working alone. We discovered that no two people are exactly alike. We had a circle talk about what rules or structures help us as learners to enable our best learning and working together. We also played a listening/movement game called Beat You Walk, Rhythm You Drop. The majority of our work together for week one involved creating musical components to go with a poem:
Good, Better, Best - Never let it rest - 'Til your good is better and your better is your best.
The first time, after warming up with Move and Stop in two teams - one moving only to quarter notes (tah/walk) and one moving only to eighth notes (run / tee-tee), students were asked to work with a partner to create a 4 beat pattern body percussion pattern using only those notes. Somewhere within the 4 beats there needed to be a partner clap of some kind. The four-beat pattern was then extended to 8 beats. We shared those patterns so that we could extend our movement vocabulary by watching others' ideas. The first 8 beats were stationary and only used movements done from the knees up. Next students created an 8 beat traveling pattern (away/toward or around/turning) to do with their partners. The poem was added to go with this created choreography. The next day after reviewing the poem and created choreographies with their partner, students stayed with their partner, but the whole class was divided into 3 larger groups. Following a mini-lesson on creating a Word-Chain with Rhythmic Building Bricks, the larger group worked to create two or three phrases (made up of two 2-beat blocks or one block repeated) and to structure that into a 16 beat phrase using an elemental form - aaab, abab, aabb, aaba, abca or abac. These became contrasting sections within a larger Rondo form in a speech piece. The next day after reviewing each of these previously created components (the choreography, and the word chain), students reviewed the poem and learned to play the rhythm as a hand drum piece. Some groups even tried it in a Rhythmic Canon (an echo that interrupts). The small groups then worked to transfer their word chain rhythms over to untuned percussion instruments such as claves, jingle bells, maracas or rasps. We put together the word chain rhythms with the poem text played on hand drums. The final take was structuring a was to bring all of these parts together. Each class's final 'performance' was their own structure / form for linking all of these components. Although most were not recorded as I did not have my school ipad yet, a few examples may be seen on the In the Spotlight page.
In the coming rotation 'week 2' (August 29-September 15) the Musical Headline will be Beat or Pulse. We will continue to work with sound/silence plus beat groupings (Meter) and also evenly divided beats, and mixing those together for Rhythm.