Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Steady Beat Is So Important

The first month of school we focus on connecting to the steady beat.  Actually, we do not stop focusing on steady beat after a month -- it is a constant and continual focus!  
In kindergarten, students use body percussion to connect to the beat.  "Body percussion" means clapping hands, patting legs, snapping fingers (always a challenge), and stomping feet.  We find other ways to connect to the beat, too, like nodding our heads, blinking our eyes, and swaying from side to side.  Keeping the beat does not always mean making a sound!  
In first grade, students also connect to the beat, first with body percussion, and then with instruments such as hand drums, rhythm sticks, woodblocks, and cymbals.  They find it a challenge to keep a steady beat on an instrument while speaking or singing at the same time, but it is worth giving it a try!  I often ask them to rub their belly and pat their head to get the idea here.  "That's easy" they always say...
In second grade we began the year with a task to "Create a Rhythm".  I set up a piece of paper with 20 boxes, and every student needed to fill in one box with a one-beat notation, either a "ta" (quarter note), "ti-ti" (pair of eighth notes), or "rest" (we use the letter "z" to indicate a rest).  Students could choose any box that did not already have a notation in it.  At the end we got our composition.  Here is an example of "Create a Rhythm" from a second grade class:
I then took this paper, copied it and cut it up into strips.  We use these 4-beat strips as a pattern to play either using body percussion or play on percussion instruments.  Oh, and we are playing the pattern while singing a song!  So the only thing that connects all this together is STEADY BEAT!!!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A New School Year!!!

Greetings everyone, and welcome to a new school year!  I am very excited to be back in the classroom. I am looking forward to a musically creative year. My hope is that all students will discover they are already music-makers -- now let's see what we can do with that!!!  

Front Garden at Porters Point School

Friday, August 15, 2014

My Summer Travels

Today is August 15th, my 27th Wedding Anniversary with my husband, Ed... We had such a great vacation traveling through Europe back in July. This was my first trip abroad, and it was memorable. What I would like to share here is how I started this vacation -- with my trip to the Orff Institut!

Orff Institut with Untersberg mountain in the background

The front entrance
I travelled by myself to Salzburg, Austria and attended the Orff Institut Summer Course. Although the classes were all taught in English, I met people from all over the world who spoke many other languages besides English. In fact, some participants spoke NO English -- they had interpreters who helped them to understand. What really struck me was how we could all get caught up with language barriers, but once we started to make music together, everyone was involved. I am keeping this thought as a reminder in my classroom this year. Although most students in Colchester speak English, what really involves people is the act of DOING -- not just listening to words all the time. If you are interested in my Orff Institut experience, check out my new page with a special blog I created for that experience: Orff Institut Summer Study. You can access it here or go to that page on this blog. Please feel free to leave comments, too!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer Is Here!!

I have not posted for quite some time, and now it is summer vacation.  I am doing something different this summer -- I'm going to Salzburg, Austria to study music at the Carl Orff Institut!  My classes are all related to teaching music to children, and I just cannot wait to begin!  I look forward to sharing my experiences with you in the Fall...

Happy Summer!!

Carl Orff Institut Salzburg

Friday, May 30, 2014

Essex Children's Choir

I received this great announcement from Connie Price, Founding Director of the Essex Children’s Choir announcing their upcoming performance on Sunday, June 8th, 2014 at 4:30 pm. This performance will be held in the McCarthy Arts Center at Saint Michael’s College.  I am thrilled for my students to have this opportunity to experience such a high quality vocal ensemble!!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Aiken Drum

Do you know the song "Aiken Drum"?  Usually he is made from food ingredients, but today, we "made" him from musical instruments we have in our Music classroom!  Mrs. Plunkett's First Graders help make this version, including the following:

"There was a man lived in the moon, lived in the moon, lived in the moon.
There was a man lived in the moon, and his name was Aiken Drum...

And his head was made of a hand drum, a hand drum, a hand drum...
And his body was made of a washboard...
And his arms were made of maracas...
And his legs were made of jingle sticks...
And his eyes were made of finger cymbals...
And his nose was made of a triangle...
And his mouth was made of sleigh bells...
And his hair was made of rhythm sticks...