Sunday, May 19, 2013

SCC Elementary Titan Singers attend KIDZSING Festival in Sioux City

Performing Hope for Resolution with Paul Caldwell conducting.

“Awesome!” “ Wonderful!” “ Fun!” “Can we come again next year?”

These were comments from the SCC Titan Singers after the day of rehearsals for the KIDZSING Festival in Sioux City on Saturday, May 18. The Siouxland Children’s Choir hosted the festival at the First Presbyterian Church in Sioux City with guest composer/conductors Paul Caldwell and Sean Ivory from southern Michigan and the Chicago area. You can find out more about them at their website.

Encore performance of Little David, Play on Your Harp after a standing ovation. Sean Ivory conducting and Paul Caldwell joining the trap set drummer on the djembe. The audience was standing and clapping along.

The closing concert was fantastic, with a full house, standing ovation and an encore performance.  Besides the Cadet Choir and the Concert Choir from the Siouxland Children’s Choirs, two other choirs attended: the East Middle Choir from Sioux City and a group from the Heartland Children’s Choir of Des Moines. SCC was represented by seven singers from the Titan Singers, so we didn’t perform alone on the program, and we were the youngest group with six third graders and one fourth grader. One other group contained fourth grade singers, but the others were middle school age.

Practicing with Sean Ivory.

“Please tell them how proud of them I was and how hard they worked.” That was the comment from Paul Caldwell after the concert as I left the church. He said he enjoyed working on technique with the SCC singers during our half hour afternoon clinic.

The children grew immensely in their performing ability and in their knowledge of how music works. It was a long day, and a great deal of hard work preparing them to perform music a bit beyond their capabilities, but it was worth every moment of effort to see the joy in their faces during the final performance! Hopefully next year we can take the whole choir!

Hanging out during break time at the Sioux City Public Museum.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

First Grade Adventure Stories

Creative work is always so much fun! In the music room children learn that music tells stories. The official term is "program music", but the first grade level we use sounds and movement to tell the stories.

This piece is based on Bobbie Shaftoe, a short English folksong about a young man who goes off to sea one last time before coming home to get married. The task was to create his last adventure using instrument sounds and movement. After the class came up with the storyline together, they worked in teams to create sound effects to fit the story. These are clips of some of the groups playing their adventure stories.

Mrs Henely's Group 1

Mrs. Henely's Group 2

Mrs. Ricke's Group 1

Mrs. Ricke's Group 2

Mrs. Hucka's Group 1

Mrs. Hucka's Group 2

Mrs. Wuebker's Group 1

Mrs. Wuebker's Group 2

When we put the whole piece together, children alternated singing the song with each group's adventure story. Here's a clip that shows part of a completed piece.

Mrs. Henely's Group 3 with sound and movement

Mrs. Hucka's Group 3 with sound and movement

Monday, April 15, 2013

Kindergarten Music Time

Spring is such a wonderful time in the Kindergarten Music Room! The children skills are really starting to develop, and we get to make some beautiful sounds together. Here Student Teacher Miss Fish is leading a drum exploration with Stormy Day in Mrs. Nicholson's class.

Mrs. Nicholson's Class playing drums

The next clip is of Mrs. Grantham's class showing the beat on a beat sheet for Hey Betty Martin.

Mrs. Grantham's class with beat sheets

In the next clip, Mrs. Frank's class is working on the steady beat on barred instruments to accompany Wake Me, Shake Me.

Mrs. Frank's Class playing barred instruments

The children are really enjoying Miss Fish's teaching time with us. She is finishing her "head teaching" this week, so we'll go back to team teaching next week. It's been fun to have her with us for two months. We'll miss her when she has to leave at the end of April!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Second Graders Play Instruments

Last week we took one of our concert pieces a bit further. These are links video clips of students playing an instrumental version of the ostinato pattern with Alligator Elevator. Mrs McAlexander's class video shows our student teacher, Miss Fish, leading the class.

Mrs. McAlexander's Class playing Alligator Elevator

Mrs. Case's Class playing Alligator Elevator

This week we moved on to work with the keyboards. So far Mrs. Gutshall's and Mrs. Lindeman's classes have played their first song on the black keys beautifully! Unfortunately, since we had early dismissal for conferences, Mrs. Case's and Mrs. McAlexander's classes will have to wait until next week.)

Next we move on to playing keyboard accompaniments, and soon they'll be on to playing melodies. It's an exciting time in the second grade music room!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Second Grade Music Skills

Making music is an activity that is unique to—and essential for—human beings, so the goal is to prepare children for a lifetime of possibilities. As the second graders prepared for their concert I thought about the skills they're working on this year. They are usually presented as parts of games, and the goal is to play with the elements of music to gain understanding. Here is the list:
  • Provide appropriate feedback to performers using musical terminology
  • Demonstrate the ability to keep a steady beat to a song or ostinato
  • Create simple rhythm patterns by using levels of body percussion
  • Understand that notation can represent melodic direction and duration.
  • Use rhythm notation: quarter note and rest, paired eighths, half note and rest,
    whole note and rest, repeat signs
  • Read a 2-verse score
  • Identify instruments of the orchestra by family
  • Create short melodies
  • Sing with expression in a healthy manner with a clear, free tone
  • Improvise rhythmic movement to various styles of music
  • Appropriate audience behavior for 3 to 5 minute musical selections
  • Listen to music from different periods of musical history and understand that music evolved through and relates to history
  • Play traditional and non-traditional instruments
It's also the year they begin to work on ensemble skills—that's making music with other people, not just by themselves. Think of these as music teamwork skills.

Good musical ensembles can . . .
  • Start and stop together
  • Listen to get in the grove
  • Sing and play at the same time
  • Perform harmony
  • Watch the director
 Exposure at this point in their lives will prepare students for whatever musical activities they want to be part of when they’re older. At SCC that usually means choir, band, and maybe piano or guitar. Second grade builds a good foundation.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Time to play the Barred Instruments!

It's that time of year again to play one of the kids' favorite instruments in the music room . . . the barred instruments.

Here's a bit of background information. Sometimes they're called Orff instruments, because Carl Orff (a music teacher in Germany) found the idea on a visit to Africa and had them designed for his students in the mid 1900s. Since then they've spread all over the world. They're a wonderful tool for teaching accompaniment and working on melody playing. They really let students hear what's going on in the music—and they're fun to play!

Here's a short video that explains their names.

Intro to barred instruments

First Graders have been working on accompaniments (come to the concert on March 11 to see their amazing work!) and soon will be playing 3-note melodies.

The Second Grade Class worked on 5-note melodies but they're not ready to share them at their concert. Check in later and hopefully we can post student performance video. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Second Grade Composers

It's been exciting to watch the Second Graders develop this year. We've worked on both rhythm and pitch to get ready for reading music. They've just learned their first scale (a 5-note set called the pentatonic scale which is used in many folk melodies—as well as the black keys on the piano). The children can play melodies pretty well on the barred instruments, and they're almost ready to read from a full 5-line staff.

I decided it was time to do some composing, so each section wrote a melody for a poem about clocks that get up and dance (it's part of a story they'll perform for their concert on February 25). All the melodies turned out to be wonderful, so I enlisted the help of 11 judges to decide which one to use for the concert. The one written by Mrs. Lindeman's class won, but it was a close race. It'll be a beautiful addition to the concert!

All four melodies in their rough draft and final forms.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Kindergarten Sings America

Every year students learn one patriotic song so they'll have a collection from memory before they leave. This week the Kindergarten class worked on America (My Country Tis of Thee). They explore long beats here with scarves in teams, making the scarf wave in time to the music. Most of them can also sing along with the words.