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.