Saturday, October 24, 2015

Tuneful, Beatful, Artful . . . and Play

First Grade playing with movement levels to
create a "Dragonfly Sculpture"
for Poor Little Bug on the Wall.
For about 20 years, I've studied the work of Dr. John Feierabend, who could honestly be called a music education guru at this point in history. His many followers around the country have started a professional development association complete with teacher trainings, conferences, a website, and a Facebook forum. It's a great group and I'm happy to be part of it, but the most exciting thing is that as I spent a couple weeks last summer training to use his curriculum. The part for younger children is called First Steps in Music and the older kids (starting in second grade) use Conversational Solfege.

I'm doing the full implementation with the younger children, and working the older students in gradually as they're ready. TK, Kindergarten and First Grade do activities like "Move It!" where we mirror beautiful movements to match beautiful music in order to feel the artistry the composer shares with listeners. We clap and sing rhythm and pitch patterns with syllables to train brains to understand the language of music so that reading and writing music will be easier later. All of this builds the primary music skills: keeping a steady beat and singing in tune. I'm trying to encourage children to become . . .

Tuneful - able to sing in tune, because everyone who can speak can sing unless there's a severe hearing loss (and even then I've heard people who sing beautifully)

Beatful - a word Dr. Feierabend made up that means to make music with good timing and to be able to listen and stay together with the group

Artful - able to feel the expression of a variety of musical styles and to communicate with musical materials
Kindergarteners playing with
 short and long sound.


These skills build musical independence.

Here is the TK class in Rockwell City demonstrating
beatful and tuneful with the simple song Pitter Patter. They learned it the same day I recorded this.

TK singing Pitter Patter

Play is the other vital piece this year. For years experts have said, "play is the child's work" and "children learn from play". There are so many ways to play in the music room, and this year I'm determined to use as many as possible. Already we've played singing games at every level and student-directed activities for exploring concepts. It's a fun way to teach and learn, but more importantly, the children are becoming more tuneful, beatful, and artful, which means they are gaining musical independence!

Fifth graders did some beautiful work with accelerando, the musical term for speeding up the tempo. Here are a few examples of second grade playing with patterns as they create "Human Machines" in preparation for working with sound patterns called ostinato. Each child used the negative space created by the other people's moving parts and worked together to create a final product that moved together like a machine.

Machine #1



Machine #3


Fourth Graders playing with
sixteenth note rhythms.






Thursday, September 17, 2015

New Beginnings

I'm using some new curriculum materials that build knowledge through the ear and the body, so class starts much differently in the music room this year. Children start singing as soon as they enter the room. The singing circle becomes a movement game circle, and we're off on the learning process! We've already covered steady beat, low/middle/high levels, stationary/traveling movement, and stop/start (in Kindergarten).  It's been wonderful to hear the beautiful harmony in the third, fourth, and fifth grade classes! And the games make it a much more fun-filled way to start class! 

The Kindergarteners are wonderful singers this year! We're learning the Titan Fight Song to get ready for Homecoming, so we made a clip of some excellent singers in Mrs. Grantham's class.

 Titan Fight Song

Here are First Graders creating “string melodies”. They made a shape with the string and used their voices to sing the shape as if it was a melody. This gets them ready to understand how notes go up and down on a staff.















The Second Graders are doing a fantastic job reading rhythms! They remember so much from first grade and are begging for harder notes to read.

Here is a group of Third Graders singing simple harmony on Make New Friends.

Make New Friends

The Fourth Graders did a movement project making human machines. The goal was to work together using stationary movement without sound and create something that has multiple moving parts. Check out this wonderful creativity!

 Machine 1

Machine 2

Machine 3

Machine 4

Machine 5

 Machine 6

Machine 7

The Fifth Graders have been learning accellerando, the musical term for speeding up. Mrs. Folsom's class won the challenge to stay together as we got faster. This is a clip of their top speed on Flea Fly.

Flea Fly

What a great start to the year! What a wonderful bunch of musical kids we have! Until next time . . . keep making music!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

2015-16 Elementary Concert Dates (updated 4th & 5th grade concert date)


Dec 18     4th & 5th Grade     7:00 pm     Middle School Gym

Mar 7       1st Grade               5:30, 6:15, 7:00 pm   Elementary Gym
                           (times for specific sections will be announced later)

Mar 22     Kindergarten         5:30, 6:15, 7:00 pm   Elementary Gym
                          (times for specific sections will be announced later)

Mar 31     2nd & 3rd              6:30 pm       Middle School Auditorium

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer Camp 2015



Music Campers

What a great week we had! Twenty-two children, Mrs. Blair and I spent afternoons together the week of June 15 at the Middle School to sing, play instruments, and folk dance. We created a beautiful production of the Nahua folktale How Music Came to the Earth. Plans are in the works for another camp next year, probably in Lake City.

Closing song
Here is a link to the video of the production (minus the closing song unfortunately, because the iPad recording it ran out of memory).

How Music Came to the Earth video

Here is a link to the story in the Graphic Advocate.

Elementary students sharpen music skills at camp

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

End of Year Projects

Kindergarten has been learning verse/refrain form with some of their favorite songs: Tingalayo, Oh Suzannah, Inch By Inch, Old Joe Clark. Here is a clip of Mrs. Nicholson's class showing that they can find the refrain in a brand new song.

Mrs. Nicholson's class with Mister Rabbit











First Grade learned to use rhythm notation. They've had fun creating their own rhythms and writing down what they can play.




Second Grade is when children learn to sing rounds (a type of vocal harmony where one group begins a song and another group starts the same song a bit later). This was their final assessment. Sometimes the pitch leaves a bit to be desired, but they are holding their parts very well! Click on the links below to see each class.

Mrs. McAlexander's class singing Donkeys Love Carrots

Mrs. Gutshall's class singing French Cathedrals

Third Grade learned Ti Ya Ya and created accompaniment patterns in triple meter for Weather Report. They've worked hard to master triple meter. It's hard because humans are very duple creatures—we don't have three of anything!

Fourth Graders learned the F fingering on recorder with the song Dinah. It's the last part of a longer project we called The Pie Piece. Students created the accompaniment played on the barred instruments for the first part and decided on their favorite types of pie for the middle section. Apologies for the squeaks. Our work time was cut a little short by the early end to the school year.

Click on the links below to see the final performances.

Ms. Stevens' class

Mrs. Maulsby's class

Mrs. Erickson's class

Mrs. Mogler's class

Fifth Grade finished the year with a really cool song after we ran short on time for their theme and variations project. This is a very talented class. As I listened to their band concert, I thought back to all their early efforts learning to keep the beat and match pitch. They've certainly paid off! I wish them the best as I pass them on to Mrs. Blair. I'm hoping to hear some of their names on the All-State list in a few years!

Click this link to download Rhythm of Life sung by Mrs. Dettmann's class. It plays very nicely on iTunes.

Have a good summer, everyone! I'll see you in the fall!



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Titan Elementary Summer Music Camp

Looking back at the posts this year I can see I've been a terrible blogger. More consistency would definitely be more interesting!

Looking ahead, though, there are exciting plans for summer!


Titan Elementary Summer Music Camp

Who:         SCC students going into Grades 3 & 4 
                  Titan Orff Ensemble players
When:       June 15-19, 2015   12:30-3:30 pm
Where:      Middle School Choir Room

There is no cost to attend!

Come to sing, dance, and play barred instruments and recorders with Mrs. Panning and Mrs. Blair! Bring a snack and water bottle for break time.

On Friday families and friends are invited to a bring-your-own picnic supper at 5:00 followed by the performance on Friday about 6:00 pm. 

To sign up, contact Mrs. Panning at the Elementary Building before the last day of school on May 28.