Hello folks. We are wrapping up the week on a high note. Friday has been a really fun day!
This week was another week of patriotic music, as the kindergartners prepare for their show at the end of May. We also added a new song, "This Little Light of Mine." Kindergartners learned the song, helped to create motions to go with it, and then played along with themselves singing it on ukulele.
It's been so fun to sing along with the patriotic music. The songs we're working on are great, with lots of motions to go with them, and the kids love it.
The other valuable and important aspect of these songs is that they help kids forge an identity as a citizen of their community. One of our favorites is "We Are All Americans," whose chorus reminds them that everyone in the room, no matter how different they are, no matter their age, no matter what their ethnic heritage, we are all part of the same community. The song encourages them to look to what unites us, rather than fixate on what divides—and learning these messages in a song helps to imprint the important message of unity not just in their heads, but also in their hearts. Here are some of the lyrics:
Listen up, We are American
And we have our American dreams
Listen up, We are American
And you can bet that we know what it means
We have our freedom, We have our choices
We have the right to raise our all-American voices
Me and you and you and you and you and you and
Me and you and you and you and you
We are all American, All American, All American
Me and You
Happy Cinco De Mayo!
I wish I could say we sang the folks songs of Mexico this week to help celebrate this important Mexican holiday, but instead, the kindergarten remained focused on the patriotic songs for the upcoming Patriotic Show, at the end of March.
This week in music class, we reviewed the songs from last week, and added three more:
Below are two documents we created this week. One is the notice that went home about upcoming music and arts events, and the other is a handout for students and their grownups about how to practice, so that they can learn better and more efficiently.
Have a great weekend!
Happy Arbor Day, everyone! Not exactly a heavily celebrated holiday out there in the world, but we are definitely observing it here at Nathaniel Morton. Next week, on Tuesday May 2, the first graders will plant a tree on the NMES grounds, and will have a small ceremony with poetry and singing. So, to support that, this week in music, kindergartners and first graders alike have been learning three tree songs to prepare for that ceremony.
Arbor Day "Tree" Songs:
Also, this week, kindergarteners are starting to learn patriotic songs for their upcoming patriotic show at the end of May. This week, we worked on three songs: You're A Grand Old Flag, Thankful for the USA, and I Love My Country, the latter of which also has sign language to accompany the singing.
This Week's Patriotic Songs:
Next week we'll also add:
Patriotic music will remain the focus of our kindergarten and first grade music classes through the month of May, in preparation for Memorial Day. Check out our Classroom Songs page to find the songs we're singing in class.
Have a great weekend!
Well, hello all. I didn't realize it had been a month since I'd last updated you! We spent the last month learning Irish songs in honor of St. Patrick's season, and in preparation for a big Irish concert the Lindsays did at the school on March 16. The kids learned "Molly Malone," "The Rattlin' Bog" and "Charlie on the MTA" and by all counts, they loved it. IT was a wonderful month and I think I'm still recovering! I returned from St. Patrick's weekend expecting them to be "all done" with Irish music, and instead, kids were asking to sing the songs again. And so we did! Lots of fun.
Also, in the month of March, Mrs, Fonseca and I attended a three-day conference of the Massachusetts Music Educators Assocation. Some 1,600 school music teachers from across the state convened in Boston for three days of workshops, concerts, master classes, and more. We came back totally inspired.
Since that conference, we've been trying out a lot of the techniques and ideas we learned there. These include more singing of Do, Mi, Sol (the notes of the most common chords we hear in all music, every day). I'm focusing now on getting the kids to learn to sing in tune and on key, and also be able to hear and play patterns they hear. We're doing this exercise, called "Call and Response" both with rhythms and with singing patterns.
Also, you may have heard, we're working on ukuleles, adding skills one string at a time. Learning music takes repeated practice and so we are sure to include ukulele instruction into every class session where it appears that the kids can handle it. Sometimes the classes are a little too active for the focused work it would require to learn uke, but that's always determined on the day ... every day is very different!
In the meantime, we try to keep our focusing on learning and having fun.
Hello! It's the Friday before school vacation, and I can tell from a day full of very wiggly kindergarten and first graders that we are all ready for it! We didn't do an update last week because of the snow days, so this week's update is a two-week combo.
The goals of the last two weeks were to add to our repertoire of American folk songs, sing in the correct pitch, and continue to work on playing to and moving in a steady beat.
Inspired a bit by Lady Gaga's intro at the Superbowl Halftime show, we worked on the song "This Land Is Your Land," singing the first first and chorus of this American classic. Then, we played along to the song with our djembes, which are small African drums, with one half of the group keeping a steady beat while the other sang the song. We then continued our exploration of the steady beat by continuing to play on the drums along with other songs we've learned, which gave us a chance to review "Oh Susannah," "Comin' Round the Mountain," "Down by the Riverside," "You Are My Sunshine," and others.
We also played a game called "Lucy Locket" and also worked on moving in a circle in time to the beat with the song "Sally Go Round the Sun." As always, we frequently add in stories, other songs, and other games, as I see fit depending on any given group's energy at any given time!
Lots of fun being had, while learning is happening underneath. In addition to the musical skills we're working on, we're learning about how to work as a group, cooperate, and express ourselves. And of course, by learning to move to a steady beat, we're making sure that we will eventually look great on the dance floor when that day comes! :)
The goal: Let's banish those phrases, "I can't sing" and "I can't dance," from our vocabulary forever!!
Hi all! This week, our new songs for kindergarten and first grade included a new circle game "Lucy Locket" and, in some classes, a ukulele club song called "Down by the Riverside," which is a traditional American folk song.
Click the link about Lucy Locket to see a video of the game we play, though the version on that page shows you some music teachers learning the game. The objective of the game is to sing in tune, but more importantly to learn how to move in time to a steady beat.
My favorite part of this week was the spontaneous conga line that erupted in one of the first grade classes, while kids were listening to and dancing to this version of "Down by the Riverside." Kids love it! You can get the lyrics and chords over here on our Classroom Songs page.
Hi everyone! This week we continued to work on our American folk songs that we know, and added a few more. This week's songs included:
Also this week we have been learning about counting to the beat in groups of 4 (i.e., "1, 2, 3, 4") with the emphasis on the "1." This is the underlying pulse for most of the music we hear every day, and it's good for students to develop an intuitive sense of the "1" -- what we call the downbeat. In kindergarten and first grade, we are not as concerned about the specific vocabulary around these musical concepts, but instead our focus is on developing an intuitive sense of what that pulse feels like. We do this by movement patterns such as "clap on 1, and pat your legs on counts 2, 3, and 4".
Another skill you may be surprised to hear we are learning is circle movement. Since the beginning of the year, children have continued to learn how to make a circle as a group without relying on the helpful shape of a circular rug or markings on the floor. Now that they can mostly do that without too, too much chaos (you'd be surprised at how much chaos can ensue when I say, "Ok, let's make a circle!"), we are working on walking around that circle as a group. Not as simple a task as you would think... but we want to develop that skill from kindergarten, because the folk games and dances we'll work on with the kids as they move into higher grades depends on that very basic—but not so intuitive—skill.
So this week's games relied on movement in circles: "I Let Her Go-Go" and "Sally Go Round the Moon."
Have a great weekend!
This week, we continue our romp through some American classics, including Oh Suzanna, She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain, Bill Grogan's Goat, and You Are My Sunshine. We learned new words to these songs last week, and this week we are adding rhythm sticks to our repertoire, learning to tap out rhythms on two thin sticks, while continuing to sing and really memorize the words to these songs.
By adding a new skill to a known song, we continue to learn the words while also adding a new skill, making our musical engagement more sophisticated, and also more fun! We continue to explore movement to the beat by creating simple folk-style dances, too.
We're reading song-based picture books of many folk songs, and we're also playing a fun group movement game from Trinidad and Tobago, called "I Let Her Go-Go." We do a lot of repetition of songs, games, and other exercises in kindergarten and first grade in order to truly ingrain the skills in our minds. This makes the learning "deeper," rather than "broader."
There's a lot of improvisation in the classes. Rather than setting up a firm lesson plan and sticking to it rigidly, I'll often respond to each classroom's energy on any given day and adjust the lesson, sometimes giving kids an opportunity to sing solo songs, make up words, teach the class words to a song, or try out new movements to old songs. Working with their energy helps to ensure that the lesson fits the students exactly where they are best able to learn on any given day.
PBS created a great special with early childhood music educator John Feieraband and a slew of terrific American musicians. Great music, videos, games and some lessons that we are going to experiment with in class as we venture into American folk classics this January! Check it out here!
MORE FROM PBS:
THE HOUND OF MUSIC is a new PBS Children's series featuring a good-natured, melody-obsessed puppet pooch named Lomax, his fluffy feline sidekick Delta, and their human companion, Amy, on a tune-filled train ride crisscrossing the musical landscape of America. With the help - and full participation - of real kids on the train, on location, and the viewers at home, Lomax and his friends doggedly pursue their mutual passion: tracking down the wonderful songs that form the heart of our nation's diverse musical heritage.