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.