Friday, 28 September 2012

Beat, Beat Baby

Over the past few weeks, my junior students and I have been learning about the difference between beat and rhythm. To assess their ability to keep a steady beat we played a pretty fun cup game. 

We set up in a circle on the floor and each student was given a paper cup. To start, we practised picking up the cup on beat one and setting it down in front of the person on our right on beat two, picking it up on beat three and putting it down on beat four. This requires a lot of focus! I loved seeing how students problem-solved when the person next to them either struggled with the beat or decided to pass the cup as fast as possible. Group dynamics kicked in as the majority of the students wanted to be successful and soon everyone was passing it to the best of their ability. Then I added some tunes!

What song has a better beat to it than Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice? How about the Crazy Frog version. If you can handle the squeaky frog voice in the background this is a great CD and students of all ages respond to it. 

To increase the challenge, I added a "rock" (which was actually a large Halloween eraser I had on hand). The pattern was changed so that students started off with the cup in their hand, placed it on the floor on beat 1, slid it across to the person next to them on beat 2, quickly picked up and put down the cup on beat 3, and slid it across on beat 4. I started off with the eraser under my cup and it traveled around the circle as all the students continued the above cup pattern. 

The students split up into their Music Groups and practised passing the "rock" around. I used this as a formative assessment and observed and took notes as I watched each groups. Now, if only I can get that song out of my head!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Video of the Week #1

After seeing a lot of interesting music videos being pinned on Pinterest, I decided that this year I would institute a music-related "Video of the Week" (V.O.W).  Warning: These videos will be solely for enjoyment and appreciation. They will not explicitly meet any curriculum expectations. 

So, each week I will share a V.O.W. in hopes that it will inspire my students and help them to see that music is everywhere and that music is, of course, totally awesome!

V.O.W #1 - Beatboxing Flute - "Peter and the Wolf"


(There is an advertisement at the beginning of this video. Before class I just let the ad play out and paused it at the beginning of the actual video). 

This week, the Grade 7s will be choosing instruments. I chose to start with this video on purpose. First of all, it features the flute (my original instrument). It stars a male on the flute, which I'm hoping will attract more boys to this instrument. And finally, this flutist is just impressive!

I have encouraged my students to share any cool music videos with me and if anyone else has video ideas, please let me know!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Changes and Mystery Songs

This past week has pretty much been insane! Sometimes I forget how much time it takes for me to settle into my routines (both at school and at home) after a relaxing summer. If you can actually call wedding planning relaxing...I got to do lots and lots of crafts, though, so it was fun!

Our school has had to do some reorganization of classes in the Junior Division so at some point next week I will no longer be a Music/SERT teacher but will be a Grade 5 Language/Social Studies/Drama/Dance teacher in the morning and a Grade 4-8 Music teacher in the afternoon. Believe it or not, I'm super excited about this and am looking forward to the challenge!

Now on to the post I've been meaning to write since last Wednesday...


I love Boomwhackers but hadn't had much of a chance to use them last year as I was teaching Music from a cart and the thought of having to manage those instruments and my cart was too daunting for me. I saw this great idea on the Elementary Music Methods:Real Life Edition blog about a Boomwhacker Mystery Game. Cassandra created her songs with Powerpoint but my computer and projector were not set up yet so I grabbed some chart paper and markers and went to town. 

I started off by having the students predict the name of these mysterious instruments and how they thought they produced sound. A lot of students thought they worked by blowing into them and were excited by the prospect of actually being able to hit something to make a sound. I did go over how we were going to play them today (hitting the Boomwhacker on the hand) to avoid any sword fighting issues. I showed them the Low C tube and we compared it to the High C one and the students predicted which one would be higher or lower. We talked about the music alphabet and I taught them the Music Alphabet song (to the tune of the regular ABC song except we sing ABCDEFG over and over again) and the Grade 8s actually sang it. Love it! 

Originally, I was planning on having the students play the mystery song with their Music Groups but realized that I did not know these students well yet so I wanted to make sure that I modeled how to play the Boomwhackers appropriately and also get them used to me counting them in to begin playing. The students easily identified the Mystery Songs and I'm pretty sure they enjoyed themselves.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Scavenger Hunt

Tuesday is the first day of school and I have had so many lesson ideas running through my head. The biggest thing for me to remember is that I only have 40 minutes to spend with my new students. I have had to think about what I really want them to know by the end of the first class. Really, they need to know a little bit about me and a little bit about their new Music room which is why I thought I'd start with a scavenger hunt. 


I will use my paint chip system to divide students into six groups. Each group will be given a copy of the scavenger hunt and will work together to answer the questions. The questions range from very simple (How many posters are in the room?) to questions that are helpful to me (What are 3 rules you think we should follow?). Students even have an opportunity to ask me some questions about myself or the music program. I think this is a fun way to get them acquainted both with the classroom and with me. 

Click here to see my Classroom Scavenger Hunt.