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Outside Games & Recorder Composition

Outside Music Classes

For those of you in the south, you've had nice weather for a while now.  But up north in Alberta, the last snowfall was May 5th.    After a long winter, when nice weather finally arrives everyone wants to be outside - students AND teachers.  
 
I really enjoy taking music class outside.  Singing games, especially chase games, are better played outside than inside.  Inside, you have to find ways of slowing down chase games, but outside you can let the kids run!

Singing Games - Chase Games in Musicplay

Lucy Locket
Mouse Mousie
Charlie Over the Ocean
Tisket a Tasket
Let Us Chase the Squirrel
Cut the Cake
Ickle Ockle
Our Old Sow
Hill Hill Come Over the Hill
Kye Kye Koolay
Turkey Lurkey
King’s Land
Frog in the Middle
I Like Turkey
Built My Lady
John the Rabbit

Frog in the Middle 

This is a seriously fun game!  And if your students are finding frogs outside, this is a great game for spring!
 
Game Directions: The children form a circle. Choose one child to be the frog in the middle. The “frog” stands with eyes shut and arms outstretched. While the children sing the song, the “frog” turns. At the end of the song, the two children closest to the frog’s hands step out of the circle and race in the same direction. The first one back to tag one of the frog’s hands, wins. 
Teaching Purpose/Suggestions: This song is great preparation for low la and low so.  Your students should be able to read the rhythms in the song. 

 

Ickle Ockle

Musicplay 5
Fun chase game - and so much more fun outside than inside.
Great reading song - ls m and ta, ti-ti
View the kids demo video at www.musicplayonline.com
 

  
Hill Hill

Musicplay 2
View the kids demo video at www.musicplayonline.com
We played the game outside because it's way more fun outside where you can run, than inside.
Teaching Purpose:  great reading song - so-mi, and introduces half notes.
 


Directions, music and kids demo movies for all the games are found at www.musicplayonline.com.

All of these songs can be found in Musicplay and in the 

Singing Games Children Love Collection!

 

Volume 1 with lots of chase games

Volume 2 clap games, movement

 

Volume 3 games for K-3     

 

Volume 4 games for Gr. 3-6


 

Recorder Composition

30 recorder players composing at the same time could drive you crazy in the classroom. But outside, students can improvise and compose melodies in their own space and using the template in the Recorder Resource Kit, they will create compositions that are playable and musical.
 
Limit students to the rhythms ta, ti-ti, rest
Limit the notes the students can use to BAG or BAG E or BAG ED (depends on their playing ability) . If using BAG E they should end on G or E.  If BAG, end on G.
1.  Have students create a rhythm pattern under the hearts.  Check it.
2.  When rhythm is successful have them improvise melodies on that rhythm using the notes BAG or BAG ED.  When they have a melody they like, write the letters in.  They should then play their melody for you.  If it's successful, they should write the notes on the staff.
3.  Accompany melodies that end on G with a G-D bordun on a bass metallophone or xylophone.  Accompany melodies that end on E with an E-B bordun.
 

This is the template that I use for composition.  It's in the Recorder Resource Kit 1.  it's also in the files at Musicplay Teachers Group on Facebook.
 
 
This is an example of a 4th grade student composition - ends on E, so accompany with E-B bordun, sounds great!

 
 
 
Boomwhacker Composition

Divide your students into groups, give them pentatonic Boomwhackers and invite them to create a rhythmic composition with movement. (Melodic composition is possible, but takes longer) My students really enjoyed this and all groups were on-task, engaged, and successful. We did this for 2 periods, then groups performed for each other.  

 
 
Drumming or Bucket Drumming

I’ve been teaching bucket drumming in several elementary classes this month. It’s tons of fun, but would be fun to teach outside. You wouldn’t have the ability to project music to teach, so you’d have to plan to teach everything by rote.  More bucket drumming ideas will be coming to musicplayonline.com
Easy Bucket Drumming is an excellent resource.
Order Bucket Drumming in Canada.     USA/International - order here

Playground Balls

Plainsies Clapsies

This is the best game ever with playground balls.  In the classroom, I use beanbags, but this game would be fun to try with playground balls.  Are you old enough to remember playing with playground balls in elementary school?
View the kids demo video at www.musicplayonline.com
This game is way easier to figure out from the kids demo than directions.
Great teaching piece:  ls m and ta, ti-ti
And kids LOVE it!!!
 

 
 

 

Skipping Rhymes in Singing Games Vol. 1

Cinderella
Bluebells
Had a Little Crate
On a Mountain
Miss Lucy
Oliver Twist
Skipping is another playground activity that might be lost unless music and PE teachers encourage it.  Miss Lucy and Oliver Twist are in Musicplay and are traditional skipping rhymes.

 

Outside Music Classes are FUN - share your ideas, photos and videos  at Musicplay Teachers Facebook Group!

Watch this week's teaching tip:

 
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Performance Assessments

Are you doing assessments for your end of the year report cards?  One of the areas that I want to assess is how well children perform music in choirs, Orff ensemble, on unpitched instruments, recorder, ukulele or guitar.

Assess a Choral Performance

When you're conducting a choir, it's almost impossible to assess the performance of an individual child during the performance.  But you can video the performance, and use it to assess some aspects of performance.
* are students watching the conductor?
* do students use good posture in performance?
* are students singing with an open mouth?

Discuss the Performance with your Students:  (Musicplay 3, song#1)

- “Did we use good diction?”
-  “What could we do to help the audience hear our words more clearly?”
- “How can we sing softly and stay in tune?”
- “Did we all breathe in the same places?”
- “Did we sing the phrases the same way?”  “Did we start and end phrases together?”
- “Did we match pitch?”
- “Did the voices sound nicely blended, or were there individual voices that you could hear?”
- “Were the vowels pure?”
- “ Was the tone pleasant, open and resonant or was it sometimes “shouty”?”
- “Did the class maintain a steady beat and perform rhythms accurately?”
- “Could you hear the dynamic contrast at the end of the song?”
Ask the students to think of compliments and comments about their own performance.   

 

I NOTICED...........    I WONDER..........

Brian Burnett suggests the use of the words “I noticed” and “I wondered” when making comments about performances.   I liked this because it frames statements in a positive way.


THREE STARS AND A WISH

Another way to assess performances that I like is 3 stars and a wish.
If a group has performed in class, invite students to share 3 things they liked (3 stars) and a wish for what they might do differently.
* . ______________________________________
* . ______________________________________
* . ______________________________________
I wish ____________________________________


Quick self assessment for students:

Show me your fingers.  Ask them to hold them against their heart, so it's just between you and them.
4 fingers - I did an awesome job
3 fingers - I did pretty well
2 fingers - I tried my best, but made mistakes
1 finger - I could have tried harder and could have done a lot better
 
Part of an assessment or a performance can be a student self-evaluation:

Student Self-Evaluation of Choral Performance

 

3 Second Listen

Part of the Assessment might be done in rehearsal. I use the 3 second listen for large groups or for a very quick assessment.  I have the class line up in class list order. (alphabetical).  Then I have them sing as a group, often with a recording.  I walk up and down the rows listening to each child for about 3 seconds, and record their grade on my class list.
X = excellent
VG = very good, with a few pitch slips
S = satisfactory - somewhat close, but is not fully in tune
NY = not yet - the child is wildly out of tune, speaking or not trying

 

Teacher Assess Orff Ensemble

I've used this rubric to assess performance in an Orff ensemble.
If possible, video the performance, then assess each child.
 
 
And you can have students do a self-assessment.

Student Self-Assessment in Orff Ensemble

 

Recorder Solo Assessment

This is a very detailed assessment.  I'd probably only use this once in a term.
 
To the Teacher: Since it is very time consuming to assess a complete performance of a solo by every child, assess one skill in isolation every week and assess only 1-3 solos or parts of solos per term.  I seat my students in alphabetical order, and grade directly to my class list.  Instead of calling attendance, I identify the skill to be performed, and give them a short exercise to perform it on.  For example, I assess tonguing on a short rhythm pattern:ta ta ta ta | too-oo too-oo    I can assess legato connections at the same time.  I assess rhythm reading by holding up rhythm flashcards and having each child read one. Pencil and paper exercises are given in the kit and should be marked and grades recorded.  Use the mad minutes as a  tool to assess note names by cutting off the top part and having students complete them in a given time (I use 3 minutes).
This is a much quicker rubric to use:

Rubric for Assessing Student Playing:

1 - Plays correct notes and rhythms with excellent tone, legato tonguing, breath control, and posture
2 - Plays correct notes but is missing one or more of the following: accurate rhythms, excellent tone, tonguing
3 - Plays most of the notes correctly but is missing two or more of the following: accurate rhythms, excellent tone, tonguing
4 - Plays few of the notes and rhythms correctly
 
Assessment is a big topic and these are just a few of the ways that you might use to assess performance.  Share your ideas, rubrics and videos on the Musicplay Teachers Facebook Group!
 
 

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Which Rhythm Do You Hear? Print Version - Canada
 
 
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Timbre Assessments

Are you doing assessments for your end of the year report cards?  One of the areas that I want to assess is how well children perform music in choirs, Orff ensemble, on unpitched instruments, recorder, ukulele or guitar.

Types of Voices:  Speaking, Singing, Whisper, Shouting, “Thinking”

In most music curriculums, children in K-1-2 are expected to be able to:
1. use each of the types of voices
2. identify each of the types of voices.
I really enjoy teaching about timbre - types of voices, timbre of classroom instruments and timbre of orchestral instruments and orchestral instrument families.  For an informal assessment, put the posters on the ledge and say a phrase using one of the voices.  Have the children point to the type of voice they hear.
 

 

Song #9 This is My Speaking Voice 

This is a great lesson in Musicplay for Kindergarten on types of voices.   The lesson includes many opportunities to assess informally if children perceive and understand speaking, singing, whisper, shouting and thinking voices.
In the activity, children learn a simple poem, and then say the poem using two kinds of voices - one voice for the first two lines, and another voice for the last two lines.  You can do this activity with the PDF printables (the posters shown above) as manipulatives.  Or with the Interactive activity below. 

The posters are printables on MusicplayOnline (song #7 in Kindergarten)

To purchase:
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You can do the activity interactively from the SMART Board
If you want to do a formal assessment,
this is a printable assessment on types
of voices In Musicplay K (This is My
Speaking Voice)  - or Musicplayonline,
song #7 in Musicplay K

 
 
Timbre of Classroom Instruments

In most music curriculums, children in K-1-2 are expected to be able to:

  1. Identify classroom instruments visually
  2. Identify classroom instruments aurally
  3. Classify rhythm instruments as woods, metals, drums or shakes/scrapes
 
 
In the Instruments Unit at www.musicplayonline.com there are interactive activities:
 
Rhythm Instrument Assessments are also available in the following print 
products:    Rhythm Instrument Fun  and   Classroom Instrument Bingo   
Both of these print products have really fun activities to teach children the timbre of classroom instruments! 

Classroom 

Instrument Bingo

 
 
 

Rhythm 

Instrument Fun

 
 
 

 
 
Timbre of Orchestral Instruments

In most music curriculums, children in Grades 2-6 are expected to be able to:

  1. Identify orchestral instruments visually
  2. Identify orchestral instruments aurally
  3. Classify orchestral instruments as woods, woodwinds, brass, strings and percussion
In the Instruments Unit at www.musicplayonline.com there is a fantastic unit on Instruments of the Orchestra, and many accompanying worksheets to teach and assess the instruments.
 

 
Orchestra Bingo 

This resource is a great way to learn about instruments of the orchestra and instrument families.  (There is a version of the game at www.musicplayonine.com.) . This game has always been my last lesson before a holiday.
 

Order either print/disk Or download version
 
 
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Assessment is a big topic and these are just a few of the ways that you might use to assess performance.  Share your ideas, rubrics and videos on the Musicplay Teachers Facebook Group!
 
 
 
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Purchase our great set of Melody Flashcards
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Purchase the Print version of Match the Melody, with many printable assessments and projectables:
Match the Melody - Canada .   OR .   Match the Melody - USA
 
Purchase our great set of Rhythm Flashcards
TeachersPayTeachers - Rhythm Flashcards
Order Cardstock Flashcards from Musicplay Canada     
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Purchase Which Rhythm Do You Hear?
Which Rhythm Do You Hear? Print Version - Canada
Which Rhythm? Print Version - USA
 
 
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Talent Shows

The Grandview Elementary School talent show was an annual event that had the most amazing array of talent.  We had a 12 year old world champion double baton twirler, and a young world class tumbler, who worked with Cirque de Soleil after he graduated.    We also had many karate kata performances, dance solos, and one spectacularly cringe worthy recorder performance.  We had piano solos, including one seven year old that could play Mozart piano sonatas.
This school had about 350 children, and the entire school attended the performance in the gym.
 
In our school the talent show was held on one of the last days of school.  There was no time limit on it, but if it was longer than 90 minutes the children in the audience would get restless.
 

Notes were sent home with the children.

 
The classroom teachers were supposed to do the screening of applications.  We had guidelines, and most teachers did a great job.  But there were a few that let any child that brought a permission form participate.  To limit performances to the more serious and better prepared acts, I’d suggest that you hold auditions after school hours.  Then, you can include several teachers of TAs from your school as audition judges.  It’s a good idea to hold auditions on Wed. Or Thurs. and post the results list on Friday at the end of the day.  You should also send notes home with successful applicants so that they have all the information on date, time of show.
 

Here is one possible Audition Rubric


 
 
 

Send home the audition list.

At the auditions, if you are able to, make copies of  any mp3s that students use, so you’ll have it on the day of the performance. 
 
After the auditions, judges need to make up the list of acts that will be in the talent show.
 
Post the list of acts that made the cut, late Friday afternoon, and give all students who auditioned a note of congratulations or sorry, please try again next year.  I try to accept as many acts as possible.  We have a 2 hour time frame, but try to keep the show to no more than 90 minutes.
 
Create your program from the list of acts that you’ve approved.  You can use student MCs, but it will be easier if you have an adult MC.  Sometimes the local radio station will send an announcer to be your MC, and this is fun for the kids.  Often, our principal will be the MC.  If you’re using student MCs, give them the program of acts that will be in the show so they can write introductions.  You'll have to work with them before the show to be sure they're ready to do this.
 
A dress rehearsal is really great if you’re able to do it.  But at Grandview Elementary, we never had a rehearsal because that last week of school was crazy and there were always lots of field trips and special activities.
 
If you’re able to get the music needed for the show on your computer, it will make the running of the show much smoother.
 
On the day of the talent show, check with all your performers to be sure they have their music, costumes, etc.  Set up and test out your sound equipment.   Set up video equipment - if you have classes after the talent show, they always love to see a re-run. 
 
Call the students who are in the who to the gym about 20 minutes before your start time and seat them in order, with all their props that they need. 
 
Have FUN!!! 
 
I'll post fillable PDF versions of my parent letters at Musicplay Teachers Facebook Group!
 
Talent shows are fun - share your ideas for making talent shows a success at Musicplay Teachers Facebook Group!

 

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Assess Melody Reading and Writing

Are you doing assessments for your end of the year report cards?  One of the areas that I want to assess is how well children can read, write, hear and transcribe melodic patterns using solfege.  I use solfege only for note reading in Grades 1-2-3, then transition to a combination of solfege and absolute pitches in Grades 4-5-6. 
 
It’s magical when you can show a song to your students and they can sing it or play it at sight.  That’s a skill that many adults don’t have, and it requires some very high level thinking skills.  Musicplay is sequenced to teach the following solfege patterns:
K - prepare so-mi (Some K classes are ready to label so-mi, but that depends on the class.)
1 so-mi, la-so-mi and prepare so-do
2 mi-re-do, so-do
3 la-so-mi-re-do, low la, low so
4 fa, ti
5 scale
 
Just as when children learn to read, sequencing the skills and breaking them down into small steps will help more children to be successful readers.
 
I think (and this is just my own opinion) that you could compare the sequence of reading solfa patterns to the way that children learn to read.
 
Read and name the solfa notes = recognizing and naming the letters of the alphabet and knowing the sounds that each letter makes
Circle the melody pattern that you hear = seeing the word cat, hat, mat and circling correct
Read and sing the solfa pattern = sounding out the word c-a-t
Write the solfa notes on the staff =  writing C-A-T with help sounding out letters
Write the melody pattern that you hear = writing the word cat independently
Create and perform a new melody pattern = write the word in a sentence
 
If you agree with my sequence, then you’ll want to assess each of these steps, informally in your classes to determine if children are ready to move to the next step.  And you may want to do some formal assessments of these skills for grades or portfolios.  Opportunities for all of these assessment of these skills are on www.muiscplayonline.com and we have print versions available for many for those who don't subscribe.
 
 

Solfa Note Challenge - use to Read and Name Solfa Notes: 

This was one of the first interactive solfa activities that we created for the online site.  In this activity, students drag the soccer balls  (the notes) to the net to show that they know which note is so and which note is mi.  Almost every reading song in Musicplay has a Solfa Challenge activity.  If you do not have Kodaly training and are unsure what the answers are, each challenge includes a play button and a singer sings the song in solfege, giving you the correct answers.  (Another great way to learn to read solfege yourself is to use the Note Highlight videos, part 2)
 
 

Match the Melody Game - use to circle the pattern that you hear:

 The Match the Melody Game is online at www.musicplayonline.com and is also a print product if you don’t subscribe or if you want a print version. 
 
In Match the Melody, you choose the level you’ve been working on.  There are 14 levels in the online game.
 
The Print version has been divided into Level 1 and Level 2.
 
Level 1 includes sm, ls m, smd, mrd and ls m d patterns.
 
Level 2 includes:  s mrd    ls mrd, 
mrd l,  mrd l,s,   drm sl d'   drmfs  drmfsl d' sltd'   t'drmfsltd'  
You can choose to have the melody sung in solfege (voice) or you can choose to have the melody played on a keyboard.  The keyboard version is great ear training in classes with teachers who don’t use solfege.  If you’re assessing the solfege, play the solfa pattern and have students choose the pattern that they heard.  We were careful in creating this activity to use the same rhythm pattern for each answer, so students are assessed on their melody reading ability - not solfa.
Additional printables and assessments are included in the print version - Match the Melody 1-2
 
This is a printable assessment of the Circle the Melody Assessment.
 
This is another additional printable included in the print version of Match the Melody.  The starting pitch is given, then students write the rest of the melody on the line.
 
If you're using the online game, give the students a piece of paper and pencil and have them number 1-5.  Then play the pattern that you want them to write down, and they write it using letters.  For example:  ss m ss m

 
Teaching music reading using solfege is more difficult than teaching children to read rhythms.  When teaching time is very limited, teachers may have to leave out this aspect of the music curriculum.  (And some teachers choose to teach letter names.) But the reward of having a 6 year old look at a simple so-mi song like, “Hey Hey Look at Me!” Or “Bye Lo Baby Oh” and be able to sing it at sight, is to me well worth the time I invest to teach solfege.


 
Quick Solfa Teaching Tips 

This newsletter is about assessment, but you can’t assess unless you’ve taught, and those who see their students once a week or less, need strategies if you want to teach this.

  1. Start every class with a solfa activity.  The Solfa Practice section at www.musicplayonline.com has enough activities you could do a different one every class for the whole year.  Start with echo, then poison melody, then read flashcards, then read handsigns, then Listen and Sing, then Assess.  Five minutes every class, and your students will read solfa by year end.
  2. If you don’t start your class with solfa, use solfa flashcards as an exit-ticket activity.  That’s where the printed cardstock flashcards are great.
  3. When you teach a reading song, have the students read it!  I have them read rhythms first, then words in rhythm, then solfa pitches, then sing.
  4. Use solfa and simple reading songs as a part of your music class - not the entire class!  Lois Choksy said that reading songs should comprise 1/3 of the repertoire in music classes.  They should be experiencing folk songs and other songs that use a wider range of pitches than just so-mi.
  5. Remember that there are 3 ways to teach a song:  rote, reading, immersion.  If your students USE their solfa reading skills to learn new songs it will be more meaningful.
In Musicplay, some songs have a small staff on the upper-right hand side above the composers name.  This staff indicates the solfa pitches used (in K-3) and in Gr. 4-6 both the solfa pitches and the absolute note names are indicated.  These songs are the songs I use for teaching melody reading.  Sometimes they’ll be in the sequence early to prepare the students.  Children should always experience sound before symbol.  So they should play many singing games and sing many songs in new tone-sets before they can read and write them.
 
This graphic illustrates where I think that rhythm assessments fall on Blooms taxonomy.  Naming the rhythm as ta or ti-ti would be remembering.  Reading rhythms with a steady beat would fall into understanding/applying.  When you do rhythm dictation, this is even higher up the taxonomy - this is applying/evaluating.  When you have students create their own rhythm compositions, you're at the highest level.
 
 

Purchase our great set of Melody Flashcards

Canada - buy Melody Flashcards
 

Purchase the Print version of Match the Melody, with many printable assessments and projectables:

Match the Melody - Canada
 

Purchase our great set of Rhythm Flashcards

TeachersPayTeachers - Rhythm Flashcards
Order Cardstock Flashcards from Musicplay Canada     
 

Purchase Which Rhythm Do You Hear? 

Which Rhythm Do You Hear? Print Version - Canada
 
 
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Assess Rhythm Reading and Writing

As we approach the end of the school year for some of our American friends, I wanted to share some easy and quick ways to assess the students' ability to read and write rhythms.
 
1. Flashcard Attendance ~ Rhythm Reading Assessment
In the Musicplay teacher’s guides I sometimes suggest starting your class with flashcard attendance.  We don’t always have to take attendance, but in schools where you do, make taking the attendance into an opportunity for a quick evaluation.
In flashcard attendance, I would take the pile of cardstock flashcards that the students were working on.  I’d call a child’s name, hold up the flashcard and the child would read it.
4 – student accurately and fluently claps and says the pattern
3 – student is mostly accurate and mostly fluent in clapping and saying the pattern
2 – student is somewhat accurate and somewhat fluent in clapping and saying the pattern
1 – student has many inaccuracies clapping and saying the pattern and is not able to keep a steady beat
Themes & Variations publishes a set of 100 rhythm flashcards that are printed on colored cardstock.  The color coding indicates the patterns included in the set and helps you to quickly find the set that each class is working on.
Purchase our great set of Flashcards
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At www.musicplayonline.com, we’ve taken the flashcards and made this into a very quick and easy to use movie – just press play.  There are 25-35 patterns in each set.   There are fewer patterns for very easy sets as younger classes are usually smaller (we hope!) and more patterns in the harder or longer sets for your older students.  In the easier sets, we’ve given you both 4 beat assessments and 8 beat assessments. You can choose the set that you want to assess.
 
The Rhythm Practice Menu is on the left menu (on computers).  Select Rhythm Practice, then select Assessments.  There are 15 levels for rhythm assessments from K all the way to Grade 8.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rhythm Reading Assessment at www.musicplayonline.com.  To make this really easy, line your students up or seat them in class list order.  Student 1 on your class list will read the first rhythm pattern, then student 2, etc.
 
For the first 2 patterns, the voice says "ready go." After the first 2 patterns, "ready go" is replaced with "click click."  There is a 2 beat pause at the end of the pattern, where you can say the name of the next student.  If your students need the "ready go" prompt you can say it with the clicks.
 

 
 
 
This graphic illustrates where I think that rhythm assessments fall on Blooms taxonomy.  Naming the rhythm as ta or ti-ti would be remembering.  Reading rhythms with a steady beat would fall into understanding/applying.  When you do rhythm dictation, this is even higher up the taxonomy - this is applying/evaluating.  When you have students create their own rhythm compositions, you're at the highest level.
 
Rhythm Dictation Assessments
You can do this with the videos at www.musicplayonline.com or you can do this by clapping the rhythms yourself.
 
Scroll past the Rhythm Reading Assessments in the Assessment Section to Rhythm Dictation.  A PDF is given with the answer key, and it has a printable 4 Beat Rhythm Dictation worksheet for students to complete.  (If you want to save paper, use recycled paper and have students write their names at the top and number from 1-5.)
 
Play the question and pause.  Drag the video back to repeat, or clap it again for students if they need to hear it a second time.  Five questions are given.  The Answers follow.  I like to have students exchange papers and grade them in class, then I check them over and enter them into my gradebook.
 
 
Which Rhythm Do You Hear?  Another tool that's available online and as a print product is Which Rhythm Do You Hear?
 
There are many levels to select from.   Choose your level, and you have 10 questions.  Press "play" and students choose the rhythm that they heard.  If you have a SMART Board, students can select the answers on the board.  Or you could have them hold up 1, 2 or 3 fingers to indicate which answer they choose.
 
If you want to use these as your assessment, Just press play, allow students to write down their answer, then go onto the next question without showing the answer.  I've found 5 questions are enough for a good assessment - I don't need to do all 10.  There are printable answer sheets in the print product.
 
 
Which Rhythm Do You Hear? Print Version
 
 
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Ideas for Advanced Recorder Players

The last few weeks at Musicplay we have been focusing on teaching tips for recorder. We posted many videos on our Facebook, Instagram and YouTube accounts on how to teach hand placement, make a legato sound, and a recorder warm-up.  This week we will share some strategies for your students who need the added challenge. See below for some ideas, tips and resources from Musicplay for your advanced recorder students: 

Add a “Soprano 2” Option:

Have a second melody line available for students to play. This option is available in the Recorder Kit Level Two.  Those students who are ready and can read the second line can give it a try.  The students also enjoy hearing the different harmony this creates.

 

Recorder Duets:

Did you know there are duet parts available for the Recorder Kit Level One resource?  If you already own this resource, send the Musicplay Team an email at tvinfo@telus.net and we will send you a copy!

Alto Recorder:

The Recorder Kit Level 2 has a transposed alto recorder option. Students can use the same fingering as the soprano recorder, but play on the Alto.  Again – this creates some fun harmony for the students.  Themes and Variations also has a NEW Alto Recorder Resource and Alto Recorders available to order (alto recorders only available in Canada).

 

Ensemble Groups:

Give students an opportunity to play as a group with others. Students can be assigned parts at their level, giving those students who need more challenge an opportunity to try something new.  This can be in class, or do a recorder group/club over a lunch hour.  Below are some ensemble resources available from Themes and Variations. Click on each cover to learn more about these great products! 




RECORDER RESOURCES CANADA STORE

What's Next? After the Concert Lesson Ideas

What's Next? After the Concert Lesson Ideas

December music classes can be challenging, especially in the days following your holiday concert.  Below are some ideas, lessons, and products available from Themes and Variations to keep your students busy up until the Holiday break.

Holiday Unit on Musicplay Online:

Musicplay Online is filled with resources, interactive activities, games, and worksheets including the following:

 

 

 

All this and more available on MUSICPLAY ONLINE.

 

Christmas Music Lessons Resource:

This is a collection of lessons and activities based on nine familiar Christmas carols. Each song is notated for vocals, soprano recorder in two parts, Boomwhackers in two parts, a variety of percussion instruments, and with chords provided for ukulele (or guitar).

All parts can be used together and also work in any combination.  

Each song comes with a vocal track and an orchestrated accompaniment track. A slower accompaniment track is given for Boomwhacker play alongs. Reproducible and Projectable lyrics are included so the songs could be used in a performance or a school holiday sing along.

The activities include naming notes, writing notes, recognizing rhythms, creating new melodies, as well as fun games and word puzzles based on the lyrics of the carols and the song information.

CHRISTMAS MUSIC LESSONS

Watch the Concert and Complete a Self-Evaluation Worksheet:

Give students an opportunity to see the show.  Video the performance and students can complete a self-evaluation of their performance.   

CONCERT SELF-EVALUATION PRINTABLE

Make Practicing FUN!

“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”  
~ Vince Lombardi

The quote above not only applies to athletes – but musicians too! During the holiday season, music teachers have to teach a lot of repertoire very quickly and efficiently to young learners.  Keeping our young students engaged and interested in the process can be a challenge.  Below are some ideas and strategies on how to keep practicing FUN for upcoming performances:

Play Watching and Listening Games: 

Start a rehearsal off with some of these fun activities to get their brains and bodies engaged:

  • Follow my hands – wait for the clap!
  • Brain Gym:
    • Arms rotate in opposite directions
    • One arm up and down, other arm reaches up, then side, then down
  • Follow my fingers.
  • Tap hand for different consonant sounds. Hold for sustained sounds.
  • Consonant echoes with movement in hands and fingers.

Share a Video or Recording of the Song: 

Listening to the song first can be helpful in getting students engaged and excited right at the start.  Also, listening to it again later on can help keep students motivated.  Use the listening opportunity to discuss some listening elements like form, tempo, dynamics, etc. in the music. 

Movement and Actions:  

Adding actions or movement to your song is a great way to help students remember the words quickly.  You can create the movements yourself, as a class, or use choreography suggestions from the song if provided.  Another fun way to practice the song is to do the movements and whisper or mouth the words.  Denise calls this “Magic Lips”.  You can also use the sing/audiate paddle (see image below) to switch between singing the words and thinking the words.

 

 

Beat and Rhythm Activities: 

Tell your students beat is the steady pulse, and rhythm is the way the words go.  With your concert songs, try doing these two musical elements in a variety of ways to keep it interesting:

  • Keep the beat or play the rhythm using different levels of body percussion (snapping, clapping, patting, or stomping)
  • Keep the beat or play the rhythm on non-pitched percussion instruments. Set up hula-hoops with instruments inside and rotate students to the various instruments.
  • Switch between beat and rhythm while you sing the song – this can be a FUN challenge! Below is an image of a beat/rhythm paddle you can make and use for this activity:

 

Body Percussion Echoes: 

When reviewing the song by rote – add a little twist with some body percussion.  You sing a phrase - student sing and clap/snap/pat/stomp the words back.  For an added challenge, you sing a phrase and students freeze – they sing it back and walk to the rhythm of the words. 

Pull Concepts: 

Use your concert songs to review and teach other concepts in your curriculum.  Try starting off a rehearsal by writing a phrase from the song on the board to practice the rhythm or read the melody. 

Finish the Phrase: 

Sing the beginning of a phrase and ask if anyone can finish it.  Use this to go through a section of the song, or a part the students are finding challenging to remember.

 Break Time: 

The students (especially little ones) will get bored if you practice the songs the entire class.  Try alternating practicing concert songs with some of your favourite singing games, listening activities, or centers. 

Use a Variety of Accompaniments: 

Try singing the song acapella, with the piano or other instrument, and with a recording track if available.  As you get closer to performance time, practice with the accompaniment you intend on using for the concert. 

Pretend Performance: 

Ask the students to stand up to sing the song and “LOOK PROFESSIONAL”.  Take the time to discuss what real performers do on stage – watching the conductor, not playing with their hair, not touching other kids, etc.  Praise the students who are doing a great job. 

Riser Practice and Entrance/Exit Routine: 

Take the time to teach students how to stand and move properly on the risers.  Go through how to move on and off the risers.  Try this and practice the song too, reminding students of your expectations throughout.

Video Self-Evaluation: 

If you have time, record the students singing their concert songs.  Watch it together and discuss what they can work on and how they can improve before the show.  The students can use the following method to quickly self-reflect or use the worksheet below:

  • Show me 1 finger if you didn’t sing.
  • Show me 2 fingers if you sang, but you didn’t try your best.
  • Show me 3 fingers if you tried your very best, and sang with your best singing voice.

 

REMEMBER - It's not too late to plan a holiday concert!

View the links below to see some easy and quick programs to put together in your school from Themes and Variations. 

 
Holiday Concert Survival Guide

Holiday Concert Survival Guide

Music teachers are the ultimate event planners.  Who else can coordinate and organize 500 students, 50 teachers and school staff, and nearly 1000 parents for multiple shows. It’s an extremely busy time for music teachers.  Below are some tips and a planning guide for getting through this exciting time of year!

Read more →