Thursday, January 26, 2012

Music listening club

I wish that I had time to teach my students more songs AND I wish that I had time to help my students listen to more music.  With that in mind, I decided that as part of my schools after school program I would have a "music listening" club.  I thought a music listening club would be a perfect Thursday afternoon activity because by Thursday afternoon, I am totally dragging and I want to do something that my students will enjoy AND that is somewhat relaxing.

We agreed that we would have popcorn and pillows at each club meeting to make the listening more enjoyable..... and now a few weeks in, I've finally quit burning the popcorn.  I'm still working on the pillows.  I'm collecting them at garage sales, then throwing them in the washing machine and sewing a cover for them....when they get done, I'll post a picture.  

After our first class meeting, we barely had time to introduce our first song, so for the first two weeks, we had a good look at Dance Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns.  I enjoy this song, but I find it a little slow and long, so I knew better than to just throw it out there and expect them to listen to it just because.  I let them eat their popcorn while we watched this YouTube video.

They loved it!  We created a little book where we wrote the title, composer and took note of some elements of the music like instrumentation, tempo, and mood.  

The last couple of weeks, we have been studying Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin 

I read a book about how George Gershwin was inspired to write Rhapsody in Blue.  

Then while we listened to the piece, we drew city-scapes on blue paper.  Their pictures are beginning to shape up nicely.  

This afternoon, I got out my 3 macbooks and checked out several other macbooks from the library so that I could have partners use the computers instead of groups.  Then we went to where we listened to a quick podcast about Gershwin.  There are also several nice games on so after we were done listening, they got to play them for a while.  


As much as my crew loves their popcorn, we don't mix popcorn and sterling white computers, SOOOO we waited until we were all gamed and podcasted out before we got the popcorn out.  Then while we munched on our popcorn we watched wonderful pictures of NYC float by to a great recording of Rhapsody in Blue.  

Next week in exchange for the fabulous behavior I've had over the first few weeks, I am allowing the students to request music to listen to together.  

Today before they left, each student submitted music requests on post-it notes.  I told them not to bother requesting music that they thought I might find inappropriate.  I also told them that I would look up each song and make SURE that it was alright for school.  So starting next week, after I've done a little homework and bought a few tracks on itunes, we'll have a new listening experience where my students choose the music.  Because this is an afterschool "club" I feel that it is only fair that I be willing to incorporate music that they choose into what I would like them to learn.  Wish me luck! 


  1. I love this idea! What grade levels are I'm the club? I'd love to incorporate this idea at my school!

    Dani in MA

  2. In answer to your question, I've written an additional blog post. Thanks for reading!

  3. A great resource for visual music are the Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 DVDs. My kids would listen to classical music, commenting and really feeling the music when I would let them watch them in class as a reward for good behavior.

  4. I love those too, however, I haven't had time to check and see if my school has the licence to view those movies. I'll try to find the information and post it. I think the licence is for each title you intend to show. So far the best resource I've found about purchasing a licence to view is actually Music in Motion..... when you purchase videos from them, you can look at the description and read whether or not you are purchasing a personal copy (one you need to save for home) or a copy with a licence(one you have permission to use with your students. Thanks for the comment!