Tuesday, October 28, 2014

MelodySoup Video Wednesday - Aaron Copland - Appalachian Spring

Here is a really great video that combines the beautiful music of Aaron Copland with choreography inspired by the ballet created by groundbreaking choreographer Martha Graham.     To view the original choreography click HERE.....I probably won't have time to show my students the entire thing,  but WOW! I sure did enjoy it and hopefully we'll at least be able to view the Theme and Variations section.  GREAT JOB University of Maryland!  Thanks for sharing! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

10 modifications and accomodations for Recorder! - FREE DOWNLOADS

Playing recorder is rather complex and it is often an area where significant modifications and accommodations are needed in order to meet the instructional needs of ALL students.  Here is a quick list of the modifications and accommodations that I use most frequently. 

1.  Preferential Seating -   I can often make quick adjustments for those who need it, simply by making sure that they are close to me.  Sometimes this is as simple as pointing to music or being able to quietly repeat the instructions

2.  Recorder Buddies - I'll often have another student who is making good progress on recorder be a "mini-me".  They can sit next to the student in need and call out note names or model fingerings

3.  Time for independent practice - One of the best ways to keep students progressing without frustrating those who need more time is by using independent practice wisely.  I have a silent practice rule in my class.  I'll assign different groups different songs to practice.  Then they take turns playing in small groups out loud for the class.  This allows me to provide more support to those who need it. 

4.  Note Labeling - Generally I don't allow students to label the notes in their recorder books, but when a student needs the support, it can be very helpful and provide another avenue for practice. 

5.  Note name calling - Sometimes students can play at speed who might not be able to read at speed.  If I call the note names to those who need it, they can play what everyone else can play.

6.  Finger modeling - Sometimes I will model the correct finger positions during a particular song which allows students see what to do instead of worrying about reading it.   I use this sparingly.  I want them to continue to develop literacy, but if they don't get to "play" they might give up, so it's important that they develop sound as well s literacy. 

7.  Letter reading - Often students who cannot read traditional music notation have no problem reading letters.  If you use "letter notation" you can get them to progress pretty far along.  Dashes can be used to determine the length of the note and rests can be incorporated as needed. 

8.  Big is often better - I have enlarged copies of the book we use because for so many students, simply making the print larger enables them to read real notation.  This works really well in tandem with my projector.

9.  Personalized music - Sometimes I create music just for specific children in mind.  This is especially useful if there is a para-professional who travels with the student as they can work with the student who has a personalized book side by side with the class. 

10.  Alternate instruments - Sometimes in order to accommodate for the physical limitations, you can use alternate instruments.  All soprano recorder music can be easily changed to xylophone.  There are even recorders designed for children with at least 6 fingers that can be adjusted to fit their abilities. 

Here is a link to the adaptive recorder


FREE Downloadable Rhythm Cards

Last year I made some of these rhythm cards to use as manipulatives for a meter unit. 

Now, a year later I have expanded the collection and use them constantly for all sorts of assignments. 

My favorite thing to is to give my students combinations of these cards including the new rhythm we are learning that day. 

First students work with a partner to create a chart of the rhythms they already know.  This chart reinforces the relationships between the various notes and gives them a chance for a quick review before moving on to new material.  This is also a great way for me to quickly assess where we are.   

I then give my students the new rhythms and ask them to compose measures containing the new material. 

I typically provide enough cards for them to compose 4 measures of rhythm.  As the measures are completed, the students are asked to perform the rhythms they have composed.  Everyone then travels from group to group in a sort of "gallery walk".  The students perform the rhythms as composed by their peers. 

Once we have read and performed each composition I ask the students to go back and choose their two favorite measures.  They share their two favorites with a neighboring group and work together to perform the new combination. 

Finally, the students are asked to choose their favorite measure and then ALL of the rhythms are set out so that we have a new class composition. 

If you want to print them, I recommend using a variety of card stock.  If you laminate them they will last for a long time.  I also put magnets on a set for myself so that I can use them as models on the board. 

quarter notes, quarter rests, barred eighth notes, half notes, half rests

single eighth notes and dotted quarter notes

sixteenth notes and sixteenth note combinations

whole notes, whole rests, dotted half notes  - must be printed on 17x11 paper!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Redesign underway

I am midway through a redesign - so if my blog looks a little whacky that's the reason, I'm cleaning things up, and putting things aright. Soon all of my elements should be working properly again.  Thanks for the patience.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Youtube Saturday! - Cool Videos for music teachers

Here is a really cool video that wanted to share.   It is a video of stunning beauty featuring a Ehru concerto.  The orchestra consists primarily of Chinese instruments and MOST of the instruments I've never seen before.  I only knew a couple of them.... Mostly I just wanted to share the video because it is excellent, but if you decide to show  this to students don't forget to use http://safeshare.tv/ 

Safeshare.tv a great site that allows you to view videos safely without all of the advertisements and suggested videos.  Additionally, you can cut mark your start and stops and create a hyperlink using only the portion that you choose. 

But since it's Saturday and we've got time, relax while you enjoy this GREAT piece! 

Here is the video embedded directly from youtube which is fine for you and me. 

Wonderful Wednesday - 5 things that made today wonderful

1.  5th graders with determination and heart
 - Our 5th grade choir meets each Tuesday and Thursday.  This morning being Wednesday I wasn't expecting any 5th graders in my room, but was surprised when one stopped by.  He wanted to know if he could join choir.  The deadline for joining choir was more than a week ago and he isn't a new student.  Our choir is really wonderful and our students are well behaved and have a great time, BUT since we meet early in the morning, and because we work hard, choir is not for everyone, so we have a great turn-out, but we don't usually have students begging to join..... So I asked him "Why do you want to join choir?"  I was expecting him to say something about our spring field trip and his friends which would have been a totally fine answer.  Instead He surprised me when he answered, "Well, I didn't really sing too much in 3rd or 4th grade, but I've decided I that I want to make my parents proud."    Needless to say, I handed the forms and told him that I would be happy to see him tomorrow morning. 

2.  2nd graders who can play! - I love that magical time when a group of students in an ordinary class finally settle in together to truly PLAY a game.  When you see REAL play, all of the overly managed competitive, rough-housed, teacher dominated rather than facilitated stuff pales in comparison.  My 2nd graders have been working on playing the ETM version of "Oats Peas Beans and Barley Grow" since the beginning of the year.  Later as these students get older, we'll continue to examine "Oats Peas Beans", but for now, we are simply uploading the song for future reference.  During this uploading process they have had to learn how to give themselves over to the play so that the game keeps going without interruption.  . Today was a REALLY big day because they were ALL able to participate fully and keep the song going for enough verses for everyone to be skipping with a partner around the room.  There was beautiful singing, great comradeship among the partners, and everyone was completely in control of their bodies.  They literally could have played the game for another 30 minutes, but it was time to get into the meat and potatoes of the lesson since we had whetted our appetite for more beauty.  After we played "Oats" we played "Bluebird, Bluebird", and it was better than ever I think in part because Oats had gone so well.  The coolest part of the morning happened once we had finished the game and began having a look at the form book for "Bluebird, Bluebird".  Forms books are an excellent way to build music literacy in students.  My 2nd graders literally drank up every page.  They took turns following the song maps on each page.  When given a turn, the student is asked to decide if they want to sing alone or invite the class to sing along.  Today, I had one of my beautiful students say they wanted to sing alone!  For some that wouldn't be a big deal, for this student, it was HUGE!!!!  When the turn was complete, the entire class erupted in genuine heartfelt applause.  What a blessing to be in the same room with children so sweet to one another!

For more information about ETM, their classes, literature and materials, please click HERE.

3.  Author visits at just the right time - I'm not gonna lie, I am EXHAUSTED!  Being so tired meant that it was wonderful having a truly exceptional author come to our school today.  It was one of the coolest author visits I've ever seen.  The visit was scheduled so that there were grade level presentations during 3rd, 4th and 5th grade specials.  I really don't like missing my classes, but two things made it totally ok and an excellent way to spend my time today.  1.  I get to swap the kids I missed today for ones I've already taught on Friday - so no one misses this weeks lesson.  2.  Today's visit was SUPER cool!  3. Our librarian bought us lunch and we got to eat with the author which was a really super sweet thing that happened and made it a much more relaxing Wednesday than usual. 

4. Co-teachers who put the "C" in contentious - You know that realization that you could literally work 40 hours a week 52 weeks a year..... and never actually see a student?     There is just so much work that is hidden inside the job of music teacher!     All of you "single" ladies and gents who have to teach music all by yourselves have my deep condolences and compassion.  You are heroes!    We all do what we must, but it sure is a blessing when there is another music teacher there with you in the trenches when you are knee deep in recorder money or when you need another set of eyes to look over that note before it's sent home.    It's hard to go it alone!    Over the years I've worked with some amazing folks and last year when I joined the faculty at my new school....I literally hit the jackpot because my co-teacher is wonderful!   I get to work with one of the most efficient, hardest working people I have ever known and I am blessed to know her.   Every day I am thankful that I get to work with such a talented educator whose integrity is above reproach, who gives her best every single day and truly enjoys her students.  She is a gift to our school. 

5.  Conversations with my dad - So my dad is a little over a month out from having a stem cell transplant.  It was at this time last year that he first became terribly ill with what we thought was a simple case of bronchitis.  As his illness persisted he sought multiple types of treatments and several referrals. He pretty much quit eating in October and by November there were new illnesses to contend and lots of seemingly unrelated symptoms that started to point toward lymphoma.  Early in December 2013, he was admitted to MD Anderson and after several life threatening episodes and a million miracles, he finally reemerged from the hospital in March 2014 after 120+ consecutive days in the hospital and a diagnosis of Angioimmunoblastic T-Cell Lymphoma.  Between March and June, he had lots of chemo and then in August he began the stem cell transplant process.  He has been home for a little over a month and just as expected, the recovery from the stem cell transplant and related HUGE chemo has been very very slow!    Because he is still under quarantine and because I teach school which is like living in a petri dish, I haven't seen him very much since the summer even though I moved home when he got sick.  Tonight, he was feeling better than in days previous, so we had a lovely time visiting and chatting together.  I love getting to talk with my dad!

Today was a Wonderful Wednesday!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Lesson Menus For Substitutes in the Music Classroom - FREE DOWNLOAD!

There are several things that are true about having a sub in your music class. 
  • You can almost never afford to tread water with the class you miss because you won't see them again until next week. 
  • You never know who you will get as your sub, or their confidence level.  If you are blessed you will end up with a retired music teacher but it is equally likely that you will have a very kind sub who is not a confident musician and won't be comfortable singing.  You might even have a sub who has trouble running the CD player. 
  • Your sub needs choices.  When you have a musician as a sub, you don't want to disappoint them by having your students watch a video and if you have someone is musically uncomfortable, you still want them to be successful.  CHOICES are AWESOME!
  • Your students will act better if they have choices and expectations
  • Hands-on involved activities will work better than passive ones
  • Videos are never as effective as we wish they were and often cause discipline problems due to lack of engagement. 
  • Subs are often ill equipped to use technology and when would your technology most likely have a problem?  When the sub is there.... just to make their day more interesting. 
  • Even if you can't move ahead with this class, students can always use more time to practice newly acquired skills. 

That is why I developed a series of LESSON MENUS for my Sub tub. 


Here is how it works. 

  • This semester I have  3 different menus. (K-2), 3, (4-5)   next semester after the 3rd grade show, I will redo the menus so that they are (K-1), (2-3) (4-5).
  • Each activity has an approximate time and a point value.
  • The activities range in complexity and level of involvement in order to offer more in depth more interesting work for subs who can handle it and more accessible work for subs who need something simpler. 
  • Each menu item contains a brief description, but more in depth instructions and additional materials are in the Sub Tub including recordings, books, worksheets and game instructions. 
  • Most of my Menu items are ones that my students already have experienced and enjoyed, like the rhythm scavenger hunt.  This year I used the rhythm scavenger hunt as a pre-assessment in order to determine what needed the most focus during review before moving onto grade the new rhythms for the new year.  So that I could assess more than one grade level at a time, I color coded the cards.  3rd-5th had to do yellow, 4th had to look for yellow and orange and 5th grade had to find yellow, orange and blue.   I LOVE scavenger hunts because they serve as a great way to review anything.   If you would like to read my original post about Scavenger Hunts - click HERE.

August and Early September:
Nothing can replace the Emergency Plans - At the beginning of the year, in addition to classroom procedures I have a VERY simple Emergency plan in case I am out before I have had a chance to front load my students.   Those plans are exactly what my students used this year when I missed the 2nd week of school with a high fever and sinus infection.    Below you will find exactly what I have for my Emergency Plans.  They aren't the best, but they will do in a pinch.   ALL of the materials that are needed are in the SUB TUB. 

If you decide that you take a look at my Lesson Menus you will notice that one option for the sub is to sing a song and do an activity out of the Sub Survivor book.

This book is AWESOME! and I highly recommend it!