The spring semester was very busy and I completed Orff-Schulwerk Level III right after school finished (Orff Certified!), so it’s taken me longer to follow up on listening lessons than I had planned. I’ll try to address the specific questions I received by email with one of my favorite listening examples, Rosamunde Overture by Schubert.
Students should hear musical examples and be allowed to listen to them for the pure sake of enjoyment. However, most need a reason to listen to the same piece again the following week or even a month later. Enter the musical transition, which is really just connecting content.
Rosamunde Overture by Schubert is a clear example of an eighth note followed by two sixteenths, henceforth referred to as ta-dimi. Typically my students hear this piece once before they know what ta-dimi is, and after presenting ta-dimi visually, I bring it back. How, you ask? Simple. Look at the other songs and games in your lesson. If you’ve recently presented ta-dimi, you’re probably using a good deal of repertoire that will provide a smooth transition. A few examples include:
How Many Miles to Babylon ta-dimi tadi tadi ta
Wildcat (What Makes a Wildcat Wild?) ta-dimi tadi ta ta
Mama Buy Me a Chiney Doll tadi ta-dimi tadi ta
Hogs in the Cornfield ta-dimi tadi ta-dimi tadi
My Mother Baked a Nice Seedy Cake ta-dimi tadi ta-dimi ta
Let’s take the last example and get to the listening a few different ways:
1. Aurally: The teacher says the first phrase (also the title of the game) while clapping or playing the rhythm. The students might echo the teacher. The teacher asks students to aurally deduce the rhythm. If your students aren’t used to doing this or have trouble, break it down for them! Isolate the rhythms of each beat. How many sounds were on beat 4? etc. Now back to our transition for the listening. Tell the students you’re going to switch two of the beats. Ask them to echo you and they’ll get it much more quickly. Your rhythm becomes ta-dimi ta-dimi tadi ta. Ask the students to listen for this rhythm pattern in Schuber’ts Rosamunde Overture.
2. Visually: The procedure is very similar, but I’m assuming there’s a four-beat pattern visible on the board or projector. It might be the first four beats of a game song you’ve just used, or maybe you asked your students to play a four-beat ostinato several times throughout the class. The idea is the same as above, but in this case, students will actually see the rhythms change. Consider the following ways:
- Reading: The teacher changes the rhythms around and students read the phrase from the board. Then they listen to the song and signal when they hear it.
- Mistake Recognition: The teacher performs a four-beat pattern on the board but makes a mistake or two. The students must identify the mistakes, come to the board, and make corrections. (I use laminated rhythm cards to make this smoother and faster.)
- Writing: In pairs or individually, students write four-beat rhythm patterns. If you take the time to create the packets and pass them out, take a few minutes to do a writing activity as a warm-up. I clap a four-beat pattern (usually one or two examples from the songs above). The students clap it back. They identify the rhythms as a class and then arrange their cards accordingly. After this warm-up, the students create their own four-beat rhythm patterns and perform them for a neighbor. Someone always comes up with the pattern I need for the listening. Allow the class to see and hear a few individual examples, but then make that child feel spectacular by pointing out that he/she created the same rhythm that a famous composer used in our listening example. Quietly put your things away while you listen to Schubert’s Rosamunde Overture.
3. Focusing on ta-dimi: If you’ve presented ta-dimi and want to focus on that, you might show the first 16 measures and have the students highlight or circle the new rhythm. Personally I would do this on my SMART board, calling students up a few at a time to quickly find them all. This also reinforces other concepts like beat and meter, and let’s face it, some students struggle with it.
My goal is to post something at least once a month during the school year. If there’s a topic or song you’re really interested in, there’s a good chance I’ll include it if you email or leave a comment.