Differentiation part 2

Several years ago I wrote a post titled Differentiation in the Elementary Music Classroom. It was one of my first experiences providing leveled worksheets for my students that would be appropriate for their varying levels. Today’s post takes this a step further.

Each time my students complete a worksheet in class, a few students finish before the others. Rather than let them goof off, I try to provide a flashcard match or simple game they can work on independently while I help other students. This idea blossomed into a new differentiation technique. Why not create leveled packets? Students can work at their own pace and each level is slightly more challenging than the last.

Getting Started

Let’s use half note practice as an example. This scenario assumes that students know quarter notes, paired eighth notes, quarter rests, and half notes. Using known song material, all students would start with a 16-beat song with laminated flashcards cut into 4-beat phrases. Students put them in order to match the song and check their work. I highly recommend creating color-coded packets. Post the song order or color codes students should follow.

Checking Their Work

There’s only one of you and many more of them, so you may consider preparing manila folders with “answer sheets” inside. After they put the flashcards in order, they may check their own answers or have a friend check for them. If any flashcards are out of order, students should choose another packet in the same color/level. In this way, they only move up a level when they’ve mastered the previous level.

Creating Levels

A few 16-beat songs appropriate for Level 1 include I See the Moon, Sea Shell, and Let Us Chase the Squirrel. You might choose to cut these into 4-beat phrases or create another level by cutting one song into 2-beat phrases.

Level 2 may include Yellow Bird and Who’s That Tapping at the Window. Both of these can be written out completely, or you could include the repeat signs for an added challenge! These songs can be cut into 2-beat phrases or 4-beat phrases.

Level 3 might include Here Comes a Bluebird and Are You Sleeping since they are 32-beat songs. These songs can also be cut into 2-beat phrases or 4-beat phrases.

Just be sure to use songs that your students know very well. 

Hint: Be sure to cut the flashcards about the same size so students don’t try to “piece” them together like a puzzle. Cut after the bar lines and make each phrase the same number of beats.

Yellow Bird rhythms without the repeat sign

Yellow Bird rhythms without the repeat sign

Yellow Bird rhythms with the repeat sign.

Yellow Bird rhythms with the repeat sign.

Listening for ta-dimi

My third graders just learned ta-dimi, an eighth note followed by two sixteenths, so we listened to “Fossils” from Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns this week. My students have heard this piece in the past. In second grade they heard it and read the first four beats of rhythm: takadimi ta takadimi ta.

It’s always interesting to bring back a piece they know and go deeper musically. This week they read the first eight beats of rhythm and listened for that repeating motive throughout the piece. Did they mind hearing it again? Not at all! They were very excited and the discussion that followed was more insightful, probably because they were already familiar with the piece.

For those of you who are looking for visual aids, I’ve posted the first four and first eight beats of rhythm for “Fossils” on my Resources for Teacher page under Listening Examples, as well as the rhythms to “Marche du Toréador” from Carmen. (Thanks for pointing out this piece, Karen Fincher!)

"Marche du Toreador" rhythms

“Marche du Toreador” rhythms

Post Office Rhythm Game

It’s the beginning of another school year and time to review, review, review! All those previous concepts must be reinforced before preparing new ones. I put a new spin on a game Lamar Robertson taught in Kodály training called Post Office. There are three free sets for download: quarter and eighth notes; quarter, eighth, and quarter rests; sixteenth notes, quarter, eighth, and quarter rest. The patterns in these sets come from familiar folk songs, so they should tie into your curriculum easily.

I prepare students for the activity by telling them there’s a secret code or message in each rhythm pattern and I’ll share it with them when they find the correct one.

Every child receives an identical envelope of 4-beat rhythms. They’re instructed to lay them on the floor in front of them with the meter/time signature on the left and stand when they’re done.

Here’s my sequence. I clap the pattern and they clap it back. Repeat. The third time I clap the pattern, they clap it and say the rhythm syllables to match. If the class is correct, I ask them to find the pattern and hold it at their foreheads. A quick visual check lets me know if they need help. When the class is correct, I tell them the secret and they put the rhythm in the envelope. After two-three patterns, ask the students to find the pattern on their own without saying the rhythm syllables aloud.

Examples of secret messages or codes: Count the number of quarter notes in this pattern. That’s how many dogs I have at home. Which beat has eighth notes? That’s how many people are absent today. How many beats are in this pattern? That’s how many games we’ll play today, etc.

I copied my post office rhythm sets on card stock and didn’t need to laminate them. Feel free to change the game to suit your situation, and have fun!

What are your favorite ways to practice rhythm?

Post Office - Quarter Rest quarter_eighth_post_office_rhythms takadimi_post_office_rhythms

Drumming

Yesterday two groups of music education students from the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor visited my elementary music classes to observe drumming lessons and they were great! In my district, we teach twelve 25-minute classes on Fridays and see half the school. I like to use these class times to reinforce concepts, usually with instruments.

My third and fourth graders learned Let’s Go to the Farmer’s Marketa poem I wrote to match a rhythm exercise in Gunild Keetman’s Rhythmische Übung, p. 7, number 18. I chose this exercise because I wanted the students to practice ta-dimi as well as playing tones and bass tones.

from Gunild Keetman's Rhythmische Ubung

Although they could have read the rhythms, I clapped each phrase and they deduced the rhythms aurally.

Tip: One of the easiest ways to teach rhythm exercises is to add words. Always teach the song or poem first, and then transfer to an instrument. Students should “say and play” several times before audiation.

The students played the whole piece with tones first. In my SMART board presentation, I also colored the accented syllables purple because I wanted the students to play a bass tone only on those downbeats.

For more Orff-inspired resources, see my Resources for Teachers page and click on Orff Visual Aids.

What are some of your favorite, go-to drumming pieces?

 

Quarter Rest Prep

My awesome colleague, Cindy Hayes, shared this idea with me and gave me permission to share it here. This technique could be used with multiple songs, but the chart I made matches the rhythms to Pease Porridge Hot.

photo 1

While you’re preparing quarter rest, show the students the page with the flap down with the porridge pictures visible. Once they’ve learned rest, flip the flap and the quarter rest is visible.

photo 2How to make your chart: Print both pages. Cut the page with porridge pictures about 4 1/8″ vertically from the edge with pictures. Fold it in half vertically. It should only be wide enough to cover beat four of each phrase. Glue the pictures back to back. Line it up along the right edge of the full sheet of paper and tape it in place. Too much tape may keep it from laying flat. Enjoy!

Pease Porridge Page 1

Pease Porridge Page 2

2015 Winter Encounter

The 2015 Winter Encounter is ready for viewing! This is the quarterly publication from Kodály Educators of Texas (KET) that features my Tech Time column. The topic in this issue is using Freemake Video Converter. You may also wish to join the Facebook page for lively discussion and resource sharing. Enjoy!

Songs for Fall

If you’re in a situation where you’re not able to use much holiday-oriented repertoire, this post is for you! In the past, Halloween songs have been frowned upon at my school, so I don’t introduce songs about witches, ghosts, or goblins. However, I always fall back on some fall favorites like Skin and Bones, Let’s Hide the Pumpkin, and Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Round and Fat.

Although Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Round and Fat uses the word “jack-o-lantern,” I have been able to use it without complaint. I hope you can, too, because it’s a wonderful way to begin improvisation, even in Kindergarten. The first time I introduce the song, I sing it and allow the students to just listen. (They start singing when they’re ready.)

1. One student stands in front of the class and holds a pumpkin face on a stick. During the song the face is toward them. At the end, they turn it to their classmates and the other students have to try to make that face. (I made 5 faces from paper plates.)

2. The next week, a student stands in front of the class and makes their own face. The students copy it.

3. For another variation on this game, see the Music a la Abbott blog. (You should be following Amy’s blog anyway. It’s full of great ideas!)

More on improvisation next time!

The Encounter Newsletter

The Encounter is a free quarterly newsletter published by Kodály Educators of Texas (KET). If you’ve never read the Encounter, wonderful information is included, from book reviews, special topics, tech time, upcoming workshop announcements, training program reports, and more. It’s free, and if you share it with a friend, you’re eligible for an extra entry into the bulletin board materials giveaway. The giveaway ends in six days, so enter now to win!

The Encounter Summer 2012 Newsletter

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Bulletin Board Giveaway!

The new school year is upon us and I’ve been crafting new bulletin board headers to spice up the area outside my door. You can enter to win a set of your own scrap-booked bulletin board headers. It’s in 2 pieces, 6″ x 12″ each. I’ll include a few pieces of coordinating papers for the lucky winner (mailing within the U.S. only, please).

The first way to earn an entry is by subscribing to my blog. There are several other ways you can earn extra entries, but the contest closes at midnight on Wednesday, August 15, 2012. Simply click the Rafflecopter giveaway link below to enter. Good luck!

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More Listening Lessons – Schubert

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.

Happy Summer!

Rosamunde Overture by Schubert