Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons: Practice melodic dictation

I absolutely LOVE to incorporate literature into my music classroom.  As a child, I debated whether to become a music teacher or a librarian.  I love to read and do so whenever I can find a spare minute.

Anyway, there are so many great books out there that we can use for vocal exploration, rhythmic chants, etc.  One of my new favorite books is "Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons" by Eric Litwin.  You can see a video preview of the book here:

The book is really entertaining, and my kids love it!  I use it for vocal exploration (words like POP!) and for the addictive song that Pete keeps singing.  But, my new favorite way to use this book is when we are practicing melodic notation on the staff.

I talk about Pete's "lost buttons" and how I found them - on the staff!

At a recent Orff workshop, we did a "make and take" day where I got this fabulous idea - cookie sheets from the dollar store with electrical tape (also from the dollar store) as the staff.  I put a 3-line staff on the back of the cookie sheet and a 5-line staff on the front, so I can use this with all of my kiddos.  With my older kids, I use it to spell words when we are working on absolute pitch names, and for everybody else, I use it for melodic dictation.  The "buttons" are actually magnets that I found at the Dollar Tree.  They work perfectly when we are talking about Pete's "lost buttons"!

There are lots of other ways you can use these cookie sheets - I love having these in my classroom :)

For some reason, these photos won't rotate. Sorry, folks!

Friday, September 20, 2013



I have thought of starting this music education blog for a long time now, but just with moving to a different state, husband starting his PhD program (also in music:  vocal pedagogy), beginning my 4th teaching job, and various other life events, I have kept procrastinating.  Well, the procrastination is finally over, and I thought that in honor of it being a Friday, I would start my blog with a song I have been singing for 15 years.

I think my love of Fridays dates way back to high school, when I just couldn't wait to get out of school for the weekend.  My Chemistry teacher in high school, Ms. Mazaros, fueled this love of the weekend by singing "The Friday Song" every week!  In honor of her, in all of the schools I have taught at, I've taught the kids this song:

The lyrics are:
Friday, Friday, Friday is my favorite day!
Monday is a bummer, Tuesday's only fair, 
Wednesday's getting better, and Thursday's almost there,
But Friday, Friday, Friday is my favorite, 
Friday is my favorite, Friday is my favorite day!

You'll have to forgive the notation - since I am the primary (and only) income earner in my family at the current moment, I use a free music notation software right now that I can't figure out how to get tied notes to work (MuseScore is great for simple things, though:  I'll play around with it, and I'm sure I'll figure it out at some point.....
Anyway, the rhythms are meant to be swung, not straight.

My kids, at all 4 schools that I have taught at, and I have taught all grade levels from K-12, have learned this song, and they all love it.  Some love it so much that they ask to sing it on Wednesdays!

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!