Thursday, October 16, 2014

Old Roger Is Dead

I'll admit - I feel that I can teach rhythm pretty well, until we get to 6/8 meter.  I've always loved so many songs in 6/8 meter but it has been hard for me to verbalize it.

I found this adorable picture on Pinterest using big lego-type blocks to teach macro beat:

I love that it separates 6/8 into 2 groups of 3 - what a great visual!  All of a sudden, 6/8 time doesn't seem so daunting.  All you have to do is talk about macro beats and micro beats, and you're set!

Last year, I learned the song "Old Roger is Dead" at a workshop.  I had never heard it before.  It is the PERFECT song for Halloween time that is not about Halloween:

It reinforces 6/8 meter, it is a really good one to introduce anacrusis (pick-up notes), and even ti because of the s-l-t-do pattern.  You could also extract high do for 3rd grade from the first couple of measures.  There are several different versions of this song floating out there, but this is my favorite because of the melodic elements.

I loved it so much, I made a whole presentation about it that you can find on Teachers Pay Teachers here.

There's a lot as part of this:  

Steady beat:

Iconic rhythm:

Discussion of macro and micro beats:

Introduction to anacrusis/pick-up notes:
Melodic practice and introduction to ti:
Also on a staff:

But really, the best part is really the game.  Basically, the game is that you dramatize the words.  In my classroom, I call this game "Silent Movie."  This is, without question, my students' absolute favorite game.  They have to act out the lyrics of any given song (or sometimes, just the story line for something instrumental, like "In the Hall of the Mountain King").  Since the lyrics for this song involve a guy dying, a woman picking apples near his grave, and then the dead guy getting up and giving the woman a shock, this song becomes an instant October favorite.  (Zombies!)  You can play by having "Roger" chase the old woman around the circle, a la "Duck Duck Goose," or just getting up and shocking her.  Even when I have talking problems in my class, one mention of the word "Silent Movie" gets every student to shut their mouths and truly listen to the song.

I usually play Silent Movie with a certain group acting out the lyrics, while everybody else is singing, so they can truly appreciate the "silent" part of "silent movie."  Sometimes, we'll take turns with everybody showing off their performance to the rest of the class.

Other student favorites to play "Silent Movie":

  • In the Hall of the Mountain King (I have one person creep into the Mountain King's lair, then get chased out by trolls)

  • Don Gato (the kids love that the cat falls off the roof, dies, and comes back to life)

  • Oh, Susanna! (crazy lyrics will do it every time)

Try it!  I guarantee your students will like it!

Oh, and just so you have the choice, here's another popular version of this song:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wind Up the Apple Tree

While I was looking through my school's music textbooks (We have the Making Music series), I found this lovely song in the 1st grade curriculum:

What a great fall song!  You could use this in September/October (paired with Apple Tree and other apple-themed songs).  You could also change the type of fruit to meet the season:  how about "Christmas Tree" for December, or "cherry tree" for spring?  So many choices!

What a great song for 1st graders!  It uses exclusively so, mi and la - which is my focus in 1st grade, and is also a great song to use for ta rest.  PLUS, it has a cute game that my students really enjoyed.

Now, there is one thing that is slightly confusing about this song if you use it to teach rhythm:  If you look at measures 3 and 5, there is a paired eighth note, even though there is only one word underneath.  I feel that if this is confusing for your students, you could change it to a ta and use so-so-so.  Otherwise, the rhythm is very accessible.

The melody in this song is great for reviewing so, mi, la, or even presenting la.  I made a little presentation for this song - you can find it on my Teachers Pay Teachers page here:  Wind Up the Apple Tree

Here's a preview:

I have beat slides:

I have rhythmic icons:

I have rhythmic notation:

I even have stick notation:

I have melodic preparation:

And the melody on a 3-line staff:

But, best of all is the game:

My kids really enjoyed this game!  I found it would be really nice to attach it to the end of your regular "Apple Tree" game.  (Read about it here if you don't know it)  Your kids are all holding hands in a circle anyway - it's a nice little add-on :)

Here are a couple of videos of kids playing this game:

I just love finding new repertoire, don't you?  :)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Oh, the Wind Blew East

One of the things I actually really enjoy doing is going to music workshops on Saturdays.  Call me crazy - it's really my only day off with work from Monday-Friday and church responsibilities on Sundays - but these workshops get me so energized that I go back to work so excited and I truly believe that they make me a better teacher.  Naturally, I don't go every Saturday - it ends up being maybe once every couple of months or so. :)

Anyway, I went to an Orff workshop last year.  Julie Scott was the presenter, and she was absolutely amazing!  She shared this wonderful song with us:

There are actually several different versions of this song out there.  It originated, as far as I can tell, in the Bahamas, where the lyrics were a little different:


Oh, the wind blow east,
The wind blow west,
The wind blow the Sunshine
Right down in town.
Oh, the wind blow the China
Right down in town.
Oh, the wind blow the China
Right down in town.
Oh, the wind blow east,
The wind blow west,
The wind blow the Settin' Star
Right down in town.

Apparently, the "Sunshine," "China," and "Settin' Star" are sloops that had been blown ashore by hurricane-force winds.  But then, as many folk songs do, it kept getting changed and adapted as time went on.  I also found this version in my research:

And this one:

What a great song to use in October!  I know that many music teachers teach in a Halloween-sensitive environment, where more and more we are asked to not teach songs about witches or ghosts, or things like that, but this one is great for talking about fall leaves blowing into town!

So many great things about it - I've used it with my little ones for talking about high and low voices (the first version, on the Whoo-oos!).  I've used it for talking about fast and slow, since there are two tempos for this song.  And best of all is when you dramatize this song!  At the workshop, I learned it this way:  you can have half of your kids act as leaves, and half act as the wind.  The leaves lay on the ground, but as the wind blows them, they roll into town.  Then, you can have the kids switch.  So much fun!

I've also adapted it to where I got little fabric leaves at the dollar store, and the kids try to blow them "into town," or a designated area.  I've split them up into teams to see who could blow their leaves the quickest - rule is that they cannot touch the leaves, only blow.  They absolutely love it!

You could also adapt this song so many different ways:  in winter, you could have the wind blow the snowflakes, in the spring it could blow the raindrops, in summer, it could blow get the picture :)  You could also have your kids improvise whatever the wind is blowing.

Here are a couple of videos with different versions of this song: