Sunday, January 3, 2016

Updates from Crocker Farm's Music Teacher, Ms. Zsigmondi

Included in the December Crocker Chronicles.
The full Chronicles can be downloaded HERE.

News from the Music Room 12/11/15 

We are very lucky to have an excellent student teacher, Mr. M, who quickly became popular with the students. He has been teaching many lessons lately and brought in his trombone to show to every class. He shared many interesting facts about the instrument and played it for us. We started most classes with movement patterns to music from American, Chinese and Egyptian musical recordings. These movements often correspond to musical note durations and allow us to solicit creative motions from the children.

Students in 5th and 6th grades learned a two part rhythm pattern from a Southern African tradition. The title of the piece, “Tatenda,” means “Thank you” in the Shona language. After playing these challenging patterns on the percussion instruments, we added a three part xylophone accompaniment and some students improvised on top of this music, using the metallophones. I invited Mr. Shea to hear it, who loved the entertainment.

The same classes are learning the Russian “Troika,” a fast tempo dance with tricky partner changes.

Students in 6th grade also learned a song in the unusual 5/4 meter and performed it with xylophone accompaniment, while 5th grade students got to make up their own rhythm patterns.

4th grade classes continued their study of different time signatures singing the Arabic song “Caravan” in 2/2 meter and enjoyed reciting the “50 states that rhyme” rap to a hip-hop beat. The rap lists the states in alphabetical order. The same classes performed the lovely “Erev Shel Shoshanim,” a slow Jewish dance at the last assembly. Performing interactive patterns using Lummi sticks, or activities with smooth stones, that are passed around the circle are popular in these classes. These activities follow the beat of songs and some go with the elimination of players, one by one on the last beat.

Students in 3rd grade continued their study of scales singing the English round, “Come Follow” and playing various scales on the xylophones. Children sang “My Violin,” a song built on the major scale. They discovered that the melody comes from Beethoven’s Violin concerto and raised their hand each time this theme appeared in the music. These classes just started a big unit on the instruments of the orchestra. Mr. M, who is presenting these lessons, is using short excerpts on youtube, to show the origin, sound and the role of these instruments and their families in the orchestra. 

2nd grade classes are now able to sing simple two part rounds such as “My Paddle,” a song from northern Native American tradition and “Scotland’s Burning.” They were able to notate the first one, and perform an action pattern to the second one with partner changes. They also learned a friendly handshake pattern to accompany their singing of the French song, “Bonjour mes Amis.” The latter one reinforces the knowledge of right and left hand and cooperation with new partners at every turn. Students danced the Canadian “Les Salutes” and created motions to the beat in the African- American children’s game “Down in the Valley.”

Students in Kindergarten and 1st grade practice the steady beat in many different ways. They play a variety of percussion instruments, or they follow and create motions with their bodies as well as different sized rhythm sticks. The use of the single note bells allow the children to hear, play, recognize and discriminate between high and low pitches.

By 1st grade, children are able to play patterns that correspond to specific beats in a song. First grade students used the big and small drums to accompany the Japanese song, “Okina Taiko” and played the sound described in the song at the appropriate times. They also practice identifying the notes of the pentatonic scale in songs such as “Who’s That Tapping at the Window” and “Solomon Cy Walks way High” and play the bells and percussion instrument patterns that go along with certain notes.

Favorite games in Kindergarten and 1st grades include, “Someone is the Leader,” “This is what I can Do,” “Let’s Climb up the Apple Tree,” “Two in the Boat,” “Circle ‘Round the Zero,” “Grandma, Grandma Sick in Bed” and “The Merry-go-Round.”

I enjoy working with your children.

Agnes Zsigmondi