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Making Musical Transitions

When I first started teaching I had no concept of musical transitions. I would simply move from one activity to another. Often during this time the kids would get off task waiting to see what the next activity was going to be. During level 1, I got to see how the fabulous Jo Kirk would weave her songs together through stories and though I am not as creative as she is, I began to create stories to connect the songs I was using with my first and second graders. After my Kodaly Levels 2 and 3, I feel like am better at making MUSICAL transitions.

A musical transitions will guide your students throughout your entire lesson, connecting songs with melodic and rhythmic activities. These should never be drills, but simply a way of getting from point A to point B.

Here are some examples of melodic transitions using the melodic element "fa" and the songs,  "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" transitioning to "Chairs to Mend"

Students sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" on solfa with hand signs.

Teacher then shows 4 or 8 melodic flashcards. Here's the key. They are NOT FOR DRILL! The flashcards should be purposefully selected, not just "let's do a stack of flashcards". The first flashcard should have some tonal pattern from the song you are coming from and ending with a tonal pattern of the song you are going to. In between are tonal patterns of known songs. I would write down the exact tonal patterns I was going to use in my lesson plans including what songs they are from so that I could have all my visuals ready.

Here's how it would look: 
(pattern from "Twinkle Twinkle"

(pattern from "This Old Man")

(Pattern from "Are You Sleeping?/Brother John")
(pattern from "Chairs to Mend")

Which leads right to our next song! Sing on text then add canon:

Another way to get from songs with similar tone sets would be to use a tone ladder. Taking the same two songs, you could first sing "Twinkle Twinkle" then point to the pitch ladder having students sing on solfa with hand signs. You could do the whole song, then move to song fragments from other known songs ending with your starting phrase of the next song in your lesson. Your tone ladder could be projected onto the board like this:

Or you could use cut outs like these:

Rhythm transition activities:
Another rhythmic transition that could be used here would be flashcards. Again, the use of the flashcards is not for drill, but to guide us from one song quickly to the next for a seamless transition with no wasted time.

I could start with:

(from "Chicken on a Fence Post")

(From "Dinah")

(From "Golden Ring Around the Susan Girl")

(From "Old Brass Wagon")

And off you go with singing "Old Brass Wagon" and performing the square dance!

One of my goals for the upcoming school year is to work on including more musical transitions like these for grades 2-5. What other kinds of transitions do you use? What are your goals for the upcoming school year?

If you like the transition resources I have used in this post, they are all available at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store:

Fa Melodic Transition Staff Cards {FREEBIE}

Tone Ladders (Over 50 Pages of tone ladders that you can project or cut out and put on your board)

Rhythm Flashcards - Available by concept or in a Mega Set-The ones I used in this post were from my tiri-tiri (or tika-tika, takadimi, etc.) set

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