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Choral Music in the Elementary Music Room

I don't know about other music teachers, but picking program music has always been a big challenge for me. I probably do not do my program music in a very "Kodaly" way, but each year as my kids gain more literacy skills, I add more Kodaly influence to my programs and program prep.

A few thoughts on programs...

This may totally clash with your philosophy of what program music should be, and that's ok, but I believe that music to be performed by my upper elementary students in a program should be absolutely beautiful, expose students to reading from an octavo, and instill a love for choral music. Many of my students participate in area honor choirs and go on to sing in choir in middle school, so I want them to have experience reading and singing choral music, because it can be a bit overwhelming at first.

I usually do not do "themed" programs for the purpose of selecting the very best repertoire possible for my kids. I want to focus specifically on selecting music for my fifth graders in this post. My first year teaching I came across the part by part selections on the Carl Fischer/ BriLee website. This has been a HUGE life saver for me when selecting, rehearsing, and performing. They have recordings available to download for free with a full recording, an accompaniment track, and tracks for each vocal part. I can give the website to my students and they can listen and sing along at home. It is also a huge help to be because I do not have an accompanist for class or the performance, so this enables us to perform quality literature without the cost of buying a performance CD.

Click on the picture below to visit their website and click on the part by part section and select the voicing you would like.

If you would like to expose your students to choral music, but do not have the funds for an accompanist or performance CDs for each song, I highly recommend checking out the options on Carl Fischer and BriLee. 

When selecting pieces I may try to connect with a folk song that we have done by finding an arrangement of that song, or selecting literature that has a tone set they can read, or rhythms that are accessible for reading. I do some rote teaching with my choral music, but my kids just are not at the point where they can read it yet, but I do not want them to miss the opportunity to experience it.

This year I am also considering arranging some folk songs and adding Orff accompaniment, but that will involve moving about 20 Orff instruments to the high school where we perform. I will let you know what I end up doing.

How do you select your music for performances? Are you able to go at it from a Kodaly approach?

Also, for those of you who are secondary choral people, I'd love to hear your thoughts on selecting and teaching rep. for your choirs. 

Don't miss out on my choral singing word wall. It will be FREE on my TPT page until 9/1/13!

Back to School Sale Extended!

In case you missed out on the Teachers Pay Teachers site wide sale, I have extended my sale through 8/21!

Check back for more fun singing games later this week!

Back to School {First Day Activities}

I started back to school this past week with my kids on Tuesday. I had such a great first week and I am so excited to be back making music with them.

We spent our first few days going over music room rules and procedures (click here to see rules post), emergency drills, and jumped right into making music.

Can I just say that I LOVE pinterest! I found so many great ideas for back to school games through Pinterest as well as from Susan during Level 3.

I thought I would share some of the really fun ones that the students enjoyed our first few days back:

"Up The Ladder" is a great game for learning the names of your new students.

"Down, Down Baby" is from the Amidons. SO FUN! Apparently this is a favorite, because it's being sung on the bus!

Hickety Pickety Bumblebee is a fun one to use with K/1. In first grade you could review four voices with "can you sing (whisper, call, speak) your name to me". With kindergarten, it might be a bit intimidating to ask them to sing their name to you on day 1 of music, but let's be honest we are still learning all their names several weeks into the school year. Pull this out with them a little bit later (maybe after you have presented the four voices) and do this then.
Hickety Pickety Bumblebee

Mamalama: I learned this in Level 3, and we take it a bit faster than in this video, but it is SO FUN! I even had a student get the last part after just a few listenings. CRAZY!

What are some of your favorite first day songs and activities?

Still looking for ways to set up and decorate your room? 
This music room decor catalog will give you lots of idea, plus a back to school tip on each page!

Getting Ready for the First Day of School {Music Rules}

You know the school year is fast approaching when you begin to have the back to school dreams! I've been having school-related dreams the past few nights, and I am ready to just get past the anticipation.

Last year I was actually on maternity leave for the first few weeks of the school year, so even though I treated my first day back like the first day of school, it wasn't quite the same.

I am going into my fourth year teaching and my third year at my current school. I feel like each year I do a better job of starting the school year off the right way.

Every year I take a look at my class rules and every year I have made changes.

I have seen a lot of pins on pinterest with the rules spelling out MUSIC, and thought that was cute and may help the kids remember them better, so I tried to come up with things that I felt would be meaningful in my room.

Here's what I came up with:

M- Make good choices
U- Use kind words
S- Show Respect (to classmates, teacher, and the music)
I- Involve yourself
C- Care for our room and instruments

I put a copy of my Music Rules Posters on my TPT page. They come in owls:

Like this:

Or birds like this: 
I also have included a bird version like the owl one above, as it will use less ink to print than the polka dots. (All three styles are included in the zip file)

I have not ever really thought to include "respecting the music" before. I think that will be interesting to talk with the kids about on the first day.

Now, I KNOW that spending a bit of time on your rules and procedures that first day/week/month is SO important for a successful year, but I always feel so BORED talking AT the kids about rules. I always want to get through it quickly and then jump into the music. To give our rules a little more attention this year, I came up with a song for each rule using the melody of a folk tune.

For example, for "Involve Yourself" I came up with this text set to "A Sailor Went to Sea".

The PDF of these Music Rules Songs is included in the poster set above in my store. How much time do you spend going over rules and procedures the first day? What creative ways have you come up with to introduce them to your kids in a way that sticks?

Check back soon for another installment of Getting Ready for the First Day of School with lesson ideas.

The Woods Would Be Very Silent {Bulletin Boards}

I absolutely love this quote:

I decided to use this as the inspiration for my bulletin boards this year. I have three bulletin boards. One is a long rectangle and the other two are more square and sit on either side of my white board. 

I have one board dedicated to Solfa Street (that is for another post).

So on my two remaining birds, I came up with these ideas:

Board #1- the quote from the picture above

Then I saw this clipart on Etsy:
The birds on the wires reminded me of the staff, so I decided on my second board.

Board #2- "Every bird as found has found their place, on a line or in a space" for the lines and spaces of treble clef.

Back to board #1
Aileen Miracle had recently posted a set of bird-themed classroom materials on her TpT page, and I loved the way the trees/leaves were various sized circles.

I found this big packet of pre-cut circles at our local Michael's craft store on clearance! I love that it has all the colors, and I am planning to change the trees with the seasons. I usually keep my bulletin boards the same all year, so this will give it a fresh look without the time it takes to completely re-do a board.

Then I went through the scrapbook paper I already owned because I wanted some of the circles to have patterns and textures. The patterns I had weren't amazing, but they work!

I used a scrapbook circle cutter and die cutters at school to cut the circles for my tree leaves.

I already had a bunch of die cut letters, so that wasn't a big deal.

Usually I cover my board with the contact paper at school, but it comes in very limited color choices, so I remembered that I had seen on pinterest that you could use a plastic tablecloth from the dollar tree or party city. This gives you lots more color options and is cheaper than covering them in fabric. I bought my tablecloths from Party City when they were buy one, get one free.

I also bought a new border this year. This is the first time I don't have music specific borders, but I really like them. 

Once I had all my materials, I could begin putting the board together. First I cover the board with the background and border. Then I lay out the text in front of the board to see how it will best fit. I figured out where I wanted my trees, and then began to staple everything onto the board. 

I added my birds last and here is the final product of board #1:

 I ran out of black S's, so the "s" on "those" is a different font, but I kind of like it! I hope this board is encouraging and inspirational to all my students and makes them stop and think about the things they do well. Also, I hadn't originally planned on the trees running off my boards, but they seemed too short if I cut them off at the end of the bulletin board, so I decided to let them run to the floor. I think I like them though. Any thoughts?

On to board #2:

For this board I added a chevron circle and note name inside each of the birds. I actually ended up cutting off the birds' legs and feet to make everything fit better. Originally I thought of having two telephone poles on either side, but it just didn't seem like it would fit on this small board. Maybe on a bigger board. I also debated about whether I wanted the "wires" to be a little bowed or straight. I decided to go with straight.

I purchased black streamers to create the staff lines.

Again I covered the board with a tablecloth, border and laid out my letters in front of the board. I added the top two rows of text and then taped my lines about where I thought they should go. added my birds for spacing, adjusted and stapled lines. I finished it off with the teal text and birds.

In level 3, Susan was really  particular about emphasizing ON a line or IN a space to help differentiate between the two, so I thought I should probably work to incorporate that in my teaching. I may even make "on" and "in" stand out a little more by making them orange or something. I haven't decided, and I need to see what colors of letters I have.

If you want to recreate these boards in your classroom, I have included a set of my printable birds on my teachers pay teachers store with step by step directions for each board and a lettering count all done for you so you don't need to count the letters needed for the boards. 

If you use them, I'd love to see what you come up with your your boards. Feel free to send me pictures!

Warm wishes as you prepare your rooms to make music with your beautiful children!