Posted in 1st and 2nd Grade, Classical Music, Movement Activities, Parachute Activities, Scarves, Steady beat

The Syncopated Clock


Students in second grade learned the terms legato (smooth and connected), staccato (short and choppy), and learned a new music vocabulary word: slur.  A slur is a symbol that looks like an arch, and tells you to connect your notes and sing (or play) legato.  We sang a song called Legato Staccato, and then we used scarves to show staccato movements and legato movements while listening to The Syncopated Clock composed by Leroy Anderson.  The C part is the most fun- whenever the “alarm” goes off, throw your scarf in the air!

We began with this chart:


And finished with this one!


We also discussed the structure of the piece: ABACA with a coda at the end, and the instruments used in the song.

After doing the scarf activity (and of course, folding our scarves during the magical scarf folding music) we made it into a parachute listening activity!

Posted in 1st and 2nd Grade, Kindergarten, Movement Activities

Music and Movement!

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Did you know… studies have shown that music has huge, positive effects on early childhood development?!  Exposure to music- listening, singing, dancing, or playing- fosters many essential early learning capabilities, including

  • Speech development
  • Listening skills
  • Patterning and sequencing (early math skills)
  • Rhythm, beat, and timing
  • Social skills
  • Emotional development
  • Memory
  • Physical coordination

The Elements of Music

Each aspect of music contributes in many ways to a child’s fundamental development. For instance . . .

Beat serves as the master timekeeper for all music, while engaging listen- ers in a common experience. When you rock or dance to the beat together, the music gives your child a sense of being in sync with you and the world around him.

Rhythm maps the timing of each note in a song. We each have a unique sense of rhythm that influences our style of moving, communicating—and even thinking.

Tempo is the pace and timing of the music (fast or slow). Tempo gives little ones important clues about big ideas such as order, sequence, and the pas- sage of time.

Pitch tells the story of the song as the notes go up and down, much like words selected and arranged in a sentence to convey an idea. For children, music serves as a gentle guide to understanding the intricacies of language and communication.

Dynamics are variations in volume (loud and soft) and intensity. They express emotion (strength, playfulness, sadness) and offer clues about the overarching message of the music. Dynamics offer children the opportunity to explore feelings.

Melody brings pitch, beat, rhythm, tempo, and dynamics together to create the tune we hear. Melody aids in memory by compressing multiple bits of information so it’s easier to remember. That’s why songs like the ABC song work so well (and stay with us for a lifetime).

Harmony introduces complexity to the music and mirrors important social skills young children grapple with—skills like conversation, speaking, and listening.

Intervals mark the changes in music. An inter- val is the difference in pitch between two notes. Intervals build anticipation for what’s next while giving the listener the time she needs to follow along.

Lyrics (words) multiply the language development value of music for young children.

As you can see, music all on its own is a powerful force for learning and growing. But when you add movement to music, from toe tapping to hand clapping to hitting the dance floor, the benefits multiply manyfold. When children use their bodies to explore, they are engaging the entire brain in the experience. So the next time you’ve got a few minutes, turn on some music and start moving. It’s great learning, and it’s a lot of fun, too!

Posted in 1st and 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th and 5th Grade, Fourth Grade, Group Activities, Movement Activities, Singing, Steady beat

Draw Me a Bucket of Water

Students in third and fourth grade played the singing game “Draw Me a Bucket of Water.”  The tune and lyrics go like this:

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Four students start out by two holding hands standing across from each other, and the other two holding hands over the first two students hands.  While singing the song, students walk in a circle to the steady beat.  Each time you sing the song, you increase the number IN the bunch and decrease the number OUT the bunch. Every time you increase the number IN the bunch, one student goes “under” into the inner part of the students arms, until everyone is in the bunch!  At the end we all shout “FROG IN THE BUCKET!  HOP HOP HOP!” four times, and everyone has to hop on the “hops”!  The rule is we have to sing it in our nicest singing voices (and of course you can’t sing while laughing) but luckily you CAN sing while smiling, and everyone definitely smiles during this activity!

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Posted in 1st and 2nd Grade, Classical Music, Movement Activities, Scarves

More Rondo Form with “Viennese Musical Clock” by Zoltán Kodály

First and second graders have been reinforcing the term “Rondo Form” with another scarf activity and the song Viennese Musical Clock by Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály.

First, we reviewed the term “rondo form” by singing the song “There is a form that we all know and Rondo is it’s name-o!” (to the tune of Bingo of course) and discussing what it means for a song to be “in rondo form.”  Then we listened to Viennese Musical Clock and charted it out:

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Next, I demonstrated the movements for each section: Wave your Flag for the A section, Ring of Fire for the B section, Bug in a Rug for the C section, Crystal Ball for the D section, and Throw in the Air for the coda.  We love this activity!

Wave your Flag

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Ring of Fire (make a big circle in front of yourself)

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Bug in a Rug

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Crystal Ball

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And afterwards, the “scarf folding music.”  As soon as the students hear the special scarf folding music, they know what to do

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Posted in 1st and 2nd Grade, Classical Music, Dance Activities, Movement Activities, Scarves, Spring Activities

Rondo Form and “Spring” by Antonio Vivaldi

Students in first and second grade are learning about Rondo Form.  A song is in rondo form if it has an A section that is repeated several times, with new sections in between each A section.  An example of a song that is in rondo form  is Spring by the famous Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi.  When we listen to Spring, we call the A section “The Trees” because it is played by the whole string family and sounds strong and graceful like trees in a forest.   This tree or A section music is represented with green and brown scarves.

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After the tree music comes “The Birds,” which sounds different from the trees: it is played by violins which trill and sound a bit like chirping.  Because this new section sounds different, we give it the next letter of the alphabet and call it the B section!   The bird music or B section is represented by pink and purple scarves.

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After the bird music, the tree music comes back.

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Next we hear new music that does not sound like the tree music or the bird music, it is bubbly but peaceful sounding, so this music is “The River.”  Because it is different than the A section and the B section, we give it the next letter of the alphabet, and call it the C section.  The river music or C section is represented with blue scarves.

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After the river music, the tree music comes back again!  Next we hear music in a minor key that has a fast tempo and sound “zig zaggy,” so this music is “The Thunder and Lightening Storm,” and we call it the D section.  The storm music, or D section is represented by yellow and white scarves.

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Suddenly, we hear music that sounds just like the trees, but is still in a minor key, so this is tree AND storm music- we still call it the A section though.

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Next, we hear slow violins playing: this is “The Rising Sun,” and is the E section.

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Then we hear music that sounds a lot like the trees but is a little different, so this is the tree AND sun music- but we still call it the A section.

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Towards the end, the bird music (B section) comes back!

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And finally, the song finishes with another section of tree music (A section).

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The form of the song is: ABACADAEABA

I usually help students the first two times we do the activity (I do it two times every week for about three weeks, they always ask to do it again and again).  The next week, I tell them they need to hear their part on their own!

We also have a coloring sheet to go along with the activity:

spring rondo form pic

Click here for the PDF: Spring Rondo Form

You can listen to Spring at home by clicking here

You can watch real musicians play it by clicking here!

Posted in 1st and 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th and 5th Grade, Dance Activities, Fourth Grade, Movement Activities, Multicultural Activities

All-School Dance Unit

This week, Ms. Friedmann’s music classes and Mr. Powers’ gym classes have been teaming up in the gym for a dance unit!  Some of the dances we have been learning include La Raspa (Mexican Hat Dance) from Mexico, Jibidi Ibida from France, Troika from Russia, Seven Jumps from Denmark, the Hokey Pokey, the Cha Cha Slide, the Cupid Shuffle, the Bunny Hop, the Alley Cat, the Twist, and the Chicken Dance.

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5th grade students dance the Troika


3rd grade students dance La Raspa, or The Mexican Hat Dance

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2nd grade students dancing The Chicken Dance!

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1st grade students doing a mirroring exercise.