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An Activity to Start a Sixth Grade Class
Give each student a sheet of paper. In big letters and on the top half of the paper, have each student write down one musical thing they would like to learn or be able to do. On the bottom half of the paper, have each student write down one musical thing they would like to teach someone else. Students will then walk around the room holding their papers up, looking for someone they can teach or someone they can learn from. Every student must find at least one other classmate to teach or learn from. Students then sit in groups according to who they have chosen, and learn from each other. Allow 10-15 minutes. After this time is up, students may choose to share with the entire class what they learned. Collect the sheets of paper, and keep for your reference in planning future lessons. This will inform you how to include student interests (what they want to learn) and abilities (what they want to teach) in lessons you will teach. I have used this activity with 6th graders, but it certainly can be used at others levels as well.
Fifth Grade Lesson Using Conversational Solfege, Beginning of the Year
- Show video of student singing. Have students give 1. positive feedback on the singing 2. suggestions for improvement of the singing 3. a second positive feedback on the singing. Tell the class that this is the model for how we will give each other feedback in the classroom.
- Practice getting quiet with the raising of the hand and model raising hand before speaking or leaving seat.
- Sing Me Another (CS, p. TM145)–teach by singing it to the class then having the class sing in unison.Divide the class into two equal groups. One group will sing the song, the other will give feedback as modelled in the previous segment.
Teach the Hand Pattern #2 (CS, p. TM150). After the students have done the pattern in unison, group students in threes. One student performs the hand pattern another sings “Sing Me Another,” and the third observes and then gives the other two feedback. Rotate rolls.
Have each student assume a number–1, 2, or 3, within each group of 3 students.
Reconvene the whole class, and have students sing “Sing Me Another” as a 3-part round. 1s will start, 2s will go second, and 3s will come in third.
- Write Patterns Set 2A, numbers 3, 4, and 5 on the board (from C, p. TM 135).
- Have students identify the pattern used for most of “Sing Me Another.”
- Have students work in their groups of 3s to decide how patterns 3 and 4 go, and practice chanting or clapping them. Have each group clap both rhythms without feedback, and then reveal the correct solution.
- Have each group use 4 patterns (at least 2 different ones) to compose a rhythmic work. Each group rehearses and refines their composition, preparing it for presentation.
- Optional: students use barred instruments to put pitches with their composed rhythms.
Each group performs their composition for the class. Students write feedback on each composition and on the performance of it. Written feedback will be in the form and of the kind modeled and used in the first two segments of this lesson. Written feedback is kept anonymous by students not putting their name on their work. Instead, students write down the names of the performers about whom they are writing. You collect the work and write each student’s rank book number on their paper, so you will know who wrote the feedback but the performers about whom the feed back is written will not.
Redistribute the feedback papers to the groups to which they are addressed, and give each group time to read their feedback and discuss how they might further refine their composition and/or performance based on the feedback.
Middle school general music, beginning of the year
- As students come in, have them pick up a blank sheet of paper. Tell them to write down three things on the paper: Their favorite song, their favorite musical artist or band, and their favorite musical thing to do. Students have 3 minutes to complete this.
- Give students another 3 minutes to find one person who has the same answer to the first question, then the second, then the third. When a match is found, both students with matching answers write each other’s names down next to the question they answered the same. (Each student will have 1-3 names written down.)
- Have students sit next to their matches. Have individual students give one reason why they gave one of their answers.
- To each group (formed of students who matched answers from the first segment) give an index card with three musical terms on it that have sounds associated with them. For example, fast, soft, staccato. The group has 3 minutes to create wordless music using body percussion, beat boxing, and/or voice on neutral syllables which demonstrates the 3 words on the card.
Students within each group generate musical ideas according to the musical terms they are working with. The group selects those that it will use, and the one who generated each idea teaches it to the rest of the group. It can be a rhythm pattern, sing part of a song, or anything involving making music. After 3 minutes, each group takes 3 minutes to share their composition with the class.
- Have the students read the posted classroom rules aloud in unison. After the rules have been read, select students to act out what breaking the rule looks like, and then what following the rule looks like. 5 minutes
Practice quieting when your hand is raised. Time how long it takes. Have students come to the front of the class and be the one who raises the hand.
- Discuss the value of music, using the posters in the room as a basis for the discussion. 8 minutes
- Play Youngerby Ruel. Ask students with what in the song they relate. What is the value of relating to a musical work?
- What genre is the song? Is that genre a good fit with what the song is about? Why or why not?
- Describe or demonstrate one musical element you heard in the song (rhythm, timbre, melody, beat, etc.) 8 minutes
- Exit ticket: How did following our classroom rules allow us to create value in our music today?
A general music lesson for 4th grade
- Sing “Above the Plain” for the class several times so that they begin to learn it.
- Write the last line of “Above the Plain” on the board, and sing it several times with solfege while the students follow along.
- Sing the last line of “Above the Plain,” but leave one measure out and have the class sing it instead of you, with solfege. Do this four times, each time leaving out a different measure until the class has sung each measure with solfege.
- Transfer to barred instruments or keyboards, and have students practice in small groups playing the last line of “Above the Plain.”
- Have students play the last line of “Above the Plain” as an accompaniment while you and/or the class sings the entire song.
- Have the class sing “Above the Plain” in canon in up to 8 parts.
- Spell This–Play or sing on a neutral syllable a familiar two- or three-note tonal pattern for which the children have learned the solfege and have the class or individual students repeat the pattern, singing it with solfege.
- Rapid Fire–play one note at a time (in the same key as the previous game) and have the class or individual students repeat the note with the correct solfege syllable.
- Play Robert Russell Bennet’s Selections from The Sound of Music through “The Sound of Music” and have students fill out the listening template (instruments heard, mood, genre–omit the lyrics section because the music is instrumental).
- After students have completed the template, discuss their answers, and have them give one reason to support their answers.