Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hello and Happy Wednesday! 
I wanted to touch base with the music ed blogging world but I really can't stay long today.
This is a very hectic week. I have grades due, a 4th Grade Concert tomorrow, an observation tomorrow, a full day ROCKE workshop to attend on Saturday (Hurray, Nyssa Brown!), a rehearsal Saturday night and a short gig with my band on Sunday afternoon. 

So, this is not an official post, just a mention that in honor of 3 million teachers enjoying Teachers Pay Teachers,  there is a very big sale starting on Thursday, February 27 until Friday, February 28. All of the items in my store will be 20% off and you can get an additional 8% off with the promo code TPT3!

Many music bloggers have participated in my friend Amy Abbott's Wishlist Wednesday link party, and those lists are certainly worth checking out! 

My store is at

Have a great week!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Five Favorite Pins of February

Today I'm linking up with Mrs. Miracle's Music Music Room to share my Five Favorite Pins of February. (Hurray! I finally gotten it together and joined the Favorite Pins Linky Party!)

Kindergarten/1st music notation
I'm sure there's an app for this, but this is such a sweet "hands on" activity!

Easy Risers
Ooooo, I covet these risers! My school is about to celebrate our 25th anniversary and I'm reasonably sure my risers were purchased the year the school opened. These look much easier to lug around.
(My husband and I often joke that the reason we had children was so that when I was pregnant I could have an excuse to not move the risers for performances!)

Words to Know
Students say the word and then high five the hand.
While I love the idea of "tickets out the door/exit tickets," the reality is that when I've passed out actual physical pieces of paper, it's taken up too much class time and my students get restless. 
Why not have them verbalize and high five the hand? 
(I actually have those hand prints sitting in my home office; I bought them a few months ago thinking I'd come up with a brilliant idea of how to use them in my room. And then I forgot about them.)
I'll use them for music vocabulary, rhythms, or short melodies. 

Minuet in G Major
Here is one of those very cute ideas that I love but will probably never do.
(Oh well, that's what Pinterest is for!)

Dalcroze Eurhythmics Durations video
You have to see my friend Fritz with his students reading rhythms. Fritz is our token Dalcroze teacher in my district and he is fabulous! I always learn so many subtle things when I watch other music teachers. I love the expression and energy he cultivates from his students. Additionally, here's a fine example of students who are truly fluent in rhythm.

Thanks again to Aileen for the Linky Party!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Freebie! Rhythm Cards: One Beat at a Time


This has been a very challenging weekend for me and other teachers in my district as we experience decisions made by newly appointed members of our school board. I won't get political here. What I can do every day is work hard to teach children in my school the value, power and language of music.
Like the song says, "I've got rhythm, I've music, I've got my man, who could ask for anything more?" (Well, I could. But never mind. Just throw in a cup of strong coffee and I'll be good to go...)

So, rhythm. Let's make sure we've got that! 

One of my first "a-ha!" moments that came when I started my Kodály training was the importance of teaching the difference and the relationship between beat and rhythm. (Yes, that was something that was never stressed in my music education!) 
In my classroom when each new specific rhythm is taught I show heartbeats along with the rhythm so students can visualize how many sounds in a rhythm and where it falls on the beat. Often I show the rhythm right on top of the heartbeat.

In older grades, I transition to showing the rhythms underneath the beats.

Years ago I made student packs of rhythms on large foam hearts (and large "beat dots")

I use these with 1st graders as soon as we have a firm grasp of quarter notes and paired eighth notes. (On every heart or dot I drew a ta on one side and ti ti on the other.)
We use these for decoding song and chant rhythms, rhythmic dictation, and composing.

Inspired by all the great heart clip art that Teachers Pay Teachers members have been offering, I recently created rhythm cards showing one beat at a time. (Or two. The half note and eighth-quarter-eighth cards are 2 beats and twice as big as the one beat rhythms.)
The hearts are colorful and glittery, courtesy of Glitter Meets Glue Designs. (Some things  bring out the girly girl in me; I can't help being a sucker for glitter!)
Each rhythm comes with and without note heads. Click on the picture below to download these rhythm cards.


So, please, take my heart(s)! If you do download, I'd love your feedback. (I still consider myself a newbie in regards to making things for Teachers Pay Teachers and it's helpful to know what other music teachers find useful.)

Also, check out the Kodály Corner blog. I recently contributed my first post about opening songs. 

Have a great week and a sweet Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 3, 2014

3 Books to Sing

Hello and welcome to February!

In my district we are getting into that time in the school year when the high-stakes testing starts. I am a parent of a 3rd grader this year and I have definitely noticed a change in his homework load. My job as a parent is to make sure my son continues to love reading, writing, math, and learning new things. Part of my job as the music teacher is to emphasize the fun and fulfillment that music gives us as individuals and as a society. I want my students to be musically literate but that won't happen unless they value music in their lives. So sometimes we sing for the sake of singing or enjoy listening for the sake of listening. Every musician was a music lover first.

So when the testing revs up in the year, I rev up the dancing, moving, and book sharing.
Children need a little extra nurturing during test season, some become quite stressed. 

The books I'm sharing today are books to sing to and with your students. When I sing and share a book I'm always amazed at how quiet and focused the children become. I pulled out three books last week that students always love.

Mama Don't Allow by Thacher Hurd

This is the tale of Miles Possum who gets a saxophone for his birthday, (from his Uncle Waylon, love that!) Miles forms a swamp band with other aspiring musicians and they soon  get their first gig; playing for the alligator ball! But when the music is done for the night and it's time for dinner, Miles and his friends discover what's on the menu- Swamp Band soup! The band finds a crafty way on saving themselves through music.

I share this book with my first graders. They love the word balloon retorts of the Swampville residents who would rather not hear the band practice. Read this book with lots of expression and different voices for each character. There is not a CD recording with this book so it's up to you to bring it to  life! Sing Mama Don't Allow with gusto and tapping feet and watch the kids swing and sway! When the band plays the Lullaby of Swampland, get creative and improvise a simply sung lullaby. I'm having as much fun as the kids when we read this in class. (My job today includes imitating different jazz instruments, singing and stomping this tune, and improvising a lullaby? SCORE!)

After we've read the book it's fun to pull out a recording of the song Mama Don't Allow. I play the version by The Rooftop Singers. It's a perfect "beat leader" song!

The Ants go Marching by Dan Crisp

Child's Play sure put out a lot of wonderful song books! 
This is one of my favorites. When the 1st and 2nd grades celebrate the 100th Day of School I pull out this book. Of course this is the old tune When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again with different lyrics. With each verse, ants are added in rows and columns, eventually adding up to 100. I'm always telling my students that music and math are BFFs. While this book does not show exactly what I mean, it's fun for them to see the math and ant visuals laid out in these pages. 
I sing this one to the students but I've never had a class who wasn't singing along by the 4th verse! (Don't forget those "boom, boom, boom!"s)

illustrated by Peter Spier

Here's an old ballad about a fox and his adventures as he hunts for food for his family. Peter Spier's artwork is beautiful. 

I initially sing this as we read it and then we listen to Pete Seeger or Jill Trinka version of the song. There are several renditions of this song, just look through iTunes. (I can amuse myself for hours poking around the internet listening to countless recordings of one song!)  My friend,(and fellow Kodály crusader in our district,) Steve Soich introduced me to Nickel Creek's recording of The Fox which is a huge hit with my students. Their version is a very rollicking bluegrass song that the first graders can't help but bounce to. 

That's (some) of what's going on in my music room. Have a musical week reading, singing, and moving!