Spring time, Spring Time, Spring Time!
February was an awesome month for music. Of course, Valentines Day inspired songs of love and I always enjoy a good excuse to play Beatles songs! The kids learned the chorus to ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE and we sang it from the heart!
We also spent more time learning the different families of symphonic instruments. I have flash cards and we talk about what the instruments have in common… what makes them belong to the same “family”. Of course, since I’m a rockin’ roller, I throw a couple curve balls, just because I think it’s always important to experiment outside boxes: “Did you know the guitar can be percussion instrument too?” And I’ll play muted strums, or tap rhythms on the back of the body and sing, “ Pitter Patter Goes The Rain” , BINGO
Also, we’ve been enjoying “Baby Shark”, which helps with developing control over motor skills by making the finger plays gradually bigger with each verse. First snapping baby sharks, then snapping mama sharks, papa sharks, grandpa sharks, and so on. Also, we get to practice dynamics, go from soft to loud or “piano” to “forte”
This month is has become increasingly more important to me to really try and stretch the childrens’ experience with what it is to make music in a GROUP, to increase their sensitivity. For a couple weeks, I used my iPhone to record the kids singing BINGO and making sure they get the right number of claps on each verse. I used to think that it very well could be impossible to get ALL kids counting together. But recording them has been a very interesting experiment. When the kids hear it back, they get to hear themselves and remember what they did. And an extrodinary amount of learning happens in those moments. Because then the second time we record and sing the songs, the level of listening and heightened attention goes way up! And, in several cases, ALL children were on the same page. Amazing.
And here’s the remarkable thing: the lesson hasn’t been forgotten. The last couple weeks have been pretty impressive to me, with regards to listening and making music TOGETHER.
Also it had been a while since we sang with the “shakey eggs”. Some of the classes are getting so big, I’ve had to replenish my egg shaker supply so that there’s enough to go around for everyone.
“I Know a Chicken” (Laurie Berkner)
“Shake It! (Mister Bradley)
“We’re Going To Kentucky” (traditional)
And Spring is approaching so…
“Rain is falling”
“Zip a Dee Doo Dah”
And, most recently, we learned all about Fruit Bats! And were reminded how all things are connected. Trees give us Oxygen, we give trees Carbon Dioxide, and animals help carry seeds to Sunshine.
Can You See The Connection (Lucas Miller)
As always, Thank You for having me be a part of your child’s musical development. It’s a privilege and an honor!
By the way, I have a summer party special! Book today if you are having a party this summer!
The Weeks of June 30 and July 7, 2014
Greetings Rock Stars!
What we’ve had with the “HATS” lessons. We had fun with with Independence Day songs and I wore my big, tall, fluffy American Flag hat.
You’re a Grand Ol’ Flag
Fireworks, fireworks (to The Tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)
Fill the sky, shining on the fourth of July
See them shoot up, see them flare,
See them light up everywhere,
Fireworks, fireworks fill the sky,
Shining on the Fourth of July.
Bang! Snap! Whistle! Pop! (To the tune of Row Row Row Your Boat)
Fireworks fill the air.
See them lighting up the sky
On the Fourth of July.
We also passed out flags and practiced waving them… being careful to not drop them or hit anyone with them! Counting stripes, counting stars (all the way to 50!) was great fun. And rolling them back up, nice and tight was a new experience for many children.
Then last week, we talked about the early pioneers. I wore a raccoon skin hat and the Howdy Earl puppet shared stories about settling texas. Pioneers didn’t have restaurants or grocery stores and they to hunt for their own food. The also had to build their own homes and entertain themselves with music. I brought the dulcimer again and we sang Ol’ Susanna and The Bear went over the River ( making up new verses, imaging all the places a Bear might go). Some kids had ideas about the Bear going into caves, into homes, over the museum, and up to the moon! Imagination is a wonderful thing… :) We alas went on an imaginary Bear hunt, making sound effects along the way, and snapped a picture of the bear quickly before running back home!
On the video below, from 3:15 to 4:03, is some fun footage of a reenactment of early settlers entertaining themselves with music around a fire. There is a covered wagon in the background and someone is playing Ol’ Susanna on the violin. Might be an interesting thing to show your kids, to match an example with what we talked about in class:
I’m looking forward to the coming weeks and different hats to share. Up next: the Railroad Conductor hat.
Thank You for taking an interest in your child’s musical development.
P.S. I tried to find a good rendition of The Bear Went Over The Mountainto share, but most are a little too cheesy for my taste. I did find this which has a nice acoustic guitar in it.
The Weeks of June 16th and June 23rd.
Summer Time is here!
The kid’s have had the opportunity to strum my red Fender Stratocaster. And we also got to hear everyone sing hello into the microphone and amp. It’s always a strange thing to hear your own voice amplified or on a recording for the first time and I love to see the look in a child’s eyes when they bravely express themselves into the mic!
We also talked about The Blues and made up songs about things that are sad but we felt happy again when we got to turn them into music. (that’s my age-appropriate working definition of the Blues ;)
We also enjoyed demonstrations with the dulcimer and learned about the parts (head, neck, body, sound holes, frets, tuners) and children had the opportunity to take turns articulating the differences they saw between the acoustic guitar and the dulcimer. The guitar is a big “peanut” shape and the dulcimer is an “almond” shape. The dulcimer’s neck is right on top of the body but a guitars neck extends above and beyond the body, etc.
We also enjoyed using the dulcimer to accompany Ol’ Susanna, The Bear Went Over The Mountain, and Mary Had a Little Lamb.
Thanks for taking an interested in your child’s music education and, as always, thank you for choosing Opus One!
The Weeks of March 3rd and 10th
I don’t know what it is about the Springtime that has me immediately thinking of classic Disney songs, but I just couldn’t help myself!
We revisited the music terms of dynamics: piano, mezzo piano, mezzo forte, and forte with singing “Supercalifragilistic“, and as each phrase was sung, we got gradually louder; We’ve wished the swift arrival of Spring with “Zipadeedoodah”; “It’s a Small World” brought us together and encouraged us to make new friends wherever we go…
We also talked about all the fun we can have in our backyards: When the Ants Go Marching; Roly-Poly Caterpillar; The Hungry Caterpillar; Don’t Throw Your Junk in My Backyard. We also enjoyed Raffi’s “There’s a Spider on the Floor” and I reminded children that spiders can be beautiful, especially if you are lucky enough to watch them spin their web. But we don’t want to get too close them. And if you find one in your house, ask a grownup to take it outside for you. There’s use in stepping on it, since spiders help up by eating mosquitos!
Children also got to strum the guitar, the banjo, and the mandolin. We also practiced “drawing” sung pitches in the air by mimicking the sounds of the kazoo!
By the way, for parents that would like a quick brush-up on the basics of reading music, so you can help with your child’s musical development, this is a wonderful video:
THE “COPYCAT” KEYBOARD! – The Week of February 10, 2014
This week we had fun with a CASIO keyboard, full of lots of different sounds made to mimic the sounds of real instruments.
We had fun singing along with the snythezised sound a human singing “Dooooo”. The kids were able to mimic different melodies that played on the keyboard as it sharpened their ability to listen for tone precision and respond to the proper timing of “call-and-response” musicality.
We explored the art of “mimicry” or “copycatting” (though it’s never good to copycat a person who is misbehaving ;)). We made drum sounds, trumpet sounds, and organ sounds, all with our voices, attempting to mimic the keyboard. We also enjoyed a call and response song called “Mr. Bird”, a bluesy song that introduces a new singing animal to mimic with each verse. (birds, cats, cows, owls, etc.)
I also used the built in rhythm features to illustrate three different speeds of music: Adagio, Allegro, and Presto (slow, fast, and superfast). We sang along with them as they accompanied “Down Down Baby”, “Down By the Roller Coaster” and “Driving in My Car” with different speeds.
On the subject of mimicry, I wanted to introduce you to an entertainer that amazes me. His name is Reggie Watts and he mixes together acting, absurdest comedy and music. Check this video out! I think it’s something the whole family can enjoy. His spoken-word humor is abusurdest and I don’t think a child would get it or be interested. However, 3 minutes and 4 seconds in is when he begins to sing, beatbox and loop vocal sounds to make a fully arranged funk song. All with his mouth and loop recorder. It’s a total hoot and you have to see to believe it. (Think Bobby McFerrin meets the “is-this-guy- serious?”comic stylings of Andy Kauffman…)
It’s Rory’s Birthday! (The Week of Feb. 3, 2014)
This past week was my special friend Rory’s birthday. Rory is a snail and he loves to make new friends.
But Rory lives in Austin, so we had to take a little musical field-trip. We got to Austin singing “Driving In My Car” and played with different tempos. We move slowly (Adagio) when going through quiet neighborhoods or near schools; we move quickly (Allegro) when we are on feeder roads and we move super fast (Presto) when we’re on the highway.
Once in Austin, we met Rory who really loves decorations, so we played “Blow the Balloon” and we practiced blowing out on each note of a major scale (do, re, mi, fa… etc.). We also sang a call and response song called “I am a Birthday Cake”, a song sharing the same melody as “I am a Pizza”.
We got to sing Happy Birthday together and Rory reminded us how important it is to share. Which is hard for him because that cake was so delicious he was tempted to eat it all by himself!
Students also got to try their hand with the “Xylopipes”. Which is slightly different from the xylophone because xylophones use solid pieces of metal slats and, of course the pipes are hollow and circular.
Thank You so much for being engaged in your child’s musical development!
PS. I found this adorable video of a young child discovering music making on the xylopipes. It’s very cute!
The Week of Jan 20, 2014
The Week of Jan 20th, 2014
I have a lot of video links here for this letter. And I think it could be a great way to enhance your child’s experience in music class last week. I urge you to share these videos with them and talk about them!
Last week we learned about the difference between “polyphonic” and “monophonic”. Polyphonic instruments are instruments that can play more than one note at a time, like a piano or a guitar. Monophonic instruments can only play one note at a time. With some exceptions, wind instruments like trumpets and flutes, are monophonic.
To demonstrate this point, I had a recorder, a tibetan ritual horn, and a train whistle.
The recorder is monophonic. And I demonstrated playing the refrain melody from John Phillips Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever”. Children enjoyed guessing what had both stripes AND stars. (Not a zebra, not the nights sky…buuuut…)
I have a video here below of a recorder being played with an orchestra. And since your child has seen one played in class, I think it would be an interesting connection for them to make if you choose to watch this video with them. See if they can point out the recorder flute:
The tibetan horn is also a monophonic instrument. I had a small tibetan horn for a demonstration. Although I was bummed I couldn’t find one as big as the one in this video;)
The train whistle, on the other hand is polyphonic, since it has 4 holes that all get blown at the same time, to make that signature “train sound”. The kids recognize this instantly. (And of course, we enjoyed singing “I’ve Been Working On The Railroad”)
REGISTER FOR THE SPRING NOW! and “BUG WEEK” at Opus One!
For parents with children at the CATHEDRAL SCHOOL, RICE CHILDREN’S CAMPUS, or HEARTS HOME BRIGHT HORIZONS on VOSS:
If you have not signed up for Spring Opus One classes or if you’re not on auto-pay please do so right now!
If you’re child is not signed up this week, I won’t be able to have your child in class.
If you need more time or if you are sending in payment online tonite, shoot me an email and let me know, so I can be sure to have them in class.
I am at the CATHEDRAL SCHOOL Monday morning; RICE CHILDREN’S CAMPUS on Tuesday afternoon; and HEARTS HOME BRIGHT HORIZONS on Wednesday afternoon.
This past week was all about BUGS! That’s right. Bugs. We sang about ladybugs and pretending to make them crawl on our toes, ankles, knees, thighs, thumb, wrist, elbow, shoulder. We also talked about how ladybugs are good to have in your garden because they eat the bugs that eat your vegetables.
We enjoyed a few different renditions of Itsy Bitsy Spider, including one in Spanish as well as a silly one, The Great Big Harry Spider.
By the way, here is a link to a sample of a Mister Bradley recording of Itsy Bitsy Spider.
(CDs are still on sale! And if you’re extra nice, I can extend the holiday discount of 5 dollars off!. Give it a Listen!
We also sang about Caterpillars turning into Butterflies.
Students also got a demonstration with a snare drum and we used it to help us march to The Ants Go Marching 2×2, Hurrah, Hurrah. And we had fun coming up with new rhymes to go with each new number.
The Musical Jam! CD is the perfect gift for friends with kids!
Looking for a gift for friends with kids? CHECK THIS OUT!
Opus One Music, The Week of December 9th, 2013
Greetings Rockstars! This week took our musical trip down south to Mexico and learned about Mariachis. We sang learned how to say “Merry Christmas” in Spanish and learned to sing Feliz Navidad. I also brought a huge sombrero and we talked about how important it is to cover you body if you’re out somewhere where the sun is hot all day long. We also sang Pollito Chicken, La Bamba, and a rhythm game called Bate Bate Chocolate.
Also, if you haven’t enrolled yet for next session, NOW IS THE TIME! If you do it before Friday 20th, you get a free OPUS ONE CD and a FREE T-SHIRT. So register HERE!