Music Class

Seven weeks of music classes have flown by. Each class starts with BRAIN DANCE (for ages 5 to Adult!) It’s composed of 8 movement patterns humans are programmed to move through from 0-24 months that wire the central nervous system. Great for a quick warm-up at beginning of class, before tests, presentations, during computer work and TV watching for brain integration and other good things. (I have a great handout I will give to Michelle for folks who want more info.)

As stars who’ve scattered themselves around the room, we’re ready now to answer the question, “Where is ____?” matching the pitches I’ve just sung. Not an easy thing to do. Songs we’re learning include Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Bought Me a Cat, See Saw, Bye Low, Snail Snail, Starlight. Songs like See Saw let us hear a simple pattern of high and low pitches which we can show by tapping on or our heads or shoulders to match. Tapping the beat in different ways help us feel and keep beat, the foundation for learning and anchoring rhythm, which will be coming next.

The children quickly mastered a challenging passing game Acka Backa Soda Cracker where bean bags are passed around a circle. We’ve been “chasing” a “Frog in the Meadow” (again beat) around the room. The frog always seems to escape us, this last week landing in some people’s head!

We’ve learned two singing games, Skip, Skip to the Barbershop and Punchinella. I’ll let your kids explain and sing them to you. It’s been a treat as a teacher to be able to stand back and watch as the children take over singing and “running” the game.

Highway #1, a route in Australia that runs around the perimeter of the country, is now a favorite, complete with kids starting to make up words to the song. Then there’s I’ve Got the Rhythm in My Head, with a simple partner hand-clapping pattern. Of course, it gets more complex if you get your head going Ding Dong! too!

Inner hearing: I sing the melody of the next song with lu lu’s. They listen and figure out the song. Wow, watching their inner attention, the thinking, the hand raising, the guess, the class sings the guess, the head shakes, “No, that’s not it,” or face lighting up, “That’s it!” is fun to watch. This could be a great game, “Can You Guess My Song?”

And there’s instruments, so far claves, cha chas, shakeys, hand drums/tambourines, rhythm sticks. We’re still working of passing them out, changing seats so we get to play a different instrument, and living with the fact one doesn’t always get THE instrument one wanted. They don’t know it yet, but we’re working up to the addition of several more instruments, then conducting pieces by pointing to pictures of the instruments on posterboard, a different piece performed with different conductors!

A nice surprise for me has been children volunteering to sing solos! This is a major goal for me as a teacher, for when children sing solo they not only demonstrate confidence and fun, but also get the experience of hearing their own voice, of matching their voice to another singer (if that is the situation), of also hearing themselves producing high and low sounds, fast and slow, and the fun of sharing the gift of their voice with others. So to have kids come up and volunteer, “audition” for me after class, go home and practice, and get up front and go for it (obviously having thought about their song and worked on it during the week) is a delight. Not only that, we all get to practice being an audience, audience etiquette, and respect.

Perhaps your child will not only share songs from class, but teach them to you. Partner songs like “I’ve Got the Rhythm in My Head” and “Where is Thumbkin?” (we ‘re learning it as a conversation between the thumbs of two people) definitely require a partner to add to the fun.

Diane Ste. Marie