Dec 5,2014: Music

Blue is the Sea

I have recently returned from the American Orff Schulwerk Association national conference held in Music City, Nashville Tennessee.  Three full days of sessions with internationally recognized teachers (not to mention the evening line dancing and contra dancing) have inspired me with a thousand new ideas and approaches to teaching creative movement and music here at TIS.  Thank you one and y'all for your continued support of the music and art programs through Run for the Arts. 

Orchestrating a poem helps us experience the musicality of language.

Fourth graders finished up an integrated creative project this week that used composition skills, improvisation, reading and writing notation, playing recorders, xylophones, and unpitched percussion, and finally, writing lyrics and singing in their track languages.

Blue is the the Sea
Green is the Grass
White are the clouds as they slowly pass

Black are the cows
Brown are the trees
Red are the sails on the ships in the breeze.

Given this simple landscape poem set in a minor key, students analyzed the form of the poem and were responsible for composing the accompaniment for the melody.  Each day they would create a new melodic ostinato that fit the poem's phrase lengths and centered around the home tone of A.  
Another approach to internalizing the phrase lengths was to use a musical form of Questions and Answers, in which one person improvises a musical question, and the musical answer might include a motive from the question, but then finish in an original way on the home tone. If the question is 4 beats long, then the answer is also 4 beats long.  For the third and sixth phrases, which are 8 beats long, the answers have to match the length of each question.  
Finally students were asked to use the form and subject of the English poem as inspiration for a new landscape poem in their track languages.  
Here is an example of one particularly lovely original melodic ostinato composition, singing in English, and soprano recorders.

Another group's complete arrangement with a student composed melodic ostinato, recorders, and track language poems:
Can't you just smell the burnt trees?
Peter Musselman
Music Specialist, Grades 2-5
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