October 17, 2014: Music

3rd Grade - Creative Improvisations

We have focused our first several weeks on activities that tune our collaborative ensemble music skills.  From the first day, we been singing and stepping to the beat with a scattered mixer singing game, "Welcome all my Friends," 16-beat partner clapping, "My Name is Pe,  my Name is Ter, my Name is Pe-ter, my name is Peter."  This clapping pattern became the rhythm foundation for "Green Sally Up," which we orchestrated into multiple groups playing independent parts as a whole ensemble.

Music Informances!
Come participate in a music class!  These will not be performances - you will be expected to sing, dance, learn, and play along with your child!  Because the activities we do in class ask a great deal of personal risk-taking by the children, I ask that you do not record video of the experience.  Step in, join hands, and you will take a better memory with you.  Please come dressed prepared to sit on the floor as well as move around a bit.   If you can't make this one, don't worry, I will also open an Informance class in the Spring.   RSVP: peterm@intlschool.org

3B:  Tues Oct28  9:15-10:00am
3A:  Wed Oct29  9:15-10:00am
3C:  Thur Oct 30 9:15-10:00am

Check out the effortless improvisation in this whole class orchestration of "Green Sally Up."
You will hear the song in the form ABA, where the B section is improvised, with no singing.  We are becoming increasingly comfortable at "thinking" the song, and improvising the music that comes to mind.  On xylophones, instead of playing "willy nilly," kids are using melodic steps and skips in their improvisations, and ending their phrases on the home tone.

(Audio player below doesn't seem to work on mobile devices... sorry.)

Green Sally Up
Click here for a different version of this song.. 
by Mattie Garder, Mary Gardner, Jesse Lee Pratcher

Folk songs change from place to place, and time to time.

Why is improvisation so important?
Here is a widely shared blog post about improvisation and creativity

We are also developing our group dynamic through movement and folk dance.  "Great Big House in New Orleans" is an American folk song and dance in a Major Pentatonic key.  Once we learned the ABC form of the song and dance, held hands helpfully and stepped the Grapevine step in time in the right direction, suddenly a spook went the room! "Did you feel that?"  The lights flickered.  Or was just my imagination?
Suddenly the song turned into a spooky minor key.  It wasn't a Great Big House anymore.. It became a... "Haunted House!"  "On Halloween!"  Third graders in their group composed  NEW lyrics for this minor version of the song.  Here's a class sample:

Haunted House on Halloween
Forty spirits high
Every room that I've been in
is filled with spider pie.

Went down to the old graveyard
To fetch a pail of eyeballs,
Put one arm around my goblin,
The other round my zombie!

Fare thee well my zombie wife
Fare the well my goblin,
Fare thee well my wicked witch
With the green slime dripping down her!  (yikes!)

 Folk Dancing, lyric improvisations, and holding hands without saying Ewww.

Recorders - 3rd Grade is the year we are introduced to the soprano recorder.  Of course we began with bird call improvisations using only the head joint.   3rd Graders may remember studying James Audubon with Julie in art last year.  We will explore this bird theme further with pieces like "Cukoo  in the Clock," "A Wise Old Owl," "Birds of a Feather," "The Song of Six Birds," as well as learning to identify and play real bird calls of North America with the recorder.

For now, if your child has borrowed a recorder, have them practice:
  • Left Hand on Top
  • Warm air
  • Elbows off knees
  • Use lips, not teeth - it is not a chew toy for a puppy. 
(Ask your child:  Your child should know their ABC group, and their Recorder #) 
We are beginning with two notes: C' and A.  Have your child play a mystery nursery rhyme for you using only these two notes.  Maybe it's "Humpty Dumpty.." or any rhyme you both know.  See if you can guess which rhyme they are playing. 
Peter Musselman

Music Specialist, Grades 2-5