March 20, 2015: Music

Musical Conversations

People communicate with each other by listening, watching, and responding through sound and movement.

Up until now in third grade music we have explored a variety of “Musical Conversations” through listening and responding games.   

Beginning recorder players improvised bird calls and listened and responded to similar bird calls they heard within the space. 

Call and Response
More recently we practiced recorder notation reading by framing melodies from a work song.  Work Songs often use another conversational musical form called “Call and Response.”  Not all Call and Response songs are work songs, however.  Plenty of playground chants, clapping games, and jump rope rhymes are Call and Response.  One of our favorites, "Step Back, Baby" turned into a line dance, partner clapping game, and a vocal and instrumental Call and Response game.  Have a listen.

Question & Answer
We have also practiced another musical form of conversation called “Question & Answer” in which their answer must use some ideas or rhythmic elements related to the musical question.  This is exactly what we do when we talk to each other.  As we gathered in the hallway to begin class one day, Cassie walked past us.  I asked her a question, and she answered. 

Question: "Cassie, what did you have for breakfast today?"
Answer: "For breakfast today I had eggs and toast!"

She used the end of the question as the beginning of her answer.  Perfect.

With musical Question & Answer, the answers can be anything, as long as it's related to the question.

Question: "Clap, clap, pat stomp snap?"
Answer: "Pat stomp snap snap Clap clap clap!"  is one of a thousand possible answers.  

Movement & Music
This week we used a Japanese song, "Hotaru Koi," that we’ve learned to sing in English "Come, Firefly" and (mostly) play on recorder, and explored a conversation between movement and music.  


We played a "memory" game, unlocking certain melody cards through precise recorder playing and notation recognition to reveal the ABBA form of the song.   We then followed a movement prompt, pretending to drink from a bottle of water or a drinking fountain, or a lake or a straw, but as if we were the size of a firefly.  A: loosening the cap B: tilting the container  B: righting the container  A: tightening the cap.  They worked with partners to develop a secure movement routine that followed the ABBA song form. 

We then explored connected conversations between musical improvisers and creative movers - each musician watched a partner out in the space, and followed each contrasting movement with an appropriate musical response.

Looking Ahead: Communication through Gesture and Symbols
In the Spring we will focus on using movement gestures and written symbols to communicate a desired musical outcome.  Third graders will design their own systems of notation and assign meaning to their symbols, and other students will read and interpret what sounds the symbols represent.

- Peter Musselman