Dec 19, 2014: Music

You can't do this, so what's the use in trying?

Second grade music is getting just a little bit more difficult!  And that's a good thing.

To prep them for the next wave of skill challenges, both in making music and writing, I told them about a boy I know named Oliver.  His last name is Twist.  Whenever he can't do something the first time, he always gives up.

"Raise your hand if you give up when something's hard?"  A few hands go up automatically, then down again when they replay the question in their minds.  Turns out that we have a lot of perseverance in the second grade groups.

And so we began a challenging music and movement game based on the poem,

Oliver Twist, you can't do this, so
What's the use in trying?
Tap your knees, Tap your toes,
Clap your hands and away we go!

Easy, right?  Many things we have done this year seem easy at first, and then we add a little "Twist" to make it challenging.  Some groups have really become responsive students, learning along and showing their peers what they can do, and making mistakes to learn from.  Each class identified parts of the poem that would sound good orchestrated by different instruments.  We considered whether Knees, Toes, Hands would have a corresponding Low, Middle, or High sound. Each group then began to improvise melodies to the known rhythm of the words.  Finally we took the words out, and while "thinking" the words, the poem comes through purely through the rhythm of the instruments.

One student reflected recently, " We sound really good!  We sound like we could be on the radio."
(I think that was meant as a compliment.  : )

Here is an audio sample of an Oliver Twist orchestration, followed by another improved version after "Stars and Wishes," (more voices, and instruments continue to play for the B section) and then a sample of the "Cup Game" rhythm, with a revue of a couple tunes from the beginning of the year mixed in.  

Ask your child to show you the cup rhythm over the break!  We use empty yogurt containers.  It's hard enough for some kids to just follow along with the "Twisting" motions of the cup pattern, but some are actually able to sing another song at the same time!  Many students were able to recognize and express that many songs can be measured against this rhythm because they have the same lengths.  One group inquired about "Row Row Row your Boat," and "Frere Jacques.  It turns out that they too have the same musical phrase lengths as the cup rhythm.  
We have also been "trying" to draw a Treble Clef in preparation for melodic notation and composition projects in the latter half of 2nd Grade Music.  Even through all the "Twists" and turns, nobody stopped trying.  If we can't even try something hard, then we're all in REALLY BIG TREBLE.
Student example of a REALLY BIG TREBLE clef.
- Peter Musselman, Music Specialist
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