Today in 4th grade music we began to student the way melodies are constructed, by focusing on melodic contour -- contour in melody refers to the rising and falling of a pitch sequence, but as we discussed in class, contour can also refer to lines we see in the world around us. The kids had a lot of fun learning a song that emphasized contour -- "Wibbleton to Wobbleton" and got to experiment with how contour lines can overlay the musical staff -- a prelude to creating their own melodies.
Homework: Develop a four bar line of contour and use it as the basis for a drawing
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Without a doubt, one of my favorite all time music projects is the making of the gourd drums, and not only because it is one of the longest running parts of my music program. Everything I believe about the importance to giving children a hands on experience in music. In the first of two lessons devoted to construction, the students paint their gourd drum shells. I tell them that each of the gourds is like them -- unique and special. This is even more true once the painting is done.
These Blues Boxes represent the harmonic structure of a 12 Bar Blues
February is Black History Month, so we took a slight detour in week 4 to review some of the significant contributions to popular song by African Americans. We began with a rousing version of the cumulative song/game "Head and Shoulders" which emphasizes swing and improvisational skills. We then used what we learned about swing to segue into a discussion of the 12 bar blues, the form that is at the heart of all nearly all Rock and Roll songs. Since the rhythmic and harmonic patterns of the 12 bar blues are essential fixed, all that remains is to supply lyrics, which all classes did with hilarious results.
Homework -- write your own 12 bar blues lyric.
In week 3 of 4th grade music, the students learned a "setting" based on the tongue twister "Woodchuck Chuck." A setting is like an arrangement where some the elements may involve body percussion, but not necessary melody. The second and third parts of the piece where made up of fragments of the main theme -- how much wood could a wood chuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood? The fragments, students learned, are called ostinati, from an Italian word meaning stubborn for the way they repeat themselves. We then used a couple of student compositions from last week, to develop some polyrhythmic settings of our own.
Thanks to Mr. Bassett for supplying a picture of me with the students -- something a rarely am able to snap myself.
I have been very neglectful of the blog the last couple of weeks, as a number of events at both of my schools seem to have consumed every minute of my spare time, but I will try to catch up today.
Last week in 2nd Grade Music we learned and played the Yugoslavian beat passing game "Son Macaron." I never cease to be amazed at the power of this simple song and game to get kids excited. As the game goes on, students who are caught transfer the steady beat to a variety to unpitched percussion instruments.
Speaking of percussion instruments -- in week 4 we start our gourd drum!