Friday, September 30, 2011

Recorder Lesson 4: Improvisation

Hey Third Graders and Ensemble Players -- lesson 4 focuses on improvisation, that is, creating music on the spot. Most people think that improvisation requires an extensive knowledge of scales and harmony, but in fact cool improvs can be done with as few as 4 notes. Give it a try!

Third Grade Week 3 -- Little Johnny Brown

Today 3rd Grade students learned a 4th note -- E --and began experiment a bit with blues improvisation. Our improvs today centered on dancing (pictured) but next week we will begin to explore original ideas on our recorders. Adding E to G, A and B gives us 4 of the 5 notes of the minor "la" pentatonic, which is at the heart of many blues and rock grooves. In other words, parents, get ready for some recorder shredding!

Homework: Learn "Little Johnny Brown" groove on the worksheet and review video lesson #4

Fifth Grade Week 2 - School Rules

For week 2 in fifth grade music the kids were introduced to the concept of "ostinati." The word is derived from the Italian word for "willful child" -- and refers to the short, repeating rhythmic and melodic ideas that often make up the accompanying parts in polyphonic or polyrhythmic music. As the kids discovered almost any small phrase from the piece "Do Unto Others" pictured here can be broken out and turned into an additional rhythmic part, and those parts can, in turn, be transferred to melodic instruments.

I learned this lesson from my friend and teacher James Harding, and I've taught this lesson the last couple of years with fun results. Next week the kids will develop their own 2 part "school rules" piece and we will construct a little performance out of them. Should be interesting.

Homework: Complete the 5 rest equivalent problems and the puzzle box.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Recorder Lesson 3: Adding the E

Third Graders and Recorder Players -- if you have had a chance to review video lessons 1 and 2 and feel comfortable making B, A and G, you might want to get started on the next note we will be learning -- "E".

Third Grade Week 2 - B-A-G

For our second week of third grade music the students focused B, A, G -- 3 notes that are often taught together because of their proximity to one another and because they can be used to play several well know children's songs including "Mary Had A Little Lamb" and "Hot Cross Buns." We also worked on articulation. New wind players have a tendency to overblow and to puff rather than use their tongue to interrupt the flow air into the mouth piece. Fortunately spending a little time using the "language of dew" helps fix this.

Homework -- finish your compositions and review lessons 1, 2 and 3 on video.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fifth Grade Week 1 -- "Hey, You, What?"

Today Fifth Grade music began with the students learning a body percussion piece by Keith Terry entitled "Hey, You, What." The goal for music this year is for all the kids in fifth grade to compose their own original piece, and to do that we need to spend a bit of time on conventional notation. However, as today's exercise demonstrated there are many other valid approaches to creating music. There is nothing better than getting into a good groove and seeing where it takes you.

Homework -- Worksheet #1. Remember to come up with a "school rule" as well as solving the simple notation/fraction problems.

Ensembles Begin!

Today we had our first day of Orff ensemble. I was delighted to see all the new faces! By the end of class the new kids were making some very pretty music. Should be a great year.

If you wish to sign up for the Orff ensemble or recorder ensemble, which meets on Fridays, there is still time. Just fill out the permission form that went home on Friday or down load the one that appears here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Recorder Lesson 2: B-A-G

Check this lesson out too -- it's a good preview of what we will be talking about next week.

Recorder Lesson 1: Basics

3rd Graders and Ensemble Players -- I will from time to time be posting 3 minute recorder lessons here. Please make use of them to practice what we are learning in class.

3rd Grade Week 1 -- Intro to Aerophones

Instruction began today with 3rd grader receiving their recorders and learning about how recorders fit into the historical develop of aerophones -- instruments that produce sounds by using a vibrating column of air. We began with an improvised processional using tympani, bass drum and bull roarer tubes (pictured). The students received their recorders and learned the basics of handling them, as well as their first note -- "B."

Next week we will begin learning to make additional notes and our first song. All the kids were given their first song written in "tablature" -- a style of writing music which tell not just what note to make but how to make it. I will also be posting a couple of videos here to review what we talked about today and preview what we will discuss next week. Happy tooting, students! (Parents -- my apologies ;) )

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A vidclip from last year's first grade performance

To get started I am posting one of my favorite clips from last year -- the First Grader's musical presentation of "The Three Little Pigs." The clip is on the long side, but contains many of the elements that we focus on in general music at Third Street including student composition. All the accompanying material you see here was developed by the individual classes them put together for the first time the day we recorded it. Enjoy!

The new year in music begins at Third Street!

Welcome back to a exciting new year in music at Third Street School. If you are new to the school, my name is Richard Lawton and I am the general music teacher at Third Street.

Music classes don't begin until September 16 (a week from Friday), but I wanted to put a couple of fresh posts on our music blog. I use the blog to post pictures of what goes on in class, examples of student work, videos of performances -- anything and everything related to music at Third Street. I hope you will check back frequently.