Thursday, April 21, 2011

LS Music Update

I seem to be following an annual tradition of frequent updates in the fall, fewer in the winter, and one or two giant updates in the spring. Such is the life of a teacher, I suppose! Anyway, rest assured that many exciting things have been going on in the Lower School since my last post. Here are just a few glimpses:

All classes have recently been playing with one of my favorite sets of classroom instruments, Boomwhackers. Boomwhackers are simple plastic tubes, all the same diameter but in a wide variety of tuned lengths. A full set can make a 3-octave scale. Boomwhackers are played by, well, whacking! Except for a completely non-negotiable rule against whacking other people, students may whack pretty much anything to create rhythmic tones. Boomwhackers are the perfect size for passing games, drum circle-type activities, and even tossing games. They can also be used to create melodies, one child per note, like handbells. Even a little science is thrown in as younger children learn the relationship between length and pitch, and older students begin to understand more advanced concepts such as why the "Octavator" cap makes the sound go down an octave.

Boomwhackers!

We've increased our use of technology in Lower School music with the addition of my eBeam interactive whiteboard. Younger students have been exploring tone color and phrasing with Sibelius' Groovy Shapes, and older students have been using Groovy Jungle as well as GarageBand. Check out this rockin' song by Mountain 3rd years.**  Students composed short snippets of melodies using their recorders. We then played them into GarageBand and mixed and matched to make a song. We added drums, bass, and guitar with built-in Apple loops and changed the melody sound to electric guitar. Now they can jam along with it on their recorders.

Forest 3rd-years collaborated to create this recorder duet, named "Doorbell Song" after the falling minor third "doorbell" interval. We composed it in Noteflight, a free online flash-based music notation editor.

Today we had a special musical surprise. This afternoon was our annual Earth Day celebration, planned and run for the Lower School by Middle School advisee groups. During the games and fun we were treated to a set by local band Birds and Arrows, provided by Shakori Hills community outreach. They were fantastic! Their albums are available in stores and on iTunes, and they perform frequently around the area.

Finally, our 4th-years are hard at work planning this year's Springfest, to be held on Thursday, May 26. Children in all classes have been voting on their favorite songs, and songs will be announced next week. Stay tuned!

**edited to add: The Forest 4th-years finished their song today. Here it is!
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