Sunday, October 19, 2014

On Her Broomstick

We all have those songs where we can't quite remember their source ("Wait, which book was this in?") and for me, this is totally one of those songs (feel free to comment if you know where it is from).  I've taught this song every year, usually with younger grades when we learn "Witch, Witch" although this year I'm going to try it with my older students as well.

Here's the tune:
The range is pretty large for younger kiddos but is still accessible.  I enjoy hearing  pretty "ooohs" from them.  We even discuss that this song is minor (when music is centered around "la" and sounds spooky, sad, or serious).  Older students can work on their 6/8 rhythms.

We use this slide to add instrumentation (please note that the glocks play E-B, E-B to match the pitch of the song).  It is important to have a lot of kiddos on instruments so that the movement (see instructions below) doesn't get too crazy.

I am currently learning the guitar - I mean, really, how have I not done this already?!  I'm nothing amazing AT ALL but I can play a few chords.  I am enjoying the freedom of moving the guitar wherever I need it (to our circle, on the floor, next to the rest of the instruments, etc) instead of being behind a piano.  Kiddos love singing with the guitar - there is something very "campfire sing-a-long" about it.  Here are the chords that I play.  If you have older students or just want to challenge some of your younger kiddos - they can play the chord root only (notice the circles around them match boomwhacker colors - hint hint ;) ).  You can discuss chords and accompaniment with older kiddos at this point as well.

Once we've established the song and the instrument accompaniment, it is time to add in the game.  My students are divided into four groups of about six kiddos, so this is usually how it goes:
Group 1: playing chord roots on Alto/Bass xylophones
Group 2: playing the metals (triangle, gong, glock)
Group 3: playing non-metals (quiro and hand drum)
Group 4: acting out the movement
When it comes time to switch, I just re-assign the groups to another job.  Easy!

Movement: The students are in scattered formation (they are the ghosts).  One student is the witch (complete with a hat and mini broomstick).   The witch flies around the ghosts for the first half of the song (the witch is on her broomstick flying very fast) the the ghosts join her in flying around on the second half of the song (ooo-oh, ooo-oh, Halloween is nigh).
No, this is not really a game, however, students usually understand that drama and music go hand in hand ("How strange would a movie be without music?" or "Doesn't music make you want to get up and move?").

Options (extend this song for another lesson - whoot!)
Add in a B section with the metals (Orff instruments tremolo on E, gong and triangle play freely but slowly) in which the witch chases and tries to tag the ghosts (this adds a game element - so fun).

Performance option: Older students can totally play the melody (you'd have to take the first B up the octave) on soprano xylo/metallophones (you only need a few that can play the melody - there are enough other parts for everyone else).  You could structure a form like this:
Introduction: Metal/Orff section instruments play (same as described above with optional B section) while ghosts and witch take their spots
A: Sing song with instrumentation and act out motions
B: Play song without singing or motions
A: Sing song with instrumentation and act out motions
Coda: same as intro, although tremolos slow and ghosts/witch fly out of performance space one by one

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lady in the Graveyard

Hello everyone!

I know we all love this time of year, don't we?!  I'm very excited to be working through my October lessons.  I have so many fun things that I really have to pick and choose between them.

Here's an activity that I'll be trying next week with my 5th graders (would be good for 4th grade too).  My teaching partner is doing a really cool "Skin and Bones" lesson with our 4th graders that totally inspired this.

Please note: While this is a traditional song (I did change a few words), I did borrow this particular soprano xylophone part from D. Gagne's "Music Play" Grade 5 #23.  She also uses the same bass part I do.

Feel free to copy and paste these slides and use them as you need to

First, we'll sing through the lyrics.  I'll ask the students, "What do you notice about the melody?" (It remains the same throughout the entire piece).

 Here is the melody of the song (sorry for the confusion earlier):

At the ghost icon, that's where the "ooo" part (same as below on the recorder) is sung.  I found a cute ghost this year at Dollar Tree (see below - I'm so jealous if you find all of them - I only have the jack-o-lantern, skeleton, and ghost).  I'll be giving him to one student to hold up while we sing the "ooo" (the ghost can totally trace the melodic shape of that line).

Next, I'll teach the recorder part.  Students can then play the "ooo" part on the recorder.

Next, we'll add the unpitched instruments (see lyrics slide above).  They are pretty self-explanatory.  I'll also add some kiddos rubbing on hand drums to create a ghostly-wind sound (they'll play throughout the piece).  I would suggest beginning with the chimes (that way you can pass that job around on repetitions) and adding in each unpitched instrument one at a time.

Then, we'll play the game (some kiddos can stay on instruments while this is done):
Game Instructions
Formation: Circle with small spaces in between students.   One student is the "old lady" and three other students are the "ghosts".
Play: During the singing, the ghosts "float" around in the middle of the circle while the lady paces outside the circle.  On verse three, only the ghosts sing, "Would you like to come inside?" and on verse four only the old lady sings, "Eww, I don't want to go with you!"  Then the "old lady" shouts, "Boo!" and the "scared" ghosts fly out of the circle.  The old lady chases them for eight counts (if they are caught they sit) then all the players freeze so they/the teacher can select new players.  Students should be counting to eight during the playing part using a spooky ghost voice.
Additions: It is totally fun for the "old lady" to be armed with a funoodle (her "walking stick") or a scarf (her "handkerchief") with which to tag the ghosts.

During the next lesson, we'll add the Orff instrumentation to our singing/playing:

This is a great song to discuss low la, ti, and do with older students.