“Children will be drawn to their recorder in a way that will give the word ‘practicing’ a new meaning.”
Introducing Staff lines in class (using JoyTunes)
In the post “JoyTunes in the Classroom” I shared my dilemma regarding the use of the game in the actual process of teaching in the classroom. If you haven’t read that post yet, I encourage you to do so before continuing with this one.
In the next few paragraphs I want to suggest a way to use JoyTunes in class to help the process of learning to read music. Please note that I’m not getting into the never ending debate of when to introduce staff lines to the kids; there are different opinions and this is not the place to dig into that. But, once you decided to teach the students to read the notes (beginning of year or later), the JoyTunes recorder game can be a great teaching tool. Enjoy, and I would really love to hear your comments and more ideas regarding this topic.
Basic music reading using JoyTunes resources
(see more activities in the “JoyTunes in the Classroom“)
Purpose: To introduce staff lines to the students.
- Lesson 1: JoyTunes’ playback audio CD (available for free download).
- Lesson 2: A printout of one of the songs from the game – a copy for each student.
Lesson 1: Choose one song from the game you wish to work on with your class, and using its audio playback go over it until everybody knows it. Usually this shouldn’t pose any problem since the kids are playing with these songs at home. Now, draw a staff on the board, and place the notes B, A and G on it. Ask your students to imagine that the spots are actually like the birds in the game – each in a different height and representing a note. Show them where B, A and G are. You can play with it a little, make little funny quizzes etc.
Teach them the difference between a quarter and a half note and send them home with their assignment.
Homework Assignments: Ask your student to play the song from the lesson (and perhaps some other ones) at home with the game, using the “Song Book”. The song book is designed in a “staff mode”, which means that there are staff lines and actual notes instead of birds. This will be a great music-reading workout – using songs they know and playing familiar games to minimize the psychological block of learning to read notes… Please note: in order for a song to appear in the song book, the kids must practice and finish all previous levels that lead to the song. This way, they get extra practicing time before ‘earning the privilege’ of playing from the song book.
Homework Assignments: Repeat the homework assignment of lesson 1, but this time ask the students to play a different song from the song book (remember that they need to practice and finish all previous levels before the song will appear in the song book) . When the class advances, you can ask the kids to repeat the songs but this time play from the sheet-music.
- Make sure that the song you pick matches the class level and progress.
- Try to avoid having the kids write the name of the note next to it on the staff. Many of them will read what they wrote and not look at the staff.
- Remember: you have all the songs and playbacks available in your teachers’ version !
Good luck, and share your experience with all of us!