“Children will be drawn to their recorder in a way that will give the word ‘practicing’ a new meaning.”
Posts Tagged ‘recorder’
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!
As teachers, we are constantly hunting for new tools and tricks to make our classroom more interesting and dynamic. We want to get the students’ full attention, to make them practice, to create a positive buzz about the recorder and encourage our students to love music. I believe that JoyTunes can help further these goals, specifically when it is used in the classroom.
In the next few posts I will share my thoughts regarding how to use JoyTunes in class, starting from detailing my favorite JoyTunes class activity (see next two paragraphs). However, before delving into ideas, I want to remind you about the resources available for JoyTunes’ teachers: our special JoyTunes’ sheet music and playbacks. JoyTunes is offering free downloads of sheet music of songs from the game – many of which are original (just click the link, download the teachers version and register). These sheets are designed specifically for kids and include a second voice and chords for full accompaniment options. The special high-quality playbacks of these songs are also available for free and they include various practice speeds for each song. I will discuss this topic further in my next post.
You can download the music and playbacks and use them in class, as well as encourage your students to use them at home. Don’t forget to write me about your experience and students’ feedback, as I’m always interested in hearing how things are going.
And now as promised, my favorite JoyTunes class activity. Forgive the formality of the writing, but I thought it would be best to present the lesson planning as orderly as possible…
Activity 1: Game in Class
- Overcome psychological barriers regarding music and recorders- get the students excited about studying music in school.
- Get the students used to practicing- make practicing part of their daily routine.
- Improve the quality of the students’ practice sessions.
- Introduce a new song/melody.
- Improve teacher-student relations- create commitment to class activities.
Process: The students sit in front of the screen. The teacher asks each student in his/her turn to complete one level while the rest of the class watches. The kids can repeat the levels, or they can advance to new levels – according to teacher’s instruction. While playing, the teacher can comment on tonguing, hand and finger positioning, posture, sound-production, breathing, and of course musicality and expression (the higher level of our essence…). This way, the rest of the students can also see and learn from mistakes, and implement the teachers comments even before they actually play. Shy or reserved students can be signed up as couples or groups and take turns together.
Home Assignments: The teacher gives home assignments from the game (e.g., “by next week finish the first 2 worlds, and collect at least XXX points”). For easy use, the teachers version of the game details the various levels, including the notes and songs you learn in each ‘world’ making it simple to assign homework, The teachers’ version is also completely free.
- This method is best used at the beginning of the school year, to get the kids excited about playing and set their practicing routines. It is also a great way to change stereotypes about music teachers…
- I recommend using JoyTunes in class several times but not in all the lessons. It is a great way to break the routine, conclude a project, or just have fun playing with the class.
- Using the game in class, teachers can concentrate on improving the quality of the playing and teach the students how to practice at home. Modeling in class is highly recommended.
- Improvisation is welcomed: you can accompany the students, conduct ‘mini-competitions’ in class (or as home assignments), etc.
Expected added Value:
- Determines good practicing habits.
- The teacher can help teach the student how to practice, and concentrate on the quality of playing.
- Music and practicing are perceived as a fun activity, overcoming psychological barriers.
- Teachers are on the same page as the kids (computer games and music? wow…), thus improving teacher-student relations and perceptions. This alone may influence the students’ commitment to study.
That’s it for now. It’s important to remember that the game has it’s limits. It can not and is not supposed to replace a teacher or teach ALL the necessary musical elements. However, it does strengthen technical skills allowing us to focus on the important things like musicality and expression – things that only a teacher can teach…
I encourage you to try it out and post your thoughts on our facebook page so all of us can benefit. More activities will follow, so stay tuned…
After learning 2-3 notes (I personally start with B,A and G), here’s a fun exercise that continues to work on basic fingering coordination through ear training.
First, I make them stand in front of me in a half circle. Then, I play for them a short easy sequence with these 2-3 notes, and make them repeat it as a group. If the repetition is terrible, like it often is in the first time, I play it again and make them repeat it again.
Then, I try the same thing, with the same sequence, but standing with my back to them, or behind a screen, if there’s one in the class. Most of them were looking on my fingers when I was playing in front of them instead of repeating what they heard. So this way I help them make the connection to their ears with the help of their memory. I do this exercise a few times – first in front of them, then with my back to them – until I feel it gets better. Alternatively, it’s quite possible to just cover your fingers with the other hand, in case your class is on the hyperactive side…
When they start doing it better, then comes the hard part – I play another sequence, but only with my back to them (or with my fingers covered). Meaning, this time they have to purely rely on their ears, which is very hard for most at first. I try to do this a few times and see how they manage. If they do terrible, I can try giving them a hint, like – “I’m starting with a B”.
As a bonus, and to make it more fun for them, every lesson I can choose one child which would take my place in the exercise. He\She will be playing the simple pattern that everybody has to repeat. Of course to make it work, you would have to be very clear on how many notes are allowed in a pattern, and that you don’t have patience for goofing around…
I think we could all agree that keeping our students interested and motivated is not an easy task. And though I was not present at the time, I bet 40 years ago, when nobody had any play-stations, Nintendo or computer games, this task was much easier to accomplish.
Meaning, there’s no choice but to try and keep things interactive and super fun. So here’s an idea for a fun exercise for very beginners. I call it “the bird exercise”:
After teaching them B and basic tonguing, I teach them to play a basic pattern, like 3 quarters B, B, B or like B, B-B, B (quarter, 2 eight notes, quarter). Then I place everybody in a row and start having a question-answer sequence with each of them in his turn – I play a short melody and the student answers – B, B, B. I play a different melody and the next answers – B, B, B and on and on. The teacher’s melody is always a short funny one. With me it usually sounds like birds (or at least that’s what the kids say), and that’s how it got its name.
I prefer to do the question answer sequence one by one with the kids, but many prefer to do it so that everybody answers together in the same time. Of course both are possible. I personally prefer the individual one by one option for 2 reasons – 1. because this way I can hear each student individually and see how he’s doing and his basic skill level. 2. because with this option, one exercises also listening to one another, which I think is one of the most important things music could and should teach us.
As always, the summer is just about to be over and my time for searching new techniques and ideas to use with my students is ending with it. Soon the “madness” of my daily schedule is gonna start again.
I’ve spent a lot of time this summer talking to colleagues and friends about different ways to start a new year, and I thought I’d share it with you guys. If you have more ideas, please share them also with me!
I do wish to emphasize that some of the ideas I will bring are not originally my own, but came to me from friends and colleagues, namely Mrs. Ori Golan, and Ms. Nurit Blum, which happen to be both…
How to start a first lesson with first year beginners –
What I like to do, and of course it requires some preparation, is to start the lesson with a story. Of course, the story has to be interesting and funny, and should vary depending on the age and number of the student in your class. However, the more important thing I like to add is a soundtrack to the story. Meaning, in several strategic places in the story I start playing short little tunes which have some connection to the story. For instance, if I speak about battles, I play a typical trumpet fanfare, if I come to talk about dancing, I would start playing a baroque dance and very soon turn to play some typical children’s dance everybody would know. Even less obvious thing could have little tunes attached to them. For instance, when talking about the wind blowing against the reeds and making noise, I just play a short, soft and calm tune (a possibility could be the famous morning song from the “Peer Gynt” suite by Grieg).
The idea, in any case, is first of all to play something and let them hear and see how the instrument sounds and works. In addition, and also important, is already to attach different musical themes to different emotions and ideas, and let them hear how it could all be done with the recorder.
Though very important also, for me the historical knowledge gained from this exercise is only a bonus and not the main issue.
Have fun and let me know what you think!