“Children will be drawn to their recorder in a way that will give the word ‘practicing’ a new meaning.”
Posts Tagged ‘teacher’
In previous posts I’ve offered a few JoyTunes’ activities in class (see “JoyTunes in the Classroom”). Introducing staff lines in class is also possible with JoyTunes – see my previous post. In this post I want to share some fun activities that can enrich the teaching process and make it more enjoyable and dynamic. I want to thank the teachers that have shared their ideas with me.
- Choose 5 volunteers and have them stand in front of the class, each representing a note (B, A, G, etc. They can hold the poster-board squares, if available).
- Each time a volunteer raises his/her hand, the chosen student (or the whole class) should play that note with their recorders. For example, when the ‘G’ kid raises his hand, the class plays the note ‘G’, and so forth.
- Practice a little with the class, randomly. The kids will figure out the game in no time.
- After several tries, ask the group of volunteers if they can play a song with their hands. It should be an easy song, such as “Jingle Bells”, “Mary had a little lamb” or any other song from the song book. “Playing with hands” means that the volunteers need to figure out when to raise their hands (timing) and for how long (rhythm). The class should ‘listen’ to their hand-music, and the teacher can comment and correct if necessary.
- The next step would be to have the player/s follow the hand movement of the volunteers and play with the recorders accordingly.
To finish this activity, you can ask the volunteers to improvise (depending on the skill-level of the class) and ask them to practice a specific song from the song book, or a specific world from the map of worlds. In some cases, it would be appropriate to ask the students to learn a song by heart by the next lesson or be ready to play from the sheet-music (available for free download at the teachers’ version).
This game is fun, fast and physical. Thus, it can cause commotion in class, but also release tension, serve as a great activity between serious projects, and also be very handy with tough classes. What’s nice about this activity is that the students get to practice their timing, rhythm, hearing, patience and their ability to follow instructions.
Enough said about PM. The next fun activity is all about ‘PT’ – Playing Together. The purpose of this activity is to improve the students’ ability to play as a group, listen to each other and work as a team. Of course they need also to improve their timing, rhythm, hearing etc.
The PT activity is very similar to activity no. 1. You will need a projector, screen and access to the JoyTunes game. You put the game on screen in front of the class, and then:
- Choose a song from the song book or a practice level of your choice.
- Divide the class into groups of 2-4 (depends on how many notes you want to practice).
- Each group is summoned to the ‘stage’ to play the game in front of the whole class. However, each player suppose to play only one note. For example, in a group of 3, there is one who plays only Bs, one only As and one only Gs.
- The group needs to perform the game (or practice level) together; each player needs to look and listen very carefully and play his/her note in the right sequence and timing.
- For example, to play ‘Mary had a little lamb’ you will need a group of 3 students, each plays one note from the song, and together they create the whole melody.
This activity is a great way to teach the basics of chamber music. The students must listen, pay attention to the visuals of the game (that later transform to visuals of sheet-music or visuals of their colleagues), cue their playing and be sensitive and tolerant of mistakes.
I’m very curious to hear about your experience with this activity – so please share your thoughts and feedback – thanks!
More activities? how about sending your ideas?!
A splendid idea I received from a colleague not long ago: making the game available on school computers and using it for fun during recess and on special occasions. Seeing kids play recorders during recess is exciting. If you want to divide the class in small groups and pay attention to one specific group, you can use the game as an activity for the other groups (the game is self explanatory and will get the attention of the kids for a whole lesson and more). Please – post your feedback, comments, ideas and experience either here or at the facebook page (so more teachers can read and learn).
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…
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.
Dear music teachers, dearest of colleagues,
About 2 years ago, in a burst of nostalgia, I decided to pay a visit to my first recorder teacher in my home town. I reached her just in time to see her in action with a group of beginners – repeating long tones and simple pattern exercises over and over again. “These first steps”, she told me after, “are really the hardest for me.”
She was completely exhausted from what felt like such monotone work in this first necessary stage. Not to mention the ever growing challenge of finding new ways to encourage her students to practice between lessons. “30 years ago, when there were so little distractions, it was so much easier to make them practice”, she kept saying.
From that experience, and exactly for that purpose, my team and I decided to create the JoyTunes – recorder computer game. Because with all the distractions nowadays, keeping our children enthusiastic for music in these first unrewarding steps of learning an instrument, is really getting harder and harder. On the other hand, we all see how many countless hours children spend mastering pointless skills with different computer games. Why not use that energy and channel it to practicing recorder?
I built this game to work on important recorder skills – correct and stable tone production, fingering technique and basic ear training. My team designed it to be exciting, interactive and simply fun. The result is a new and exciting tool we could easily use to speed up progress tremendously with our students.
This game was created with experienced recorder teachers – for recorder teachers. I sincerely hope many would open up to this new tool and use it to reach much faster and easier the higher levels of fun and excitement of music making – the reason we all chose this wonderful profession.
Yigal Kaminka, Content Director