“Children will be drawn to their recorder in a way that will give the word ‘practicing’ a new meaning.”
Posts Tagged ‘teachers’
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).
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!
I have to admit that the summer vacation makes me nervous. Although I do long for some rest after the stressful year, the thought of all my young students disappearing into the big void of computer games, television and ‘doing nothing’ makes me uneasy. Apparently, this is not just my problem. Many teachers report that their students do not touch their musical instruments during the summer vacation, say alone practice. One colleague of mine told to me that “students who like to practice will keep doing so over summer vacation, but students who don’t like to practice – nothing will make them even look at their recorders (not even scolding parents)”. When I asked her how many of her students like to practice, she started to laugh…
On one side I completely understand the students’ point of view. They need rest, they want to have a break from responsibilities, they want to have fun, and practicing isn’t fun. Practicing is boring. But on the other hand, refusing to practice over such a long period of time is hazardous to the learning process of the instrument, and sometimes it can take the student 3-4 months backward.
So what can we do?
Fighting this void and against computer games and TV is really one of the more difficult things there is. I’ve always tried talking to the parents about the importance of maintaining some structure in the summer vacation and it does help in some cases when the parents are more committed. However, in many cases it helped very little or not at all.
A more effective thing I started doing is organizing some sort of mid summer activity with my students. Anything that would be a reminder of what we did during the year. I try to organize a special kind of lesson with fun and social games that have something to do with the recorder – playing a song together one note for each person, “musical chairs” when one of the students is playing-stoping ect. This could be done also with several groups together (if you have a few groups or good colleagues). The point is making it feel like a party, having fun with the recorder and socializing with other recorder students. After such a long time without, I always feel that the kids are more than excited to play again their favorite songs and with their favorite playbacks. An event like that could really help, but there are 2 problem: A. The summer time is very often full of activities (especially for us, musicians) and we can’t always organize something like that. B. It helps, but it still doesn’t solve the problem – in most cases they will not practice their instrument before and after this event.
I don’t know how many of you already tried using JoyTunes-Recorder with your students during the year, but from my and many of my colleagues’ expeirence, this method turned out to be the most effective aid yet during the summer vacation. Having a look&feel of a computer game, my students play it like they would so many other computer games – for hours. They don’t even notice that there are practicing and keeping everything we did during the year fresh.
A colleague of mine, Tchia Rudovski, wrote me about it – “my student came back to a lesson, and it was as if the last time we met was yesterday. He was even in a better condition…”.
I truly recommend it as an elegant summer vacation solution. If we know our students are going to waste so much time playing computer games, why not encourage them to play one that is actually beneficial for recorder.
As a personal note, I truly believe in taking breaks and vacations, but I think it has to be balanced properly. Freedom and rest are effective if they are in the right proportions. Structure is also a comfort zone for most of us, even if we like to complain about it. Children can be lost without a goal, and without motivation, but only a few will admit that. I feel that we, as their parents, teachers and role models – can and should help them find alternatives for their general boredom and “doing nothing” concept…