Let’s Practice Listening!

Hey guys! Your mission, should you choose to accept it is to be super duper quiet and walk around listening to the music of your house. What sounds do you hear? Make sure your feet are really quiet! Listen for the hum of the refrigerator, the creak of the floor, traffic or bird sounds near the window, the sound of the air conditioning,  the click of your family members fingers on their phone/tablet/computer keyboard. You have to be really, really quiet to hear the music of your house, but I know you can do it! Now your ears are ready to hear some living room music. This is a fun piece of music composed by John Cage. John Cage believed that any kind of sound could be used to make beautiful music.

So, now you can create your own living room music! Walk around your home and look for objects you can tap with your hands or a spoon from the kitchen to make different sounds. Remember that something big would be good for a low sound, and something small and metal would be great to tap with a metal spoon to get a nice higher sound. Play around with your objects and your voice, to create your living room music. Take it a step further by writing down your composition-you don’t have to use real notes, you can draw pictures of the objects in the order you want them played. Remember that rests are important, too, so draw a squiggle like a lightening bolt if you want to add some space in between your sounds.

I want my big kids to try out a game to work on your listening skills, too. It’s tough, but I know you are up for the challenge! Click here to visit the Music Memory game.You’ll need to enable Adobe Flash Player and be sure¬† you have your ad blocking turned off for that page to get started. Be sure you take a few minutes to click on the different note buttons first and get used to how they sound…don’t click the start button until you’ve sung them going up and down and trying out different combinations of notes! Singing them is really important.

Let’s Sing The Blues!

Alright friends! Yesterday, I told you that we were going to learn about the Blues…first though, I think in light of the news that Bill Withers passed away this week, we should learn to sing Lean On Me. Take a few minutes to read about his incredible life, and listen to some of his other songs, too.

Ok, now back to the blues…if you signed up for BrainPop, you should definitely start with their great video on the subject.

If you’ve got little ones in VPI, Kindergarten, or 1st grade, keep it simple and sing the ABC Blues!

If you’ve got 2nd-5th graders, read on to get them working on their own blues song. Blues music came from black musicians out of Texas, Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta here in America. It had its roots in music slaves had sung, like spirituals and field hollers. When we learned about spirituals at school, we talked about how music can make us feel better when we are stuck in really terrible circumstances. The Blues talks about the hard times or bad feelings we have and gets them off our chests. Blues songs can also be about big feelings of love, but for today, let’s hear a song about a struggle you might be able to relate to:

So, to write our own blues song lyrics, we first need to brainstorm what gives us the blues. What are some things that grown ups just don’t understand about being a kid? What’s something your brother or sister does that annoys you? What’s something that generally makes your life feel hard?

Once you decide on a subject, start writing your lyrics down. The formula is to write one phrase, then repeat it again, and then finish off your thought.

So let’s say I’m writing “The Covid-19 Blues.” I might start out like this:

I’m feeling mighty lonesome, having to stay home all day
I’m feeling mighty lonesome, just having to stay at home all day
I know I gotta stay in, but I wanna see my friends and play.

Then keep writing more verses, so think about how you can say more things about your subject that make you feel sad, or grumpy, or frustrated.

Oh I’ve been washing my hands all morning, yes I been washing them all night
I have been washing my hands all morning, and I am washing my hands at night
My hands feel dry and itchy, but I know I’m doing what’s right.

Have you been washing your hands a whole lot, too? I hope so! It’s really important that we rub those germies off with soap and water. Let’s do one more verse…

I watched everything on Netflix, I have played all of my video games
Yes I’ve seen everything on Netflix, and I beat all of my video games
Lord I miss going off to school! This quarantine is kinda lame.

Once you’ve got some lyrics, it’s time to sing the blues. I sang mine along with this 12 bar blues backing track that gives you 4 clicks at the beginning and then you can start singing. There are lots of other blues backing tracks on Youtube that you could try, too.


Kindergarten Composing

This week, the kindergarten students are working on composing with quarter notes and eighth notes. We clapped rhythms with our rhythm nicknames (ta and ti-ti) last week. This week, after practicing longer rhythms, each student got two pieces of paper. We wrote ta on one and put ti-ti on the other. Then, we worked with a partner to create a 4 beat rhythm. After performing these rhythms for the class, we moved to groups of 4 to create longer rhythms. One group from each class who performed their rhythm well and showed good audience membership was able to perform their rhythm a second time for the class on hand drums!