This Land was Made For You and Me!

I know there have been a lot of things happening in the world right now, and sometimes it can be hard for kids to understand all of it. It’s often hard for adults to understand all of it too, so it’s ok if you feel overwhelmed. I wanted to start today by sharing a video my friend and fellow educator Mrs. Fritz made for her students. She teaches 1st grade, but I think that this video can help all of us as we try to process our feelings about the big things happening in our country.

 

 

 

Now, since this is a music blog after all, let’s learn to sing a protest song that has been around since the 1940s!

You may not even think of this one as a protest song, but the lyrics are all about making a country that belongs to all of us, and it was even used during the Civil Rights movement. Here is the original version of “This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie.

 

Woody Guthrie’s America had a lot of problems all at once, and it’s easy to think he must’ve felt a lot like many of us do right now. During Woody Guthrie’s life, there was a big problem in the Great Plains and the Midwest where the wasn’t enough rain for a long time. The soil on the ground blew around in huge dust clouds, destroying people’s homes and endangering their lives. These people tried to move away to California, but they were greeted at the California border by police officers who told them to go away. Meanwhile, in the South, police officers were enforcing unfair Jim Crow laws that kept black and brown people from sharing schools, bathrooms, water fountains, and everything else with white people. On top of all of that, America’s economy was in a Great Depression, which means there weren’t enough jobs for people, and many people were hungry and homeless. Woody Guthrie wrote this song as he traveled around the country seeing all of these big problems.

Woody Guthrie’s friend Pete Seeger brought the song to the Civil Rights Movement. He met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and sang some protest songs for him. Dr. King was really struck by the song “We Shall Overcome,” which you can learn all about in my previous post on the song here! Pete Seeger joined Dr. King’s marches, and sang songs like this one to try to help share a message of fairness for everyone. Here’s Pete Seeger singing the song at the “We Are One” concert, celebrating President Obama’s inauguration as our first black president.

 

In music class, I like to do a comparing and contrasting listening activity about different versions of this song. Can you make a Venn diagram to compare one of the versions above with one of my favorite versions which I’ve posted below? What things are the same? What’s different? (think about the lyrics, the instruments, the style of the music, who is singing, etc.)

Here’s the Sharon Jones version we used on the Venn Diagrams above…it’s a personal favorite of mine and the students can never hold still when we hear it!

Let’s Go Fly a Kite!

Hi friends! It is too beautiful outside to hang out indoors today! It’s supposed to be cool and rainy for the next couple of days, so I hope you’ll spend as much time outside as you can. I am typing this from my backyard right now, and this breeze would be perfect for flying a kite. When you come inside to cool off, try learning to sing the song “Let’s Go Fly a Kite!”

If you haven’t watched the original Mary Poppins movie, maybe you could do that on one of these upcoming rainy days! Here are the song lyrics so you can sing along…

Think about how this song is organized, what happens first? Next? Then?

I hear Verse #1, then a chorus or refrain that will be repeated again later. Next, I hear verse #2, followed by an instrumental interlude. Then, I hear one last chorus or refrain to end the song. Can you make up your own dance moves to show how the song is organized? Remember that is called the song’s FORM.

After singing and dancing, make your own homemade kite to fly today. You can make kites from lots of different things around your house, for example, a garbage bag, paper, newspaper, or whatever other creative ideas you can come up with yourself!

May’s Composer of the Month!

Hi guys! We made it to May! Today, take a look at May’s composer of the month, Ludwig von Beethoven. Be sure to color his picture in your interactive music notebook if you are in K-2nd grade, or you can complete a listening reflection about this piece in your notebook if you’re in 3rd-5th grade.

Here are the 4 facts we would’ve read about him this month:

  1. Beethoven was a composer and pianist born in Bonn, Germany. His dad was very strict, and made Beethoven wake up in the middle of the night to practice music.
  2. Beethoven moved to Vienna, Austria in his 20s, where he became one of the first composers to make a living without working for the church or for royalty.
  3. Beethoven wrote symphonies, concertos, chamber music, and just one opera.
  4. Beethoven began to lose his hearing in his 30s. He wrote some of his most famous pieces when he was almost totally deaf, including his 9th symphony.

Check out this neat listening map that goes with Beethoven’s 9th:

And for my big kids, I can just hear all the questions you have about him bubbling up! This video will give you a little more information about him.

The incredible Kanneh Mason family performed a little bit of Beethoven on a Facebook live concert at home last month, check this out and get inspired to make some music with your family, too!

Let’s Learn About Mariachi Music!

Hey guys! Today I have a story and a new genre of music for us to learn about. I’ve been spending a lot of time practicando mi Español on the DuoLingo app, which inspired me to read this book to you today! I used to “play” DuoLingo with students at van dismissal, and I totally recommend it if your bigger kids want to learn a new language during this crazy time.

Let’s Read Rhythms!

Good morning y’all! Today, I want you to keep your rhythm skills sharp! Get started with this fun rhythm challenge video from Hanover music teacher Mr. Bakeman. Mr. Bakeman is an incredible teacher who has taught me a whole lot, and you guys are going to love his rhythm challenge video! Wait for the magic word, just like in our music class:

Ok now, let’s talk time signature. Remember those numbers at the beginning of all the song we work on tell us how many beats are in each measure and what kind of note gets one beat. That last rhythm challenge was in 4/4, which means there were 4 beats in each measure. Now let’s try one in 3/4, where there will be 3 beats in each measure:

Alright 4th and 5th graders, I can hear you in my brain already saying that’s too easy…I know, I know! Here’s one for you guys to practice your syncopation-what is the time signature for these rhythms?

And one for your sixteenth notes, too. Remember, if you are using the nicknames (hopefully you’re thinking about the counts instead!) we say TA-KA-TI-KI for our 16th notes. In the video they say ti-ki-ti-ki instead, but really, if you’re clapping rhythms correctly at home that’s all I care about right now! You rock! Keep up the good work friends! Do you know what the time signature is for these?

Let’s get Jazzy!

Hey guys! Today, I was inspired by one of my favorite books to read with the students. I hope today you will spend a little quality time learning about jazz and Charlie Parker, before watching the video of the book at the bottom of this post.

Jazz musicians all have fun nicknames, so look up Charlie Parker’s nickname, his instrument and the kind of jazz he played first. If you had a jazz nickname, what would yours be? For the little ones, try dancing and singing along to this fun little song about the saxophone. With your 2nd-5th grade students, check out this fantastic House of Sound video to learn about the science behind the Woodwind Family of instruments. As far as the kind of jazz, talk about how bebop is fast, usually played by a smaller group of instruments with musicians playing lots of improvised solos. Improvising is an important vocabulary word, so look it up and write down what it means in your notebook 3rd-5th graders!

Now search for Charlie Parker on your favorite streaming service or good ole Youtube and listen to some more music-can you sit at the beginning and stand up when you think you hear improvising? Try doing a fast crazy dance to match the improvising you hear! Make your dance up high if you hear high notes, down low if you hear low notes, and watch out for rests where you body might stop moving for a beat.

Now it’s time to try improvising with more than just our bodies. Don’t worry, you don’t need a saxophone and anyone can do it! In 2nd grade, we would be starting to learn about scat singing right about now. Scatting is how singers can use their voice to improvise, but we need words to sing right? Singers can make up silly syllables to try to sound like instruments. Expert scatters like Ella Fitzgerald sometimes even use real words like at the beginning of this incredible scat! For your littlest scatters, Hoots the Owl from Sesame Street can help, all you have to do is repeat what he does! For your older ones, just give it a go with this backing track and see what happens. Parents, give it a try too-have fun with it, and enjoy being creative! There’s no wrong answer here, just do whatever feels good and explore all of the cool things your voice can do.

Close out your lesson with this read aloud of one of my favorite books in our music library:

Let’s play CUPS!

Today’s lesson is a simple and fun one!  I challenge you to learn the cup game! Use this tutorial video to start off slow (be sure to use a plastic cup, not the good glassware).

Once you know it, you can play it with your family passing the cups in a circle, or along with The Cup Song from the movie Pitch Perfect.

I usually teach this song at the end of the year to 4th grade and we do a dance, but why not learn it on your own with a cup! Try some other cup routines like this one  to We Will Rock You, or this one to Sleigh Ride. 

Let’s sing songs from around the world!

Just because we’re stuck at home, doesn’t mean we can’t still take a digital field trip! Today, try learning some songs from around the world! Just like we did for St. Patrick’s day, learn about where the songs come from. Look them up on a map, look up some fun recipes to make from that country, and listen to some other music from there.

reykjavik
Mr. Beekman and I love to travel. Here’s a picture of me in Reykjavic, Iceland! 

VPI and Kindergarten students can try this Filipino song, which is sort of like head, shoulders, knees, and toes. You can also do this fun one from Panama and learn the names of all the instruments used in the song.

For 1st all the way up through 5th, these next links are really great ways to learn new songs and practice some of our other music reading skills in a fun way. This one is from New Zealand, and it will teach you the song and then some really fun body percussion patterns to go with it. If you have a ukulele at home, it shows you how to play the ukulele chords, too. Or you can try this one from Africa, if one of your family members plays guitar, it has guitar chords they could use, plus rhythms you could put on your body or on whatever instruments you have, and even shoes you how to play along on a piano if you have a keyboard! Here’s another from Puerto Rico.

2nd graders learned this one earlier this school year, so ask them to show you the dance moves and you can be their echo (repeat after them).

5th graders can practice their syncopation with this Jamaican song. Remember, if you don’t have a drum at home to play on, your body can be your instrument! They can also practice their beginning choral behaviors with this Scottish folk song  we already sang earlier this year. Remember, sit or stand up tall with your shoulders down, take a low belly breath, and keep it light and gentle (out of the gutter!).

Today’s story is one that I read every year to our 2nd graders, and we add instruments playing for specific words each time I read them. We haven’t gotten to that lesson at school just yet, but all of my lovely 3rd-5th graders may remember it. You can try this lesson at home with your bodies! Click the little closed captioning button in the bottom right so you can look and listen for the words. After you’ve heard the whole book once, play it again and anytime you hear/see the word Ping, snap your fingers, when you hear/see the word emperor, clap the rhythm of the word with your hands, when you hear/see the word flowers, tap that rhythm on your legs. Can you write out the rhythm for each of those words? Give it a try!

Let’s talk DYNAMICS!

Happy Vernal Equinox everybody! Did you know that today is the earliest spring in 124 years? The equinox means we have a more equal balance of daylight and darkness today (although, not always exactly 12 hours each, but a nice long day of sunshine anyway).

Now that you know all about it, why not sing about it? This song will also be part of our VPI/Kindergarten program, so you’ll also find it on the song lyrics page!

Today, let’s focus our music time on dynamics. For VPI and Kindergarten, check out this playlist of loud and soft videos. For 1st and 2nd, watch this little song to get started.

Then, of course we’ve gotta get moving to some music! When you hear loud or forte music, march around the room. When you hear piano or soft sounding music, tiptoe around the room. Here’s a favorite to practice those listening skills which the 1st graders have already used in class called Radetzky March.

Next, talk to your little ones about Haydn (pronounced like Hide-in) the composer of this next piece. As they listen, tell them to pretend to fall asleep during the quiet music, but be ready to wake up when they hear loud music. Play them the first minute of the Surprise Symphony. Then start it over and they can tiptoe during the quiet parts and do a big jump on the loud parts!

For 3rd-5th graders, start with this introduction video. They also can take a peek at this one about crescendo and decrescendo. Then grab whatever instruments you have around, whether a recorder or again just a turned over pot and a wooden spoon to play along with the loud and soft songs I linked above. Then, take turns being the musician and the conductor. The conductor will raise their arms up for loud and move them down for soft and the musician will play whatever they want with the correct dynamic volume!