Happy April!!!

Happy April and happy Jazz Appreciation Month! I’m pretty disappointed that I don’t get to see my students’ faces as you walk into my classroom listening to our new composer of the month. I kept this composer a complete surprise, she isn’t even in your Interactive Music Notebooks! Yes SHE! Today, take a few minutes to learn about and listen to Esperanza Spalding.

Here are the 4 facts we would be reading about her for each week of the month:

  1. Esperanza Spalding is a bassist, singer, arranger, and composer from Portland, Oregon. She was born on October 18th, 1984.
  2. She started playing music professionally when she was 5 years old. She played violin in the Chamber Music Society of Oregon. Later, she taught herself to play guitar and bass.
  3. She has won 4 Grammys, a Boston Music Award, and a Soul Train Music Award.
  4. She says that watching the famous cellist Yo Yo Ma on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood as a kid inspired her to be a musician, too.

You can watch Yo Yo Ma on Mr. Rogers right here! I had big plans for our month of learning about her and making connections in every lesson to African History inspired by this song and music video:

So each grade level has someone different to learn about from the Black Gold history book!

For VPI, Kindergarten, and 1st graders, learn about Miriam Makeba. Learn some facts about her herelisten to her song Pata Pata while showing the steady beat on different body parts, and then learn this Pata Pata dance! Last but not least, bring back our  jazz vocabulary word IMPROVISE. When we improvise, we make music up on the spot. Can you improvise your own dance moves to Miriam Makeba’s music on the spot? Ask Alexa, turn on Miriam Makeba on Spotify, or try out this Youtube playlist that I’m jamming to today! Can you click along with Mama Africa to The Click Song? Don’t forget to find South Africa on a map! Did you know it has 3 capital cities? Learn to sing a song from South Africa:

2nd graders, learn about Nelson Mandela. Here is another Ducksters biography to read  or listen to about him, and a nice simple video bio. You can make connections between South African Apartheid and the unfair Jim Crow Laws in America. Nelson Mandela has a lot of different names, can you find out why they call him Madiba? Of course, you gotta find that handy dandy South Africa map and talk about those 3 capitals again! Don’t forget to look up South Africa’s flag before you print this free coloring sheet. There were a lot of songs written about Nelson Mandela, but this one is probably the most famous/fun to dance to song. Here’s another freedom dance with moves you can learn to do together as a family (this is always a favorite thing to do with our last 5 minutes of class, everyone leaves with this song stuck in their heads!) You can check out the 2 songs above from South Africa, too!

For 3rd graders and 5th graders, research Sundiata Keita. Again, I like Ducksters to find information, because there is a play button at the bottom of the page to read the text out loud to you! 3rd graders, I know you learn about Ancient Mali in social studies this year, so read all about it

5th graders, look at the song Balafon that we glued into our notebooks–remember playing this song on our xylophones at school? We watched this video of a real Balafon from West Africa first:

The Balafon plays a part in Sundiata Keita’s story! Read more about that here.

4th graders! Don’t worry I didn’t forget about you! Your job is to research Fela Kuti. I think you’re going to love listening to his music 4th grade friends, but don’t forget to read his biography first. I don’t even have to tell you what to do with this music, because it undoubtedly will kick off an Afrobeat dance party at your house! Try learning a song from Nigeria, too:

I wish we could play some Nigerian singing games together, check out all of these fun ones and pick one to learn more about and play with your family!

Let’s Sing We Shall Overcome!

Today, try combining your social studies and your music time! Music was a really important part of the Civil Rights Movement. Read about the Civil Rights Movement on History for Kids or Ducksters (Ducksters has a read aloud button at the bottom of the page, and a 10 question quiz you can take at the end), and click on the important people to learn more about them.

On to the music! Learn to sing the song We Shall Overcome:

Now listen to a few different versions and compare and contrast them. Try this beautiful one from Morehouse College, this one of Joan Baez at the March on Washington,  and this one from Mahalia Jackson. What things are the same? What’s different? Things to think about: the style of music, the tempo (speed of the beat), dynamics (how loud or soft), instruments, voices. Little ones can discuss, older kids can write down their answers in their notebooks. Try making a Venn Diagram in  your notebook or sign up for a free account at canva.com to design a really beautiful one.