Last year, I was at a new school and I wanted to play a recording of Renee Fleming before the superbowl so that the students would recognize her singing the national anthem. When they heard the vibrato in her voice, many of them burst out laughing. It was something that they had simply never been exposed to before.
I am making it my mission to change that.
I'm not setting out to impose my personal tastes in music on my students, but I feel that as their music teacher, it is my duty to introduce them to as many different styles and sounds as I possibly can. I know that for many of my kids, general music could be one of the last meaningful interactions that they have with classical music. I am going to do everything in my power to make sure that they leave elementary school having heard enough of it to understand and respond to it in meaningful ways.
Now that I've pontificated a bit on my personal philosophy, here are three ways that I used listening lessons with classical music this week:
To get us in a spooky mood, we used scarves while listening to Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saens. The scarves are such a great tool for visual and kinesthetic learners; we do so much with them!
- We can roll it into a ball to show a soft dynamic
- We can open it up wide to show a loud dynamic
- We can bounce it to the beat to show staccato articulations
- We can sway it side to side to show legato articulations
- We can move it high and low to match the melodic contour
- We can stand up, sit down, or toss and catch our scarf to show different sections of the form
A dear friend of mine from college recently left her teaching job to go back to grad school, and she left me many wonderful learning props. Among them were these strips to go along with In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg.
After telling my second graders the story of the hero and his harrowing escape from the trolls in the mountain, we reenacted the story and sang the main theme saying "run run" for ti-ti and "troll" for ta. After singing it that way for a while, I let the class in on a fun secret: the rhythm to this song is exactly the same as Mary Had a Little Lamb... so we sang the theme again and filled in the nursery rhyme lyrics. What fun!
We also followed a great interactive listening map for this piece that came with my Spotlight On Music 2nd grade curriculum.
For fifth grade, I wanted to give my students the opportunity to really sit and listen to Danse Macabre. I created this listening guide (currently a freebie on my TPT store) and asked them to fill in as many boxes as they could while the piece was playing. We reviewed the difference between open- and closed- ended questions and the difference between writing our facts and writing our opinions. I got some great responses!
I hope my different types of listening lessons have resonated with my students this week. I figure if I got them humming the tune on their way out the door, I've done something right.