Burst of Creativity

Friday, February 8, 2019

Student Composition

At Clow, we have a 5th grade club that started three years ago called "Young Composers Club".  It has been life changing for me as a teacher.  I have reached a place in my teaching career where I truly believe that one of the best ways we can validate our students' musicianship is to draw out THEIR musical ideas.  I have been guilty of only teaching my students music that has been composed by other people.  So often, performances programs are filled with students performing music from an outside composer (which is fine, and extremely beneficial to their musical development).  However, I have come to realize that these amazing young people are FILLED WITH BRILLIANT IDEAS of their own that need to be drawn out.  It is CRAZY what they create.  Not only that, I am learning that they can compose with amazing artistic vision and intention.  I would even argue that what they learn and engage with musically through the process of composition is UNMATCHED compared to any other musical activity.  They begin to use a musical language that I would have never guessed they would use at this age.  Nothing inspires me more than this stuff.  The student you are about to hear is one of 16 students who will be having their music performed by members of the Dupage Symphony Orchestra in a public recital on February 22nd.  Listen to what composer Vick has to say about his music:

More about Young Composers Club

Using an online notation software, students compose original compositions.  The students are able to share their scores with each other, listen to each other's works, and give constructive/encouraging comments on the music.  Our 5th grade Young Composers Club also connects with AP Music Theory Students at Neuqua Valley High School through Noteflight.  Between the theory students and I, the 5th graders are mentored through the composing process.

Throughout the school year our composers are writing for the PURPOSE of live performance.  Then, in April, our composers take a field trip to Neuqua Valley High School for a collaboration with the amazing musicians and faculty in the band/orchestra/choir department.  The high school students get the compositions a few weeks ahead of time and rehearse it in small groups.  The performers get to meet with the 5th grade composers on the collaboration day.  They have the amazing privilege of showing the young composers what their music sounds like LIVE!  It is SO exciting watching their faces light up when they hear THEIR idea come to life by REAL musicians!

5th grader Anna (left) hears her song "Attack" for the first time.

These kids are on FIRE!  

To hear past compositions, please visit the Young Composers Club website.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

5th Grade "Band" Project

This month, our fifth graders have been learning a piece of instrumental music by Carl Orff!  After learning each layer of music and rehearsing it in as a class ensemble, the students broke up in to small ensembles, or "Bands".  In their band (which, their band names were very creative!), they decided how they would layer-in each part.  Each band had a band leader who would "count-off" using a four meter, and off they went!  This picture is an action shot of a group of boys working diligently to prepare for their performance!  Problem solving, independence, working as a team, leadership, focus, and "doing your part"- these are ALL essential citizenship skills that music teaches!

Music is so ridiculously amazing.  We are so privileged to be able to study and advance in it!

Friday, September 21, 2018

You are Somebody - and Music Reminds Us!

When we participate in music-making experiences, we have the fine privilege of feeling.  We feel the heart of the music, the message, and we are reminded that we are incredibly valuable because we are human.  There is no one who can replace us.  Though we may have similarities with others, NO ONE ELSE can do the job we've been called to do.  How beautiful!  Sing on!  Remember that your life matters greatly.  Join Jackson and his class in this powerful reminder!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

White Winter Hymnal Practice!

White Winter Hymnal Practice!

This week, 4th and 5th graders are learning about the AMAZING human voice.  We are learning to sing the soprano part of this Pentatonix hit, White Winter Hymnal.  This video shows how the body percussion goes.  We are learning the first rhythm, as performed by the guy in the Hawaiian shirt.  Have fun!  Click the link below!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Little Sir Echo

It's is a brand new year, which means BRAND NEW beautiful moments of music-making with my amazing kiddos! Listen to Ashtyn of Fry's 1A sing the echo of "Little Sir Echo" like a pro! I love to see these kids emerging as musicians. This is the best life!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

5th Grade TRIAD Compositions

Our kids are amazing.  In 5th grade, we've been learning about creating chord progressions through the use of TRIADS and creating melodies to be played over the chord progressions.  They did a great job!  These are the song writers of the next generation, baby!  I love my job, and I love these kiddos!  Watching these guys become their own CREATORS and INNOVATORS makes me smile...like this:
Image result for big smile



Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Life of a Happy Music Teacher

This is the goal: to be put out of a job.  These guys did it!  After learning the song Leatherwing Bat, these amazing second graders of mine spent time coming up with several options for a bordun pattern on the xylophone that would 1) fit within a 4/4 meter, 2) use a half note, and use the two pitches E and B.  They shared all of their solutions and chose one that felt and sounded natural when they played it.  Then, using the notes EGAB, they explored many options of rhythmic patterns that would be a nice compliment to the bordun.  After thorough discussion and many shared opinions about which type of instrument (metal or wood) should play each part and WHY, they made up their mind.  The metals are playing EGAB because the ring sounds cool and represents a bat flying up.  The woods are playing the bordun, which is nice and percussive.  Many students took turns being the director whose job was to start the ensemble by "counting off" to the appropriate meter.  They decided how many times to play before singing.  
Music class is not just about "singing songs" and "having fun".  Of course, we do those things!  We KNOW how to have fun.  But we are going deep, and we want a beautiful blend of skill, knowledge, creativity, and independent dependence ("I'll take care of my part, but WE bring the music to life).