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:
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).
Some of Clow's fourth graders volunteer to sing portions of "Yonder Come Day" for the camera! We are talking about the importance of a safe, supportive environment in our music room where everyone is encouraged to take risks. Taking risks is the only way to grow was a musician, and these kids are off to a GREAT start!
Our first graders at Clow and Fry have been busy composing their own melody using three notes- "SOL", "LA", AND "MI"! We notated each child's melody into an amazing program called Noteflight during class (and a student created the drum beat!). All students helped label the "solfege" syllables, which is a system we use to help students understand the relationships between musical pitches. This is a clip of 1BK singing 1MK's song for the FIRST time! The goal: perseverance and learning how to follow/sing a three note melody. For the first time, I was proud of them for their perseverance. These guys are reading music better than I could at their age!
There is nothing I'd rather be doing right now than what I'm doing. I have the fine privilege of introducing students to the world through the lens of music, AND I get to show them how they can change it through music. Music class is not just about singing songs or playing instruments- it's about connecting musical elements to the people and cultures they originated from to gain a better understanding of the WHY's of music. WHY was "Aint Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around" so powerful during the mid 1900's? It's simple form, catchy melodic and rhythm patterns, and powerful words made it accessible and singable to everyone during a very hard time in our counrty. WHY is it in a minor key? The minor key perfectly shows the atmosphere, emotions, and the hardships of the people singing it. WHY is improvisation significant to this genre of music (listen to the singers improvise in the second video at minute 2:55)? Because folk music, regardless of it's origin, is the PEOPLE's music. It's expressive. It's accessible. It's leaves room for the voice of the average person to take part of the experience. It's casual character leaves room for the unplanned, spontaneous creation of music. Listen to Clow's 5th grader Mathis use his newly learned A minor scale to express himself in "Aint Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around". Improvisation is composition in real-time. There is no correcting "mistakes". It requires boldness and courage- so way to go, Mathis!
Mathis' Improvisation Using an A Minor Scale
"Aint Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around"
Compare: Major Key vs. Minor Key. #justnotthesamefeel
Many of you have asked to be able to hear "Sweet Josephine", my new song for our little baby girl! So, I am sharing it with you here! CLICK-> SWEET JOSEPHINE
Here is a listening guide as well :) Remember what we discussed: songwriting is made much easier and more successful when their is a clear FORM. Form is simply how each SECTION flows from one to the other. Starting in kindergarten, we've been learning about A and B sections. In 4th Grade, we add the C section when we talk about Rondo form. Look at the layout of sections for "Sweet Josephine"!
A Intro (guitar)
A Verse 1 (+Mr. Henry's voice)
A Interlude (+piano)
A Verse 2 (+Josephine's heartbeat)
A Verse 3 (+Djembe, +Cello, +Viola)
B Chorus x2 (+French Horn)
C Bridge (+Bass Drum, +Cymbals, +World Percussion, +Vocal Harmony, +Violin, +Trombone)
B Chorus (+Gong)
B Chorus Instrumental (+Glockenspiel)