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May 20, 2015

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After the concert...

Well, our students LOVED our Rhythm Works concerts on Monday.

The concerts were so interactive, accessible and full of energy - thank you to The Rhythm Works for being so much fun!

The week after a concert I spend the next lesson in reflection mode. We talk about our memories from the concert and from all the lessons leading up to it, do a P.M.I. (plus, minus, interesting) chart and then a personal reflection.

Year 1 and 2 - we do the PMI on the board and then a drawing
Year 3 - we do the PMI in groups of three and then a drawing
Year 4 to 6 - we do the PMI in groups of three and then a written reflection sheet.

This year for something different I have had the year 3 to 6 students use the app 'Explain Everything' alongside their PMI. They have completed the PMI as a group on paper, each circled one of their own points to talk about, added a photo of the PMI in the Explain Everything app and then recorded themselves talking about their point (this all happens inside the app so you end up with a still image of the PMI with the students' voices over the top).

The students have loved the iPad use, been quite intuitive with the app PLUS I have recorded reflections for assessment... and to show on our upcoming Parent Open Night. Win-win!!!

It's been a great term and we will continue for the rest of this term with the wonderful resources for the group - the extensions and general activities we didn't have time for before the concert.

I've attached the documents I use for reflections in case anyone wants to make use of them... time savers are the key I find tongue out.

Posted on September 04, 2015 at 1:37 AM

Boom Boom Beat

Boom whacker ostinato:
I only had a single one octave set of boomwhackers at my school (this song uses only boom whackers and djembes) so I decided I may as well take the plunge and ask schools in my network if they had any boom whackers (and djembes) I could possibly borrow for the term....I figured "If you don't ask you don't get!"

Well, I certainly 'got!' - more than enough boom whackers and 16 djembes all up. Well worth asking smiling.

I was loaned many boom whackers from nearby schools so ended up with a class set of A, E, G and C boom whackers - the four notes needed for this song.

This meant that I could have the students in 4 groups, each group with a different ostinato note, and play along with the song. We did the suggested activities of using body percussion and untuned percussion to familiarise ourselves with the rhythm before trying the melody. This worked really well and meant success was pretty much guaranteed when the time came to put it onto the boom whackers.

Something that helped the players know when it was their turn to play, particularly the juniors, was this: I took the colour of the boom whacker needed in the order of the melody and turned it into a chant that went "pur-ple, ye-llow, green-now, red-as-well".

The syllables in the chant matched the rhythm so it helped keep everyone together, and helped the students visually! We had learnt to sing the melody by notes names first (AA, EE, GG, CCC)... but for the juniors in particular it helped to simply go by colour!

****Of course if you don't have access to djembes and boom whackers you can use tuned percussion, keyboards, recorders etc but having the same instruments as the recording made it very real for the students and the enthusiasm was high.... boom whackers are a hit... literally and figuratively!

Djembe rhythm:
We had a whole lot of fun with djembes!

I was able to borrow 16 djembes however some of my classes are up to 33 students so sometimes we paired up to take it in turns, but other times I substituted djembes with the bongos I had (handy as also have a clear high and low pitch), the two cajons I had (again have two distinct tones/pitches) and then to fill out the rest of the student needs just simple tambour drums (attempting to make two distinct sounds with fingertips and palm).

Students LOVED the drumming and it's definitely an area I'd love to get more into with them in the future.

Less than a week to concert day now and we're all very excited!

Posted on August 25, 2015 at 8:11 AM

Some worksheets/checklists for the instruments of The Rhythm Works

So... our Musica Viva 'The Rhythm Works' concert is 10 days away! Hooray!

In preparing a summary lesson for the next week of classes I put together two checklists (of sorts) for the instruments the groups makes use of.

I created one for the instruments by song, and another for the instruments by family grouping.

I intend to have them up on the interactive white board and use them as a quick summary activity as a whole class... but you could also use them as worksheets for assessment, or even just as a non-assessment record sheet for the students to complete as you explore each song!

Wish I'd thought of this sooner tongue out. Hope someone else can benefit from my late brainstorm!

Where are the answers?! The resource PDFs for each of the songs has a list of instruments in each song.... and for the instrument family answers, well they are discoverable in the Musica Viva Player Interactive Resources 'Rhythm Works Sounds 1, 2 and 3' activities.

Posted on August 21, 2015 at 8:40 AM

Liffey Falls - other music to do with water (literal or figurative)

In the learning resources for Liffey Falls one of the activities is to explore other songs with water imagery.... and here is a collection of links to songs I have found that have something to do with water!

Finding the songs:
First I wracked my own brain and then, to add to the list, I did a google search for songs with water imagery. Next I looked the songs up on youtube for videos that had appropriate visuals.

Next I made use of the website to create 'safe' links to put on my wiki for use during lessons (a time-saver as then I don't have to search them up or create a playlist each time) and also for students to access at home. creates a link to a youtube video that takes out the advertisements, comments and those links to related videos that occur in youtube itself... Makes it much 'safer' to use in the classroom that way and allows parents to feel more comfortable at home!

Links to the songs

1. 'The Water Music' is a collection of orchestral movements, composed by George Frideric Handel. It premiered on 17 July, 1717 after King George the First had requested a concert on barges (ships) on the River Thames, London (England). 'The Water Music' was written for a large orchestra, making it suitable for an outdoor performance. The video has one part of this music.

2. A 'nature sounds' recording that is water flowing and the sounds around it (10 minutes!) - good for relaxing!

3. 'La mer, trois esquisses symphoniques pour orchestre' (which is French for 'The sea, three symphonic sketches for orchestra'), or simply 'La mer' (meaning 'The Sea' in French), is an orchestral composition by the French composer Claude Debussy. There are three parts/sections to the work (23 minutes long) and the composer wanted the audience to think of the the different moods of the sea when listening.

4. An American bathroom cleaning product advertisement with an oceanic feel!

5. 'Moon River' - a decades old song that has became a classic because of its music that is pleasant to the ears and its short but meaningful lyrics. The song’s message is that of being not just a dreamer but chasing the realization of that dream. The imagery the song presents to the listener a clear picture of the person gazing upon and admiring the wide river as he contemplates his thoughts and dreams.

If you have any more suggestions please just press reply to share them smiling

Posted on August 13, 2015 at 4:46 AM

Nature Sounds: Recording students using Garage band

We have The Rhythm Works coming to our school at the end of August and the students are really enjoying the accessibility of the resources and songs.

I started our Musica Viva journey for the year with the song 'Nature Sounds' and explored the instruments, rhythms using body percussion and lyrics/singing in the first lesson. These were all ideas in the Resource pack. Each class then made a recording of themselves (using a Snowball USB microphone, Garage Band and a Macbook Air) doing what the lesson has explored, along with the recording supplied in the Resource Pack.

I have a school music wiki that I post all sorts of things to... in this case I have a page for the Musica Viva visit and post links to relevant ideas and resources. I also post what we've done in class including recordings like the one explained here.

What did we do exactly?!
We did each section as separate tracks and then finally played them all together to end up with a recording that was 'thick' and interesting. If we had tried to have three groups doing different elements and recorded it all in one go it would have required many 'takes' and we simply don't have that much time in music lessons! By being able to rehearse each section and then record immediately it reduced the stress considerably as I could concentrate on keeping one group together, rather than three separate groups! This empowered the children enormously and apart from having to re-record a few times for coughing, PA announcements and the like it went really smoothly!

I have put one of the Year 2 classes effort here for you to listen to smiling.

The tools and a basic understanding of Garage Band and how to record audio into it is needed to do something like this, but to help you out there are many excellent youtube tutorials online, and online PD from people like Katie wardrobe too!

You could also simply use the Voice Memo app on an iPad/iPhone (or similar on other tablets) to record the audio - in this case better results would be achieved with a simple task where not too many things are happening at once so you don't have to try to conduct them all!

**We also did something similar for the second song, 'Boom Boom Beat', however instead of one recording per class I did it in 2 year groupings (e.g. all Year 1 and 2 classes made a collaborative recording) where each class in that section of the school did a track each. This cut down on the time needed to do it!

Posted on August 11, 2015 at 9:01 AM