Halfway through the term

I realised today that there are only four more weeks left of this first term. That means that in three weeks time we will have our end-of-term concert, as I am away in the last week of term, so we can’t have it then. Fortunately the three composition projects are taking shape, with some adjustments to my original plans. Here’s the rundown:

Lower Primary

What a gorgeous class this is! So little, and so bright. The teacher and I have been working closely to develop our unit of work, focused around the theme of The Beach. We’ve brainstormed words in music class based on worksheets she has done with the students, so they have lots of vocabulary to contribute, and she is following up any songwriting we do in class too. All of which means we have loads of cool material, that the students feel familiar with.

We’ve got a happy, chirpy chorus that states

We go, we go, we go, we go, we go to the beach

We then have a jaunty verse, describing the things they bring with them to the beach

I’ve got my bucket, I’ve got my spade.

I’ve got my sunhat, I’ve got my sunscreen.

The last line is quite hard for them to say.

Today we added a cautionary middle 8:

Swim between the flags

Swim with the big people

Look out for the board riders

And if you need help, shout

“HELP, help, help. HELP, help, help!”

Which leads back into the chorus. They’ll accompany themselves on the big bass xylophone, and really, we are all having a ball with this song.

Middle Primary

MP have focused most of their work on developing an alphabet dance – a sequence of moves that has a specific movement or gesture for each letter of the alphabet. Today we completed the remaining letters of the alphabet and started to spell out words that they know (which are mostly different types of fruit. Fruit is a big vocab focus this term, it seems).

In addition to the dance, we are doing instrument work. They would probably mutinee if we didn’t – they do love the instruments above all other things we do in music. Every 2 minutes, someone will thrust a hand in the air, wave it at me frantically, saying, “Excuse me! Excuse me!” regardless of what I am saying to the class or in the middle of doing. When I ask them what they want to say, they point to one of the drums (it’s always a drum) and say, sweetly, “Can I play that?” It’s amusing, but definitely annoying after a while.

So… we are making Name Rhythms, where we string four names from the class together and play the rhythm of the syllables on instruments. This composing technique works very well, although it can be a bit limiting in a class with lots of Chinese and African children as they invariably have names of 2 syllables only.  Fortunately this term we have a Thai girl (4 syllables), the class teacher (4 syllables), an Iranian boy (3 syllables) and a Burmese boy (1 syllable) to spice things up.

Upper Primary

There are a lot of new students in UP this term, and most have very little English to work with. My original idea was to bounce off their Food and Cooking theme and do some composing around recipes, but I have decided to shelve that idea, as they simply don’t have the language yet, and the majority wouldn’t understand.

Instead, we will work on some foundations of ensemble music (playing in time, keeping tempo, listening to multiple contrasting lines, starting points for inventing rhythms and melodies) via a fantastic song called Brixton Market.

I taught them this song in the first lesson of the day, and had it in my head for the rest of the day. I bet they did too – it is very catchy. (I just googled the singer and the song and came up with nothing – if anyone reading can provide a link to more info about this excellent song for children, please post it in the comments section). It mentions lots of different foods for sale in the market, so we will probably write a new verse (for one of the Melbourne markets – Preston or Victoria probably, as these are the ones near where the students live).

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