Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cultural Connections - Music & Social Studies

My latest poster and a few of my favorite quotes about music and culture:

“We know an age more vividly through its music than through its historians.”                                                                              - Rosanne Ambrose-Brown

“The history of a people is found in its songs.”    
- George Jellinek

The truest expression of a people is in its dance and music.”   
                                                                             - Agnes de Mile (1905-93)
"The arts celebrate multiple perspectives. One of their large lessons is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.”    - Elliot Eisner in The Arts and the Creation of Mind
I've been working with several sixth grade social studies classes (at different schools) to explore how environment has affected the development of ethnic music and art (a core objective). I play about 40 seconds of various multicultural selections (from a list I've compiled in Spotify) and have students fill in a listening chart, commenting on timbre, repeating melody or rhythm patterns, tempo, dynamics, and style, and then guessing what country or culture the music is from.

Next, as I review and replay about ten seconds of each piece, I show pictures of the ethnic instruments (which I've gathered from the Internet) and discuss the environmental and cultural influences that affected their development. Finally, I reveal the country or culture. Students really enjoy the 'big reveal.' This is a true integration (if you take time for it), as we are able to explore both curricula (music and social studies) and use music vocab in context. 

I've compiled a multicultural listening list in Spotify, and you are welcome to access/follow it. Here's a link: Multicultural . (You can also search for and download these pieces using iTunes, Amazon, etc.) I'm listing some of my favorites selections below.

Information appears in this order: Culture, Track/Title, Artist, Name of Album

India: Indian Summer, The Tigers of Bengal, Indian Raga

China: Chinese Wuhan Erhu, (Chinese Traditional), Chinese Traditional ErhuMusic
Russia: Gari Gari(Brule Brule), Jan Boutouk, Gypsy & Folk Music – Russia
Japan: Yamaji Yamato Ensemble, The Art of the Traditional Japanese Flute & Koto
Africa: African Meditation Music, African Drums, African Tribal Music
Germany: Rosamunde, Die Oberkariner Volksmusikanten, German Polka Party
Egypt/Arabia: Ayoub, Mohamed Maksoud, Oriental Sax – Turkish & Arabic Music
Spain: Punta del Faro, Paco de Lucia, El Flamenco Es…
Tahiti: Bora Bora (Tahitian Drums), The Polynesians, Luau Songs of Hawaii
Ireland: Irish Jigs, Irish and Celtic Music, Irish & Celtic – The Lord of the Dance
Mexico: Ay Jalisco no Te Rajes, Mariachi Mexico, Plaza Garibaldi
America: Shufflin’Blues, Paul Lenart, Acoustic Blues

Do you have any favorite multicultural songs or activities? Please share in the comment box : )

Friday, March 22, 2013

My Super-dooper Musical Cooper

This precious little guy (my grandson Cooper) feels 'musical magic' in every bone of his body! It's amazing how naturally little ones respond to music. Treat yourself to a half-minute chuckle : )

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Beautiful Music Quote

                               Music adds so much to life!
I enjoy creating these posters, and I hope my blog visitors and TPT customers enjoy them too : )   These JPEG files, FREE for your home or classroom use, can be printed. (Just click on the image, and a higher resolution file will open for you.)  If you use these electronically, please give credit by linking to my blog.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Rain Songs are "so mi!"

Spring fever has hit, and I'm having so much fun lately with childrens' songs about rain! The rain theme itself inspires manipulatives and fun visuals, plus the simple melodies inspire meaningful rhythm and pitch explorations, improvisations and composition. A few of my favorites (simple as they are) include: Rain, Rain Go Away (so-mi-la); It's Raining, It's Pouring (so-mi-la); Rain, Come Wet Me (so-mi-re-do), Rain on the Green Grass (do-re-mi-so-la), and Rain is Falling All Around (diatonic).

The first four mentioned can actually be sung as partner songs because their tone sets fall within the pentatonic scale... and that inspires ostinatos! Here are a couple of  'rain' ostinatos, color-coded for Boomwhackers or bells. This is a JPEG file so you can click on it to save it, and then project, enlarge, and print it if desired.  

I have created some excellent lesson plan sets and teaching materials around the rain theme for spring. (So much experience, work and time has gone into these!) You can check out preview files of these sets by clicking on the cover pages below.

These raindrop note heads are a sample from my newest publication, Rain on the Green Grass Musi-Kit. You may also save and print this FREEBIE. Happy spring, everybody!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Partner Song Freebie

In addition to rounds, partner songs are a great way to help students develop singing independence and harmony skills. I have always been fascinated with this technique, and have long kept a running list of songs with common chord structures. These familiar favorites can be sung and accompanied as stand-alone pieces or sung simultaneously as partner songs. (A few rounds are included as well.) Young and old alike enjoy singing partner songs. If you don't have colored Boomwhackers or bells, you can apply colored stickers to plain instruments, homemade pipe chimes or boom pipes. Here's the link where you can download this free chart: 

This 'freebie' is a sample page from my 50 Color Chord-inated Partner Tunes to Sing, Bing & Boom, which includes four sets of songs organized around common chord patterns (three keys). This one-chord set is, of course, the simplest in the collection. If you're ready for a wider variety of chord patterns and folk songs, you can find the complete set at

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Powerful Force of RHYTHM

Rhythm, in a broad sense, is the framework by which we organize all ideas -- musical, mathematical, linguistic, categorical, visual/spatial, kinesthetic. When we facilitate students in developing a strong rhythmic foundation, the other musical elements more easily and naturally fall into place.

This set of rhythm lesson plans and printables is one of my all-time favorites!
Rhythm Railroad