Versions of this post have been published in Creative Musicking and has been accepted for publication the forthcoming book, Technology for Unleashing Creativity (OUP).
I really enjoy this project with my young learners. We start off the year with it. It gets them listening for form, for steady beat, and gets them moving, arranging, and composing! Using the Olympic Fanfare from Share the Music series I will share with you my process that I use to get them to the final stage!
Composition Project for Grades 1 and 2
I begin with showing them this picture from the book (you should be able to project this on a wall in your classroom):
Then I ask them what they see and we discuss what types of things they are doing in the listening map and what instruments they may see. They often point out the people in the audience and any of the words they may see.
Once we’ve discussed it, we listen to the music while following along on the listening map. I use a pointer to guide them through it. Here is the song:
Once they have heard it and discussed it, I have my learners divide into groups. My room as 4 coloured music staves (red, blue, green, and yellow) that I use for games, stations or groups that coincide with the coloured mats they are sitting on–instant groups! You may want to group your learners differently and that is okay! Even though there are only 3 sections to this piece, I still have them go to 4 groups because they are smaller areas that are spaced apart nicely.
Then, we listen to it while keeping a steady beat, changing the body part that is keeping the beat on every section. The beat changes as we go through the piece so we discuss weather they beats are medium, fast, or slow. The second time we listen I have learners, as an entire class, march for the A section, jog on the spot for the B section, and move “flowingly” to the feel of the music for the C section. Once I feel like they have a good handle on this, I hand out “props” for each station. Red gets mallets to pretend with for the A section, blue gets lummi sticks that are pretending to be torches for the B section, while green and yellow all get ribbons for the C section. You know what’s coming next! Then we put the music on and red will march and pretend to play a drum for the A section while everyone else keeps a beat, then the blue team will jog on the spot with their torches in the air for the B section, and the green/yellow team will move their ribbons to the music. You will have to make sure that they are making appropriate movements for the music.
Once we have established this and have done it at least twice, they begin to rotate through the stations until everyone has had a turn at each station. We have even done this part of the activity for 3 or 4 classes in a row (25 min classes with welcome songs and discussion).
Step 1: Colour
When I am confident that they understand the form, the beat, and the movement for each station we begin our process of rearranging the music. I start with a mini lesson on how to colour this sheet:
I tell them that they can choose any colours they would like to use but both A sections have to be the same and both B sections have to be the same. It may take some a couple of classes to finish colouring this. For your sanity, tell them that they can only choose two colours at a time or they will want to take an entire handful all at once.
Step 2: Cut
The next step begins with a mini-lesson on how to cut out their track. They should cut along the solid black lines. I even show them how to cut it out on my own coloured sheet. This usually takes about one class for them to cut all the pieces out. Some will still be finishing up colouring. They should have 5 pieces that include the shapes with the letters in them. Also for your sanity, have them put their names on the backs of all pieces and clip them together with paper clips before you go to clean up.
Step 3: Paste
Once they have all the pieces cut out, they can begin to paste them back together in a different order. They can be pretty creative with this. I always ask them to arrange the pieces on the paper before they glue and make sure I see their arrangement before they start gluing it together. I just tell them that all the straight lines should line up but that they must start with the “START” line and they cannot just put it back together the same way it was. Some decided they would cut the A section or the B section into two pieces so that they would have more options for sounds or for track shapes. Here are two examples of what had been done:
Once their arrangements are complete I choose 4 or 5 arrangements that we will “perform.” This means I will put the audio file into Audacity and arrange the sounds like the students have on the page. I usually project it so they can all see the shape of the sounds. They love that they can actually see the sounds! It really sets up for a discussion on volume and that there are ways to actually see sound!
As each arrangement is played, every learner does the actions of each station as a whole class which include marching, jogging on the spot, and moving “flowingly” to the music. They will get a kick out of the surprises that are in store for them and their classmates have made the arrangements themselves!
Do you have a cool lesson that encompasses movement, art, and creativity all-in-one? I would love to hear about it. If you’ve done a lesson with the Olympic Games theme I would also love to hear about that.
Until next time, Happy Musicking!