Monday, January 31, 2011

Are you older than the internet?

So, picture this...

I'm sitting with one of my students.  He's six.  It's a Saturday morning.  We're in a private lesson.  His focus has turned to the timpani set up behind him by the piano.  He explores the tuning pegs of the drum but he's noticing the bookshelf for the first time.  On the bookshelf he sees this...

He eyes the rat puppet but opts for the harp.  He plays the harp briefly and notices the big blue books.
He says, "What's that?"

That's a really big dictionary, kind of like an encyclopedia...kind of like Wikipedia.  It's called the Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians.  It's full of information about music and musicians.  It's what we used before the internet to find information. 

Those are older than the INTERNET?  he says with astonishment.
I nod thinking...oh my goodness...I loooove this conversation...something great is about to happen.

"Wow...that's old...," he says.   "Can we look at them?"

We look up "marimba" at his request.  "Oh yeah...I've seen those kind," and he dismisses the pictures and the book.

...I wait for the next great thought...I can feel it coming...
"Are you older than the internet?"
I nod...yes.

And our conversation is complete.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Why Do We Remember Old Pop Songs But Forget Where Our Keys Are?

There is an amazing event happening in Victoria, BC in February 2011.

Music industry executives from around the world are gathering here to have roundtable discussions about the future of the music industry. Those who register will have the opportunity to sit in on the discussions and hear the latest.

Lots of info available on the Transmission site with lists of speakers.
Daniel Levitin, author of This is Your Brain on Music will be there.

Check out this link on the Transmission site to watch

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Freeze Tag! in music class??

In real life:  ages 6-10 years
Tag games are great brain warm-ups to bring the group together, to relax, increase social contact, experience appropriate social connection in game format, build confidence.

Frozen No-Foot Tag
Play tag but there's no running.
Choose a word from the locomotor word list and instead of running, perform the chosen word.   Last week we played 2 kinds of frozen no-foot tag;  tummy tag and slide tag.

Tummy Tag
Preparation:  Whatever rhythm the group is learning to read and perform we write down and "speak" it.  We practise tapping the rhythm on our own bodies and then tap it on everyone.  This prep stage is fun.
Last week we were tapping 4-beat rhythms with sixteenth notes (say "tiki-tiki ta ta ta")
Now the game:
Everyone is on their tummies, dragging themselves around and trying to stay away from the person who is "it".  The "tagger" tries to tag as many people as possible.

If you are tagged you are "frozen".  If the tagger tags everyone and we're all frozen there is a celebration!  Hi-5's!  (and possibly a smartie or a carrot)
It doesn't happen very often though because there is a "unfreeze" variable.

Anyone can unfreeze you by tapping the focus rhythm on your body.  
So, last week if you saw someone "frozen" you dragged yourself over to them and tapped "tiki-tiki ta ta ta".

I usually have rhythmic music playing in the background to keep the energy up and the children moving.

Slide Tag
Just like tummy tag except we sit on our bottoms and slide around the floor.  The kids like this better because it's not as much work as tummy tag.  I like tummy tag because I see a noticeable increase in attention during fine motor activity after we play tummy tag. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Everybody snake along....snake until we STOP!

In real Life:  Use with ages 1-4.
Sung to the tune of that old favorite:  Merrily we roll along
Developmental benefits include:  enjoyment (this age group loves a song that requires a sudden stop),  controlling & anticipating start and stop of the body, exploring a variety of locomotor/non-locomotor movements, gross or fine motor focus depending on movement words you choose.

Everybody snake along, snake along, snake along.
Everybody snake along, snake until we STOP!

Everybody roll along, roll along, roll along
Everybody roll along, roll until we STOP!

Everybody growing tall, growing tall, growing tall.
Everybody growing tall, grow until we STOP!

Everybody melting down, melting down, melting down.
Everybody melting down, melt until we STOP!

Everybody flick your head, flick your head, flick your head.
Everybody flick your head, flick until we STOP!

 (If you're in a group make sure everyone is running in the same direction...and using their "traffic eyes"!)
Everybody running fast...

I think you get the idea:) Just substitute words from the locomotor word list.

See you tomorrow with another musical movement time it will be for older kids!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kookaburra leaps, melts and sleeps in the music room!

In real life:  Use this with children ages 1-5 years.  

Do you know the Kookaburra song?

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Merry, merry king of the bush is he.
Laugh! Kookaburra. Laugh! Kookaburra
Gay your life must be.  Ha! Ha! Ha!

If I had more techie skills I would find a way to include audio in this post...oh well, some day...:)
We've been singing Kookaburra in my classes lately and laughing and calling like kookaburras.  "koo-koo-koo-koo-koo-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka!"

Kookaburras don't live in our part of the world, they live in Australia, so we look at pictures and meet my Kookaburra puppet while we're learning the song.

 He's fluffy for a bird!  

We play beats with the Orff Orchestra and ask the parents to sing in a round.  It's lovely.

some of the Orff instruments ready to play!

Oh...and in case you didn't know, kookaburras are members of the kingfisher family.  That's why they're called "king of the bush".   If you've ever heard the kookaburra call, it's kind of like a woodpecker.  Kookaburras sound like they are laughing.  I definitely wish I had audio to show you what we sound like when we laugh like kookaburras!

Kookaburra as a musical movement song.
We can also use this song to explore our list of movement words.

Kookaburra jumps in the old gum tree
Kookaburra jumps in the old gum tree
Jump, Kookaburra!  Jump, Kookaburra!
Jump in the old gum tree. Jump, jump, jump.
If we need to express energy or raise energy in the group then I use more words from the locomotor word list.  I use words like jump, run, roll, snake, fly. 
If I sense we need to move but keep things calm I use more words from non-locomotor word list.  I use words like twist, hug, sleep, wiggle, tickle.

Kookaburra hugs in the old gum tree
Kookaburra hugs in the old gum tree
Hug, Kookaburra!.  Hug, Kookaburra!
Hug in the old gum tree. Hug, hug, hug.

In almost every class I try to roll, snake, slide, crawl, stretch and hug. Those movement words seem to accomplish so much for the lower and mid-brain.

There are many musical movement songs...I'll post another tomorrow.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

101 Movement Words: A Fantastic List for Teachers

Just what you wanted...

if we're going to incorporate movement into any part of our work with children we need a list of movement words to inspire our teaching.  

This is my brainstormed list

Most of the words are everyday movement words.  A few of them are actual dance movements.
The list is loooooong.

This week at MakeMeMusical, I will share a few musical movement activities and 
you will need this list of words to bring them to life.

If you want to know why movement is important in children's music experiences
check out last week's MakeMeMusical blog posts.

(movement that travels from one space to another space)
1.     walk
2.     run
3.     jog
4.     fly
5.     stroll
6.     meander
7.     tiptoe
8.     skip
9.     step
10. leap
11. jump
12. roll
13. snake
14. creep
15. crawl
16. wriggle
17. grow
18. dash
19. drive
20. move
21. zigzag
22. slide
23. waltz
24. hop
25. climb
26. gallop
27. tumble
28. skate
29. march
30. stomp
31. polka
32. shuffle
33. waddle
34. trip
35. flip
36. moonwalk
37. grapevine
38. cat-walk
39. bear-walk (dinosaur walk)
40. scamper
41. prance
42. slither
43. schottische
44. two-step
45. waltz run
46. step hop
47. scoot
48. crab walk
49. lame puppy walk

non- locomotor
(movement on the spot without going anywhere)
1.     wave
2.     rub
3.     sink
4.     rise
5.     melt
6.     bend
7.     stretch
8.     twist
9.     swing
10. push
11. pull
12. rock
13. balance
14. shake
15. float
16. duck
17. dodge
18. jab
19. poke
20. shove
21. carve
22. mold
23. freeze
24. wiggle
25. turn
26. fall
27. straighten
28. strike
29. chop
30. spin
31. kick
32. punch
33. hit
34. wring
35. tickle
36. hug
37. hang
38. sway
39. open
40. close
41. flap
42. pluck
43. tap
44. grab
45. wrap
46. flick
47. pose
48. burst
49. glide
50. shrug
51. dig
52. shake

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Fun: Bugs Bunny!

Friday Fun!
Presenting...the infamous and multi-talented Bugs Bunny.
Love that for appears right near the end.

Then, go visit Rachel Rambach at her blog, Listen and Learn.  She has a regular feature every Friday called, Friday Faves.  Today, she's telling us all about the iPhone and all the amazing apps she uses in her music therapy and songwriting work.

While Bugs might be my banjo buddy inspiration...Rachel is my social media inspiration!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why movement in a music class? (part 5/5)

I've been shamelessly "selling" movement this week.
Here's why...

I believe movement adds joy to a music class.
I believe movement helps us relax and be more open to learning.
I believe movement helps the brain to retain knowledge and skills better.
I believe movement helps children feel greater personal connection to the learning.
I believe the brain has an easier time engaging in fine motor activity if preceded by gross motor movement activity.

I believe movement is the "play" in music class for young children.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why movement in a music class? (part 4/5)

If you knew
If you knew how to effectively support learning and development...would you do it?

1 simple thing
If there was one simple thing you could do to improve your teaching I wonder if you would be willing to do it?

Integrate movement
Integrate movement in subject areas like music!

 Music education is notoriously chair-based and to incorporate have to get out of your chair! (Or off your bottom if you sit on the carpet)

A brain-based learning program allows for integration of all parts of your brain.
Brain-based learning must include movement.

Understand the brain
The simplest way to explain the brain is this!

Imagine your brain has 3 levels.
Lower brain  
(the reptilian brain...reflexes...automatic brain...ensures survival)
(the emotional and social brain)
The mid-brain connects to the lower brain and connects to the upper brain
Upper brain 
(largest part of the brain...planning, thought, proprioception, language, memory, the grey matter)

All 3 levels are
connected and intertwined
and it takes years for those connections
to grow and be solid.

If you try to hurry things along...the connections will not be strong.  
The adult who has not had enough tummy time as an infant will be less grounded as an adult.
That's just the way it is.

Our modern culture allows for less and less time for low brain development.
Our children need LOTS of time as infants to lay on the floor and on their tummies.  

Our children need LOTS of time to crawl and roll and sit and drag themselves around BEFORE we have them learning to walk and play piano. 

Lots of lower brain time supports the emotional mid-brain.
Lots of time allowed for the emotional mid-brain to develop 
provides better support for the upper brain.

  If you want to prepare children for an accomplished, intellectual adult life...we must give our babies and children TIME to develop.

For me that means...
I ask a small child to use their fingers to do something tricky 
  • like cover the holes on a recorder 
  • or play piano 
  • or use their fingers on the violin
I make sure we've been warming up our lower and mid-brains

We do things like...
  • floor movements that take us through the basic developmental movement patterns of crawling, creeping, crossing the mid-line, copying bi-lateral motions
  • tag games that make us laugh and relax
  • coordination games
I address the physical needs of the lower brain and 
the emotional needs of the mid-brain.

In my programs I am preparing children for a multi-instrumental musical life.

I need the children to be 
  • awake, 
  • aware, 
  • balanced, 
  • trusting.  
So we can
  • all play violin, recorder, guitar, harmonica and ukulele 
  • all dance 
  • all play percussion
  • all sing
  • all become happy musicians!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why movement in a music class? (part 3/5)

If you feel uncomfortable probably means you're getting more out of it than everyone else!

aerial view of University of Victoria beautiful!
In the "olden days"...when I was in university...back in the 1980's...I was studying music education as part of a 5-year Bachelor of Education degree.

I had already been teaching private music lessons (piano, saxophone, clarinet, theory) in my home for 10 years.  I had some confidence about how to approach a music lesson for children.  I played classical piano and had all the exams, festivals, master classes and diplomas that are a part of that kind of study.   I'd prepared many students for exams and festival as well.  I could read music, write music, analyze form and chord progressions, etc...

I had no idea there was SO MUCH MORE to music for children.

I was hired immediately out of university.  I didn't even get to attend my graduation ceremony because I was working.  In those days, there were no teaching that was a huge miracle in my life!

My first job was as a learning assistant teacher at a K-10 school (on a reserve in northern BC).  I learned a lot.
My second job was teaching grade 3 classroom and music (K-7 and special needs music) at a First Nations elementary school in northern BC.  (In those days, they were still called Indian reserves...not very politically correct!)   As part of my contract to teach, I had to complete the Introductory Level Orff course.

I'd read about Orff in my music ed classes, it sounded fun and easy.  I sure didn't "get" that movement was involved from just reading about it though.

Orff summer classes were 6 hours a day with homework every night.
  • We sang (fun for me), 
  • played recorders (easy for me),  
  • played the Orff instruments (so much fun!), 
  • we did folk dancing (that was okay)
  • and did creative movement (I hated this, resisted it...and it took years for me to LOVE it).  
I  did NOT understand WHY we had to move around the room with those silly scarves or imagine we were leaves or pretend we were lions or work cooperatively with others to create a "dance".  What on earth was THAT going to teach children about music???

Yikes!....that was me???  sigh...

In my university classes we learned about listening, matching pitch, Kodaly games, early childhood activity centers, writing lesson plans, using the provincial curriculum guides and music textbooks.  There was no movement of any kind.  We sat in chairs.  That was it.
I tried to get out of the movement portion of the Orff course that summer.  I tried to schedule dentist appointments, I tried to go home by pleading illness...I just did not get it.  The instructors (were FABULOUS) and explained that I would fail the course if I didn't participate in the movement sections. That was a huge motivator for me because I wouldn't be able to keep my teaching job without this course.  Naturally, I participated in all the movement portions.
Even though I loved to dance and danced every day at home, on weekends with my friends and at parties and weddings...I really loved to dance...I just did not see how the teaching of dance and music were in any way connected.

Now I could I NOT see the connection?

Truly, it took me several years before I really began to understand the
  • personality-shaping 
  • confidence-building 
  • spirit-nourishing
  • and intellectual understandings (yes, intellectual...) that I (and the children) were receiving from all the movement work.
After many more years of study with many teachers in Orff, creative dance, folk dance, primal dance, jazz, African dance, developmental movement therapy and authentic movement, I "get" it.

Movement is the "play" in "play-based" learning!

All I say to teachers now is...don't think about it...just trust and DO it.  If it feels just means you're getting more out of it than everyone else!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Why movement in a music class? (part 2/5)

Movement in music learning...
  • keeps brains attentive (keeps us awake!)
  • keeps bodies active
  • releases energy
  • relaxes the body
  • brings life to the music
  • allows for more ways to express musicality (beyond expression through singing, playing instruments or composing/drawing music)
  • reminds us to breathe while we are learning
  • increases a child's sense of well-being (we're happier)
  • is a confidence-builder  
  • increases our retention (we remember more!)
  • in the ORFF approach to teaching music, music and dance are considered a unified element.  Music is not taught without movement and movement is not taught without music.

 What do you think about this?

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Why movement in a music class? (part 1/5)

    Good question.
    Consider these stats...

    We remember more when movement is part of the learning process!

    In fact, we remember...
    • 10% of what we read
    • 20% of what we hear
    • 50% of what we hear and see
    • 70% of what we hear, see and say
    • 90% of what we hear, see, say and DO!
    I keep this list of stats near my planning desk to remind me to plan activities that keep the body connected to the learning process.

      Thursday, January 13, 2011

      If you can't get to Hawaii...just follow Hawaiian rules at home!

      It seems that so many of the families at my studio are still in Hawaii...
      or just returning from Hawaii...
      and it's been a reeaaalllly long time since I've been to Hawaii!
      I'm beginning to feel like I might be missing out on something.
      So...I'll try on the Hawaiian rules to imagine what I might feel like if I were there.

      Hawaiian Rules
      • Never judge a day by the weather.
      • The best things in life aren’t things.
      • Tell the truth – there’s less to remember.
      • Speak softly and wear a loud shirt.
      • Goals are deceptive – the unaimed arrow never misses.
      • He who dies with the most toys – still dies.
      • There are 2 ways to be rich – work more or desire less.
      • Beauty is internal – looks mean nothing.
      • No rain – no rainbows. 

      You'll hear the wonderful youtube video of Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo╩╗ole.  

      We ended the 1 & 2 year old class this morning listening to Israel.  
      The babies were relaxing on beach towels while the parents were dragging them around the room snapping and bopping to Israel's uplifting music. 
      It was wonderful.

      (...and tomorrow I'm going to wear a loud shirt!) 

        Monday, January 10, 2011

        Goals for 2011

        This morning, 
        I was inspired by Maria Killam's post at Colour Me Happy.

        Have you ever heard the saying,
        "Man makes plans and God laughs!"
        Well, I have noticed in my life that I set goals and make plans to reach them and happens.  I have a friend who used to tell me,

        "Set your goals in concrete and your plans in sand."  
        To me that means, know where you would like to go yet be flexible with how & when you get there.

        Susan's goals for 2011
        Well...I'm not posting ALL my goals...I don't want to give God too much to laugh about this year!

        Goal #1
        Continue writing my my blog, clarify my writing voice and actually take an interest in whether there are followers or subscribers.  I wrote this blog without providing a way for people to sign up or follow for more than 6 months.  I wrote it for myself.  A few weeks ago I added the follower option and now I have of them is me!  Writing for a real audience is a powerful, positive motivator.
        I'll aim for 100 or more followers/subscribers by the end of 2011.  I have no idea how realistic I'm being!  I guess we'll find out.

        Goal #2
        Learn to use garageband in effective, inspiring, fun ways.
        Become proficient with it's use in my lessons and classes. 

        Goal #3
        Create my own youtube videos for teachers.
        It's been a goal I've had for many years and I've wanted it to compliment the live teacher-training I have done for many years.   I currently know "zip" and would have to learn everything required to make this happen...oh my....  
        Maybe I should say "video" instead of "videos".   
        This one might depend on how hard God is laughing.

        Goal #4
        Complete the new Musicalia website. 

        Goal #5
        Write, publish and make available for sale,
        the children's piano, guitar and recorder books I have created.  As they are pretty much already written (by hand), I just have to figure out how to produce them using my music publishing software.  I've already tried this and I'm such a slow learner when it comes to digital anything.
        This goal may entail finding a tutor.

        Goal #6
        Continue to support the charitable music society I was invited to assist with this past year.  It's so new that we're not supposed to talk publicly about it yet.  Shhhh!

        Goal #7
        Save for our 2012 trip to Ireland.  
        My husband was born in Dublin, Ireland and I've always wanted to visit, so we're planning a trip.

        Goal #8
        Do my yoga routine daily at home.  
        I used to do this everyday.  It was lovely.  I liked it.  I feel better just thinking about it.

        Goal #9
        Play my banjo.
        Learn a tune that I can play with my Maestros classes.

        Goal #10
        Continue with my regular, wonderful classes and lessons at Musicalia.  
        Bring joy, creativity, musicality and fun into the lives of all who join me here.  This is ongoing and my main focus and I imagine Musicalia continuing to thrive this year whether or not God is laughing.

        Maria gives every year a name.  
        This year is her "Year of Expansion" in business, friendships and partnerships.

        Mine is  
        "The Year God Stopped Laughing and Started Taking Notes" 
        "The Year of Calm & Peaceful, Powerful, Prosperous Productivity"
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