Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Susan and Moka planning next week's classes

Have you seen the recent cover of the The New Yorker?  
My husband thought the pianist and I had remarkably similar hair.
If you click on the picture to make it larger you might be able to read the caption he wrote
"Susan and Moka rehearsing at home"

Monday, January 30, 2012

9 Reasons to use Body Percussion

Why body percussion?
If you've ever been to an Orff workshop you'll know how integral body percussion is to the learning process.  I was taught (over and over) that you don't need the actual Orff instrumentarium to teach an Orff program.  Body percussion, speech and singing, improvisation and dance were really the foundational building blocks of an Orff program.

In my early days exploring these foundational building blocks I LOVED body percussion.  I used it everywhere and at all times of day in my classroom (I was a classroom teacher then).

If you were to ask me now why use body percussion (B/P) this is what I'd say...

  1. It's fun!
  2. It improves concentration abilities.
  3. Children love to make sounds with body percussion.  
  4. It can be an energetic or emotional release to perform body percussion.
  5. Using body percussion helps children to get inside the rhythm.  
  6. Once a rhythm has been internalized it can be expressed and played on their instruments with more ease.
  7. Playing echo games with body percussion builds a rhythmic vocabulary in the body.
  8. Playing simultaneous mirror games with body percussion improves ability to focus and increases awareness of subtle body movements.
  9. You can use B/P to "conduct" instrument play with non-pitched percussion instruments.
with under 3 years:
  1. use B/P to develop vocabulary for body parts (e.g. say "clap" when you "clap")
  2. use B/P to bring awareness to the body's musical capabilities(e.g. clap a crescendo)
  3. use B/P to build confidence (e.g. when we are all clapping together we create a feeling of fun and community and safety)

with 5 years and older:
  1. use B/P to make texture in music (e.g.  some groups clap while others stomp and snap)
  2. use B/P to learn a rhythm that is later applied to an instrument
  3. use B/P to keep kids moving and interested in learning

Monday, January 23, 2012

My Movement Display Board

Musicalia's Movement Board

At Musicalia...we move!
There is a dedicated movement board with charts, words, pictures and it changes weekly.

Last week's board looked like this

I have posted charts and a giant metronome made by moi, also movement charts from Nurturing Pathways, Kindermusik, and lists of words inspired by Anne Green Gilbert's "Creative Dance for All Ages".

I have 2 bags of words on my board...a bag of locomotor words and a bag of non-locomotor words just in case I need them for a game.  I also have lists of words posted.

Each week we learn a new movement concept.  I follow Anne Green Gilbert's Creative Dance for All Ages program.  Here we are learning "Body Shapes".

Last week's movement concept was "BODY SHAPES".
First we use our bodies to make each letter "B"  "O"  "D"  "Y"...etc...  I post the words for different shapes with a simple line drawing like this...
Each body shape card has a small drawing to illustrate the word.

The children copied the shapes and created their own shapes with their own bodies.  We copied one another.  We really had to practise symmetrical and asymmetrical until those words made sense.  We had fun creating and improvising partner dances using our bodies to make different shapes.
Bag of strings...give a string to each student and let them play.

We can use string as an inspiration for moving our bodies.  Throw the string in the air and copy the shape it makes when it lands on the floor.

After exploring the concept of "body parts" we're all dancing with some pretty creative moves.  And now...it's time for yoga...

Close up of charts that remind us why we need to move our bodies when we are learning music.

February Newsletter is coming soon...

If you missed the last newsletter (you can sign up here if you're not on the list yet!) you missed some ideas for creative movement work with children.   I'm sending February's letter out soon (before Valentine's Day).

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Have You Ever Found Yourself in Snowy Land?

Our new greatest hit!  This song helps us:
  • use our bodies creatively
  • use percussion...any ones we want
  • play a 8-beat phrase and stop together
  • play in ensemble and have fun
  • make choices about what and where we play and have it all be okay
  • feel good and smile

Have you ever found yourself in a snowy land?
(guitar chords G and D7)

Have you ever found yourself in a snowy land?
An icy town with snowflakes grand?
If  you ever find yourself in a snowy land
just pick up an instrument and join the band!

Now converse with the kids
(what will we play?  body percussion?  shakers?  trumpets?)

Using non-pitched percussion (shakers, scrapers, skins, woods, metals)
Have you ever found a shaker in a snowy land,
an icy town, with snowflakes grand?
If you ever find a shaker in a snowy land,
just pick up a shaker and join the band!

1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 (everybody plays...especially the shakers)

Using other instruments
Have you ever found a trumpet in a snowy land
an icy town, with snowflakes grand?
If you ever find a trumpet in a snowy land,
just pick up your trumpet and join the band.

1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 (everybody plays...especially the trumpet)

(just a note...yesterday the sweetest 6 year old boy brought a trumpet to class and we sang this song and he tooted along with the band...oh my goodness...too sweet...and he really sounded fabulous with the drums!)

Using body percussion (snap, clap, pat, stomp, rub, clack)
Have you ever found yourself in a stomping land,
an icy town, with snowflakes grand?
If you ever find yourself in a stomping land,
just start stomping and join the band!

1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 (everybody plays...especially the body percussion people)

let me know what happens!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Winter Woods have come down!

A quick photo just before our "Christmas in Narnia" party this past December.

 I painted this mural of the winter woods near Cair Paravel (from "The Lion , the Witch and the Wardrobe" story...in case you're wondering) at the request of a group of children a few years ago.  It's a big installation process to hang so it stays for all the Christmas parties once it's up.

  This year one of the mom's asked if I would sell it to her for their family weekend ski home.  I declined...we all love it so here at Musicalia...as you can see below...
Angel puppets and small children playing in the winter woods.
Yesterday was a New Year's clean-up day...the ladder's out...it's coming down...
View from top o'the ladder...14 foot ceilings are really high up!
I'll fold up my beautiful Narnian mural and save it for a future Narnian celebration.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy Birthday Musicalia!

Today Musicalia is officially 19 years old!

Happy 19th Birthday, Musicalia!
I wrote my first Happy Birthday post last year 
and then continued with about 120 posts since then. 
There are really 2 major things I did this year.

-1st thing-
2011 was my year for learning about 
creative computer-related things; 

how to use Garageband,
how to upload my garageband creations to Bandcamp (thank you, Rachel Rambach), 
how to use Skype (thank you my dear husband, Nigel),
how to work my new iPhone (I love my ocarina app!),
how to use iPhoto and iMovie, 
how to use Facebook 
...including creating a dedicated page (maybe you'd like to "LIKE" me???)
how to use a video camera and create videos,
uploading to YouTube,
how to work with web designers, 
learning to create with Wishlist Member,
how to make a PDF (yes, I didn't even know how to do this),
how to use dropbox,
how to upload photos to Flickr, 
how to use picnik (thank you, Rachel Rambach!),
gave up on my Bamboo tablet...oh well...
signed up for Twitter but I still don't really know how to use it...oh well...

how to add an accent on my computer to my 
French student's names (this was my most satisfying skill-bit this year!),
learning how to use Aweber to create a newsletter (thank you to Kimberly Sena Moore for her encouragment with this),

creating advertizing to post on Rachel Rambach's Listen & Learn site,
became a member of Rachel's Listen & Learn Plus Premium site for members (so great!)
Rachel was amazing, helpful and oh so techie-savvy:) she helped me many times 
(Thank you, Rachel!)
You know...I really just tried everything I could think of!  
I was daunted but quietly determined so in the end I really have many more skills than I ever could have imagined I would ever have.

I took Kat Fulton's Online Zen course and learned how to build a wordpress site and I'm in the process of building Musicalia a new wordpress site right now!  I actually had a new site built by a web developer this past year but the site is not behaving the way I'd hoped so I'm just going to build a new one myself (Thank you, Kat!).

-2nd thing-
And then there was Salzburg!

I was fortunate to spend most of July in Salzburg, Austria studying Orff at the Internationl Orff Conference and the International Summer Course at the Orff Institute and the Mozarteum.  This trip was surreal for me (a dream more than 2 decades old) but oh so great! 

Overall, I have learned that I'm still 
a bit of a techie-idiot... 
...sad but true...
...and what's more even though I was super excited every time I learned one new thing in the techie world, it was very, very hard and not really the most fun I've ever had.  I felt pretty dumb most of the time.  Of all the techie things I did it was Kat's course that was the most nurturing and gave me the most confidence in myself. I am so grateful to her for creating that course.

I have decided that 2012, the 19th year of Musicalia,
will be dedicated to spending much more of my time 
creating in the old-fashioned way. 

I'm getting back to my art; painting, sketching, drawing.


I'm going to write paper notes, postcards and letters to my friends.  I do love the immediacy of email...but I miss the warmth of handwriting and sending and receiving "real" mail.

One more thing I'm doing this year...
 I am already thinking ahead to next January 1, 2013 and the big 20 year celebrations I hope to have for Musicalia!  I don't know what we'll do yet and maybe all that will happen is I will have some t-shirts printed.   

Right now I'm in the midst of re-negotiating my lease and it's challenging (my payments appear to be going up by more than 30%! ...gulp...)  I hope Musicalia will survive this negotiaton process.

Thank you for your interest in my blog!
Thank you for your comments!

Happy New Year and Happy Birthday! 

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