Friday, October 3, 2014

TIMBER!!!!! No, I said timbre.

    Timbre is likely the most common mispronounced word in  music vocabulary.  Timbre is pronounced tam-bur.  Timbre is the unique quality or tone colors of sound.  In other words, it's how you know the difference between talking to your Mom or Dad on the phone.  Even though you can't see them you can tell by the timbre of their voice who they are.  In fourth and fifth grade class we listened to several different styles of singing from all over the world and describe their timbre.  We came up with a list of words that we could use to describe these different timbres.  A few of our description words were:


    The singing selections that we listened to were not what the students were used to hearing and we talked about how we had to listen with mature ears.  Our first selection came from the European country, Bulgaria.  One quality of Bulgarian vocal music is harmony created by singing notes very close together, producing a special ringing sound.  The students used the words high, full, complex, and straight to describe the timbre.  Click the link below to watch a video of the singing.

    Tuvian Throat singing is a style of singing that has been in existence for thousands of years.  Men from Tuva will sing in a choomej technique that originated in Mongolia.  They will change the inside shape of their mouths to make the higher and lower pitches sounds.  Students thought this style was by far the most different sounding singing technique.  They described the timbre as, high pitch, rough, loud, and unique. Watch the video below to listen and see this throat singing technique.

    We listened to several other styles such as Native American Powwow singing, opera singing, and traditional choral music.  The kids really enjoyed listening to all the different timbres of the world. 


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ms. Mary Mack-Mack-Mack!

    Who doesn't remember learning and playing a few clapping games with your friends at recess?  In 2nd grade this week the students learned, "Ms. Mary Mack."  The Ms. Mary Mack clapping pattern is very simple it goes like this:

1. Cross your arms, hands on shoulders.
2. Pat your thighs
3. Clap your hands.
4. Clap your partner's right hand.
5. Clap your hands.
6. Clap your partner's left hand. 
7. Clap your hands.
8. Clap both of your partner's hands.

    "Ms. Mary Mack," went great with our music vocabulary word tempo.  Tempo is how fast or slow the music is or the speed of the music. With each verse we sang, our singing and clapping would grow faster or faster. Which brings us to our next vocabulary word, accelerando.  Accelerando means that the tempo grows faster and faster.  Give "Ms. Mary Mack" a try.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Lets Do the Twist! The Peppermint Twist!

Third grade got its twist on this week by learning about the "Peppermint Twist."  We started to talk about the style of rock and roll and its origins.  They were all surprised that this is what was considered rock and roll in the 1950s and 60s.  The "Peppermint Twist," is the lesser known twist dance.  Chubby Checker's (the kids loved that name)  is the much more famous and well known of the twists dances.  In 1961 Joey Dee and the Starliters had a hit with the "Peppermint Twist."  You can watch them perform the hit below.

Our kids had a great time learning the dance and song. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

High and Low

In our kindergarten and first grade classes we have been learning about the word pitch.  In class we learn how high or how low a sound is.  In first grade we learned two songs that has the melody going from low to high and one that goes from high to low.  I also love to use stories that can connect with our music standards.  I always love to read the story of The Three Little Pigs.  We discuss which characters would have a high pitch voice and which character would have a low pitch voice.  My favorite version that I am reading to the class is a book called, "The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolfe."

If you're a teacher reading this, try to find a book that you can connect with the standards.  If you're a parent ask your child if they can tell you what pitch is in music and who would have the high and low pitch voices in the Three Little Pigs.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014



The beautiful island of Trinidad. 

In our 2nd-5th grade classes we have been learning about calypso music.  We discussed how this style of music has it's roots on the beautiful islands of Trinidad and Tobago.  We found these islands using Google Earth  and learned about where it is located.

2nd grade learned a calypso song called, "Cookie."  This was a fun call and response song that they enjoyed dancing and singing to. 3rd grade calypso song is "Gypsy in the Moonlight."  In all our classes we learned about the steel drum or as some people call it the steel pan.  This instrument originated in Trinidad and Tobago when the islanders discovered they could bang on steel oil barrels and create different pitches.

We watched someone play, Under the Sea, on the steel drum. 

We also watched how they make steel drums by hand. 

In 5th grade the students learned about the King of Calypso: Harry Belafonte. He had many hits in the '50s and we learned one of the most famous, Day-O (The Banana Boat Song). 

Harry Belafonte, The King of Calypso.

One of our favorite things we saw was Belafonte's appearance on the Muppet Show, where he sang The Banana Boat Song

Harry Belafonte performed his hit song on the Muppet Show.

We loved learning our calypso music and we have many more to learn over the coming year!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Come Join Mustang Chorale!


     Mustang Chorale is starting back up for another year of great music making!  If you are or have a 4th or 5th grade student interested in Mustang Chorale a form was sent home last Monday and I will also attach it this post.  We have rehearsals every Monday from 2:30-3:30.  One of the requirements is to have a ride that can pick you up promptly at 3:30.  Students are picked up in the back of the school at the music room. We will begin rehearsals Monday, August 25. You must turn in your permission slip before you can attend Mustang Chorale.  Permission slips are due August 25. I will not accept any more students after that date.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.  I look forward to seeing you at rehearsal.  

Friday, March 14, 2014

Swing Your Partner

3rd grade had a great time learning a square dance to, "Alabama Gal."  They did a fantastic job.