Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Starlight, Starbright: A Calming Sound Story

I have been singing this song since my own kindergarten class way back when.  Every time I look up at the starry sky this melody runs through my head.
Notation from Beth's Notes

I took my Orff Level 1 classes last summer and received a huge binder full of activities-some we used, others we didn't.  But looking through that binder 8 months later was like digging through a treasure chest!  I found a familiar melody that made for beautiful calming music by my kindergarteners.

Actually, kindergarteners CAN certainly make beautiful, calming music if they are sequenced correctly and with the right atmosphere.

I've been using my stretchy band a lot with Kindergarten lately so we processed through the original melody with high and low sounds.  Hands up are high, hands down is low.  Can't get any simpler for a kindergartener!

My next step was different for me as a music teacher, but my kindergarten aid LOVED it.  I added snaps and had the students figure out that I was snapping on the rhyming words.  I'm learning that Orff often uses patterns from the lyrics to inspire the music.  We practiced snapping (or light tapping for those who couldn't snap yet) on the rhyming words a ton.  You'll notice (as my kindergarten aid did) that it's not as easy as it sounds!

We then transferred our snaps to triangles and it was super smooth.  Starting with speech then moving to body percussion and percussion instruments is the main philosophy of Orff that I have begun to develop this year. Unfortunately, I don't have enough triangles for everyone so we would "air triangle" as the instruments got passed around.

As students became comfortable with the triangles on the rhyming words, I added in handchimes to help with our high/low pitches.  My students have working with handchimes in the past as chordal accompaniments in Christmas Carols or train whistle clusters in the spring concert.  We figured out which sound was higher and which sound was lower, then decided which one went first.  The chimes aren't necessarily playing the rhythms, just the steady beat (which happens to alternate sol-mi).  The kindergarteners were surprisingly quick to keep the steady beat and alternate sol-mi.  But even if they played at the wrong time with the chimes, it sounded quite beautiful!  

While students practiced chimes, I started playing the bass xylo open bordun and then hand selected students who I knew were usually successful keeping a steady beat.  Not all students got a turn on the xylo (I don't have the patience for that!) and that wasn't my objective.

Oops!  Did I forget the random ringing of triangles?  We explored the word random and learned that it meant "with no pattern".  I demonstrated random ringing, being sure to demonstrate a lot of SLOW random ringing.  I certainly knew they knew how to randomly ring loud and fast!

So the whole picture was random ringing, song (with triangles on rhyming words and chimes) then random ringing again.    A student asked if we could use the windchimes too so we added that at the beginning and end.

When do we see stars?  Are the loud? Do they twinkle in patterns?  How many stars do you see?  These are all questions that we explored to set the mood.  It wasn't long before a little hand raised and asked if we could turn the lights off.  (I LOVE when students have better ideas than me!)

So obviously, I didn't do this all in one day; it was split up over about 4 classes. Here's a breakdown of what I did each class:

 I was really pleased with the product put out by kindergarteners.  I can't wait to see what a few more years of musiking with these students will create! 

1 comment:

  1. I just got a stretchy band with a grant at end of year so I was excited to see your idea of incorporating it with melody and a step in the process. Great lesson!