Thursday, June 4, 2015

Patriotic Ring-A-Long!

Patriotic songs are a MUST, in my humble opinion.  I already have a soap box I stand on regarding America's "cultural" music and the example of "good" music that the media shoves on our kids.  I feel it is my duty, as a music teacher in the United States, to do my very best to teach my students classic American songs that were written about our great country.

That being said, it's not the easiest task.  Students are unfamiliar with songs, lyrics are tricky to understand, and I don't know many play party games that coincide with Patriotic Songs.  I typically do a few Patriotic themed concerts every couple years, but I wanted a way to immerse my students in these traditional songs without the complaints or lack of focus.  

Enter my closet.  When I first started at my current school, I didn't know what I had just collecting dust in the closet!  A beautiful 3-octave set of Malmark Handchimes!  {Disclaimer: I am a professional handbell ringer with The Bell Amis Ensemble, so seeing those two boxes were like winning the lottery to me!}

I gathered up all my Patriotic Songs, found keys and chords and starting notes, and made for my group a set of Ring-A-Long books.  These books are intended to provide accompaniment for our little voices!  Here's what I love about them:

  • Each book is unique to the chime and includes underlined words that tell the ringer when to start playing, and when to stop. 

  • Students are reading lyrics while they sing and play so they are gaining literacy skills and SEEING the right lyrics.

  • Playing instruments is super fun and motivating for students!  And there's no right or wrong time to "chime in" so long as the words are underlined!  
  • Handchimes are a perfect instrument for little hands.  They are super durable and the physical motion is quite simple.  It takes one sentence to explain how the sound starts and how the sound stops.  

It sometimes amazes me how quickly young students can be successful with these Ring-A-Long books.  I start in 2nd grade when literacy is strong enough to not distract from the music.  Check out this FREE sample of Yankee Doodle