Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A Rondo Rap for your Enjoyment and Education


Pasta, pasta, pasta, 
It is amazing
I love pasta
It's super good
There is many types of pasta
I can name at least five
There is Farfalle, rigatoni, tortallini,
and linguini
There's always favorite penne

You can buy microwaveable pasta
You can buy it at the store
Hop in the car
Drive to Hannafords
Grab a box of Barilla skirt

I never get sick of pasta 
but if you do 
I got just the thing for you
You can have pasta salad
Macaroni and cheese
or spaghetti


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

What I notice in working on these Rondo Raps...

Here is a short update on the Rondo Rap project.  I am noticing a few interesting things about students and their understanding and knowledge of all important elements of such a project.  They believe that, for example, a dotted half note gets three syllables.  That can't be true.  You hold a dotted half note for three beats, and they aren't separate beats, they are held beats.  That is the first thing I notice about students and writing raps. 

The second thing I notice, and this disturbs me, is the fact that they all don't know what a syllable is.  Factory has three syllables.  Fact, on the other hand, has one syllable.  Every syllable receives some kind of beat, so you can put three quarter note beats on factory, you can put a dotted half note on the word Fact, you cannot do anything like this the other way around.  I am fascinated by their inability to understand that or to create something that can work.  They don't want it to be that hard for them, which I understand, but I am giving them very clear parameters, and it frustrates them.  They will learn, the hard way.

Deep down, that is what is going on.  No parameters, especially at this time of year.  Hey, I gave you three sections, I gave you a bunch of words, YOU make it work for you!!  That is not enough, my expectations are really high, and I literally have one more good week to get out of them, and then I am out of tell me what I have to do and how I need to make it interesting and/or worthwhile for them, and a learning experience, and something they are willing to do three weeks before school ends.

 I will just keep at it!! I will keep you posted as well.  I am hoping to put some of those raps on this blog when they are done, I will let you know. Have a great week, everyone, and keep it real.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Rats for Lunch/ Rondo Rap Project

I have a new project I would like to tell you about.  I have just started it, but I think it will be very fun and very educational for my fifth graders learning to count rhythms.  I found this song in the book, based on a Jack Prelutsky poem, and I decided to have my students,  who have been learning how to compose rhythms and counting them,  write a rondo rap, just like the one they learned in the book.  They know how to compose rhythms, so this is just a next step.  After that, they will compose a song too, using the notes they have learned on the piano, the C position, the middle C position, and some of them have also learned the g position. I will keep you posted as to how the project is going, but here is the checklist I created for the project so you can see my thinking.

Rondo Rap Project
Standard:  Create their own compositions by applying the knowledge and skills of notation, symbols, and terminology of dynamics.
1.  Practice rhythms using "too" for quarter notes and "tata" for eighth notes and "titititi" for sixteenth notes. 

2.  Create your own rhythm piece of sixteen measures, using these notes and corresponding rests: whole, half, quarter, double eighth and sixteenth notes.

3.  Learn to speak these pieces in correct rhythm and learn to clap them as well.

4.  Learn to rap "Rondo for Lunch" from the Making Music series, 5th grade edition, page 138-139.

5.  Choose another poem to speak correctly.

6.  Add rhythms to your poem and practice rapping in rhythm.

7.  Create your own RONDO RAP, one syllable per rhythmic note, at least a poem of eight lines or more, on a subject of your choice.

8.  Write your poem first, or put your rap song together with your lyrics at the same time, whatever works best for you.

9.  Use quarter notes, half notes, whole notes, and double eighth notes, and sixteenth notes, as well as rests when you need them.

10.  Use 4/4 time, Look at the example, and use Rondo for lunch as your guide.  Use this website to find a poem or example of a poem if you need one.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Storytelling activity

I have yet another activity for my drama class, but I really think it would be great for language arts class as well.  Here is how to play..

Put your students into groups of three to five people.  Each student in the group tells an original story.  Very important point here:  Make sure they tell a true story, not a made up story.  Have the students in the groups choose one of these stories, and each learn how to tell it.  Then, bring the groups back after they have practiced together, into the larger group.  At this point, each group goes up in front of the class, and they each tell their story.  They tell the same story, but they tell it their own way. 

The audience then tries to figure out whose version of the story is the original story.  Whose story was it?  Who is the owner of the narrative?  I love this idea, and I am going to play it again with my group, because I don't think they really understood the depths to which they could actually take it. 

Have fun, and talk to you all soon!!

Monday, May 7, 2018

The Arts as Community

Last weekend I traveled to Chicago to see my granddaughter's first ballet recital at the Museum of Science and Industry in Hyde Park.  There is a performance space there called "The Purple Stairs", inside the museum.  Olive has been taking ballet for a year, and this was her very first time on stage in front of a large and exuberant audience.  She had her hair in the requisite tight bun, and her reddened lips and accentuated eyes for her performance.  Her number was called "The Ladybugs" and it was part of "Act Two".  There are three acts in this production, and each act is an hour and a half, so families know which act they need to commit to, as each one of the "acts" is a full performance in itself.  Some Ballet schools are more community oriented than others, but Hyde Park School of Dance wins for their approach to teaching and inclusion, supporting a community view, and also helping their students realize their dreams of dancing in a company.  They have a rich scholarship program and students, as they advance through the classes learn to choreograph dances, help with the younger students, and challenge themselves to do emotionally impacted, intense, raw material.  It is not just the classic tendues and battements and degages, there is African dance, hiphop, and modern ballet as well as folk dancing from other countries. 

What I noticed, more than anything else, was a sense of belonging for every one of those dancers.  All kinds of chaos might have been happening in their family of origin, but this place they have committed their afternoons and evenings to, this discipline that has gripped them for whatever reason, there is a sense of having a place to be, a group of people who have a shared vision,  a lifestyle, a creative outlet.  The world is a hard and scary and unfriendly place, and the arts make it better and more compassionate for all.  Ballet is a challenge even for the most talented, and a healthy challenge makes us feel both powerful and humble at the same time.  Olive beamed through the entire piece that she was in, I wept, her mother took a dynamic video, her sister called out her name over and over, so proud of her sister and wanting to be there on stage with her at the same time.  It was even more of an intense experience than when I used to dance in high school every day from 3:30- 6pm.  It was so clear to me that Olive has found her passion for this art form, at least for the moment, and all I can say is I celebrate it all, and it was a life-changing moment.  AH!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

New Activity for Advisory

We tried out a new game for Advisory yesterday and I had a blast with it.  It came from a website that I love called David Farmer Drama Resource.  There are a lot of fun games on this website for your drama class or your advisory time.  This one is all about using your imagination and working together.  It is called Slow Motion Race. 

You have groups of four or three people.  You give them ten minutes to work together and come up with a slow motion running race.  They can push people, trip people, win or lose, but it all has to be in slow motion.  You can have as many slow motion expressions in it as you want or you can put in a short slow motion skit.  You play the Vangelis Music from The Chariots of
Fire, for inspiration. 

Our advisory had a blast with this activity, and laughed and laughed at the end of it.  It actually takes a lot of patience and cooperation to create something that looks real and goes with the music.  One of the boys groups refused to move in slow motion, they just didn't have the maturity to do it.  But all the other groups had a lot of interesting expressions, great details, and it was a really fun way to focus for the day.  Try it and let me know what you think about it!!

There are also so many other fun activities on this free website so check it out!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Playing by Ear as opposed to Reading Music

Why is it that so many people are impressed when someone can play music by ear?  If you know nothing about music, then of course, playing a song by ear seems like magic.  However, it isn't an efficient way for most people to play a song.

You would never recommend that someone hear a book and then play it back instead of reading it.  If you try to compare literacy of words and books to literacy of music, it can become a frustrating endeavor.  Someone looks at a word in a book and as soon as they can sound it out, it will make sense to them.  When you try to look at the symbols on the grand staff, and you don't know anything, they look like gibberish, or it's all Greek to most people.  I think back to when I learned how to read music, and I can't remember for the life of me when it began to make sense. I just know that one day I was all of a sudden reading notes in both hands, and playing the piano with no problem.  It didn't keep me from also playing songs by ear, but it was much faster to read the notes in the end, and much more efficient as well. Also, the songs sounded better when I read all the notes for them, instead of just being able to figure out the melody to something.

So now here I am trying to teach large groups of students to play the piano and learn to read music.  I want them all to become musically literate, as they are verbally literate.  I tell them every day be persistent, keep at it, don't get frustrated, use perseverance, and GRIT.  It takes coordination to get the piano down, as well as remembering what the symbols all mean.  But if you take it slow at first, in the end you will be so happy to worked at it.  You will be so happy to be able to sit down and read a song off of some sheet music, instead of finding the hand positions and notes on youtube.  You will be at a different level from someone who can "play music by ear" as magic as that sounds, you will be not only performing magic, you will also be a genius.  Just imagine what that could be?  Don't give up!