Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Describing Music using Music Terminology

One of the things I'm really working on with my older students (3-5 grade) is describing music using musical terms. I explained to one of my principals that I feel this is an important skill that can really help students appreciate music in a whole new way. How cool is it when a student can pick out instruments in a pop song or describe differences in tempo. This is a skill that all kids can learn and use even if they never continue on in music.

I first emphasized this skill during our outdoor music classes (read more...).

When we went outside I had my students sing I Love the Mountains. Later, I had my students write a short reflection on the difference of sound singing outside verses inside. They were encouraged to use music words from the word wall.

Most of the reflections said things like:
  • The sound echos more inside than outside
  • We sang quieter outside rather than inside
  • There were other noises outside like leaves rustling and birds chirping
  • Our sound was much more blurred together outside

After this reflection I realized I really needed to show students HOW to use music terminology in their reflections without having to change what they are saying. In order to do this I came up with a reflection assignment students had to do for homework. (I rarely give homework, but this was a simple assignment and they were given 2 weeks to complete it)

First, I showed students some examples of reflections they wrote:
I Love the Mountains sounded different outside because it echoed less outside than inside. I also thought we sang a lot quieter outside. I also noticed that outside the music was much more blurred together where as inside it was much more disconnected.
Then, I showed them how they could just substitute a few words for music words and it still was saying the same thing.
I Love the Mountains sounded different outside because it echoed less outside than inside. I also thought we sang at a piano dynamic outside. I also noticed that outside the music was more slurred or legato rather than inside where it was much more staccato.
Finally, I gave them the assignment (this was partially an idea I was given by my school principal to also include some technology):
Students should write a short music reflection about a song that they have listened to during the month. This allows students the opportunity to listen to any song they enjoy and still be practicing writing and using music terminology. *NOTE:I even allowed non-school appropriate songs as long as they had permission from their parents. That way they could truly listen to whatever kind of music they like*

All responses were emailed to me unless they could not because of not having internet or computer access at home. I also printed out a few paper copies for these students, but they were responsible for picking them up from me.

I posted all information on my school website so students could access it at anytime. Along with this I posted: the questions they were to answer, links to music videos they may like to watch for the assignment, a word bank of musical terms to use in their reflection.

This assignment was due by Halloween and I do have to say it was such a fun experiment. I did have quite a few students that I was constantly hounding to turn in their assignment (what is new), but the responses were great! I also had quite a few students that were really excited about the assignment and enjoyed the videos I posted. It was also a great way to include technology and writing into my curriculum. (Two school goals for Fairview Elementary.)

You can see all the directions for the assignment, video links, and word bank all on my school website -->here<--. Feel free to steal the idea and even the word bank, just let me know how it works for you. :)

Happy Halloween! BOO!

No comments :

Post a Comment