Thursday, March 19, 2015

Beginning High and Low

High vs. Low Stories
A wonderful idea for continuing with high and low practice is telling your students some familiar folk tales. I started with telling my students the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I tried to be as dramatic as possible while retelling this story and each of the three bears had a different kind of voice. Papa bear had a low voice, Mama bear had a middle voice, and Baby Bear had a high voice. (Goldilocks also had a high voice.)

At the end of the story, I asked how they knew different characters were speaking? They explained that I changed my voice. Then I asked them how I changed my voice. Some may think you were louder or softer with different voices. To show the difference I would use my Baby Bear and Papa Bear voices and speak quietly and then loudly. This helped them realize this was not the difference between my voices. After explaining, I changed my voice between high and low, I asked students who had the highest voice and who had the lowest voice.

Another day I told students the story of the The Three Little Pigs. After telling the story students were able to pick out the high and low voices quickly. We practiced speaking in our high pig voices and our low wolf voice.

The greatest part about using these stories is you already built a strong foundation you can come back to. When students are sure if something sounds high or low say "Does it sound like Baby Bear? Or does it sound like Papa Bear?" Some students may still struggle with it at the beginning, but with constant repetition and examples they will start to get it.

High vs. Low Videos
My students *LOVE* watching music videos and I have put together quite a list of music videos I show for different concepts. One day I was showing a video and I realized that it could be more high and low practice. I had students listen and tell me, which character is singing the lowest? Which is singing the highest? The students had a great time with identifying the high and low singers and I was amazed that my more advanced students could even pick out small differences in high and low. They even caught things in the videos that I didn't.

I started with showing students a video of Cookie Monster and a video of Elmo. I asked students which character has a high voice and which has a low voice.

Then I gave them a little more of a challenge, by figuring out who has the high and low voices in this video:

Then the ultimate challenge! I stopped after each number (starting on 2) and asked who had the highest/lowest voice. This is difficult for some, but this is also the one that my students really impressed me with.

Would you like to see more about teaching high and low?
Check out my last blog post about Preparing High and Low
Or look out for more posts about high and low COMING SOON

Clip art credits - Whimsy Clips & Educlips


  1. Great ideas here for teaching high and low. I love these videos... can't get any better than Sesame Street and the Muppets!

    Rachel Tanenblatt
    Music With Mrs. Tanenblatt

    1. Thanks so much for commenting, Rachel. I do love these videos and my students ask to watch them all the time. :-D

  2. These are great. I tend to forget the basics of Sesame Street and how easily relatable it is for my students and for our musical concepts. Thank you for this collection. I have to say it was a bit nostalgic to hear Elmo's Song. I remember watching him and singing that song as a little kid!

    1. Thanks so much for leaving a comment, Julie. :-)

      It is amazing, isn't it? A show that we grew up with as children is still on and helping the next generation of learners. I know it has changed a bit to relate to the current generation, but the basics are all there.

      If you liked these Sesame Street videos, you could also look up some of the other Sesame Street videos they have on their YouTube channel. Lots of them have current singers and are very upbeat and fun. I know my students particularly like Outdoors featuring Elmo and Jason Mraz.

  3. Thanks for sharing all these ideas about high and low. It's always nice to have new ideas to teach sound opposites! Also, I LOVE the Pentatonix. And so do my students, so they would love the Sesame Street video. :-)

    1. Sandra,

      Thanks so much for leaving a comment. :-)

      My students love Pentatonix as well. I tell them they are my favorite current band. I do a lot more Pentatonix videos with my 3-5 graders just because of the themes of their videos. (Very appropriate videos, but the songs just seem more appropriate for my older kiddos) When I found the counting with Pentatonix it was finally my chance to introduce my little ones to their music. My students all just love the way they sing. (Even my more difficult students who don't always care for music in the upper grades)

      Have a great day,

  4. Great ideas; thanks for pulling these together into a collection Brittany. I've used the stories and done several preparation lessons but I still have students that are challenged by this concept so I look forward to working these posted videos/ideas into future lessons. Thank you!

    1. I'm so glad that you find this helpful Christy. I'm amazed that even after working with my Kinders at a school where I only see them once a week for 30 minutes all of them seemed to have mastered high and low. That is always helpful for the future lessons.