Music With Mrs. Tanenblatt

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New Songs Thanks to Noteflight

In the past few weeks, I've finally overcome my aversion to music notation software. I finally found a program that I consider user-friendly and suitable to my needs: Noteflight! I needed to write up some arrangements for a choir that I'm leading at my temple, and I found that out of all the software I've tried since college, Noteflight has been the one that makes the most sense to me. So... hooray!

I put together two new songs on Teachers Pay Teachers, and Noteflight was a huge help! I think that the newer products in my budding TPT store are starting to look more polished and put-together. I hope you agree!

One of the new songs is a last-minute addition to my Halloween repertoire: Pass The Witch's Broomstick. When I did this song with my first graders, we used a rhythm stick instead of a broomstick to pass around the circle. I'm thinking of buying some kind of small-scale broom to use, but their imaginations seem to be doing fine for now.

I also started adding Thanksgiving products to my store. This Turkey Turkey Gobbler song was a huge hit with my students last November and I can't wait to bring it back. My favorite memory of the game was when my principal dropped in right in the middle and saw a student hiding behind the piano. The look on his face (before he realized what we were doing) was priceless! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Positive Thinking Thursday 10-23-14

I am again linking up with Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for Positive Thinking Thursday!

This week my positive thought is- believe it or not- my CART.

When I came back at the end of last summer, all set to decorate my classroom, I found out I had to give up my room and would be teaching on a cart this year. You can bet that my initial reaction was far from positive! However, with the motto "Just roll with it" guiding my actions, I have started to appreciate and- I daresay- even embrace cart culture.

The first few weeks of school, I was too embarrassed to even bring a cart with me from room to room. We did activities on the computer (it is GREAT to be in all these general classrooms that have mounted SmartBoards... something I never had in my own music room). But I knew that my kids were itching to get into more serious music-making and to do that we needed the tools of the trade: our instruments!

It started in Mid-September: I began rolling from class to class, other teachers noting that I even had a certain bounce in my step. Having my cart with me in the general teacher's classroom helps me to feel more like the space is my own; I have my own office supplies so I don't have to shuffle through the teacher's desk. I have my own organizational system in place (and when you're on a cart you REALLY need to be organized). I have a little photo of myself and my husband that makes me smile whenever I see it. It's just nice to have these things with me wherever I go.

Even though I joke about being homeless in the school building, it's more like I have a little piece of home that I get to take around with me while I share music with hundreds of kids.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Listening Lessons Three Ways

One of my goals for this school year is to incorporate more classical music into my lessons. I have many students that, for one reason or another, simply don't know how to respond when they hear certain genres of music.

Last year, I was at a new school and I wanted to play a recording of Renee Fleming before the superbowl so that the students would recognize her singing the national anthem. When they heard the vibrato in her voice, many of them burst out laughing. It was something that they had simply never been exposed to before.

I am making it my mission to change that.

I'm not setting out to impose my personal tastes in music on my students, but I feel that as their music teacher, it is my duty to introduce them to as many different styles and sounds as I possibly can. I know that for many of my kids, general music could be one of the last meaningful interactions that they have with classical music. I am going to do everything in my power to make sure that they leave elementary school having heard enough of it to understand and respond to it in meaningful ways.

Now that I've pontificated a bit on my personal philosophy, here are three ways that I used listening lessons with classical music this week: 

To get us in a spooky mood, we used scarves while listening to Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saens. The scarves are such a great tool for visual and kinesthetic learners; we do so much with them!
  • We can roll it into a ball to show a soft dynamic
  • We can open it up wide to show a loud dynamic
  • We can bounce it to the beat to show staccato articulations
  • We can sway it side to side to show legato articulations
  • We can move it high and low to match the melodic contour
  • We can stand up, sit down, or toss and catch our scarf to show different sections of the form
Danse Macabre is such a great lesson in CONTRAST, which I love because our youngest children learn what something IS by comparing to what it IS NOT.

2nd Grade
A dear friend of mine from college recently left her teaching job to go back to grad school, and she left me many wonderful learning props. Among them were these strips to go along with In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg.

After telling my second graders the story of the hero and his harrowing escape from the trolls in the mountain, we reenacted the story and sang the main theme saying "run run" for ti-ti and "troll" for ta. After singing it that way for a while, I let the class in on a fun secret: the rhythm to this song is exactly the same as Mary Had a Little Lamb... so we sang the theme again and filled in the nursery rhyme lyrics. What fun!

We also followed a great interactive listening map for this piece that came with my Spotlight On Music 2nd grade curriculum.

5th Grade
For fifth grade, I wanted to give my students the opportunity to really sit and listen to Danse Macabre. I created this listening guide (currently a freebie on my TPT store) and asked them to fill in as many boxes as they could while the piece was playing. We reviewed the difference between open- and closed- ended questions and the difference between writing our facts and writing our opinions. I got some great responses!

I hope my different types of listening lessons have resonated with my students this week. I figure if I got them humming the tune on their way out the door, I've done something right.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Best. Friday. Ever.

Today was one of my favorite days of the year... state conference day!!! Lots of free swag (spoiler alert: textbook publishers give away the best stuff), great resources and takeaways, and best of all, a chance to catch up with some of my favorite music educator colleagues from around the state!

Some of the highlights from the sessions that I attended:

  • A session puppetry! I use a few puppets in my classroom already but this clinician had SO MANY ideas for additional ways to use them. I would have never thought to use a puppet to teach a dance! That could really help bring students out of their shells.
  • A session all about manipulatives, which also included some creative ways that you can get by without having to shell out big bucks on the fancy stuff. This was very
    motivational for me since I'm building my personal TPT collection right now...
  • A fantastic elementary choral reading session! Some pieces were new to me while others were old favorites. In both cases it was great to sing under an experienced Kodaly teacher and make music with many fantastic educators all around me.

    (Please take note of the top piece of music right here... I don't think I would use this one in my school- LOL. But still a fun tune to sing nonetheless.)

    I came away from the session feeling so refreshed and excited to try out many of these ideas in my class as soon as possible!

    Thursday, October 16, 2014

    Positive Thinking Thursday

    This week I am linking up with Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for Positive Thinking Thursday! I absolutely LOVE this idea. In this profession it can be so easy to get bogged down and bummed out when little things don't go our way... and in the classroom, things definitely do not always go our way! It's a very healthy idea to routinely take a step back and focus on the things that warm our hearts and remind us why we went into teaching in the first place.

    My positive thought for the week came to me while I was standing in the front entryway during my morning duty, greeting the students:

    This entire week we are participating in Harvest for the Hungry and students are bringing in boxed and canned foods to donate. This is a big deal in my school's community because they are a Title 1 school, which means that the majority of families in this community receive free and reduced meals and free school supplies.

    Yet somehow, despite their own personal financial hardships, the families in this community still find it within their hearts to donate as much as they can to those less fortunate. I saw the giant pile of food waiting to be boxed up and donated and it filled me with gratitude: gratitude for the privileges my family has, and gratitude for the kindness and charity that I witnessed in others today.

    Have a great Thursday!

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014

    Five Favorite Pins of October

    Here it is... my first linky party on my new blog! This is from Mrs. Miracle's Music Room. Here are my five favorite Pinterest links for October.

    1. Rhythm Football - Free Version

    I'm not much of a football person, but my students sure are! When I tried this awesome game out with one of my third grade classes, I had to actually tell them to cheer quieter because they were too excited. That's a good problem to have, I suppose...

    2. Silly Sentence Boomwhacker Composition

    I love the idea of building a sentence and color-coding to match the boomwhackers. What a great opportunity for a literacy tie-in and parts of speech review, especially with grades 2-5. I haven't found a good way to port my boomwhackers around on my cart yet, but when I do, this idea will definitely get good use.

    3. 5 Little Pumpkins

    I've seen and heard so many different versions of this fingerplay, but the Raffi version referenced in this pin will always be my favorite!

    4. Dem Bones Book

    I try to use at least one picture book a week with my PreK and Kinder classes. I have a feeling this might make it into the upcoming rotation.

    5. Monster Mash Freeze Dance

    I already have the generic freebie version of these Freeze Dance cards and my students really get a kick out of having to match the poses on the cards. I can only imagine how much fun they will have with the cute halloween characters. I definitely want to add this to my arsenal of "things to do while the students are hyped up on candy."

    Happy Mid-October! Two weeks til Halloween!

    Rhythm Monsters

    I'm starting to ease into Halloween themed lessons now, and I had a lot of success with this Rhythm Monsters activity today. My first graders have been preparing half notes for a few weeks and this was the first time they saw it and had practice writing it down.

    For the rhythm monsters lesson, I created this page with 20 different rhythm examples. I'll be honest: the rhythm content really had NOTHING to do with monsters. All I did was put a picture of a monster above each rhythm example and the students were hooked right away.

    I had each student select four cards and practice clapping/reading their pattern, and then copy it onto their worksheet. I like this activity because the students are being eased into the concept of composition. They are still making aesthetic decisions regarding what order to put their monsters, but without all the stress that comes with having to create rhythms from scratch.

    Click here to download the entire lesson (includes SmartNotebook file, worksheet, and monster cards) for free!

    Tuesday, October 14, 2014

    Autumn Manipulatives

    Despite the fact that it's still tee shirt weather in Maryland, there's no denying that fall is here. With it comes the opportunity to use some great seasonal manipulatives in the classroom. For the past few weeks I've been using some fun objects to celebrate the season...

    1. Fall Leaves
    I found these great foam cutouts at a local crafts store a few years ago and they have been my go-to fall prop. I have my Kindergarten and first grade students wave them around to follow the contour of one of my favorite fall songs, "Down, Down, Yellow and Brown." I don't have sheet music for this song; I learned it aurally in college, but here are the words (the melody for the first verse is a descending major scale, and an ascending one on the way up):

    Down, down, yellow and brown,
    The leaves are falling all over town.
    Up, up, up, they fly,
    Over the roof, back into the sky.

    The students love to make their leaves sway back and forth as we sing the song in triple meter and move the leaves up and down to match the pitches in the song.

    2. Autumn Clip-It!

    I first saw an activity like this on pinterest and I loved the idea that you can give the students clothespins to clip the rhythms that they hear. I wanted to make one with an autumn theme so I found some great fall backgrounds and made this Clip-It! game. Fortunately I had a bunch of clothespins left over from my wedding décor over the summer so I was able to bring those in for the extra sensory input.  It was a great formative assessment for me to quickly walk around the room and see who could identify rhythm patterns as I read them.

    You can purchase this and more rhythmically complex versions of Autumn Clip-It! from my Teachers Pay Teachers store here.

    3. Halloween Bat Buddies

    I am currently in my third year of teaching, and my position has been split between multiple schools. Because of this, I have had the rare opportunity to experience the school culture at four different elementary schools. Some of my schools completely avoid the subject of Halloween; they have "word parades" instead of Halloween costume parades and do not allow any mention of the holiday whatsoever. I also teach at one school that completely embraces the holiday! In fact, I'll be at that school this year and because of their Halloween parade and class parties, I won't even be teaching regular music classes at all that day.

    During the weeks preceding I love doing Halloween activities like this one: I have written spooky words on some of the bats and the rhythms that match them on others. The students will get one bat each and need to find their "bat buddy." They have to clap the syllables of their spooky words and figure out what rhythm would match it. I love any activity that gets students to randomly match up with a partner that they might not have worked with otherwise.

    These are just three of the ideas I've been using so far this fall. I hope to find even more seasonally inspired activities that my students will enjoy!