Music With Mrs. Tanenblatt

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Spring Shopping Spree!

I have a confession to make: I am a shopping cart hoarder! I put things in my Teachers Pay Teachers shopping cart that I intend to buy and then they just sit there, accumulating virtual dust. I have eight weeks of school left and since this is the final push before summer break, I think now is a good time for a shopping spree...

Let's link up with three items that we are planning to buy on a spring shopping spree!

I finish off the school year with my instrument families unit and I love using Peter and the Wolf to teach instruments in first and second grade! I'm so excited about the tremendous variety available in this bundle so that I can tailor it to my students' different levels.

I think this will be a really fun game to play in the last few weeks of school. It will be a great way to introduce composers that I haven't quite gotten a chance to discuss this school year.

I love introducing thematic material to go along with the seasons, so Vivaldi's Spring is an obvious choice for this time of year! My primary students will love the rondo form review while listening to this timeless classic.

And here's a bonus... if you're planning to go on a shopping spree this spring, you might consider this product of my own:

Music Memory

Just like the traditional card game "Concentration," this is a fun memory game for your students to play during review centers. There are two of each treble clef note and students must try and find matching pairs. One final push for music literacy before we send them off on summer vacation!
Feel free to linkup here:


Before you go off and spend all of your hard earned money on these fantastic TpT resources, I have ONE MORE announcement to make, and that is a HUGE GIVEAWAY!

You read that correctly... two lucky winners are each going to win a $50 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers.  What a great way to get some brand new resources to finish off the school year right! Follow the directions below to earn entries into this HUGE giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The contest will run from April 29-May 1, 2015.
Good luck!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Worked for me Wednesday: Building Chords

Happy hump day! I am once again linking up with Mrs. Miracle's Music Room for this fun linky, "Worked for me Wednesday."

My subject this week is building chords with fourth graders. We are in our harmony unit and fourth grade is the first time that I ever introduce my students to the concept of playing chords. Since I am on a cart, I don't have access to a real piano, so I projected on the SmartBoard in their classroom. I demonstrated how we play every other note to make the chords. 

The chords we needed to play for our song were F and C7, so I used dry erase boards on opposite sides of the classroom to write out the notes they would need for the two different chords. I don't have a photo, but it looked something like this:

(Yes, I color coded them based on the root of the chord because I am a big nerd.)

The song they were playing was Paw Paw Patch. I selected it specifically because they had already learned it last year when they studied sixteenth notes in third grade. After a quick review, they were ready to sing it and play along. I used the version from Betty's Music- there is a GREAT resource for two-chord songs here! 

I projected the sheet music on the SmartBoard and we located the different chord markings. We circled them in corresponding colors and wrote in beat marks for when to play:

(Note: I've typically heard the melody performed with G- not F- in measure 3, which is how I taught it to my students.)

After doing all of this prep work, I had volunteers play the two different chords on boomwhackers while the rest of the class sang the song. I had the two chords written on opposite sides of the classroom so that I could point to each group on their turn. 

I have this great XyloTote, which allows me to bring one octave of boomwhackers around with me on my cart.
(I borrowed the Bb from a colleague.)

I'm really happy with this introduction to chords with fourth graders. Now they have played the chords and visualized them. Next time, I plan to show them how to write the chords on staff paper!

Don't forget to hop over to Mrs. Miracle's Music Room to see the other posts for Worked for me Wednesday! 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Worked for me Wednesday: Mystery Message Game

I'm one day late to the party, but today I am linking up with Mrs. Miracle's Music Room for this fun linky, "Worked for me Wednesday."

My subject for "Worked for me Wednesday" is a tried-and-true game that I love to play with my intermediate students: Mystery Message from

First off, if you've never visited Making Music Fun, you need to go check it out. NOW. 

I'll wait here.....

Ok, welcome back. Is your head spinning from the sheer number of high quality music resources available? I thought so. This website was my SAVIOR when I first started teaching. Now that I've gotten into Teachers Pay Teachers, I sometimes forget about the resource gems that I've gotten from MMF. 

The game I am talking about today is Mystery Message. Setup is very easy (always a plus when you teach on a cart, as I do.) Just print enough game cards for every student and distribute some kind of writing implement. 

I opted to laminate mine and use dry erase markers so that students could follow along and write each letter on the bottom as they went along.

This is a fantastic game for practicing aural skills. I have my students sing the patterns using solfege. Here are a few recommendations I have to maximize student success:
  • Use the gradual release model: Also known as "I do, We do, You." First, I model an example for the class using the document camera. Then, have the class figure out an entire word in a whole group setting. Finally, when the students are ready, I will let them pair up so that one student sings the clues while the other tries to guess the word.
  • Provide a range of letters: Rather than just singing a pattern and asking the students to identify it, I give them a range (for example: A-L) so that my students don't get overwhelmed.
  •  Sneak in assessment: I LOVE using games for assessments because they are a low-pressure way for me to get an idea of where my students are. While they are playing the game in pairs, I will circulate around the room to listen for rhythmic accuracy and pitch matching.
I hope you enjoy this game as much as I do! Don't forget to hop over to Mrs. Miracle's Music Room to read the rest of the posts in the linky party.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Teaching Partner Songs and Rounds

Well, we are back to school after a Spring Break that seemed to FLY by! Right before the break, I did my all school sing-alongs and they went GREAT! I was so happy with my students' participation and how well prepared they were. I feel very confident that this is going to become a yearly tradition to celebrate Music in our Schools Month at my school. 

Now we are ready to finish up the year and I am heading into my next unit: Harmony/Texture. As with the rest of my county curriculum, every grade, PreK through 5, does this unit at the same time. I like teaching my units to every grade at the same time because it gives me the opportunity to scaffold activities: I know what I want my fifth graders to be able to achieve, so when I start teaching the concept in kindergarten I already have that in mind. 

One of the main concepts I focus on in this unit is singing partner songs and rounds.

I like to start my unit with these to get my students thinking polyphonically. I want them to be able to identify how many distinct melodic lines they can hear at the same time. I find this to be an easier and more accessible way-in than if I asked them to sing two-part harmony right away. 

Another thing to remember is that before students can sing a partner song or round in parts, they must already feel confident enough to sing their part alone. They have to take ownership of it. If I ask them to try and sing a song in a round before they really know the song, it is going to crash and burn.

This is the process that I use to teach a round: 

I like to lay the groundwork by teaching a part in unison during one lesson and challenge them to see if they can sing it without any help from me. I started Frere Jacques with primary grades yesterday, and after learning the words to the song, I added interest by having students ring handbells to the steady beat. This kept the students engaged long enough to do MANY rotations through different groups of students. By the end of class, they sang it at least ten times. 

During the next lesson, I will review the song with them and then task the class to sing their part together while I sing the other part. (I always have the students start the round and I sing the more challenging second part.) If they are able to hold their own while I sing the other part, then I will pick a few "high flyers" to join me. Eventually I will add more and more people to my part until the class is split evenly. 

Helpful tip: for primary grades (and even with older grades, if they seem to be struggling), I find it helps to physically separate the groups. I will have them stand, facing each other, on opposite sides of the room. After they sing their two parts successfully, I tell each group to take a step towards the middle of the room. (This activity always reminds me of the Jets and the Sharks from West Side Story!) Eventually they should end up side-by-side, singing in two parts with confidence.

Tomorrow, I'm going to introduce some of my intermediate grades to this super fun set of partner songs:

Happy singing!