Music With Mrs. Tanenblatt

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Cicada Music Ideas

Here in Maryland, the Brood X Cicadas have started emerging! They have just started to shed their skin and in my neighborhood we are finding them crawling around and clinging to plants. Whether you think they are cute little critters or a terrifying plague (hey, I won't judge you) their once-every-seventeen-year appearance presents the perfect opportunity to connect our music lessons to the natural world. 

The cicada life cycle is perfect to inspire creative movement in the music classroom! You can talk with your students about how cicadas spend most of their life underground and only emerge for a short time. How can we use levels to show their emergence from the ground? What would you do if you had lived your entire life in one place and suddenly discovered a brand new world? How would you move to respond to this new environment? What kind of music could accompany this movement?

Speech Piece
I composed a speech piece called Cydnee Cicada. It's in triple meter and the rhythm set is dotted quarter, three eighth notes, and quarter - eighth. This makes it a great prep activity for K/1 and rhythm practice for 2/3. Students can act out the different actions that Cydnee does in the piece as they read the text. I composed this piece during my lunch break today and read it to my three year old this afternoon. She LOVED pretending to be asleep, waking up, and doing all of the subsequent actions. Her favorite part was climbing up on a step stool and pretending to chirp in a tree.

Instrument Exploration
You can extend this lesson by incorporating unpitched percussion instruments. What do cicadas sound like when they sing? What instruments sound most like a cicada?

If you have a cricket guiro, this would be a great opportunity to pull it out and maybe point out the similarities and differences between crickets and cicadas.

For more instrument exploration, you could have students perform the piece on barred instruments by improvising a melody. Another option would be to play a bordun or ostinato while reciting the piece. You could split the class into three groups: one to play instruments, one to say the speech piece, and one to do movements/act it out.

I hope you and your students enjoy acting like cicadas this spring! Hopefully learning a little about these insects will help to ease your kids' anxiety about them. Let's make this season fun and enjoy as much time as possible out in nature!

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