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Music activities

Rhythm Sticks

Borrow rhythm sticks from the general/choral or instrumental music teacher. If the sticks are different colors, then use the different colors to establish different beat patterns. Create your own rhythm cadence. Make sure that your students click the sticks together and not on anything else. If the sticks are the same color, then divide the different rhythms by rows or by every other person. It is best to restrict your number of different rhythms to no more than four. Allow your students to create their own cadence. If you can write out the musical rhythm on the board then do so, if not, have your students repeat them by rote until they are familiar with their rhythm.

Rhythm Sticks Plus

Enhance your rhythm cadence by introducing other sounds that can be made by your students, i.e. hand clapping; short, spoken syllables; feet tapping and hand tapping on the desk. This approach of using various sounds will enhance the overall performance.

Top Ten Music Hits

Have your class conduct a survey of favorite songs. Start by asking each student to rank ten of his or her favorite songs from a favorite radio station. Next, collect the lists and have a group of students list any song that appears more than once. Write the new list of songs on the chalkboard and have your students rank them from one to five. Their first choice receives five points, their second choice receives four points, and so on. Have a different group of students add up all of the points for each song. The song with the most points is the “number one class hit.” Then, list the next four songs in the order of points, highest to lowest. The class can produce a poster listing the songs for others in the school to view. Notice how the ranking of songs changes over a short period of time should you repeat this activity in the future. Different classes can compare their rankings and musical selections.

Movement to Match the Music

Clear all of the desks and tables so that the outer perimeter of the room is open. Students create a large circle. Each person faces the center of the room. Each student turns to his or her right. Now start the music and have the students begin moving by following the leader. It is best to start with a relatively slow music selection. The leader should stand in the center of the circle to introduce hand and arm motions that best reflect the style and character of the musical phrase (be creative). If you are using a CD or tape player, play the selection again and have the students change their walking direction. You may also select a spot in the music to have the students change direction during the music. Enhance your choreography by introducing repetitive motions and hand clapping while they are moving.

Additional Ideas

Review music texts and implement lesson plans associated with these themes:

  • Repertoire that expresses grief over tragic events
  • Honor for courageous or heroic events
  • World peace

Play instrumental music on the PA system at various points in the school day.

  • Soothing music includes lullabies, adagios, pastorales, or second movements of symphonies or sonatas.
  • Native American music (instrumental, particularly flute repertoire), New Age recordings featuring sounds of nature, etc., promote calm and tranquility.
  • Sousa marches are upbeat and promote energy and patriotism.
  • Also, use quiet music during transitions from one activity to another.

Show musical films or videos that reflect how people have triumphed in difficult times (i.e., The Sound of Music, Hansel and Gretel).

Sing songs related to peace themes such as Dona Nobis Pacem, the famous round.

Students may compose original compositions that express complex feelings and community building. Review music text and select lesson plans that focus on having children move to music expressively. The goal is the children will respond through movement to music of various tempos, moods, genres, and styles to express what they hear and feel in works of music. (Resources include recordings of multisectional music such as Tchaikovsy’s Nutcracker Suite, Georges Bizet’s Jeux d’Enfants (Children’s Games), and Camille Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals.