Tuesday, October 3, 2017


HSES was incredibly fortunate to host the Alash Ensemble recently for a performance at our school. They are currently on tour in North America and were performing at the university nearby, UGA. I discussed the group's country of origin, the Republic of Tuva, and their unique style of performing called throat singing. They were fabulous and the students were so fascinated! I heard from many parents that throat singing was the topic of conversation at their dinner table that night including some demonstrations. ;)

Here are a few pictures of their performance a some video clips of the group you can check out. Their website also has some wonderful information if you'd like to learn more about them: http://alashensemble.com/

Friday, September 15, 2017

Love Will Keep Us Together

Another one of my favorite Randy DeLelles and Jeff Kriske activities uses the classic song, "Love Will Keep us Together," by Captain and Tennille. I got this lesson from an ASOA conference I went to years ago and my students always really enjoy it. 

I start out by having the students practice walking to the beat of a drum in scattered formation. We talk about the importance of walking in unique pathways and not just walking in a counterclockwise circle as is a tendency. Next, we practice walking sideways and backwards to the beat and then we add simple repetitive arm movements. 

At this point, I have students form groups of 5 with the person at the front of the line assigned as the leader. The leader begins walking to the beat doing some kind of simple locomotor movement and the rest of the group follows, copying the motions of the leader. To take turns, I have the leader rotate to the back and the next person in line has an opportunity to lead. 

This can be added to the verses of "Love Will Keep us Together." I also teach this simple choreography to the refrain of the song:

And also you can add a simple pat/clap pattern on the B section and put all of it together for a final performance:

This lesson is great for the end of the year when the kids really need to get up and moving a lot or of course it is appropriate for Valentine's Day. Here are a few pictures of the students in action:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Chrome Music Lab

Have you seen what the Chrome Music Lab has to offer? There are so many fun games where students can experiment with rhythm, pitch, timbre, and so much more! I tried it out with one of my Kindergarten classes and they had a blast. I don't have a class set of iPads so I put them in groups of 3 and it worked really well. I will definitely be utilizing this site again soon!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Tissue Dance

Kindergartners have been learning about different ways to move to music. We've used many different props such as scarves, streamers, and beanbags to experiment with locomotor and non-locomotor movement. In order to practice expressive movement, I used this activity from True Aim: The Blue Manor Blog called "The Tissue Dance." According to their blog post, the original idea came from the book called, Circle Time Activities by Nancy Alexander.

Since we had been singing songs about winter and snow, we talked about what snowflakes look like when they move (slowly, delicately, floating, etc.) and used it for inspiration for our version of the game. The students each received a tissue and had to try to keep the tissue on their head while they moved around the room to the wintery music. First, we just practiced moving and then we turned it into an elimination game - if their tissue fell off their head they were out of the game. After we finished the game, we balled up out tissues and threw them like snowballs. They really enjoyed it and I wish I had gotten a picture of that! :)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Pipe Cleaner Rhythms!

First grade classes have been learning all about basic rhythms in music. I was inspired by Tracy King's "Pipe Cleaner Notation" post and decided to try it myself! It was a great way for the students to learn how to create the note shapes as well as practice rhythm patterns. They enjoyed the tactile experience. :)

The President's Own!

Our school was incredibly honored to host "The President's Own" US Marine Band Woodwind Quintet! They were giving a concert nearby at UGA and were able to stop by our school to do a performance for our students. It was an incredible experience for all of us!

Photography Credit: Charley Clinkenbeard

Friday, August 26, 2016

Alexander and the Rhythm/Instrument Review!

One of my favorite children's books is the classic, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst. Artie Almeida has a wonderful lesson plan in her book, Mallet Madness, that serves as a great review activity for the beginning of the year! Not only does it review basic rhythms but you can also use it for an instrument technique refresher as well. Our HSES 2nd graders have really enjoyed this activity as we have gotten back into the swing of things in music class.

First we read the story together...

Next, we reviewed the quarter note, eighth notes, and quarter rest, and then I had the students discover the rhythm of the repeated phrase in the book, "...terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day."

I divided the students into 4 groups and each group practiced one part of the phrase. Then each group played their rhythm on their instruments and we put the phrase all together.

The woodblocks:

The tambourines:

The maracas:

The drums:

Then I read the book again, and each group played the rhythm on their instrument on the correct words. Great job, 2nd graders!