Teaching children to work together musically

The latest music lesson plan on the Rhythm Rumble list is called “Friends”. I have been toying with the idea for a while but couldn’t put together the idea of how to write a lesson plan without the usual well known friends songs

Such as, “Whats your name”song or Hello song. At Rhythm Rumble we already sing Hello and have just written a beautiful Good Bye song (which i will share here). They definitely have their place but didn’t want to do something every other music class is doing.

Then it came to me, making music is essentially working together to make attractive sounds. What if the lesson is all about working together. A big feat for 2-5 year olds

We are trialling it this week, and have had some amazing reviews from the teachers so far. Here is a glimpse of our favourite songs.

I love an echo song, and this one is so much fun.

Flee Fly Flo song lyrics (ECHO SONG)

Flea!

Flea Fly!

Flea Fly Mosquito!

Oh no no no no Mosquito!

Get that big bad bug with the bug spray!

PSSSSSSSSSSH (spray can sound) 

The more we get together 

instrument: tambourines

The more we get together together together

The more we get together the happier we’ll be

Because your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends 

The happier we’ll be

Repeat with the suggestions below:

The more we tap together

The more we shake together

The more we scratch together 

The more we tap and rest together

Beethoven-Symhony No.5 C minor op 67

The idea for this activity is for the children to hear the famous motif at the beginning of the piece and with their instruments tap or shake the rhythm of the motif.

In the remaining time of the piece the children should sit with their hands behind their backs or on their heads

This is aimed at 5 year olds, although I had a class with 3 & 4 year olds and worked just fine, you just need to fill the “inbetween: time with controlled movement. For example I used rhythm sticks and while we waited for the motif to return, I moved my sticks high and low depending on the dynamics of the music and the children followed.

These activites work in a musical sense of developing their auditory skills, singing together and in tune as well as following directions

I have included how this link to the EYLF

  • EYLF Outcome 3: Children have a strong sense of wellbeing – Children take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical wellbeing.
  • EYLF Outcome 4. Children are confident and involved learner
    Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity.
    develop an ability to mirror, repeat and practice the actions of others, either immediately or later
  • ELYF Outcome 5. Children are effective communicators
  • Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes
  • NQS: Areas 1.1 An approved learning framework informs the development of a curriculum that enhances each child’s learning and development.
  • NQS: Area 3.2 The environment is inclusive, promotes competence, independent exploration and

So far I’ve been loving this lesson, hope you enjoy some of these songs too

Cheers Lola

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How to teach Kinder children Call & Response

I truly feel joy and pride today after teaching music to a kinder class to sing in a call and response technique.  Normally the children watch and imitate me, so when I sing they sing, and when I don’t sing, there is crickets.

The complexity of call and response for  a group of 4-5 year olds is a skill we have been working towards all year.  An easier option to expose children to would be an Echo song, where they repeat everything you sing.  This is particularly great for toddler music classes, but by the age of Kindergarteners I have seen incredible skills at understanding and actioning the “Call & response” technique.

We always start the year with learning how to play and rest.   Children in this age group of 3-5 years old love to make sounds and are not necessarily concerning themselves with making a coherent  sequence of sounds.  So at Rhythm Rumble we always start with games geared at encouraging children to “rest” or stop

Over the course of the year we start developing their understanding of the different elements that make music, such as tempo, dynamics, keeping a beat, singing in tune and understanding musical form.  We do this by actively engaging children in various musical games and activities geared towards their developmental capacity.

And it all comes down to this collaboration at the end of the year.

The song we chose this year is called Shoo Lie Loo and it is a very simple song

The teacher sings the call, for example: “Just from the kitchen” and the children respond with ” Shoo Lie Loo” . But to make it more interesting they also have to shake an egg shaker while singing Shoo Lie Loo and then rest while the teacher sings their part.

As usual with this age group repetition is important and we have been learning this song for 5 weeks now, and today it worked a treat.  The children sang their response on time, in tune and shook their egg shakers in unison.

Super proud of my group, and by all accounts all the Rhythm Rumble teachers are feeling like its been a great way to end the year.

Happy Music Making

Lola

 


Kids calming down exercises

During Rhythm Rumble’s music classes they can get pretty hyped up.  Depending on the group you are teaching I have worked out different techniques and stratiegie’s to calm down the class before we leave.

Nothing worse than having a preschool music program come into your childcare that leaves the children hyped up and energised and difficult to transition into the next activity.

So in the interest of Educators and the children I have devised several calming down activities that are simple and effective.

I “inherited” a class that 2 previous teachers were having difficulty handling, so I knew I had my work cut out for me.  There were some very dominant personalities in the class and also very intelligent so boredom was definitely an issue.

During the class there was much chatter going on while I was introducing the next activity and I thought how am I going to get their attention.

So I sang “Eyes on Lola” in a fairly high pitch but not loud.  Some of the children stopped and looked at me.  I consider 75% of the class is paying attention so I continued and said When I sing “Eyes on Lola” you can respond back with “Eyes on Us” and you have to look at my eyes and I will look at all of your eyes.

So we did it again, I sang “Eyes on Lola”‘ and they responded with “Eyes on Us”

Now every time the chitter chatter becomes too much I sing this simple tune and they automatically respond their part.

Criss Cross Applesauce

I have adapted this from a yoga video I saw, and since I know nothing of yoga I thought I would sing a song along with the pose.  This works especially well after a very energetic activity and transitions the children into a different state of calm.

Cross your legs
Ask the children to find their heart
then ask them to rub their tummy
Stretching left arm over body and alternating the right hand over body move
your body move in a swaying motion while singing
“Criss Cross Applesauce” repeatedly (5-6 times)
then in a soft voice say
“Everyone find your heart and take a big breathe in
now breathe out and rub your tummy”
repeat if there is still a lot of movement from the children.
Tapping

This strategy takes patience and trust.  If the children are not paying attention, instead of speaking louder or removing children from the group try this.

Sitting very still start tapping your knees.  There will always be a few children watching you.  Once they start copying you, change the body part for example start tapping your head, and keep changing once you have everybody’s attention.  Then you can give your instruction in a calm voice.  It is most effective if you DO NOT speak while doing the tapping.

Hope these exercises help in managing your preschool class.

Happy music making

Lola


How to teach babies, toddlers and Kinder to sing in tune

Music class

A group of 3-4 year olds during a Rhythm Rumble music class

 

You know when you hear your favourite song on the radio and you pump up the volume and you sing along and you think to yourself  “Man, I killed it” and think your the next Beyonce.   But when you try to sing it again without the music as backup you realise how terrible you actually sound.  Well, this is exactly what happens when a teacher does all the singing in a music class.  The children “hide” behind the teachers voice and are not hearing their own voice in their head and can not alter it to sing in tune.  The result is they sing flat.  Which is such a shame because research that babies are born with perfect pitch.

During my training and experience working with toddlers, teaching children to sing is trickier than you can imagine.  The key is to have the children sing back to you without adult interference.  Ha! I hear you say, every time you stop singing, they stop.

Here are some tips and tricks to help you in your music class.

  1.  Repetition is the key

During Rhythm Rumble classes we don’t overkill the repetition, except for simple action songs and the hello song.  What I have noticed is when children have heard the same song over and over again they start to join in the music making.  Over the course of a few months the music teacher can start encouraging the children to sing while the teacher does the actions. Hence eliminating the teachers voice and letting the children hear themselves.

2.  Slide whistle or props 

I have started a new game at the beginning of our music classes and the kids absolutely love it.  I have a slide whistle and all the children have to hold their pretend slide whistle which they can control with their hand by going up and down.  I make a sound with the whistle and the children have to imitate the sound using their voices.  This is a great voice warm up and has the children use their vocal chords like they never had.

I have seen other music teachers hold “pretend microphone” and go around the room have children sing into the microphone as well.

3.  Solfege singing

Solfege singing is when your hand hold certain positions when singing different pitches.  If you aren’t schooled in the solfege hand movements thats OK.  At Rhythm Rumble we use the entire body for pitch recognition and have the children play a copy cat game.  The teacher sings a combination of notes while touching different parts of the body ie. feet (Do) Knees (Re) and the children copy and sing the notes.  The children always get really involved in these sorts of activities.

4.  Baby music classes

At our baby music class, teaching singing is done differently.  Instead of the child singing, the teacher or primary care does all the singing.  Singing to baby and making eye contact has shown to have so many neurological benefits that the maternal health nurse needs to have “singing” on her check list along with tummy time and reading to baby.  The big lesson here is sing, sing, sing.  I remember when my daughter was a baby the only song that would get her to sleep was “The way we were” by Barbara Striesand.  I’m not necessarily comparing myself to Barbara, but, um the proof is in the pudding wouldn’t you say! She did go to sleep from my singing.

Anyway, another way to have babies recognise different pitches is to imitate their sound making, such as aaahhs and goo and watch the babies delight in their communicating.

Music is suppose to be fun and joyful, so please don’t take yourself too seriously when you sing with children, they are never judging you!  They are just happy you’re singing with them.

 

Enjoy, Lola