Posted by: jwhiff | July 13, 2011

Musings About Music

One of the reasons that I am drawn to kindergarten is that I want music to be a bigger part of everything that I do in the classroom.

I sing and play guitar and love it.  My kids at the 4/5 level always enjoyed a little sing along now and then.  I have a good collection of fun classics (Snoopy and the Red Baron, I’m a Believer, Grandma’s Feather Bed, to name but a few).  I also sourced out folk songs that were 1. playable (for a person with my limited guitar experience) and 2. dating from the times that we were learning about in Social Studies or Language Arts.  Enriching curriculum was my favourite use of music.  Still, it wasn’t a regular part of the day.  This is what I am hoping to do at the K-1 level.

Many primary teachers sing during the day, but not very many are armed with a guitar!  I love the affect it has on kids.  Many are noticeably engaged by it–bouncing, clapping, and sitting as close to it as possible.  I figured out just this year that students love to play along with their favourite songs even if they haven’t mastered the chords.  It seems a simple thing, but it was a big revelation to me.  I laboured extensively for most of the year trying to break down songs in the most simple manner possible and drill the chords like the multiplication tables.  Then I cut loose a little and just let them play along with me, even encouraging them to fake it when they couldn’t remember what to play.  It was so much more enjoyable!

It put me in mind of a time I had seen a local musician, Tony Prophet, playing at a local community event.  He had all of these little wooden electric guitar cut-outs with straps for kids in the audience.  As he rocked out on stage, he was spontaneously joined by a whole troupe of little kids from who rocked out on their own, stringless guitars…as deeply engaged as can be!

So, to make a long story short, I want to bring some of those ideas together next year.  I would love to sing in the morning, after lunch, break times, whenever!  And I would like to give the kids a chance to participate in ways beyond sitting and singing.  I thought that I could start out by purchasing some little used ukeleles and making a few stringless cutouts of my own.  That corrugated plastic might do the trick, although perhaps I’ll need to reinforce it with some light wood for the necks.  They would be really fun to decorate and paint.  I’m going back and forth on whether or not I should get a class set going.

As the year progresses, I would like to develop a music centre with opportunities to construct instruments and try different examples of real instruments.  I have to remember not to get carried away, however.  I am bracing myself for the crazy month (plus) of setting down critical routines and expectations.  I would like to use music during transition times (gathering together, cleaning up).  It would be a good place to start.


Responses

  1. I’m glad to hear that incorporating music into your classroom has engaged your students. I would recommend maybe getting some egg shakers so the younger kids can play along too.


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