As children come to learn more and more about how music is put together, they will begin to have new ears to hear any music. They add critical thinking skills to their musical experiences and will enjoy many kinds of music. They also come to understand and love music as they have hands on experiences creating their own music. They can have that experience through private lessons or by just doing some of the fun lessons that I will share.

The lessons will center on the Elements of Music: Beat, Rhythm, Style, Melody, Expression, Form, Timbre, Harmony, and Texture. You can watch as children become confidant at discussing these elements and hearing them in the music they listen to each day. They will enjoy using these elements to create their own music.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Norwegian Dance No. 2 by Edvard Grieg Lesson 1

Here is another great piece by Grieg.  I chose this piece because it has a wonderful sense of "home" or the tonal center.  Lesson one begins by helping the children to define what "home" means in music.  This is a simple lesson because children already know more about music than they can define.  We all know that if we hear someone humming a song and they stop before it ends, it will drive us crazy until we just finish that music.  That is the sense of home.  We want the music to "go home" or find it's tonal center.

I like to tell children that home in music is very much like home is to a family.  During the day everyone in the family can go their separate ways but the best part of the day is when everyone comes home.

In music, all the notes can also go their separate ways, but in the end they need to go home.

You can easily demonstrate this by humming a few songs that the children already know.  But stop before you hum the last note.  Let them hum that note.  They will not have any problem at all.  But you are thinking - sure - they already know those songs.  So now hum a song that you know but the kids don't.  Do the same activity and you will see they can sense that final note on any song.  I used to just make up little melodies and let the kids find that last note.  They know this because it is such a part of our western music.

Now that you have defined it, you are going to play a game with Grieg's Norwegian Dance.  The first time you listen to it, you just want to get acquainted.  It is in a basic AABAA form.  The first part (A) is slow and the music goes home.  This then repeats.  The second part (B) is fast and it does not go home.  The third section is a repeat of the beginning, another A followed by A.   There is a distinct ending or what we call a Coda.  You have to listen and make sure you talk about the differences between the A and B sections before you can play the game.


The game is simple.  Each person chooses a spot that is their "home".  I had little dots that I put on the floor at school and everyone chose their dot.  You can use anything:  a piece of paper, stand by a certain chair, put your shoe on the floor for your home spot, etc.  Here is where that old idea of time and space comes to play again.  During the A section you have to walk - anywhere!  But you have to listen to the music and be ready to come home at the appropriate time.  You can't run that last few feet because you weren't listening.  And you can go home and stand and march in place until the music resolves.  You have to fill time and space as you walk around and come home at the right time.   During the B section you can run.  There is no home on the B section so when the music stops, you just FREEZE.  Then the A repeats and everyone ends up on home as the Norwegian Dance ends.  I have the kids all shake or wiggle their hands during the Coda.

All of this is just to be so well acquainted with this music that you can do the laser light show in lesson 2!

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