WHAT DO WE TEACH?

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.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Musical Form - The Nutcracker

This is a lesson that I did with my 2nd graders.  Children that age love the Nutcracker Ballet by Tchaikovsky.  I used three pieces from the Nutcracker to introduce the children to the following musical terms: Introduction, A section, B section, Bridge, and Coda

Introduction:  an opening section of a piece.  I use simple language with small children.  We have sung so many songs by now that they know what an introduction is.  It is the music at the beginning of a piece of music that prepares you for the actually song or for the first musical idea.

A section:  the first musical idea that appears in a piece of music.

B section: the second musical idea that appears in a piece of music.

Bridge:   I teach the children that just as a bridge in the real world connects two pieces of land, a bridge in music connects two musical ideas.  A bridge in music always makes you feel like the music is taking you somewhere.

Coda:  a section of music that brings the piece to an end.

So here is the way I taught this lesson.  I would make cards with full size pieces of paper laminated to last with the words of these sections on them.  Then for each piece we listened to, I passed out the cards representing the parts of the music that the children would hear.  Their assignment was to listen and to come forward and stand under my hand if they thought they had the correct sign.

So imagine with me for a second here a very simple song, Twinkle Twinkle.  It is an ABA piece.  So for this song I would pass out 2 A cards and 1 B card.  Then as the music played I would hold up my hand high enough for a child to stand underneath of it when the A section began.  Hopefully a child with an A card would come stand under the hand.  I would then move to the sign and hold up my hand again just as the B section began.  Another child would come and stand under my hand.  And then repeated for the last section.

Now I ask everyone "Is this correct?"  If they all agreed we would listen again to be sure.  If they disagreed I would let me tell me what needs to change.  We would make those changes and then listen to see if they now had it right.  I never would tell them if they had it correct.  This lesson was always "explore and discover" until it was very obvious that the music matched the signs.

So here is the order and some links for the three pieces I used from the Nutcracker.  There is some variation in the pieces but I was teaching basics so didn't make an issue over any variation.

The Dance of the Reed Flutes:  Intro A~AB~A   (~ means bridge)


Chinese Dance:   Intro AABBAA Coda



Russian Dance (Trepak):  AAAABB~AA Coda



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