If you are not familiar with the books and resources by Denise Gagne, you need to check her out! I am very fortunate to have met Denise during the summers of 2007, 2008, and 2009. We both attended some Orff courses together at the University of Kentucky (Level II, Level III, and Curriculum Development). The first summer she was there she used her maiden name so that no one would recognize her. Over the two weeks I had shared many conversations and lunch dates with Denise and considered her a friend. Imagine my surprise when she revealed her true identity on the last day! I immediately thought of all the books I had on my shelf at home that she authored. Then, I tried replaying all the conversations we had over the two weeks to count how many times she must have thought I was an idiot! Aside from the trickery she played on us that summer, she is a wonderfully, genuine person who is very passionate about elementary music education.
BIODenise Gagne is a music specialist with 35 years of experience teaching band,choir and classroom music from pre-school to College levels. Denise has completed Kodaly Level 3 studying with Lois Choksy. She has completed Orff Level 3 and additional Orff training with Cindy Hall, Jay Broeker, Jos Wuytack, and Donna Otto. Denise is currently director of the Red Deer Children’s choir in Red Deer,Alberta and managing editor of Themes &Variations. Her choirs and bands have won many awards at Music Festivals and have performed for local and national sporting events,on national radio and even for the Queen. Denise is the author or editor of more than 80 publications for preK- 6 music teachers. She has been a workshop presenter in every Canadian province and territory and more than 39 states. She presents regularly for Orff and Kodaly workshops, preschool and kindergarten conferences in Canada, the USA,Europe and Australia!
My Favorite Publications
The Orff Source. I use this resource quite a bit. My favorite feature in this book is how she sequenced the songs by tone set. You can see for yourself in the table of contents in this Sample Preview. Also, most of the songs also include simple instructions for a game or activity to accompany the song. Volumes 2 and 3 are now available, but I have not yet been able to purchase them yet.
Singing Games Children Love, Vol. 1-4. These books also have easy-to-understand instructions for the games and activities that accompany the songs. Also, these books have cds! These books and cds are perfect for a substitute teacher who has no musical skills.
I use these rhythm and melody flashcards every year. The rhythms start with simple stick notation and are grouped by color into different levels of difficulty gradually adding more complicate rhythms. Rhythm Sample. The melody flash cards are color-grouped by pitch set. Melody Sample. My students love when they get to try a new color! They are printed on sturdy cardstock. I have not laminated them and they are still in pristine condition. But, I am the only one to handle them. Students do not use these on their own. The flashcards are also numbered so that you can get them back in sequential order (a feature I appreciate anytime I accidentally drop them in the floor!)
Denise On YouTube
In addition to her publications, Denise has provided many videos and demos for free on YouTube! Here are some of my favorite videos:
This "Mr. Potato Head" game/song is similar to "Doggie, Doggie Where's Your Bone." During this game the teacher will get to hear individual students sing in a nonthreatening environment and can also test students' listening skills as they identify the location of the body parts and try to put Mr. Potato Head together again.
"Yesh Li Yadiyim." I love how this Hebrew dance starts in pairs and gradually ends up with the entire class together. This would be a great opportunity to discuss doubling and bring in math connections.
Cup Game Listen 3 #2. I love how patterns change with the form of the song. The patterns are simple and repetitive so the kids can switch easily between the different patterns.
This is a video from a Saturday workshop at UK during the Orff Level courses. Denise shared the cup game with us and then let us create our own patterns. (Yes, I am in this video :P)
You can also sign up for free newsletters from Denise which feature useful tips for the classroom and free lesson ideas. Visit the Theme & Variations website to sign up. Past newsletters are also available online for you to view at any time.