Thursday, June 7, 2012

All About Voices

In the previous post, I talked about using voice cards as visual aids. In this post, I will explain a couple activities that use the visual aids. At the bottom of the post, you can download the pdf and print them for free!

Name Game

For 1st grade and kindergarten, I always review voices on their first music class of the year when we are doing name games. We do simple echos:

Teacher:  "My name is Mrs. Dennis"
Class: "Her name is Mrs. Dennis"
Student: "My name is Joshua."
Class: "His name is Joshua."
After we go once around the circle learning names, I introduce the voices with the cards. (I also tie this to our school-wide voice level system. I do not have a picture of our voice level posters, but I found a similar one from The Kinder Kid. Our numbers and levels are the same, but we don't have the cute clipart.) When the students understand the voice levels, we get to go around the circle again saying our name to the beat, but this time each student secretly picks a voice (whisper, speaking, calling, singing). We must echo using the same voice and then I ask the class what type of voice they used.

Voice level zero

For the past 3 years, since I have been relating these voices to the voice level number, the kids always ask to say their names with voice level zero. We now call it "Magic Lips". Anytime I want the kids to move their lips without making a sound, I ask them to use Magic Lips. I actually use this with all grade levels. I usually ask for Magic Lips when I had the kids patting a rhythm while saying a poem and then I want to hear their patting by itself. I also ask for Magic Lips when students are using Curwen hand signs and I want them to stop singing and focus on the pitch levels.

Acka Backa

I use the voice cards often in repetitive games, just to break up the monotony. One example is an elimination game: "Acka Backa." Here is the poem if you are not familiar with it:

Acka Backa, soda cracker
Acka Backa, boo
Acka Backa, soda cracker
Out goes you!

There are many variations to the words; you may know a different version, but this is how we play. This is a simple elimination game. To prepare the students, I have them stand in a circle and pass a ball around to the steady beat. We first practice passing to the beat at different tempos. I usually hold a buffalo drum and stand inside the circle showing where the ball should be. If the ball passes up the drum, they know they are going too fast. When they are focused on the beat, we introduce the poem and the rules. The last person to hold the ball on "you" leaves the circle. The student gets to go to my chair where I have the voice cards laying face down. They pick a card to tell us which voice to use next and then they get to mix them up again for the next person. Elimination games are always tough for the kids who always want to win, but going to select a card seems to ease the disappointment that they are out of the game.

Free Printable:

Voice Cards (whisper, speaking, calling, singing)

I suggest printing them on white cardstock and laminating them.


  1. I love love love the idea of having a marker for where the ball should end up on passing games. What a great visual for students to know when they are moving to the beat. I bet you see once you take the drum away some of your smarty pants are pointing around the circle to see who will be out.

  2. I have been teaching this lesson this week. I have also noticed that if the students are passing the ball too quickly, you may want to ask them to take one step backward. If they are really, really close together, some kids try to grab the ball too early from their neighbor instead of waiting for their neighbor to turn and pass it too them. If there is some open space between each student they will naturally find the beat.
    Also, one class today got done with the lesson 10 minutes early, so we tried the game again using 2 balls! They thought that was really cool. If you are pressed for time but really want to eliminate the class down to one kid, you could always start with one ball for a few turns and then introduce a second ball.