Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Power of Tonic

I'm just sharing an amazing video that I pinned months ago. During lesson planning with my student teacher, this video came to my mind. I found it on my Pinterest board and watched it again. Take a look at the video below:

It still blows my mind. I can't wait to incorporate these activities with my younger classes, perhaps in the first or last 5 minutes of the class. Many of you know I am trained in Orff-Schulwerk and often incorporate improvisation in class. I begin melodic improvisation on the barred instruments in 2nd grade, but I am sometimes puzzled at how to help students hear that a melody should end on do. This video gave me an "aha" moment!

One of the teachers in my Orff levels created these questions to guide students when they improvise on the barred instruments:
  1. Did it keep a steady beat?
  2. Did it end on do?
  3. Is it singable?
The students sometimes have trouble understanding question 3. I try to explain that they should use mostly stepwise motion or make a repetitive pattern (sequencing). However, I have discovered a weakness in my own teaching style. I need to include more vocal improvisation in my lessons. If my students can hear tonic and finish an improvised phrase while singing, it should improve their skills to improvise on the instruments.

 One more observation... I couldn't help notice that Mr. Turner was teaching music class in the students' regular classroom. The classroom teacher was visible in a few of the segments. I wonder if she, and other teachers or administrators, would believe the students were actually learning. By teaching through exploration and play, the outside observer may see chaos and believe there is no structured learning. However, Mr. Turner allowed freedom to get the children engaged in play so music would come naturally. I fully agree with Mr. Turner's philospohy--"By doing, we learn!" I believe Carl Orff would share this sentiment as well!