Friday, August 30, 2019
Friday Reflection: Isolating Your Senses
I hope to share ideas and tips on a more regular basis, so I am starting a series called Friday Reflections. Each Friday, I will reflect on my week and try to share a highlight which may be helpful to you. It may be a resource which I use that I would like to recommend. It may be my favorite moment from the week. It may be a revelation I had to improve my own practices. These posts will be shorter than my usual posts and I hope they may be beneficial to someone.
Today's reflection is highlighting a 1st grade lesson which I have taught for many years. I tried something new and it really improved our musicianship. This lesson uses the rhyme "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe" and is based on the lesson presented in the Mallet Madness books. All students use the Orff instruments and freely improvise with a given rhythm. There is a sequence which starts simple isolating the numbers or isolating the words. After a few turns clicking mallets, playing, and resting, we discuss the difference between wooden bars and metal bars. I assign the numbers to the metals and the woods to the words. They have to learn to rest when it is not their turn.
We eventually play the rhythms without our voices. The students must internalize the words in order to stay together. This particular group was playing a little sloppily. I asked that they try one more time, but with their eyes closed. They performed again and it was much more clean. By closing their eyes, they could not watch my conducting cues. They were forced to use their ears listen for the groups talking back and forth. They ended up hitting the bars more in unison instead of sounding like popcorn. When we opened our eyes everyone was smiling ear to ear. These tiny first graders could tell that we made something magical happen.
I've taught this lesson many years. I don't know why I decided to ask them to close their eyes, but I am so glad I did. It will definitely one of my top memorable moments. I have tried something similar during other lessons where I taught a portion non-verbally. By communicating with gestures only, the students were less distracted and listened more carefully to the sounds they were playing.
Have you ever decided to eliminate sight or speech during a lesson? I would love to hear your thoughts on isolating your senses.