Sunday, July 23, 2017

How to Use SQUILT to teach Music History

SQUILT: Super Quiet Un-Interrupted Listening Time

How I use it - Before doing any listening, we talk about what polite listening looks like: silent mouths, silent bodies, distraction free behavior. We talk about how to resist the urge to laugh or giggle: closing eyes, staring at the floor, focus on relaxing the body. Then we practice the desired behavior - first without music to get a sense of how it feels in the body. Then...we add the music.

The first few times we do SQUILT, the music selections are VERY short - 10-15 seconds. The brief selection allows the students to practice the new skills and not become overwhelmed. After a few opportunities to participate in SQUILT, they are learning to listen to what they are hearing.

Following the selection, we discuss what we heard. When introducing this activity, I choose music that is tied to elements of music (ie. dynamics, tempo, timbre, etc). The kids can easily comment about what they heard. Judging how well the class is doing over time, I increase the length of the music (max. 1-1/2 to 2 minutes) and ask for more responses about what they heard.

Once we have experienced SQUILT for a while, then we move from identifying / discussing elements of music to composers
and their music. We still share our thoughts about the pieces using the music vocabulary, we just add the history into the mix.

Now I have been using this fun activity for years. It is a great way to incorporate different styles, instruments and musical periods as well as the previously mentioned vocabulary. But... once I incorporated more pop/jazz musicians into the mix, this activity took on a life of its own.

My students absolutely LOVE this part of the class. I schedule this activity at the end of each music class and if, for some reason, we run out of time and do not get to it, I HEAR ABOUT IT! We focus on one musician a month (Musician in the Spotlight)
and spend about 10 minutes during the first class introducing him/her and then 5-7 minutes in the rest of the month's classes listening and ENJOYING the music. We listen to ALL kinds of styles and make connections between them. We discover the similarities of diverse musicians and the differences between those within the same genre.

Music History can be dry at times and it can be difficult to get your kids to see how this "old" stuff relates to them. Mixing in jazz, pop and country artists with composers from 200 years ago might be just the trick to get your students engaged.

FREEBIE ALERT!! Next week's blog will include a free set of one of the members in my latest MITS bundle. I have been working on a 90"s band whose battle cry was "Girl Power"! Can you guess who they are?


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