Sunday, March 21, 2021

Teaching Music in a Pandemic part 2


Welcome back!

In my last post, I shared the way I am teaching music during a pandemic. I handled the limitations that I was given by going OLD SCHOOL. Everything we do is shown via my promethean board. I describe my lessons like this:

1.   “Would you rather…” group discussion ending in a vote

2.   Group Greeting followed by a brief “brain hookup”

3.   Songs for Humming – we can’t sing but we can hum

4.   Rhythmic reading

5.   Body percussion

6.   Read aloud book

7.   Instrument of the Week

8.   Musician in the Spotlight

9.   A fun “bonus video”

In this post, I will continue with parts 4, 5 & 6.

The 2nd 3 parts

Rhythmic reading has been a part of my teaching for a really LONG time. When I came to my new school several years ago, the kids “convinced” me that they did not use the common rhythmic syllables that you and I would be familiar with. They informed me that a quarter note was called “coke” and 2 eighth notes were “pepsi”. I went along. Over time we have changed rhythm words to holiday words or sports words but we generally come back to these.


For the 1st few weeks, each grade reviews the rhythms from the previous year. Then I introduce a new note and we generally stick with rhythms including the previous notes and the new one for the year. Sometimes when I sense the kids are in need of new material, I will introduce the next note. After spending a year with a specific rhythmic pattern, students really master it. So these are the rhythms that we focus on:

We read 8 measures in each music class. I change the 8 measures about once a month. We used to play them on hand percussion and recorders but now we use clapping, snapping, patting, tapping and even playing our chairs like a drum.

After rhythmic reading, we do Body Percussion. At first I used Jim Solomon’s Body Rondo book. Then we moved on to youtube videos that people have created using pop songs and body percussion graphics. The kids really like these. One example is Try Everything by Shakira created by Brian Itzkowitz. These videos get the kids moving (even if only in their chairs) and listening to pop music is always a hit!

At this point, they have performed rhythm and done some body percussion movements. Hopefully the wiggles are out and they can sit still for a few minutes. Now we do a read aloud book. Because I felt like the Promethean screen gives the kids a MUCH better view of the illustrations, we watch that instead of me holding a book in front of the class. Sometimes I read a book as I show a Kindle version or Epic version on the board. And most times, I think it’s nice to hear some other person’s voice reading instead of me. Sometimes I ask the kids if they would like to read a page aloud. You can find A LOT of people reading stories on youtube. I’ve combed through MANY videos to get the ones I think are just right for my students.

Hopefully, this has given you some ideas for your own lessons. In my next post I will cover the last 3 parts of the lesson: instrument of the week, Musician in the Spotlight and long awaited Bonus Video. If you have any questions, please reach out to me. We’re all in this together.

Hang in there! Ellen



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