Sound and Vibration Lesson 7
In this lesson, students summarized their learning about sound and vibration and the Hornbostel-Sachs instrument classifications with an Orff-Schulwerk style musical performance of a song they helped compose, on the instruments they created.
One of the Four Classroom Structures I researched this semester was “Performance/Exhibition,” which functions best as a culminating structure, capping off a unit of study and summarizing what has been learned. As such, it was the perfect choice for my last lesson at Canyon Crest Elementary.
National Arts Standards
The US National Standards for music teaching can be summarized in four words: Create, Perform, Respond Connect. This Sound and Vibration curriculum has sought in incorporate all four of these standards, but particularly in these last two lessons I have given a special focus to the Create standard. These first graders not only created their own instruments from recycled materials, but they also had a hand in creating the song we performed to summarize our learning by choosing the iconic notation we used and helping set the form of the piece.
Kodály Rhythm Reading
The Kodály Method of music education is how I was taught as a child; to give a brief summary, it emphasizes aural skills, solfedge, and the use of folk songs to teach every child music through the instrument every child has: the voice. I still use principles from the Kodály Method in my own teaching, including, on this occasion, rhythm reading with heartbeat and stick-only notation. This can be taught to children of any age, but is especially helpful for younger students. Like many aspects of music, it is better taught through modeling than explanation.
After the first graders were correctly reading this stick-only notation on hearts (which represent the beat of the music), I changed the notation slightly to apply more to our unit of study. These are the icons the students chose to represent each kind of instrument they created:
Using this iconic notation, I created simply rhythmic patterns for each instrument and represented them with stick-only notation. Extra Bonus: The rhythm for each instrument can be chanted to the name of the instrument!
The students learned and chanted the rhythm for each part, then played that rhythm on their instrument. I also added a Boomwhacker part to the song, to give it a tonal center and to make sure any students who were absent on the day we made our instruments would still have a chance to participate. All of these rhythms were designed to fit with a simple song I wrote and taught to the students.
After learning the melody and words, the instrument rhythms and chants, and the Boomwhacker accompaniment, it was time to put the whole thing together! This composition was written and performed in the style of an Orff-Schulwerk arrangement. The Orff Approach, another textbook method of music education, often includes songs with multiple parts layered together, like this one. For our performance, we would sing through the melody together as a class, and then take turns with the instrumental sections. First we sing all together, then the chordophones play. Then we sing all together, then the Aerophones play, and so forth. The first graders LOVED this song and had so much fun putting it all together! I was so happy to see how each student knew what their instrument was classified as, how it vibrated, and could play it in the rhythm they helped create using iconic notation.
These students were a joy to work with and teach throughout this project! While there were many moments that called for some effective classroom management- as there always are- these students were responsive to instruction and assessment. They demonstrated new knowledge and ability that will stay with them long past the conclusion of this project, because they didn’t just hear about this subject. They got to experience the principles of sound, music, and vibration for themselves. This is music integration at work!
Special thanks to Heather Francis, Kayleen Nelson, Lois Hetland, the UVU Student Teachers, and everyone who helped with this 2019 Arts Bridge Project and Research.